Penn State Football: Musings From the Upper Deck

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The season is now four games old, and Penn State has just finished the non-conference portion of its slate with a record of 2-2.  With Big Ten action set to kickoff next week, I thought it might be a good time to take stock of the things I see from my vantage point atop Beaver Stadium.

Matt McGloin

Nov 26, 2011; Madison, WI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin (11) looks for a receiver as his team plays the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Penn State 45-7. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIRE

Matt McGloin is a good quarterback!  There, I said it.  Like a child who doesn’t want to admit the truth to his parents, I have had a hard time formulating those words, but I did it!  The truth shall set me free.  I don’t know why I was so down on him.  Perhaps it was because he would show up and lead remarkable comebacks (i.e. Northwestern in 2010), and I would talk him up, then he would pull a Houdini and disappear (i.e. Outback Bowl against Florida  in 2011).  Either way, I always felt like McGloin could be a good quarterback for Penn State, he just never could string enough games together to make the label stick.

This year seems to be different.  Perhaps the new coaching regime has given him a never-seen-before confidence?  Maybe a real structure and game plan, not just the stodgy old plays of a by-gone era have helped Matt.  Heck, maybe knowing that he doesn’t have to worry about looking over his shoulder to see who is replacing him might have made him just relax.  Whatever the case, through four games, Matt McGloin is becoming not just a good Penn State quarterback, but a great Penn State quarterback; he is becoming one of the best in the Big Ten!

Matt currently has a 138.0 passer rating.  That puts him 3rd in the Big Ten (min. 75 pass attempts) while his number of completions (83) leads all Big Ten QB’s.  Matt has also thrown for 9 TDs which is tops in the Big Ten and ranks him 14th nationally in that category.  No doubt Matt would be the first to tell you that his success is not his alone, but rather due to the outstanding play of his offensive lineman.  Matt has been kept clean and upright long enough to go through his progressions and find the open receiver.

Now, before I get all giddy and name McGloin as a Heisman finalist, I will temper my enthusiasm and state that they haven’t exactly played the Alabama’s and Oregon’s of the world.  The Penn State schedule has been relatively easy by most people’s estimation.  The difficulty of the conference schedule is always a different animal than the non-conference foes.  I just hope that he can keep this up through the Big Ten slate because Matt has all the ability to be a big time QB in the Big Ten, he just has to go out on the field and execute.

I am sure many people will credit the new coaching staff or the play-calling with the upswing in Matt McGloin’s play from last year to this, and no doubt that has had something to do with it.  But, what I see is a young man that has the confidence and the poise to know that he can make the big throw or the big play, and now he is going out on the field and showing it.  In previous years, Matt would talk the talk, but he never really truly looked confident enough that he could walk the walk.  This year, so far, everything has been different.  Matt has taken some of the riverboat gambler out of himself and used his checkdowns rather than force the ball into tight windows.  That’s the sign of a mature quarterback.

Where Have You Been Mr. Robinson?

September 22, 2012; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Allen Robinson (8) catches a touchdown pass from Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Matthew McGloin (not shown) in the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

"Where have you been, Mr. Robinson, our Penn State nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  What’s that you say, Mr. Robinson.  JoePa has left and gone away, hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey."

OK, for those of you old enough to remember the Simon and Garfunkel hit from the 1967 Dustin Hoffman / Anne Bancroft film, perhaps this reference doesn’t make any sense.  I suggest you spend a few moments at least Googling it or getting in on YouTube to conjure up some Americana gone by.  Of course I took a poetic license and played around with the wording a bit, but I guess you may have figured that out!  Either way, I digress.

Allen Robinson may just be the jewel that no other conspiring FBS schools came to poach (cough, cough – Tim Beckman (Lane Kiffin) – cough, cough).  He has been Matt McGloin’s go-to guy, and a real find for this team.  Even McGloin came out last week and took a shot at the departed PSU coaching staff by saying that they never gave Robinson a chance last year (he could cowboy up!).  Allen has been everything a team could want in a WR1.  He is tall (6’3″), he has speed and quickness, and he has some soft hands.

After 4 games, Robinson leads the Big Ten in yards (404), receiving TDs (5), and receptions (29).  Not bad, for a player that is only a sophomore!

Penn State needs to find a compliment to Robinson across the field.  So far, Penn State has gone through a committee of players to find another wide out such as Brandon Moseby-Felder, Trevor Williams, and Matt Zanellato.  Alex Kenney has been a real find in the slot position, as he has developed a nice rapport with McGloin.  The tight end position, led by Kyle Carter has produced some head-turning results as well.  No matter though, like Derek Moye or Justin Brown was last year, Matt McGloin has found his security blanket in Allen Robinson.  As long as the opposing teams continue to give him single coverage and not put any pressure on Matt, he will find Robinson and get the ball to him.