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Mea Culpa

Last month I had some harsh words for Anthony Morelli.

I was willing to give Anthony Morelli the benefit of the doubt for the longest time. I figured he just needed some experience to get better. But I'm not seeing any improvement. Worse than that, I'm not seeing any motivation or fire in his eyes. Now he's getting into a media war with his former high school coach? This guy is not a winner. I'll keep my mouth shut when he plays well, but from now on when he plays poorly I will be the biggest Pat Devlin fan in Nittany Nation.

Who could blame me? The kid had done nothing up until yesterday. He made terrible decisions. Threw into coverage. Took unnecessary sacks. He sucked on the biggest stage of the biggest games. Worse than all of that, he didn't show any emotion on the sideline when the offense sputtered. I was convinced he was a loser.

Yesterday's Outback Bowl changed my perception of Anthony Morelli. He was sharp and showed good judgement completing 14-of-25 for 197 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INT. He looked poised and confident. Most of all he got the monkey off his back of not having a big win on his belt.

Now, maybe this is a case of a broken clock being right twice a day. But there is reason to believe Morelli has turned the corner. The comments by his high school football coach saying a current high school kid read defenses better than Morelli really lit a fire in his belly. Maybe that's what Morelli needed. Maybe he needed that Larry Johnson "Me vs. The World" mentality. According to his coaches and teammates, Morelli practiced like a man on a mission after he aired out his grievances to the press. Before the game Derrick Williams had the following to say:

We've been out here practicing, and Anthony's looking the best that I've ever seen him look. He's more relaxed, he's out there having fun. He's not letting things get to him. You couldn't ask for anything better right now. He's showing everybody really what he has right now.

So maybe I was wrong. Maybe Morelli does have the right stuff. I think it's too soon to crown him the leading Heisman candidate for 2007. But I think he's answered some of the criticism that was fairly or unfairly heaped on him. And it couldn't come at a better time. With nine months until the 2007 opener, a quarterback controversy would fester in the message boards threatening to divide the fan base. For now the anti-Morelli voices, including this one, have been silenced.