UNIVERSITY PARK - Bill O'Brien was asked to evaluate his three quarterbacks following Saturday's Blue-White Game.
"I really have to watch the film," he said.
Now where have we heard that before?
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Paul Jones sets up behind lineman Nate Cadogan.
The request, as in the past, was fair enough, but O'Brien did go on to say that he felt Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden and Paul Jones "all made plays" after the PSU defense beat the offense, 77-65, in an electoral-college scoring system.
O'Brien praised each QB for learning a "system that is entirely different" and deferred comment on a current pecking order.
"We'll make a decision heading into training camp on who we're going with and who the top two are," he said.
It appears, judging from the comments on how spring practice went and based on Saturday's numbers that McGloin, the senior incumbent, remains ahead.
Quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher said, "When Matt plays within himself, he does a good job."
Fisher felt McGloin, who went 6-of-13 for 105 yards, and a touchdown, made "one bad throw," alluding to a sideline interception that Jesse Della Valle (a candidate for someone's all-name team) returned 35 yards.
"McGloin had a very good last week of practice and was very good at times today," Fisher said.
"I feel comfortable," McGloin said. "I thought I did a good job this spring, and there's still a lot of room for improvement."
So the race is likely for No. 2. Bolden went 7-for-14 for 78 yards - one for 37 yards - but was picked off three times.
Bolden has talked of transferring before but said Saturday, "That's all in the past. I feel I'm getting better every day, and I have everything I need here."
Fisher said a couple of times that Bolden needs to become "more consistent with his decision making."
Of the three, Jones is the most exciting. He's got a rocket arm, evidenced by his ability to roll left and throw right, a difficult pass for a righthanded QB. But Jones did it several times en route to a 113-yard day on 6-for-15 passing, including a touchdown.
Jones was admittedly nervous after not playing due to academic reasons since last year's Blue-White game.
"The first half didn't go as I thought," he said.
He didn't get as many chances against the first-team defense, and Jones had several open receivers that he missed. But he also brought a vertical, stretch-the-field ability missing the last few years.
He drew the game's biggest ovation when he entered late in the first quarter.
"Some guys come alive in a game like this, and at times Paul did that," Fisher said. "He has something to him. He can scramble and improvise and he's exciting to watch. P.J. brings the place alive, and at times Rob did that."
Former defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who recruited him, once said Jones could throw the ball 100 yards.
Jones wouldn't go that far but said Saturday he's thrown it as far as 70 "with a little wind." He said O'Brien told him the deepest chuck by one of his quarterbacks is a 72-yarder uncorked in practice by the Patriots' backup Ryan Mallett.
O'Brien said he and Jones have grown close because "we both have a unique sense of humor."
The coach said Jones "knows what he has to do to win the job" and "has gotten better every day."
Someone kidded McGloin after the game that he could be on the verge of setting an NCAA record for winning the No. 1 quarterback job.
He laughed, saying, "If I win it this year, it probably would be the third one. But all quarterbacks across the country are in battles."
Penn State's trio is, too, but it's more for No. 2.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.