Mike Jensen: Penn State's Matt McGloin doing little things right

Posted: September 23, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - In the preseason, we all chuckled at Matt McGloin's audacity when he compared himself to Tom Brady. Here's what Penn State's senior quarterback meant: New coach Bill O'Brien had him studying Brady in every aspect of his game, down to the smallest minutia.

Especially the minutia.

"In 12 years, [Brady] hasn't been stopped on a quarterback sneak," McGloin said Saturday at Beaver Stadium. "That's something I watch, how he does it, what the technique is. Believe it or not, there is a technique."

McGloin joked about how he couldn't disclose the actual technique, and McGloin also pointed out that he isn't much of a runner so the technique must work, since he ran in two sneaks for touchdowns Saturday in Penn State's 24-13 victory over Temple.

Against the Owls, McGloin also had a career high 318 passing yards, completing 24 of 36 passes. As important, his ratio of throwing into blanket coverage seemed way down.

"He's seeing things," Nittany Lions assistant Charlie Fisher said of McGloin. "He's putting his eyes in the right place."

What can this ultimately mean for the Nittany Lions? Still to be determined, obviously. It turned out to be fantasy to suggest that maybe Temple is the top team in Pennsylvania right now. The Owls are down from last season and it shows. A clearer picture may have emerged, as the Owls go into Big East play in two weeks still looking for its first I-A victory of the season.

If you want to say a 9-4 opening season for Steve Addazio now looks like the result of smartly playing the hand dealt him by former coach Al Golden, this season also is the residue from the former regime. The now 1-2 Owls always were going to be young, with holes in the offensive line and the secondary. Temple's Big East Take II era starts Oct. 6 against South Florida, but in some real respects, the Addazio era may not start until next season.

Addazio set the right goal for this season, to get bowl eligible. That goal is a little tougher today than before the season began.

"The best players have to play their best," said Addazio, who complimented his players' fight and competitiveness and determination. It wasn't their will that got left behind.

Despite the transfers that all but certainly cost the Nittany Lions their first two games, O'Brien has more key senior contributors who have been through trials unmatched anywhere in college football.

Saturday wasn't about those trials. Penn State's best players just played their best. Some of that was a surprise. Penn State's Zach Zwinak ran hard 18 times for 94 yards. Not bad for a guy who was fifth string back in spring ball. Or maybe sixth string if you count Michael Zordich, who moved from fullback to start at halfback and ran 15 times for 77 yards Saturday before he bruised his left knee.

Everybody in the Penn State camp talked about how Temple's blitz had to be dealt with, and but for a couple of exceptions, McGloin dealt with it well, finding favorable matchups.

"I know what I'm looking for," McGloin said. "I know the offense like the back of my hand now, so I'm getting really comfortable. We were moving the ball today, but we missed some opportunities."

Asked about his early 41-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver and new favorite target Allen Robinson, McGloin explained, "It was man coverage. We had some slants on. Any time it's man coverage, you like your one-on-one matchup. Allen took an outside release - you kind of don't like to see that as a quarterback. The defender fortunately just got lost so I just put it where Al could catch it. He made a great play."

That's kind of how the day went. The Nittany Lions weren't perfect, even when they found the right matchups, but they didn't need Tom Brady back there to take advantage. His mimic did just fine.

Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com or @Jensenoffcampus on Twitter. Read his "Off Campus" columns at www.philly.com/offcampus.

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