Morelli Anxious for '06 Season

After two years as a little-used backup, Anthony Morelli can hardly wait to make his first career start at Penn State. For now, however, waiting is all the junior quarterback can do. The Nittany Lions' season opener against Akron isn't until Sept. 2, which leaves Morelli with a lot of time for contemplation.

“I think about it all the time — running out of the tunnel, being a starting quarterback,” he said. “It's going to be a great feeling. I'm really excited about it.”

Morelli spoke this week about his off-season preparations. He said he began thinking about the 2006 season the moment the Orange Bowl ended early on the morning of Jan. 4. Since that day, he has worked to get in sync with his receivers, refine his footwork, and hone his leadership skills.

Morelli said the Lions' offense is being tweaked to accommodate his particular talents. He's a drop-back passer who would rather advance the ball with his arm than his feet. Though hardly immobile, he isn't as adept as departed starter Michael Robinson at the running draw plays and rollouts that have been among the cornerstones of Penn State's rushing offense the past few years. And because of that, changes are afoot. Said Morelli, “All the runs that they designed for Mike are probably going to go to our backs.”

That's not the only difference. Robinson was a charismatic leader who seemed as comfortable in front of a bank of microphones as he did in the huddle. Morelli is more reserved, at least in public. He has a soft voice and man-of-few-words demeanor that combine to give the impression he would rather let his performances do the talking.

But Morelli, who attempted only 33 passes in his first two seasons, said he has taken to heart the help he received from Robinson and former starter Zack Mills and feels comfortable being vocal around his teammates.

“When we're on the field competing, it all comes out,” he said. “I let everybody know what's going on and what has to be done.”

Even though it won't count, the Blue-White game will shine a spotlight on Morelli. His performance will be dissected and his postgame comments parsed for weeks if not months to come. That might seem like a daunting prospect, but Morelli isn't fazed.

“I'm not going to feel any pressure,” he said. “I don't put pressure on myself. I'm just going to go out and do what I can do. I know everybody is going to be expecting big things from me. I just want to go out and play football.”

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