Nittany Notes: Quarterbacks

Get an exclusive progress report on how the battle to replace Anthony Morelli is playing out. With the start of spring ball closing fast, Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin are preparing for the showdown.

During the Penn State' winter sessions the passing attack is primarily worked on in Drill 6. Drill 6 is a 7-on-7 set. Coaches are not allowed to observe, so the workouts are run by the players themselves.

"There's no real pass rush, so the quarterback is working with a pretty easy situation," one observer explained. "He only has to deliver the ball around the cornerback."

The quarterbacks, wideouts and running backs also work in some "general pitch and catch reps. They'll run some hand and route drills, but those have no coverage," an observer said.

Because both situations are far from actual game conditions, observers tend to show hesitation or advise caution when discussing the progress the quarterbacks are showing prior to spring practice.

The two lead candidates for the quarterback starting role are Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin. And much like a political race, there tends to be a split among observers on who the better QB candidate is.

"Personally, I think Clark is a bit more versatile," one observer said. "He's definitely been more vocal in the huddle [this winter]."

"I like Devlin's arm," another observer explained. "He's not sharp on every pass — no quarterback is — but he has made some amazing passes. He just needs to up his consistency."

In terms of snaps in Drill 6, "Daryll goes in with the first-team guys. He's in charge out there. The coaches don't really decide that — he just seems to take the opportunity."

Daryll Clark

Given his frame and the running role he played in the spread offense against Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, there has been a tendency to make a comparison of Clark to Michael Robinson. According to one observer, "He doesn't have the legs Robinson does. He is not as quick and does not have initial burst Mike showed. However, he's shown that he's a better, more consistent passer than Mike was.

Daryll Clark

One observer said, "Clark has made some great throws. He's off at times, particularly with some of the timing routes, but he's shown that he can make some tough passes. He definitely has work to do though to improve his consistency."

Clark's leadership, "vocal style" and "demeanor" give him an early edge in this race in several observers' minds. As one said, "This is a veteran offense, so you need a guy who is comfortable to step up and take control of the huddle with a bunch of upperclassmen in there."

The downside of Clark is less about his arm and more about his legs. "All this talk of the spread is exciting, but this guy is not a burner," one observer said. In the recent PSU combine event Clark ran the 40-yard dash in the mid 4.8-second range.

Pat Devlin

Devlin has impressed observers with his ability to make "tough passes." However, his consistency has also been an issue at times. "The ball just gets away from him on some tosses and ends up way off target," an observer said.

Pat Devlin

Another observer said, "I think the issues [Pat] has at times are more related to routes — he's looking for that sharp route and it isn't always there."

The consensus seems to be that Devlin has a good arm but needs work on his overall comfort and consistency.

From a leadership perspective, "he's more quiet and reserved. Who's to say that can't work though?"

Devlin has shown that he can be mobile and has been running all winter, although he did not participate in the combine 40-yard runs due to an unspecified minor injury.

It will be interesting to see how the first-team reps are split during the coming spring practice period, given that they've been lopsided in favor of Clark through the off-season.

See our other exclusive winter progress reports:

  • Nittany Notes: Offensive Line
  • Nittany Notes: Running Backs
  • Nittany Notes: Tight Ends
  • Nittany Notes: Defensive Backfield
  • Nittany Notes: Defensive Tackle
  • Nittany Notes: Defensive End
  • Nittany Notes: Linebacker
  • Nittany Notes: Injury Report I
  • Nittany Notes: Injury Report II


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