STATE COLLEGE, Pa (WTAJ) — Sean Clifford’s injury renewed an interest in Penn State’s backup quarterback situation — and in that realm, Matt McGloin is a bit of an expert.
Before taking over as the Nittany Lions’ starter in 2012, he we embroiled in a quarterback battle in 2010 and 2011, starting just 10 of the 20 games he played in.
In 2010, McGloin was still a relatively unknown commodity battling with Rob Bolden and Kevin Newsome for playing time. On October 23, Newsome was out sick and not available for a game at Minnesota, so when Rob Bolden was knocked out of the game with a concussion, the former walk-on was called in.
McGloin took care of business at Minnesota, and earned the start the following week against Michigan. He threw for 250 yards and a touchdown in a 41-31 White Out victory in his first career start and Joe Paterno’s 399th win.
The following week Rob Bolden was cleared to play, and started at home against Northwestern.
“I remember Joe telling me before the game, ‘stay ready kid, stay ready,'” McGloin remembers.
Penn State trailed 7-0 late in the first quarter when Bolden took a sack, he fumbled and Penn State turned the ball over at midfield. Paterno had seen enough and sent in the Scranton Slinger.
Penn State fell behind 21-0 late in the first half before McGloin engineered a 9 play, 91 yard touchdown drive in the final moments of the half. A drive that ignited the Nittany Lion’s improbable comeback.
“We scored on five consecutive drives and won that game, which was just crazy,” McGloin said. “What an exciting atmosphere. You couldn’t have written it any better.”
McGloin threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns in the 35-21 win, Joe Paterno’s 400th.
McGloin eventually became the Nittany Lion’s starter late in the season, but still battled Bolden for the top job in 2011. McGloin became somewhat of an “off the bench” pro and said he saw each opportunity as a chance to win the job once and for all.
“Somebody has to be the guy,” he said. “For me, it was always why not me?”
Sean Clifford’s injury led Penn State back into uncertain times at quarterback. Despite practicing this week, his status against Illinois is unknown. McGloin said it’s key for backups Ta’Quan Roberson and Christian Villeaux to embrace the mentality that helped him be so successful.
“There is no, this is one game and Sean Will be back. You can’t think like that. It’s got to be ‘yeah, I’m going out and winning and play well and I’m starting against Ohio State,'” he said. “This is why your there, you’re not there to be a backup, you’re not there to sit on the bench. You’re there to play football, that’s what you signed up for. Look, nerves? Yeah, absolutely? Scared? Of course. But it should be in a good way.”
Roberson struggled substituting for Sean Clifford at Iowa. This season he’s played in four games, completing 11 of 28 passes for 85 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His struggles opened a conversation about what Penn State will look like when Clifford graduates, sparring interest in incoming freshman quarterback Drew Allar. But today, the opportunity remains in Roberson’s and Villeaux’s court, and McGloin said when opportunity knocks, the players need to be ready before opening the door.
“What happens when preparation meets opportunity? You continue to prepare so when you get your opportunity you make the most of it,” he said. “You know if you’re a backup and you go out there if it doesn’t go well, the chance of you getting another chance is slim to none.”