Paterno: QB battle still even
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno pronounced Penn State's quarterback derby a dead heat between Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin before the Nittany Lions held their Blue-White game on Saturday.
The coach may want to add a freshman who turns 18 this spring to the race after this otherwise uninspiring scrimmage.
Highly recruited Paul Jones, looking sharper than sophomores Newsome or McGloin, stood out the most on the final day of spring drills in Happy Valley.
Newsome and McGloin, who backed up two-year starter Daryll Clark last season, combined for an underwhelming 15-of-35 passing for 160 yards and two interceptions, both by McGloin. Jones was 5 of 8 for 67 yards in more limited action, though the offense looked more crisp when he was under center.
Jones connected with freshman Shawney Kersey for two scores, including a nice touch pass over a defender in the end zone for an 18-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
This may not be a two-man race after all, hinted Paterno's son and quarterbacks coach, Jay Paterno.
"That may be true that that's an assumption on people outside the program's part, but it's not the assumption on our part," Jay Paterno said. "We're going play the guy who gives us the best chance to win, no matter who it is."
At the same time, he warned not to read too much into Saturday. It was just one glorified practice, after all, played with a limited playbook in front of a national television audience and 55,000 fans at Beaver Stadium.
"It's a spring game ... there's not a whole lot of weight in that," Jay Paterno said. "We kept it pretty vanilla."
The offense often appeared about as plain as the Nittany Lions' simple blue-and-white uniforms when Newsome and McGloin were behind center.
Each had some highlights and both split time with the first-team offensive line, as they have all spring. Joe Paterno, speaking before the scrimmage, said he wasn't close to making a decision between Newsome or McGloin.
"I think the two kids right now at the head of the pack are pretty even," he said. "They're making progress, they're working at it. There's some potential there. ... We'll see what happens."
Newsome, considered more of a running quarterback like former Penn State QB Michael Robinson, showed some touch and a strong arm on a few medium-range passes but had more than his share of errant throws. He was 5 of 12 for 50 yards and was sacked three times, though he did show a knack for scrambling out of trouble at times.
While Newsome might be the front-runner by virtue of being the top backup last year, he said he's not taking anything for granted.
"I would rate my performance as 'We got a lot of work to do,'" said Newsome, who gave few specifics about where he wanted to improve beside being more consistent. "I consider myself a player that has a lot of work to do."
McGloin, a former walk-on, was 10 for 23 for 110 yards. While not as talented as Newsome, McGloin appears to have a little more poise on the field.
"We're settling in now. We got a long way to go," said McGloin, a third-year sophomore. "I think [the offense] is starting to respect us more and feel more comfortable."
Paterno rarely allows freshmen to talk to the media -- let alone start at quarterback -- so Jones wasn't available afterward. JoePa has hinted this spring that he's worried about giving freshmen too much playing time early in the fall, especially with a brutal road schedule that begins with a visit to national champion Alabama in week 2.
"There's an awful lot, particularly [when] we're in the process of ... trying to establish what to do with the two kids ahead of him," Paterno said about Jones before the game. "Some things he's good at, some things he's not good at, but he works hard."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press