Halfway through spring drills, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said the quarterback battle between Steven Bench and Tyler Ferguson is "about even."
"Both guys are athletic, bright guys," O'Brien told gopsusports.com Friday. "They're competitive, they're working hard at it. Both guys have had good plays and bad plays. They're about even right now, and I really enjoy coaching them."
Bench was Matt McGloin's backup last year but appeared for a only a few plays in two games. Ferguson is a junior college transfer who threw for 2,614 and 22 touchdowns at College of the Sequoias in California.
Freshman recruit Christian Hackenberg is not yet on campus and will join the Nittany Lions this summer.
O'Brien said the team has "made a lot of progress" so far this spring.
"These guys have had a hard-working spring," he said. "It hasn't all been pretty, that's spring football. But we've got a lot of young guys that are working hard, and our veterans seem to know the pace that we want, and we feel good about where we're at right now."
O'Brien installed a new offense last year that relied heavily on a quick, no-huddle attack. He doesn't have a veteran quarterback like McGloin running the offense, but the coach said the players have a better grasp of it after running it for a year.
"We like the fact that we can change in and out of it," O'Brien said. "We can go fast and slow it down. The guys have a better handle of it this year, so we're able to do a lot of different things with the tempo."
The weather finally eased up enough to allow Penn State to practice outside Friday for the first time this spring. That was the eighth spring practice, and the Lions will have four this week.
"Next week's a big week for us," O'Brien said. "We have four practices, and we've got to get a lot of work done. We still have some installation to do there and different things we want to put in on offense, defense and special teams. ... The last week we'll probably tempo it down a little bit and get ready for the Blue-White