Philly Sports Live

Matt McGloin is Quickly Becoming the Clear Leader

by Andrew Porter (@And_Porter)

PHILADELPHIA—Matt McGloin started his journey at Penn State as a walk-on quarterback, and no one, except for him of course, thought he would ever make an impact on the field.

Now, McGloin is the quarterback/leader of the most influential and historic football team in Penn State University history. And he is doing a damn good job at, not only playing quarterback, but being a leader on and off the field. Unfortunately, despite his play, McGloin and Penn State still find themselves 0-2. Last Saturday against Virginia might have the most deflating loss of McGloin’s football career.

“Well any loss is a tough one, especially when it’s your first two games and you end up 0-2,” McGloin told me on TSP Radio. “But we did a lot of positives on Saturday, we were able to move the ball, we put a great two minute drive together at the end, and unfortunately we couldn’t finish it. We left a lot of plays out there on the field.”

McGloin suffered the same exact injury twice, both in the 2nd quarter of the game on Saturday, and had to come out of the game each time (only for one play the first time). The second time he came out of the game, McGloin remained out through half-time and into the third quarter, but he wasn’t about to miss the entire game.

“It was a rare incident in the 2nd quarter,” McGloin said. “I took the same exact shot within five plays and I kind of lost feeling in my arm, I couldn’t move it to well, but fortunately once I heard the x-rays were negative I told them to give me some magic in the lockerroom and tape me up, and let me get back out there.”

With backup QB Steve Bench at the helm for Penn State’s first drive of the second half, the offense was struggling to move the ball. McGloin, sensing his team needed him more than ever, fought through the pain and returned to the game, replacing Bench on Penn State’s 3rd play from scrimmage in the second half.

“I thought a lot of guys were saying they didn’t expect me to come back in, they didn’t expect me to play the game, and at the point you want to get back in there and do whatever you can for your team,” said McGloin. “You’ve been through all with them, and I just wanted to get back out there and play with them.”

McGloin was facing a 3rd and 10 from his own 25 yard-line, a unquestioned difficult first down conversion to say the least, and with his back against the wall, McGloin remarkably delivered. He completed a 23 yard pass to Penn State WR, Alex Kenney for a first down, defying the odds, showing his confidence, and leading by example, a defining moment in McGloin’s career.

“I went out there and tried to motivate them a little bit just by making that third down play, and I think right then we knew that we were going to start to pick things up a little bit,” McGloin said.

Matt McGloin’s confidence is at all time high, and as a result, he is playing the best football of his career. Before the season, Penn State’s new head coach, Bill O’Brien, made McGloin the clear starting quarterback for the first time in Matt’s career, giving him some much needed stability, which allowed him to relax and play his game.

“Yea, it definitely gives you more confidence as a quarterback and just a player, knowing that, you don’t need to look over your shoulder every play to worry if you don’t perform well, or if you don’t complete this pass then you are going to lose reps or they ‘re just going to take you out of the game,” McGloin told me on TSP Radio Monday night. “Knowing that you solidified the starting job and that you are the quarterback, you understand that you can just play the way you always known how to play. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t always had that opportunity in the past. I’ve always felt the need to press myself, put a lot of pressure on myself, and try to make plays happen. Now, you kind of just do what you always been able to do, manage the game, and that’s all I have been trying to do these past two games.”

As you would expect, Coach O’Brien has been pleased with the performance of his starting quarterback, who has a completion percentage of 55%, 457 passing yards, 4 TDs, and only 1 INT,  over the first two games. For McGloin, that’s not enough. As the leader of the football team, McGloin wants to win.

“Coach O’Brien has been impressed with the way I’ve played, but unfortunately it’s tough as a quarterback, and as a competitor you want to get that first win for him and we’re doing the best that we can, and when it happens hopefully we get on a string of wins.”

McGloin’s success at quarterback this season has seemingly quieted a lot of his critics, which is something that has never bothered the confident 6-1, 210 pound senior, from Scranton, PA.

“You’re always going to have the critics no matter where you are,” McGloin said. “People aren’t always going to agree with the ultimate decision the coaches make, but my answer to them has always been, Coach O’Brien is putting trust in me, and I’m playing, then I must be doing something right. We fortunately have had great players around me to make some good plays and be able to put me in the position that I’m in. Personal stats for the first two games have been good, but that really doesn’t matter to me at all if we’re not getting the win.”

McGloin’s leadership abilities, combined with his comfortable relationship with Coach Bill O’Brien, allowed McGloin to even calm down his coach on Saturday, during a situation in the 1st quarter where the referees seemed to restart the play clock to fast.

“Well you know, initially I was kind of upset as well, he saw the same thing I did,” McGloin explained. “There was a penalty and I think they either just didn’t reset the play clock, or they started it too fast.”

“Normally, I break the huddle and I have a lot of time to go up and make adjustments,” he continued. “But as soon as I broke the huddle there was only 4 or 5 seconds left on the play clock, and we had to burn a timeout, so something definitely happened there that shouldn’t have happened.”

It was pretty neat to see McGloin calming down his coach, which really exemplified his maturity.

“Coach O’brien, obviously he was heated, but he was getting really heated there towards the end, and I just thought it would just be smart to try and step in the way and get him out of that, take a timeout, and live to see another down,” McGloin continued. “That’s just the type of relationship we have, where we understand each other, and we’re able to calm each other down.”

Sam Ficken, Penn State’s true sophomore kicker, had the worst game of his life on Saturday. He missed 4 field goals and had an extra point blocked in a one point loss, but like a true leader should, McGloin is standing behind his teammate and taking responsibility for the loss.

“Sam’s got a great leg, he’s a great kicker, he’s a great teammate, and we’re happy to have him as a kicker,” McGloin said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t have his day on Saturday, but that’s not what won or lost us the game. I could have made some better throws here, I could have made some better adjustments, and things like that. We all could have done something a little better.”

McGloin said he has left Ficken alone as of now, but plans on speaking to Ficken at some point.

“You just gotta let him be himself,” said McGloin. “Coming from me, I wouldn’t want anyone saying anything to me, I would kind of just want to be left alone, things like that.”

What is McGloin going to tell Ficken?

“But today [Monday] is the day you go say something to him like, ‘Hey man, we need you. You’ve got a lot of confidence, we got a lot of confidence in you. You’re a great kicker, you got a great league, and you have made those kicks in practice a million times. Just relax, and get it done for us next time.’ And I have no doubt that he will.”

Oh, and as if he isn’t preparing well enough already, on his day off Sunday, McGloin studied routes by watching one of the top offenses in the NFL, the New England Patriots, Bill O’Brien’s former team.

“Sunday I watched the Patriots play,” said McGloin. “It’s funny watching guys like Welker, and Brady, and guys like that, and Hernandez and knowing what routes they are running and calling them out when they run them. People you are sitting with are kind of like, ‘How do you know this stuff?’ That helps you as well.”

At this time last year, Matt McGloin was getting criticized, scrutinized, and analyzed for every single move he made. He was, maybe unfairly, competing for a starting job with former Penn Stater, Robert Bolden. Now, as the unquestioned starter and leader of this football team, McGloin has found his role. He is calm, confident, and poised, and there is zero quarterback controversy in Happy Valley.

Watching the team respond to McGloin when he re-entered the game in the third quarter on Saturday, solidified what we already knew. Matt McGloin is more more than just a quarterback right now. McGloin is the leader of this historic Penn State football team, and his confident, and at times cocky personality, makes him the perfect candidate for the job.