Heading into Penn State’s busiest week of the spring practice schedule (4 scheduled practices), neither Steven Bench or Tyler Ferguson has pulled away from the other in the battle for the starting quarterback spot. Just take Bill O’Brien’s word for it:
Both guys are athletic, bright guys, and they’re competitive and working hard at it. Both guys have had good plays and bad plays. They’re about even right now, and I really enjoy coaching them.
Yeah, I know, Christian Hackenberg is on his way, and will have something to say about that. But, I am also of the firm opinion that unless he is far and away the best QB, Bench or Ferguson is the guy, with the other backing up, and Hackenberg redshirting. I have absolutely no inside info to back this up, but it’s not far fetched to think BOB doesn’t want to throw a true freshman right into the fire. There’s a reason so few true freshman step right in and start at the collegiate level.
So what does this all mean? Should we be worried? In few words, not much, and no. No one in their right mind expected O’Brien to be in a position to name a starter coming out of camp like he did last year. In his first season, he had two players (McGloin and Bolden) with starting experience, and plenty of snaps, plus talented Paul Jones. This year, it’s very different. Bench has just a handful of snaps as a true freshman, and Ferguson has but one season of JUCO experience. Unless one of these guys showed he was far and away the best player, they’re each going to get every chance to earn it.
Part of me also feels like O’Brien is using the approaching arrival of Hackenberg to provide a little extra motivation. It’s no secret that coaches use every tool at their disposal, and the consensus top pro style QB in the country showing up on campus to try and take your job should do the trick.
This will of course be the story to follow all summer, but the next two weeks, culminating in Beaver Stadium for the Blue White Game will be crucial for both guys.
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