April 1, 2010

Thursday Question: Spring Position Battles, pt. 1

The exit of Daryll Clark leaves a gaping hole in the offensive starting lineup. The Nittany Lions have multiple positions to fill this off-season.

Spring football is a time when great teams are made. Penn State in 2010 is no different. With so many key leadership positions vacated by long-time starters, the Nittany Lions have a ton of work to do over the next 24 days.

oday, the task is to name the position battles this spring--one on offense, one on defense--that we are looking forward to the most, in this week's Thursday Question: What's the most intriguing offensive position battle this spring?


It would be easy to talk about the imminent quarterback battle about to ensue this spring but I think I’ll leave that argument for the lazy reporters that get paid for this, I’m sure you’ll be sick of hearing about the “quarterback controversy” soon enough, I won’t pile on. The running back and wide receiver positions are just about set and while there are some offensive line positions yet to be determined, I think the most important position to fill on offense is the tight end. It’s easy to forget the tight end in Penn State’s offense, it is seldom used in the passing game, but it’s a very important cog when it comes to blocking, not only for the passing game but for the running game as well.

Four-year starting tight ends Andrew Quarless (10) and Mickey Shuler (82) are also graduated and off to the NFL this spring. Can Penn State find a capable replacement following a record-breaking season for Nittany Lions tight ends?

Gone to graduation are Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler a very good one, two combo last season. After those two the remaining options are a bit green. Andrew Szczerba gets the starting nod only by default because he is the guy with experience, and by “experience” I mean he did have a catch last season. Szczerba blew up the blue/white game last year but then disappeared on the depth chart. Behind him are Mark Wedderburn a redshirt sophomore and possibly senior erstwhile wide receiver Brett Brackett. Brackett is an intriguing player this spring, his name is mentioned at wide receiver, quarterback and tight end. If I were a betting man I would put a sawbuck on Brackett ending up at tight end.


This might sound strange, but I'm really hoping for a good race at right tackle. If you unfortunately remember the entire 2009 campaign on the right side of the offensive line, you know very well how important it is to have strong links at all five line positions. With the move of DeOn'tae Pannell over to the left side, and the interior line pretty much settled, the right tackle spot is the big question mark as the Nittany Lions enter spring practice. It's been several seasons since I can honestly say I have no idea who will end up on the first team line when spring turns to summer. Adam Gress and Eric Shrive are inexperienced redshirt freshmen, while Mike Farrell is a year older, but hardly a veteran. Throw in about one or two more darkhorses, and you've got yourself a clusterf@ck for right tackle in 2010. By the Blue-White Game, I'm hoping for at least two players to separate themselves from the rest.


Obviously, it goes without saying the QB is where the offensive attention will be until the first snap of the fall. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you'll get a whole lot of nothing out of the Blue-White Game. What you will get is stripped down, basic plays with easy reads. Unless someone gets happy feet and breaks a big run, there won't be much excitement in that department. It will, however, feed into a multitude of dynamic what ifs to ponder until the regular season (two/three qb sets? wildcat? etc.), which given the lack of football will keep us happily occupied.


I hate to pick the obvious answer but how can you NOT be intrigued by the quarterback competition? Newsome will win it out in the end, but right now if we were to take JayPa's word as gospel, it sounds as if Matt McGloin has been the most impressive passer. Obviously, the more reps Paul Jones takes, the more likely it becomes that he lands the #2 spot on the depth chart over the backup darkhorse McGloin. Oh, and don't forget Robert Bolden, he'll likely redshirt in the end due to being behind the other three as far as knowing the playbook goes, but don't act like you're not curious to see if he can possibly shake things up when he arrives to Happy Valley this Summer.

Next week: Part 2, defensive battles

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1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see how the staff uses Curtis Drake. He might not be as fast as Derrick Williams was, but he has a much better arm. Could be a fun Blue-White Game, if Jay Paterno gets tricky out there.