January 1, 2011

McGloin Leads Penn State to Outback Bowl Loss

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
There is a reason Matt McGloin didn't win the starting quarterback job in late August 2010.

For all the talk of "moxie," and "swagger," none of it could match poor throws into coverage, five interceptions, one pick-6 that sealed the defeat, and about three other passes that should have been intercepted by Florida in the Gators' 37-24 win over the Nittany Lions today.

Things started off well enough, as after an initial 3-and-out, Penn State marched down the field with McGloin connecting on 6 of 7 passes for a touchdown to Derek Moye. Florida struggled much of the day on offense, which was compounded by a stellar effort by the Penn State defense. But mistake after mistake led to the Gators being allowed to stay in, and win, the 2011 Outback Bowl.

Today's loss by Penn State doubles down on the fiery quarterback battle that began eight months ago. There were questions going into the season. There were questions during the season. Even questions during bowl prep. Now, those questions will surely grow louder as the off season kicks in tonight for Penn State.

But the most frustrating part was that Penn State could have won this game handily, if the offense was able to just hold onto the ball.

Was McGloin the main catalyst for the offensive miscues? Very much so. But he was definitely not alone. Key 3rd down drops by the usually sure-handed receiver Justin Brown cost Penn State a few big drives. The blocking was hit or miss most of the game. And the play calling on offense left some to be desired.

Interception after interception, however, came at nearly the worst times for Penn State. The worst two were thrown at times when all Penn State had to do was avoid losing possession of the football.

Leading 24-20 late in the third quarter, facing 3rd and inches, McGloin ran a simple bootleg--which was a questionable call to begin with--where his pass was thrown just too low and picked by Brandon Hicks. The Gators scored a touchdown a few plays later, taking the 27-24 lead they would not relinquish.

Next came the game-winner--or loser, depending on which side you're on. Penn State got the ball with about 3 minutes left in the game, down 30-24. McGloin, with his patented schizo style of play, led the team down to the Florida 34 yard line. Evan Royster had torn off a few big runs on the drive, including a huge 23-yarder that gave the Nittany Nation a sliver of hope that the game could be won.

But staring down at his first read--on yet another rollout pass play--McGloin released the pass. McGloin completed the pass to a familiar target: Florida safety Ahmad Black. Black returned the pick 80 yards to the end zone.

For good measure, on the very next drive, McGloin tossed his fifth interception of the day. Though it didn't make a difference with Penn State down by 13, it was a fitting ending to a horribly record-setting performance by the Penn State quarterback.

Penn State would finish the game with a 350-279 advantage in offensive yardage, and 32:49-27:11 edge in time of possession. But the mistakes and turnovers negated any sort of dominance on the stat sheet.

There were, however, some positives for Penn State. D'Anton Lynn emerged as a real playmaker in the defensive secondary, picking off Florida's first pass on its first offensive play, then recovering a huge fumble in the end zone as the Gators were driving for a touchdown. The true junior cornerback was all over the field and was one of the best tacklers on either defense.

The ability of the Penn State defense to bend, but not break, despite being constantly dealt horrible field position and a lack of rest.

Royster had 98 yards on just 20 carries. Had he been fed the ball more often, with more consistent blocking, he could have had a lot more. His 23-yard run at the end was clutch, even though the drive ended poorly.

Derek Moye is equal to Deon Butler as the best wide receiver at Penn State the last 15 years, since Bobby Engram. He finished with 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

We will have more analysis of the game later. Until then, finish up that leftover New Years Eve booze.

Update: Nick thought this was appropriate for the circumstances. It is...

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  1. Where are all the McGloin supporters at now? I want to see them make excuses for him. Nice write-up Mike.

  2. Thanks. There is a lot of talent on this team. A lot of potential. Experience and another off-season will do wonders. Folks who are running around with their panties in a knot must not be students of PSU/JoePa history. Look back at 1976, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2004, or a host of other seasons that led the fan base to nearly jump off a bridge. Penn State will be fine.

  3. All i have to say is if we don't handle this quarterback situation correctly, we may end up having no choice but to play Mcgloin. Bolden has to be starter next year or hes going to leave. Paul Jones has to get some playing time or he will also leave. Sure, Mcgloin was the feel-good story of the year but he kind of lost his swagger the last couple games. So Mcgloin was a one hit wonder and its time to turn to the future, THE BOLDEN ARM. (Nice write-up Mike)

  4. I wanted to stay on the McGloin bandwagon, I really did, but how can ya after that. I'm looking for Paul Jones to come in and take the job next year. Heard it here first.

  5. Anon, not really going out on a limb there since Bolden is transferring out per his dad.

  6. Didn't see that until after this, good luck to him, that's the only bad part about having this many good options at quarterback, only one can play. I think with 2 and a half years to learn the playbook and the offensive talent we have coming back next year, and a defense returning most every starter we are in for a treat with or without Bolden under center.

  7. Paul Jones should have started this year. I was on that bandwagon from the minute he committed