Monday, November 26, 2007

A Penn State retrospective: Quarterbacks

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sorry about the lack of posting lately but it was Thanksgiving and I spent a lot of time away from my computer doing family & friends sort of things but Nick kept you occupied and now I'm back rejuvenated and ready to talk some Penn State athletics. With the season officially over and the Nittany Lions waiting for a crap bowl berth I think it's time to take a look back at the season on a position by position basis. We'll start with a look at quarterbacks.

Expectations

Coming into the 2007 season most felt that Anthony Morelli would improve on his 2006 campaign with an experienced receiving corps returning all three wide receivers and (what many thought was) a top notch tight end. Sure there were questions about his ability in big games but the Tennessee bowl performance had people buzzing about the strong-armed quarterback's potential. Needless to say that was tempered by the fact that he was coached by Jay Paterno, but most Penn State fans had visions of decent improvement over the previous year.

Reality

The season started out promising as Morelli feasted on three cupcakes to the tune of a 63% pass completion percentage with 8 touchdowns and only 1 interception but that all came to a screeching halt when Morelli laid a big egg in Ann Arbor. Against Michigan Morelli completed only 15 of his 31 passes for a measly 169 yards against a Wolverine defense that previously got torched by a Div I-AA opponent. In fact Morelli was great against lesser teams and lousy against quality opponents in 2007. In Penn State's eight wins Morelli completed 64% of his passes for 16 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. In the Nittany Lions' four loses Morelli's stats dipped to a 51% completion percentage with only 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. It's easy to see that when Anthony struggled so did Penn State. Now an argument can be made that some of those losses were more play calling and less execution on Anthony's part but in the end the stats don't lie – when Morelli played poorly Penn State lost.

Prospectus

With this being Antony's last season we need to look to the future. I know for some of you that last sentence probably bought out a hearty cheer but are we going to be better off next season? The two front runners (Daryll Clark and Pat Devlin) have thrown a whopping ten passes this season so there's going to be a very green quarterback starting for the Nittany Lions. On the positive side whoever wins the starting job will have all three wide receivers back, a kick-ass offensive line, a hard-nosed running back to take the pressure off, and a (supposedly) athletic tight end.

Both bring something completely unique to the equation: Clark is a poor man's Michael Robinson, athletic and made to fit into the spread attack and Devlin gives you a classic drop back passer with pin-point accuracy and several Pennsylvania high school passing records. On the negative side, Paterno is notorious for quarterback controversies when there is no absolute clear cut winner and a controversy is inevitable, and lest we not forget, Jay Paterno is still the quarterbacks coach.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about a QB rotation thing, a la Thompson/Casey in the 98-99 years? I think this is a very similar situation- Devin is the future, but Clark brings another element to the table.
Why we didn't use Clark inside the opponents 10 this year? He could have gained valuable experience in a role where a more mobile QB could excel in. Again, poor QB development at PSU

Galen said...

Anon,

I would be for a quarterback rotation if there was a "primary" quarterback and the other guy was a "situational" quarterback in that one guy gets the bulk of the snaps. I don't think I like the idea of a straight up rotation becuase you don't get any consistency with the wideouts.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong about Devlin being a drop back passer. The TAP forum on FOS has a number of posters who saw Devlin play in high school and noted the other day that Devlin ran the same 5 wide spread offense that Missouri runs.

I am worried about Clark's ability to throw the ball. From what I can see of Devlin, he can do it all (although it has been a very small "see").

Sorry, but the end of the Morelli era can not come soon enough. With the disappointment of this season, I would be just as happy to have Clark and Devlin split the bowl game.

Anonymous said...

//split the bowl game//

would be great but there is no way in hell. it would have been nice to see them play against MSU, especially considering we lost anyway. I really think the loyalty thing really bites us in the ass over and over again. We are talking about Kinlaw getting all the carries and AM getting all the snaps, even in the case of a blowout i doubt we will see a backup QB and even if we do there is no way in hell we toss more than 5 yards down the field.

i'm looking forward to another spring game i get too drunk to actually gain any insight from. if i do manage to say coherent i'd love to see these to go back and fourth on our soft defense.

BSD said...

I would like to see some kind of rotation. We rotate running backs. We rotate offensive linemen. We rotate defensive linemen. We rotate linebackers. Why not quarterbacks?

Let Clark start the game and play the first quarter. Let Devlin play the second quarter. Which ever guy gives the opponent more fits starts the second half. As long as egos don't get in the way I think this is a great solution.

Anonymous said...

Basically, Joe Pa (please plan to retire soon) will go with Clark because he is a Senior. That's a Paterno trait and always will be until he drops on the sideline never to breathe again. Devlin could be the better of the two but he will start the season as #2 QB.

PSUgirl said...

Quarterback rotation doesn't work (imo and as history has taught us) - especially not at PSU - i mean really, as stated above - jay paterno is the qb coach. If the Old Ball Coach couldn't make it work - what makes you think sonny boy could?

Clark had a nice drive earlier in the season - was it against buffalo? I can't remember. Most assessments tout him as an all-in-one - arm strength and quick feet. If this is true - he came to the wrong school. Unless he has an amazing fortitude (akin to Mr. Robinson's) - I'm not optimistic - of course, there's a good chance that the o-line is decent next year so maybe he'll be fine.