IN FOCUS: Passing Judgement

With less than two weeks until Penn State football kicks off the 2010 season against Youngstown State, the quarterback battle is still brewing. Get the latest here.

Last week Fight On State broke that the Penn State coach staff decided to redshirt Paul Jones, narrowing the field of players vying to replace Daryll Clark at quarterback from four to three.

Sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin,and freshman Robert Bolden remain and have been "really pushed" in drills this past week. "The staff has had them taking a ton of added reps and are tossing more situations at them looking to see who separates," one observer explained.

Here's the latest review of the three candidates:

Kevin Newsome (6-foot-2, 225 pounds)

Newsome's speed and evasiveness on runs have been seen as an asset since his arrival on campus last year. "He's a blazer (on runs), but takes hits in the process. He's big, but is he durable enough to handle a season where he's constantly running?" one observer asked.

Newsome also has good strength. But there are still concerns with his mechanics and overall consistency. "He'll still short-arm passes or let the ball get away from him. He's got to get [his passing] to where it's consistent; second nature,"an observer said. Newsome looks to run "early and often, not unlike Michael Robinson or Clark did early. But those two were much different passers."

Newsome is well-liked with a "personality people gravitate toward." This has made him a favorite in the locker room and created an affinity with the coaching staff. "I think the staff is split — some want him to get the job because of who he is — he's a great guy," an observer said. "Others are pushing to make a decision and feel that personality shouldn't hold much weight in this. Although if the players like him they'll play for him."

Head coach Joe Paterno and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno are both said to be high on Newsome. "There's no doubt they like him a lot," an observer said. "But they know he hasn't grabbed the job and I think they are realizing that he may not have the passing skills (of McGloin or Bolden)."

Matt McGloin (6-foot-1, 210 pounds)

Described as a "heady player," McGloin lacks the athleticism of Bolden and Newsome, but "digs down and fights" in drills. Said to have solid mechanics, progression and confidence, he "plays consistent" and "you know what you are going get."

As one observer said, "He's not going to lose the game, but I don't know if he'll win the game."

McGloin is the smallest of the three candidates and said to be the "least mobile." "He's not immobile, but he's not a guy that you'll put a ton of designed runs in for," an observer said. "You'll be able to catch the defense off-guard with a run or two in a game, but not as a reliable threat."

McGloin has a good grasp of the playbook, "probably the best of the three," and has shown improvement on progression, look-offs and play-action technique.

Robert Bolden (6-foot-4, 214 pounds)

Observers like Bolden's size, mechanics and versatility. "He'll stay in the pocket but has the ability to roll and make a play." At 6-4 "he sees the field well" and observers feel he has solid instincts.

Bolden has made mistakes "throwing interceptions and mishandling snaps," but observers feel "he learns from the mistake. He's always asking questions; he'll run over to the coach or pull the receiver aside and talk about corrections."

Bolden is also "very likable" and "incredibly humble." Observers feel both of these personality traits are fostering his success. "He listens and learns, but also the players have been reacting to him. To have a veteran like Derek Moye start to develop a bond with a guy who has only been here for a few weeks is rare."

Bolden has versatility with his passing and running games. On runs, "He's not explosive, but he's a threat to pick up yards. You can't leave him a lane." He's also versatile with his passing with the ability to hit check-downs and deliver intermediate passes but also, "He puts zip on the ball and has hit some long passes in perfect stride. He's overshot some too, though."

Overall Assessment

Given the questions surrounding the offensive line and the strength of the wide receiver unit, the coaching staff ideally wants a "dual-threat" quarterback, but "they need a passer to keep the pressure off the run" and give the offense another dimension." According to one observer, "You have a great crop of running backs with Evan [Royster], Steph[fon Green], [Curtis] Dukes and others, they don't need another runner, but they need a guy who can throw."

Newsome has the affinity of the offensive coaches, but the consensus is that he's not leading the pack and "is probably third" at this point, lacking the mechanics and consistency to provide a running game for PSU. That is not to say he won't see the field as "they could get him in for some wildcat."

Many feel that McGloin and Bolden will make up the two-deep. The question is, in what order? Although observers say McGloin is not the "glam pick" he's consistent and reliable. However, his sophomore year status is "nothing more than a title." As one observer explained, "He's thrown two passes in games — two. Bolden would surpass that on the first drive."

Bolden gives PSU "A passer who can run, with impressive mechanics and a strong ability to make reads. As one observer said, though, "He's going to make mistakes, so the staff will have to accept that and let him learn from them. He's going to throw interceptions and cough up the ball, but I think he's also going to get confident and stronger as a player."

Poll Position

We spoke with a series of observers asking them two questions.

1. Who SHOULD be the primary quarterback early this season?

Bolden: 73%
McGloin: 27%
Newsome: 0%

2. Who WILL be the primary quarterback early this season?

Bolden: 45%
McGloin: 45%
Newsome: 10% is your source for the BEST content and community covering Penn State football.


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