BREAKDOWN: McGloin's Hurry-Up Work

We take a closer look at Penn State's offense during the "NASCAR" portion of practice Wednesday. The focus is on the first four plays.

So we took a much closer look at the first four plays of Penn State's “NASCAR” hurry-up offense at practice Wednesday. There was some pretty impressive stuff in there.

Here is what stood out to us.


This was a simple handoff to Silas Redd, with left guard Miles Dieffenbach pulling through the hole. But the star of the play was right tackle Donovan Smith, a redshirt freshman. With tight end Garry Gilliam assigned to defensive end Sean Stanley, Smith took a sharp angle on veteran defensive tackle Jordan Hill and knocked him to the ground. Hill seemed to lose his footing, perhaps because Smith was hitting him from an awkward angle. Regardless, this was a big-time block on a big-time player. Nice work by a rookie.

It opened a big hole. Linebacker Jamie Van Fleet tried to plug it but Dieffenbach handled him. Gilliam did enough to take Stanley out of the play.

Redd hit the hole, and safety Malcolm Willis came up to try to stop him. But Redd cut quickly and Willis had no chance. As Willis flailed at air, Redd headed for the right sideline. Corner Stephon Morris caught up to him quickly but instead of going for the tackle, tried for a strip. It did not work. Redd broke the strip/tackle attempt and was off for a big gain.

Video still of Smith blocking Hill (47 in blue) to open the big hole. This play starts at 0:03 of the video. See it here.


On this play, right guard John Urschel pushed Hill out of the way, creating a nice passing lane for quarterback Matt McGloin to Gilliam. It was not a big hit by Urschel; just enough to delay Hill and open the lane. Defensive end Pete Massaro beat left tackle Adam Gress with an inside move and was poised to sack McGloin. But McGloin released the ball just over two seconds after taking the snap, so Massaro could not get him. Gilliam dropped the pass.

Video still of McGloin's passing lane. This play starts at 0:27 of the video. See it here.


Derrick Thomas replaced Morris at boundary corner. He played press coverage on receiver Justin Brown. At the snap, Van Fleet blitzed. McGloin read it and in less than three seconds hit Gilliam right where Van Fleet would have been. It was a 12-yard gain (after a short run by Gilliam). Head coach Bill O'Brien shouted, “That's the way to come back Garry, that's the way to come back.” Great pre-snap read by McGloin and good work by Gilliam settling into the open area and making up for his drop.

Video still of Gilliam (89) finding the soft spot in the defense. This play starts at 0:44 of the video. See it here.


Though the offense was in the hurry-up, McGloin told everyone to go “easy.” This slowed down the whole process. He looked over to Brown, who again had tight man coverage from Thomas. The outside linebackers -- Van Fleet and Gerald Hodges -- pushed up to the line, just outside the defensive ends.

At the snap, all three linebackers (including Mike 'backer Glenn Carson) blitzed. McGloin made another great read and looked to Brown on a fly pattern. McGloin took a five-step drop and unloaded.

Brown had a step on Thomas. But he appeared to push his route toward the middle of the field. McGloin dropped the pass in along the sideline and it could have/should have been a big-gainer. It was not clear if Brown ran a bad route or McGloin threw a bad ball. But the idea behind the play call was obviously good.

That was the end of the series.

Video still of McGloin reading the defense and calling the play. Brown (left) and Thomas (right) are in the foreground. This play starts at 1:00 of the video. See it here.

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