One Sure Thing

Moye is a stabilizing force in Penn State's otherwise unsettled passing attack. He maintains that he's OK with whomever gets the nod at quarterback.

So Penn State heads into the big-boy part of its schedule, still playing on the two-quarterback merry-go-round. Terrific.

The stats continue to say that Matt McGloin should start, that he should take the lion's share (or Lion's share) of the snaps. He said so himself after Saturday's tractor pull of a victory at Indiana, in which he threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye in the third quarter.

“I would like to be out on the field first,” he told reporters after the 16-10 verdict. “I think I deserve to be out on the field first after the past two games. We'll see.”

And on Tuesday, we did. Coach Joe Paterno said during his weekly news conference that it's still a pick 'em at QB, as the Lions (4-1) prepare for Saturday's home game against Iowa (3-1), their longtime nemesis.

McGloin, who has yet to start a game this season, is fourth in the Big Ten in passing efficiency, at 144.3, having completed 57.9 percent of his passes, for 625 yards and four touchdowns. He has not been intercepted.

Rob Bolden's efficiency is 85.3. He has completed 45.9 percent of his throws, for 455 yards and a single touchdown. He has been picked off four times.

If this were a prize fight, it would have been stopped by now. Or even a Rock 'Em/Sock 'Em Robots bout; the two QBs are shown battling in that ancient toy game, in a playful video that is making the rounds. Their battle ended in a staged draw, as did their attempts to settle matters via Rock-Paper-Scissors, dice and the card game War.

Moye said during a conference call Tuesday morning that he saw the video one day earlier and found it “pretty funny.” Meantime, the senior wideout remained pretty diplomatic. He again said he prefers to have one guy under center, and that he has a good relationship with both QBs. He also continued to downplay the chemistry he appears to have with McGloin, from whom he has now caught 11 of his 12 TD passes the last two years.

Mike Poorman of statecollege.com noted that Moye and McGloin came out before the rest of the team last Saturday morning, and warmed up on their own. When asked about that Tuesday, Moye said it is something the two of them have been doing since 2009 -- that the since-departed Brett Brackett and Graham Zug used to join them, but he and McGloin have continued to do it.

“And now it just looks (like) more than it is,” Moye said, “because it's just me and him out there.”

He acknowledged that whatever feel they have developed for one another through such work “may carry over” to the game, but emphasized that he can work with either quarterback.

So here we go again, against an Iowa team that has won three straight over the Nittany Lions, and eight of nine. These Hawkeyes would not appear to be as formidable as usual -- they are ninth in the conference in total defense (385.8 yards per game), 10th in pass efficiency defense (135.5 rating) and 11th in pass defense (253.5 yards per game) -- but it might not matter, given the Lions' offensive woes.

Those problems grow more acute, the closer they get to another team's goal line. PSU has converted just 14 of 19 red-zone opportunities, 11th-best in the conference, with 10 touchdowns. Moye said the mistakes in such situations have been mental and physical. He also said the effort is there during the week, that the Lions spend parts of three practice sessions on red-zone offense.

“Obviously it hasn't worked to our benefit in the actual games so far,” he said, “so that means we've got to work a little bit harder, and things will turn around for us down there.”

They can turn things around against the Hawkeyes by matching their physical play, he added. And it wouldn't hurt if the PSU coaches continue to feed Moye the ball. He has 26 catches for 443 yards and three touchdowns this year, leaving him fourth in the Big Ten in catches per game (5.2) and fifth in receiving yards per game (88.6). He is also fifth on Penn State's all-time list with 130 career catches, and fourth in receiving touchdowns with 18.

He is a big, fast receiver, who among the pass-catchers who have played at PSU over the years might best be compared to Joe Jurevicius, who played in the NFL for 10 seasons (1998-2007). Moye called that comparison “a great compliment,” and said every now and then he allows himself a peek toward next year.

“It's hard not to think about,” he said. “That's something you dream about your whole life, and it's close to actually being a possibility. I definitely have looked forward to it, but at the same time I want to be focused on now, and helping this team win.”

He's doing his part. Now it's a matter of ending the childish games at the offense's most critical position.


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