April 14, 2010

In Defense Of Kevin Newsome (w/ Poll)

Following a shaky performance at Penn State's annual coaches clinic scrimmage, Kevin Newsome has come under fire by the fans and media. In part one of our two-part series about the sophomore quarterback, Tim assumes the task of defending Newsome against his critics...

Kevin Newsome displays his patented "Graceful Swan" passing motion at last year's Blue-White game. That's right Tim Tebow, take your "jump- pass" and shove it! (Photo: Joe Hermitt/Patriot-News)

Growing up in State College, I was sucked in by the aura of Penn State football when I was merely seven years old. It wasn't until a few years later when my dad decided to purchase season tickets and I began attending games at Beaver Stadium that I became fully cognizant of the cult-like following of the Penn State fan base.

Since that time, I've seen my share of moments from the absolutely amazing (Anything involving the 1994 team, Joe Nastasi's fake field goal TD run to beat Michigan in the "Snow Bowl", the 2005 Ohio State game), to the downright vomit-inducing (Minnesota kicker Dan Nystrom booting PSU's national title dreams through the uprights in 1999, the 6-4 Iowa game). I even witnessed the transformation that helped create the current Beaver Stadium configuration. That's right boys and girls, before 2001 there were no luxury boxes, no video scoreboards, no JoePa statue outside the stadium, and no upper deck in the South End Zone either, which meant that from our seats you could see Mount Nittany directly behind the student section. This made for a very colorful, picturesque, sunset during the second half of 3:30 PM kickoffs that would've made Bob Ross jealous.

One thing that has remained the same however, in all my years of following PSU football is that the backup quarterback is the most beloved player on the team. Yes, everything is all 'puppy dogs and ice cream' when you're the backup to that lousy, no-talent hack who's getting all the playing time. Well, that is, until the backup himself one day becomes the starter at which point, they become subjected to the scrutiny of an impatient fan base that demands immediate and near-perfect results. Misfire on more than a few passes, or throw an interception, and you're suddenly the most hated player on the team and subject to a Niagara Falls-like volume of verbal diarrhea on message boards written by every moron with a keyboard who thinks going 25-of-25 passing for 407 yards in NCAA Football 10 makes him an expert on quarterbacking.

With few exceptions (Kerry Collins in '94, Mike McQueary in '97, Rashard Casey in 2000, Zack Mills in '02), you could expect to hear plenty of grumblings about the starting quarterback every season. For the record, some of it was justified: Matt Senneca was clearly not as good of a QB compared to Zack Mills, Mills probably should've been benched in favor of Michael Robinson when he was clearly in decline, and Anthony Morelli showed over and over again in 2007 why he didn't deserve the starting role over Daryll Clark(*cough* ILLINOIS *cough*).

With all the reports about Newsome's struggles in practice, I can only envision what things will be like come September: Newsome misfires to Derek Moye who's running a perfect post pattern or Newsome fumbles the ball trying to scramble. The fans will start grumbling, and the message boards will be overflowing with posts such as "BENCH NEWSOME" or "The Official Start Paul Jones Thread" (Please, do you really think most fans are going to give a former walk-on in Matt McGloin a chance?). That's right Newsome-haters, I'm beating you all to the punch.

All I'm saying is give Newsome a chance. Yes, his passing abilities leave a lot to be desired but surely, his athleticism has to have you reminiscing about a certain other QB #12 that once led the offense. Hell, just read this little excerpt from Mark Brennan at Fight On State (emphasis on the bolded part):

Later, leading the second-team offense against the first-team defense, he fumbled a snap (but recovered) and then missed wideout Brett Brackett. Facing third and 16 from his own 29, he made his best play of the day, avoiding the blitz and scrambling for 26 yards.

Don't expect Newsome to be an overnight success either, Michael Robinson went through a couple of seasons of passing suckage (2003 passing stats: 45% 892 yards, 5 TDs, and 5 INTs. 2004: 36%, 170 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs) before that magical 2005 campaign, which by the way, didn't exactly feature Heisman-caliber passing stats from M-Rob (52% 2350 yards, 17 TDs, 10 INTs). Granted, Robinson was being used in a 'slash' role most of his career where he saw a good deal of action at tailback and receiver, which didn't leave him with as much time to develop as a QB. Newsome will not be subject to the position shuffling treatment which should allow him to develop more quickly than Robinson ever did but make no mistake, he will spend this season working out the kinks: It is beyond absurd to think that anybody can go from throwing 11 passes in garbage time as a freshman to being a quality passer when they take the starting reins as a sophomore. Look for Newsome though, to start resembling the true dual-threat QB he is capable of becoming by 2011, a season that the fan base seems to unanimously agree will be a national title-contending one.

And please, when you're busy chastising Mr. Newsome after he throws his first interception on a scramble, don't be too harsh...especially if you run into mortgage issues someday.

Be sure to check out part two of this series, where Galen voices his opposition to starting Newsome.

Who should be Penn State's starting quarterback for 2010?

Follow LBU on Facebook and Twitter. You can also Subscribe to Linebacker-U.com by Email


Post a Comment