Like It Or Not, Bill O’Brien is Molding Matt McGloin Into a Good Quarterback

In previous seasons, I have been extremely critical of Penn State senior quarterback Matt McGloin. There were times when he would show a little something…then come right back and have me screaming at my television. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?” I would say. I haven’t done much yelling this season.

McGloin has some physical limitations that aren’t going to go away. He’s not the biggest guy, he’s not going to outrun many people and he struggles a bit with accuracy, when throwing the deep ball. It’s the fringe skills that McGloin has always shown glimpses of. Checking down, going through progressions and making the right decisions. He has improved at all of those things this season. In situations where, last year, he would have just thrown it up to Derek Moye, he now knows where his tight end is dragging across his eyes and hits him.

Despite Allen Robinson being the clear go-to guy, Matt McGloin completed passes to eight different receivers on Saturday. Against Ohio and Virginia: seven each. Where Matt used to panic and lock on a guy, he is now making better, quicker decisions and finding the open man, no matter who it may be. That is a small but crucial step because teams are going to start rolling coverage to Robinson and O’Brien has to be able to rely on McGloin to go the other way. I think McGloin is at that point of trust.

His career-high 135.8 QB rating has him just trailing Matt Barkley and Landry Jones and ahead of guys like Everett Golson and Danny O’Brien. His eight touchdowns this year tie him with last season’s total and are enough to currently lead the Big Ten. His lone interception came during garbage time, down two scores to Ohio.

Detractors will point to the competition to this point, but Ohio is 3-0, Virginia hasn’t allowed more than 200 yards passing to anyone (MM had 197, missing time with injury) and Navy only allowed 197 yards of passing from Notre Dame in the opening week. Things are going to get more difficult for Penn State, but this hasn’t been your regular cupcake out-of-conference schedule

Bill O’Brien said that he wishes he had Matt for another year or two, because the quarterback understands the offense and knows how to help each player in it perform better. I’m not usually one to buy into “coach talk” but I think that comment is sincere. Matt McGloin is benefiting from the Bill O’Brien era. Whether it’s the coach, the quarterback or the offense, it’s working.

For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.

Topics: Football, Penn State Nittany Lions

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  • Tim Tolley

    It’s probably worth mentioning that through three games, no one on the team has amassed 100 yards rushing. That doesn’t help the passing game.

    • Willie Green

      Belton, Day, Dukes & Zordich have all performed well, under the circumstances. But the real credit goes to Mac McWhorter and the offensive line.

      • Dan

        Very true… I was worried before the season but have been pleasantly surprised with the o-line since Sept. 1st.

  • Chuck Reynolds

    To me this is not surprising. O’Brein unlike anyone on the prior offensive staff actually understands modern offensive footbal and how it is supposed to work. I expect that he will have the same positive results with Bench, Hackenberg and any other QBs he coaches at PSU.

  • luigi

    Even under the old regime, Matt’s problem was not with inferior teams. In fact, his stats are quite good just like this year. His problem came with playing against high caliber defenses and in those games, he came up quite small. Lets see how he does against Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska and the like before we heap praise upon him and the new coaching staff.

    • Tim Tolley

      I don’t look at Virginia and Ohio to be inferior, considering the Big Ten this year.

  • jeffjmin

    I guess it depends on your definition of “good”. I think you should have said he is molding him into a better QB. The reality is McGloins limitations will never allow for him to be anything above average. I’m waiting for OB to work with Hack or even Bench in the coming years.

    • Tim Tolley

      “Better” may have been a better word but I think he’s playing pretty well right now. I’ll stand by “good.”

  • Max Power

    Really wish I didn’t have to wait 6 years to see what a real coaching staff can do with PSU.

