- Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
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Editor's note: Ivan Maisel has the latest from Penn State as the Nittany Lions prepare for their season opener versus Ohio.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- As the Penn State coaching staff prepares the Nittany Lions in the first game week that they have spent together, there has been one constant. The offensive coaching staff has liked the work of fifth-year senior quarterback Matt McGloin.
“That’s a good read!” head coach Bill O’Brien has said more than once as the offensive staff has watched practice video.
O’Brien admires McGloin’s grit. “He’s got a lot of Scranton (Pa.) in him,” the head coach said Monday. O’Brien likes that McGloin won’t back down in quarterback meetings. Words, you might say, have been exchanged.
But what the coaching staff really likes is the way that McGloin has taken to the offense that O’Brien brought with him from the New England Patriots. It is to the previous Penn State offense what trigonometry is to multiplication. And McGloin loves it.
“I couldn’t be happier,” McGloin said. “I couldn’t be more lucky to have this happen in my fifth year.”
McGloin is listed at 6-foot-1, 199 pounds. He looks undersized for the modern FBS quarterback. But from the neck up, McGloin fits this offense and its intricacies.
“McGloin has flourished because he’s sharp mentally and he’s fast mentally,” quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher said. “That’s why [Jay] Cutler flourished for us at Vandy [Fisher coached at Vanderbilt from 2002 to '10]. … Knowledge is power. McGloin’s brain is speeding up and the game is slowing down. You can watch how fast the ball is coming out of his hand. Put in a tape from the first day of spring, you could tell the difference.”
McGloin compared learning the offense to learning a foreign language. Rosetta Stone couldn’t help him learn like the diplomats. He just had to dive into it the old-fashioned way -- video and repetition.
“You’re at the point where you think, ‘Am I ever going to learn this? When are things going to start clicking?’” McGloin said. “Toward the end of spring ball, you feel yourself getting better and better at it. You get comfortable with the terminology all throughout the summer. When camp starts and it starts clicking, it’s a good feeling. You feel like you can do so much to help out your team.”
He feels fluent in the language. Where the Penn State offense is the native tongue -- and that might be only in State College, Pa., and Foxborough, Mass. -- McGloin believes he could be a local.
“I think I’m very comfortable about being over there,” he said, laughing. “I think I could live there for a while.”
6mDavid M. Hale