Off Topic – Penn State QB Situation

Posted: October 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 5 Comments »

For any PSU fans that might be interested…

Penn State beat Iowa 13-3 on Saturday. PSU once again played both QBs, but this game we finally saw the team lean toward Matt McGloin. And that’s the right move.

I came into this season with the goal of Robert Bolden being the QB. Both he and McGloin played last year. Matt had some good days, but his limitations were clear. Bolden showed very good potential, but struggled mightily. My hope was that Bolden would show great progress after spending a full year in the system. He would know the playbook inside-out and would know what he was dealing with in terms of facing college players and coaches.

Bolden hasn’t played well this year. He’s had a couple of plays here and there where he showed his talent, but they surrounded by long stretches of ineptitude. The reason to play Bolden is because he’s so gifted. The problem is that the talent isn’t showing right now. Bolden has no confidence. You can see this when you watch him play. He’s hesitant. At first I thought he was just the victim of receivers not getting open. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

There have been multiple plays where receivers were wide open. Wide open. The passes were late or off target, or both. Why? Bolden doesn’t trust his eyes. This causes him to use sloppy mechanics and/or be late.

Just as damning, watch him run. Bolden doesn’t trust his eyes on those plays. He moves up the field timidly. There have been multiple plays this year where there were large areas open to run in. Bolden is slow to go there or sometimes will throw the ball instead of running. That would be fine if he were throwing it well, but he’s not.

Bolden had a play a couple of weeks back where he had two receivers to his left. One was short, the other upfield about 10-12 yards. Bolden threw the ball halfway between them. The short player was wide open. The other guy covered. Should have been an easy read. I don’t know what Bolden was doing. Did he badly overthrow the underneath receiver? Did he underthrow the deeper receiver? Did he get confused? Did he just throw it in that area and hope? No idea.

If this was an isolated play, I’d say it was no big deal. The problem is that Bolden has made poor reads / poor throws all too often this season. He isn’t moving the chains on a consistent basis. He isn’t delivering big plays. He isn’t creating plays with his legs. He isn’t a great game manager. There is no reason to keep putting Bolden out there each week.

I don’t fully blame Bolden. He asked for permission to transfer, but it wasn’t given to him. That has to affect your mental and emotional makeup. That said, I don’t think Bolden was going to be the coveted commodity he expected. PSU might have felt they were doing him a favor by keeping him in Happy Valley and letting him build on 2010. Transferring would have meant starting from the ground up. I do hope the coaches allow him to leave after this year. And I hope Bolden gets good coaching and buys into it. He has talent, but right now he’s a mess.

As for McGloin, he is clearly the better of the two QBs right now. Not more talented, but better. Bolden is much more naturally gifted. McGloin is more confident in himself and his teammates. There is a different vibe when he’s in the game. Things are far from perfect, but the offense runs much better.

McGloin has improved from 2010, but he still has a bad habit. He is too aggressive with his reads/throws. This was evident in a couple of Red Zone plays in the Iowa game. The first play came in the 1st half. McGloin moved to his left. He had room to run and it looked like he might score. Instead he fired the ball to a receiver at the back of the endzone. A defender just missed getting a hand on the ball. The receiver couldn’t hold on and dropped it. It wasn’t a clearly dumb play, but the smart move would have been to run. You either score or have 4th/goal from inside the 1. Throwing the ball into the endzone can be risky.

PSU had another Red Zone situation in the 2nd half that showed McGloin’s weakness. PSU led 6-3. It was 3rd/goal. The coaches should have called a run. If it failed, PSU had a chip shot FG and would have likely led 9-3 in a game where Iowa was really struggling on offense. The coaches chose to throw the ball. Very risky move knowing that McGloin has a habit of forcing the ball into coverage. He had the earlier RZ pass that was risky. He also had an earlier 3rd down pass that he threw to Derek Moye in the middle of multiple defenders. That throw was a midfield and the ball was up high. I can live with that risk.

On 3rd and goal McGloin forced the ball to Moye. He made a poor throw and Iowa picked it off. Dumb play. I fault McGloin for making a bad read and bad throw, but even more I fault the coaches. PSU should have run the ball. The coaches know who they’re dealing with. They can’t give him the chance to make that mistake. It didn’t cost them today, but might in the future.

I’m not saying that McGloin shouldn’t throw in the Red Zone. You just have to understand the specific situation. If you’re in a shootout, TDs are at a premium. Today was a defensive struggle. Limiting turnovers should be a focus. Run the ball and you’re not as likely to turn it over. McGloin did throw for a late TD. It came on a play-action pass. Smart. Receiver was wide open. Little risk.

PSU’s offense has some talent, but is a unit that lacks gamebreakers. Points are going to be at a premium. The coaches must be smart. The QBs must be smart. Neither guy is a great QB right now, but McGloin is the way to go. The stats tell you that. And if you trust your eyes, the game tape will tell you that as well.

5 Comments on “Off Topic – Penn State QB Situation”

  1. 1 Matt Hoover said at 2:57 AM on October 9th, 2011:

    I really enjoyed this Off Topic Article. More off topic articles are welcome by me!

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 5:32 AM on October 9th, 2011:

    as much as i want bolden to be “the guy” because of his potential, he just isn’t there yet. and with fredo coaching him up, i have little faith he will get any better.

    mcgloin is just the better option right now. the team responds to him. and honestly, what psu needs right now is a game manager. play solid D, run the ball well, and take some shots off play action.

    i like the PSU defense a lot right now, should keep them in most games this year.

  3. 3 Mac said at 6:05 AM on October 9th, 2011:

    No one is as good as Penn State at crushing a potential QB. (and that is from someone who is a PSU fan).

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 1:49 PM on October 9th, 2011:

    A long time die-hard PSU fan posting here…

    I feel like PSU could truly be a contender if they could just shore up a few key areas:

    1) QB development. The coaching, in my opinion is atrocious. You rarely ever see much development at the QB position. M.Rob and Daryl Clark are exceptions. Those guys used their natural ability to overcome poor coaching. All these guys we bring in that are supposedly 4/5 star QBs and they rarely produce. It’s frustrating to watch.

    2) O-Line. Not sure what happened here, but I feel like it’s been forever since PSU had a dominant O-Line. It’s a shame bc it used to be our bread and butter.

    Anyway, I agree 100% with your assessment of the QB situation. I really, really, hate the fact that McGloin is our starting QB. To put it mildly, the guy has a ton of limitations at QB. His overconfidence in his abilities really rubs me the wrong way. He needs to learn that he’s not Brett Favre and he doesn’t possess the arm strength or accuracy to throw into double/triple coverage. Like you alluded to, I wish the coaches would take this into consideration more – especially when we are in tight games and the D is playing well.

    The QB situation frustrates me because I can’t believe that our options are actually this BAD. This team actually has a lot of nice pieces and could be a double digit winning team. Problem is, our QB situation won’t really allow us to play with the elite tier teams…

  5. 5 Eric Weaver said at 3:24 PM on October 9th, 2011:

    I’ve been saying for years, they need a new QB and offensive linemen coach.

    My dad keeps telling me year after year about these 4 and 5 star guys coming to Penn St. All I say to him is how many 4 and 5 star guys are leaving Penn St. for the NFL? Not many.