  • luigi

    YearSchoolConfClassPosCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate2009Penn StateBig TenFRQB020.000.00.0000.02010Penn StateBig TenSOQB11821554.915487.26.6149128.52011Penn StateBig TenJRQB12523154.115716.86.585118.32012Penn StateBig TenSRQB5910456.76886.67.781135.8
    Hopefully, this is readable but his stats do not jump off the page from years before. Completion rate is about two ticks higher but yards per attempt is down. QB rating better than last year but again not much different from two years ago. TD and INT pace seem good but they have not played any difficult teams yet. Overall, there has been no real marked improvement. Everyone wishes it to be so; so they make the argument based on playing inferior opponents. As I said earlier, Matt’s problem is not against these types of teams but when he goes up against strong defensive teams, then he seems to flounder.
    Has BOB corrected him and made him a better QB? Lets wait until we get into the meat of our schedule before we started saying job, well done.

    • Tim Tolley

      Those last two years, Penn State had Evan Royster and Silas Redd to compliment the offense. Gone from last year’s receiving corps are Derek Moye, Justin Brown, Devon Smith, Shawney Kersey and Kevin Haplea. Two true freshmen had catches on Saturday and the leading rusher was a fullback. Yet, McGloin’s numbers are improved. Stats never tell the whole story.

      • luigi

        But those years they played some really good defenses, which PSU has not done yet this year. So, yes stats do not tell the whole story and this year we have no idea how he will fair against A+ defenses, so the stats for this year are essentially meaningless. We will not get an answer until we play the heart of our schedule.

        • Tim Tolley

          There don’t appear to be any A+ defenses on the schedule. Also, this OOC schedule is the best overall that they’ve played in years. Three bowl teams. Two teams from BCS conferences and no Youngstown State/Indiana State.

          • luigi

            Ohio ranks #96 in pass defense, Navy ranks #55 and Virginia the best of the group ranks #39 in pass defense. Doesn’t exactly put the fear of God in you.
            We are a 1-2 team. Reading the blogs, you would think we were a top ten team this year. Again, lets see how the season shakes out and how Matt and the offense performs against higher quality opponents. Then we can start judging him, BOB and everybody else on this team.

          • Tim Tolley

            Those numbers are a little misleading at this point in the season, but those 3 teams currently rank 5th, 8th and 10th in passing defense on the schedule. Wisconsin is 9th and Ohio State is 11th. Temple is 4th.

          • luigi

            Lets see, stats are misleading to judge other defenses at this point in the season but stats are not misleading to judge Matt at this point of the season. Doesn’t make sense.

          • Tim Tolley

            Navy’s stats against the pass are literally 50% comprised from Matt’s performance. So is he good because they’re bad or are they bad because he’s good? UVA gave up a ton of passing yards to James Madison in garbage time. Are they a lesser defense because of it?
            Matt’s eight touchdowns through 3 games compared to the same amount through 12 games last year isn’t skewed by a small sample size.

          • luigi

            Do you know what Matt’s QB rating was last year for games played in August/September? 146! Maybe the title of the article should be how the QB is regressing under new management.

          • Tim Tolley

            Indiana State, Eastern Michigan and Temple. That was last year’s September, minus Bama. So you think that 6-6 Eastern Michigan and a 6-5 FCS team who loses every year to Indiana are comparable to Ohio and Virginia? There’s no way you think that, but it’s clear that you have your mind made up about Matt McGloin. Just 9 more games and he’ll be out of your way.

          • luigi

            Ohio is a MAC team and Virginia has had exactly six winning seasons in the past twelve years, lets not make them out to be powerhouses. And “Bama” is a big minus.
            All I am saying about Matt is he is doing what he has done in the past against less than elite teams. Look at his QB ratings and they fall off when the schedule gets tougher. Will that happen this year, don’t know. If it doesn’t then BOB and his staff are in line for praise; and if it does,well Matt will be just another in a long line of disappointing QB’s for PSU.
            You are wishing too hard for something to happen that has not yet come to be. Wait for his performance against OSU, Wisconsin, etc. and then make a judgment. To heap praise now is premature.

          • Tim Tolley


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