HERSHEY, Pa. - Thanks to the struggles of Penn State's two inexperienced quarterbacks in the Blue-White spring game, many members of Nittany Nation are in panic mode, wondering whether the Lions will come up with someone decent under center.
But offensive coordinator Galen Hall thinks that either of the two sophomores, Kevin Newsome or Matt McGloin, will have what it takes to gain a starting role in time for the Sept. 4 season opener against Youngstown State.
"I think the uncertainty makes it more scary than, obviously, if you had a starter coming back, someone that's had some snaps," Hall said Thursday night before an alumni reception. "But I think these guys will play well; I really do. I think we'll have one [who can start]. Who it is, I don't know, but I think we'll have a top quarterback."
The alumni outing was billed as "An Evening With Joe," but coach Joe Paterno did not make the trip because of a lingering case of intestinal flu. Hall and fellow assistants Mike McQueary and Ron Vanderlinden filled in, along with wide receiver Graham Zug.
Neither Newsome (five completions in 12 attempts for 50 yards) nor McGloin (10 of 23, 110) was impressive during the spring game. Incoming freshman Paul Jones threw for the team's only two touchdowns.
Paterno has indicated that a freshman would not get the same look at quarterback as the returning players, particularly since Game 2 on the Nittany Lions' schedule is at defending national champion Alabama.
Zug, who caught 46 passes last season, second on the team, did not sound worried about the quarterback uncertainty.
"I don't think it's that bad of a thing right now," said Zug, who will be a senior this fall. "Each quarterback is pushing the others. They're working harder. There's constantly competition. I think that edge to get better is there every single day, and that makes them work harder."
Paterno shuffled the offensive line during the spring, moving all-American Stefan Wisniewski from center to guard and plugging in two guards - Lou Eliades and Quinn Barham - at tackle. Hall said the new players are "where we think we want them," but he wouldn't rule out more changes in the preseason.
"I think until you get your line settled, it's hard to get a quarterback settled," he said. "So, hopefully, we've moved our people into the right positions and they'll come back and play better in the fall."
Until a starting quarterback emerges, however, preseason practice could be interesting.
Player movement. The Lions lost two wide receivers during the month. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Price, who played in five games last season but did not catch a pass, has left the university. Incoming freshman Levi Norwood was granted a release from his scholarship to play at Baylor, where his father, Brian, is the defensive coordinator. Brian Norwood is a former Penn State assistant. . . . Penn State gained its first member of the freshman class of 2011 when Kyle Carter, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end from William Penn High in New Castle, Del., made an oral commitment. The Nittany Lions also received a late commitment for this year from 6-4, 310-pound offensive lineman Alex Mateas of Ottawa, Ontario. He plays for a club team in the Canadian Junior Football League.
Nittany notes. With Paterno, an enthusiastic supporter of Big Ten expansion, absent, athletic director Tim Curley fielded questions on the topic and said all the conference schools will closely examine the best way for the league to proceed. "There really isn't a set idea going into this right now," he said. "We're just going to let the process play out and see what would be best for the future." Curley also said that Paterno, who has been ill for more than two weeks, has been at work meeting with his staff and recruiting. "It's just a matter of getting him back to 100 percent," Curley said. "He's not there yet."