Nittany Notes: Quarterback Analysis

The 2005 season has been incredible in large part thanks to the Herculean efforts of Michael Robinson and his performance at quarterback. What does the QB situation look like for 2006. Well, we went inside the program to get some observer opinions on how the 2006 candidates have looked this year.

Sure, the season isn't over yet, but it is never too early to take a look forward and get a breakdown of the candidates to take over for Michael Robinson.

There is no doubt that Robinson's shoes will be among the most difficult to fill in 2006. As the quarterback who passed, ran and willed the Nittany Lions to victory, the do-everything athlete will be missed by the Nittany Nation. After all, he only broke Kerry Collins' single season yardage record, became the first quarterback to run and pass for 1,000-plus yards in a career and led PSU back from its darkest period. No pressure guys. What did you expect from a guy nicknamed "Superman"?

Anthony Morelli: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds

  • Pros: Described as having "an NFL caliber" and "rocket" arm, Morelli's athletic abilties and overall size make him a pure pocket passing quarterback. As one observer explained, "If he has a decent offensive line, he could be a light-out passer with the likes of Derrick [Williams], Deon [Butler], Jordan [Norwood] and Mark [Rubin]."

    Morelli has strong dropback fundamentals and delivers the ball consistently. He has also been improving this season on "changing the delivery speed of his passes based on the situation."

  • Cons: Morelli's mobility could cause issues for Penn State if it can't pull together another solid offensive line. "His scrambling technique is not a strong point," an observer shared.

    He also needs to continue to focus on his reads. The defense has disguised a variety of blitz packages in practice this season to help him learn how to better recognize them. "He has improved a lot reading blitzes, but still gets caught with some misreads."

  • Overall: There is little doubt that Morelli has the early edge on the starting job in 2006. His arm alone has him penciled in for the starting job. However, he needs to continue improving his read-reaction abilities to make adjustments with the offensive line and his own game.

    Paul Cianciolo: 6-foot-4, 227 pounds

  • Pros: Observers have said, "If you could morph Morelli's athletic abilities with Paul's head you'd have a perfect quarterback." Cianciolo is as "sharp as they come" when it comes to reading defenses and reacting. He is very good at identifying breakpoints in opposing defenses and helping the offensive line to adjust.

    He plays tough and "is constantly working — he has a strong will to learn and improve." He also has the ability to place touch on the ball on intermediate routes.

  • Cons: A pocket-passing quaterback, Cianciolo has better scrambling abilities than Morelli, but still is "built to play in the pocket." He lacks the arm strength to "hit tight windows and lead receivers on outs."

    He tends to try to force balls into coverage, but without the arm strength has struggled with his consistency.

  • Overall: Cianciolo has good footwork and general fundamentals, but without the arm strength he has to use his reads and head to deliver the ball to his receivers, particularly in tight coverage situations.

    Daryll Clark: 6-foot-2, 222 pounds

  • Pros: Clark is described consistently as "an athletic specimen," "a beast" and "ripped." Physically he is in the best shape among the quarterbacks. A duel threat quarterback in the mold of Robinson, Clark is strong and runs incredibly hard. According to one observer, "He is going to shock some of the defensive guys when he plows them over in practice during the off-season." In fact, Clark was the athletes who played the role of Troy Smith on the Scout team the week prior to Ohio State and "played Troy Smith better than Troy Smith did."

    Although he is not as fast as Robinson he is elusive and is not afraid to deliver a hit. He has good arm strength and had solid footwork off the snap. "He would fit very well into the current offensive scheme we are running," another observer shared.

  • Cons: Clark is expected to require a similar path of progression as Robinson did. He tends to "try to do too much at times" and makes "sloppy decisions." He looks to run first and pass second, which makes him predictable to the defense.

    His accuracy is inconsistent and he tries to force passes at times, resulting in breakups or interceptions. He also needs to run through his progression more as he has shown a tendency to key off one or two targets in practice.

  • Overall: Strong, elusive and a dual threat, observers feel that Clark could earn the backup quarterback position this off-season with a little bit of work.

    The Lions also have Kevin Suhey currently and Brett Brackett coming in as a freshman. Suhey needs to add some size and get some reps under his belt to get himself into the mix during the off-season.

    Brackett has shown himself to be another possible dual-threat quarterback, but will need some time in the offense and is expected to redshirt next season to give him the ability to learn and grow.

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