Penn State Football: Quarterback Concerns Once Again in Spring Practice

Kevin McGuire@KevinOnCFBAnalyst IIMarch 22, 2012

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 26:  Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions throws a pass against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Penn State 45-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Penn State will open spring practice on Monday and for the first time since 1949 Joe Paterno will not be a part of the program at the start of practice. I asked my Twitter followers what questions they have about Penn State this spring, and not surprisingly the quarterback situation was the big topic in mind.

Bob Flounders of The Patriot News dug into the question Thursday, comparing Matt McGloin to Rob Bolden and throwing the Danny O'Brien factor in to the equation. It should not be a surprise; everybody focuses on the quarterback picture on every team.

Stop us if you have heard this before, but Penn State's quarterback situation is anything but rosy. Earlier this week Bleacher Report Big Ten blogger Adam Jacobi ranked the Big Ten quarterbacks, and Matt McGloin was ranked 11th, just ahead of Wisconsin's likely incumbent starter Jon Budmayr.

"Matt McGloin has struggled mightily leading the Penn State offense in his two years at the helm, and he's still been miles better than Rob Bolden," Jacobi said. He is absolutely right.

Anybody who watched Penn State's anemic offense the past two seasons will probably admit that the offense just seemed to move better when McGloin was on the field, compared to Bolden. The offensive line issues and wide receiver drops seemed to be more of an issue with Bolden on the field.

One of the biggest problems with the position last season was that Joe Paterno stuck to giving each player equal playing time for far too long. When Tom Bradley assumed the interim head coaching responsibilities in November he made a switch to McGloin as a full-time quarterback, with a bit of wildcat offense sprinkled in.

Now the question is how exactly Bill O'Brien will handle the situation. It appears he may have a few more options to consider as well.

Paul Jones is academically eligible to play football, and as long as he remains eligible he could make a serious push for significant playing time. Jones was highly recruited out of high school and some project him to be the most talented quarterback on the roster. Entering his redshirt sophomore season in 2012 he has taken time to study the position and work on his mechanics without seeing the field. That can have its pros and its cons.

Despite playing well in the Blue White Game last spring, Jones has yet to see the field against a team like Wisconsin, Ohio State or Nebraska. It can be a drastic change for any player.

While those three players will try to grab hold of O'Brien's new offensive philosophy, the coaching staff will be keeping close tabs on everyone to see who fits the new system the best. But what if the coaching staff decides that none of them are equipped for the offensive gameplan?

Enter Danny O'Brien.

The former Maryland quarterback contacted Penn State and reportedly checked out the campus recently as he weighs his options for the fall. Although he struggled last season under a new head coach in Randy Edsall, the upside potential for O'Brien is considered to be pretty high. Unless a quarterback already on the roster rises to the challenge in the next couple of weeks, look for Bill O'Brien (no relation) to make a push for bringing Danny O'Brien into the mix more seriously.

You can make a strong case for four different players being Penn State's starting quarterback. Rarely though, is that a positive sign for a football team.

Will Penn State be an exception to the rule?

Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle.