Is it finally time for Paul Jones? (BSD/Mike Pettigano)
The Preliminaries. After the "game", Bill O'Brien told the assembled media that they had seen a mere fraction of the new offense:
Q. You talked about it not being potentially very exciting. How much of your offense did the fans, would you say, saw today, and how much did you kind of pull back on the throttle?
COACH O'BRIEN: They saw about 10 percent.
Not that anyone should be surprised. It's a complicated offense and there have only been 15 formal practices. Still, we must work with what we've been given here, so let's get on with it.
Thrown. First, the reading of the statistics:
Each quarterback threw at least one awful, awful interception. Jones misread a coverage and underthrew a pass that was easily intercepted by safety Devin Pryor. McGloin was about an hour late on a deep throw, and was picked by Jesse Della Valle. Bolden threw three interceptions. First, on a brilliant play by Jordan Hill, who knocked down Bill Belton after sniffing out a screen pass, then gobbled up Bolden's throw. Next, Adrian Amos (playing at safety) sat on a terrible attempt intended for Shawney Kersey in the seam. Finally, late in the game, Bolden was hit on the arm and his pass fluttered high into the air. Linebacker Ben Kline gathered in the wounded duck for the INT.
So, Then? We'll likely get into a full charting and analysis of each throw -- it's a long, cruel summer, right? We can safely say that none of the quarterbacks stood out in a completely positive manner (unless you want to throw your support behind Shane McGregor). The above stats actually paint a more favorable picture than these guys deserved. Just based on a purely subjective eyeball test, there seems to be a semi-credible case to be made for either Jones or McGloin as the starter. It's harder to make such a case for Bolden.
For what it's worth, quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher couldn't muster much of an endorsement for Bolden, either:
"Rob started out well. We've just got to get Rob consistent in his decision making and continuing to work hard, and that's as much as you can say. You can't throw the ball into crowds, but he made some throws there. We just have to continue to work, and get him to grasp the offense and what we are trying to do"
Wait, Adrian Amos At Safety? Yes, for now, and we approve. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, one of the presumed starters at safety, was hampered by a shoulder injury late in spring practice. On the radio broadcast, Steve Jones was surprised that SOA was even on the field (although he was out there with the third-team defense). Ted Roof spoke after the game about finding the right combination in the defensive backfield:
Q: Amos was very active today, do you think there's one position that fits him best or is it really depended on what the depth is and what the competitions are?
A: Well, I think there are a lot of factors, and I think you hit it on the head. We are going to put our best group out there. At the same time, especially with a young player like Adrian, you want to put him at a position where there's carryover and there's consistency in his job. You don't have to bounce a guy like that around. You wouldn't have that much hesitation if that guy had been a three-year starter or something like that, but, being a virtual rookie, you want to be able to leave him in one spot. We'll just evaluate that, and, right now, I don't know if we have that luxury.
LOL SRSLY GUYS. Don't want to get too far ahead of things here. However, there is a distinct possibility that Penn State can have an adequate-to-very good offensive line despite four new starters. I know, I know. But I like what I saw from the new guys, especially Donovan Smith and Adam Gress. If you happened to record the game, watch Smith and mammoth freshman tight end Jesse James combine to wipe out Gerald Hodges and C.J. Olaniyan on Bill Belton's touchdown run. There's potential here. For what it's worth, Mac McWhorter:
Well, when I first got here we only had one starter back. There were a lot of younger kids in the program trying to get those positions. They weren't as strong as the four kids who left. So, yes, I was concerned with the strength level because it was less than I had been accustomed to. I have been really impressed with the three months that we've been here; they have made nice gains throughout. I'm really pleased with the strength program.
Angry Penn State Linebacker Hating God Exists, And Is Never Satisfied. T.J. Rhattigan went down with a severe knee injury in the first quarter. He was extremely excited about his chance to shine yesterday, given the attrition ahead of him on the depth chart. Here's to a quick and full recovery.
Curtis Dukes Has Poor Timing. His academic difficulties came at a very bad juncture. Bill Belton looked great as the apparent primary backup to Silas Redd at running back. Further, Zach Zwinak appears to be pressing for playing time as a situational "big back". And while we're here, let's collectively acknowledge that in our excitement of BOB modernizing the Penn State passing attack, there's a very good chance that PSU will have one of the better ground games in the conference (with or without Dukes). It should make some quarterback's job easier.
Predominantly Baseless Observations And Predictions. BOB's desired autumn two-horse race for quarterback has to be McGloin and Jones, right? Given the incredibly small sample size, my move would be to make it Jones' job to lose. It would be one thing if either McGloin or Bolden were meticulous, error-free game managers, but the only quarterback on the roster who might qualify in that regard is Shane McGregor -- and he's not actually part of the conversation. At the very least, Jones has the combination of pocket awareness and arm strength that the others don't possess. Let him make his mistakes, use McGloin in case of emergency, and hope for the best.
If Vegas gave odds on such things, I'd bet that Allen Robinson will be Penn State's second leading receiver in 2012.
Speedomike keeps saying this, and I think he's right. Redd, Belton, Zwinak and Dukes are a formidable backfield. Brown, Kersey, Robinson, Zannelato, Smith, Kuntz, and Kenney provide a variety of decent targets, as do the gaggle of tight ends. The offense isn't without potential if BOB can solve the quarterback puzzle.
Otherwise, difficult as always to take too much from a disjointed spring game, especially with so many presumed starters (Devon Smith, Mauti, Kenney, Fortt, Massaro) out of the lineup. Aside from the obvious quarterback frustration, it was a positive day.