Penn State may be 0-2, but don't blame Matt McGloin. He's clearly improved as a passer and a leader en route to what should be his best season as a collegiate quarterback.
Unfortunately for McGloin, neither the stats nor Penn States' record shows it. He's completing a mediocre 55 percent of his passes on a 5.5-yards-per-attempt clip. Normally, those numbers would be unacceptable, but they don't reflect the progress McGloin has really made.
McGloin has looked in complete control of the offense. This is big for McGloin, who earlier in his career had often played like he was pressing too hard.
Now, McGloin knows what throws are in his repertoire, and he uses these throws to good effect. McGloin is a solid thrower on the move, and he is sharp on short throws. This, combined with Bill O'Brien's offense—which emphasizes rhythm and quick throws—has allowed McGloin to finally look the part of starting quarterback.
That McGloin has improved so much while the offense has regressed so badly is completely counter-intuitive, but it really is the case. Unfortunately for McGloin, the glut of talent that left the Nittany Lions has kept the offense from clicking.
A look at the stats shows that Penn State completely lacks weapons around McGloin.
The running game is one of the worst in the country. Penn State lacked a legitimate option when Silas Redd transferred to USC, leaving Derek Day and Bill Belton to carry the load. Both are smaller backs who lack burst, and neither should be relied on as a starting back.
The dearth of talent in the backfield has resulted in a running game that ranks 103rd in the country in yards per game. Worst, the running game has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, an unacceptable clip that virtually guarantees offensive struggles.
At receiver, Penn State isn't much better. The loss of top receiver Justin Brown to Oklahoma has forced McGloin to rely on young players like Allen Robinson and tight end Kyle Carter. Both have been solid, but neither is a game-breaking talent.
Looking at Penn State's roster, there are no players who instill fear in defensive coordinators. Opponents can play close to the line of scrimmage, knowing that the deep pass or explosive outside run is not an option for the Nittany Lions.
Opposing defenses have consequently blown up running plays and completely smothered the Penn State receivers.
As good as McGloin has played this season, he cannot be expected to complete passes when his receivers can't get open and his running backs are stuffed on every carry.
Watching McGloin is truly a sad sight. He's a top-quality man and a developing quarterback who stuck by his university in a moment of need. He's led this team in a way few could manage, and he still has them looking up.
Unfortunately, the optimism is misplaced. Penn State will continue to get shut down on offense, and McGloin's development will be wasted.