Penn State Football: Why Bill O'Brien's Offense Saved Matt McGloin's Career

John McGonigalCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Quarterback Matthew McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions signals from the line of scrimmage against the Navy Midshipmen at Beaver Stadium on September 15, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

To Penn State fans, Big Ten affectionados and college football pundits across the country, the name Matthew McGloin had a lot of meanings last year and heading into this past offseason.

Walk-on. Mediocre. Interceptions. Resilient. Overconfident.  

However, the senior quarterback means a lot more this season to the Nittany Lions—emotionally and statistically.

Coming into this season, the Penn State football program had quite a laundry list of problems. Whether it was the sanctions or players leaving, the team had a lot to overcome, plain and simple.

Considering all of this, one surprising thing they have not had to overcome is the situation under center—some closure Nittany Lions fans haven't had in over two years.

Off the field, McGloin has been a leader for an emotionally charged community and football team. Providing the team with an honest and well spoken ambassador, McGloin has really thrived in his role as a senior and a leader within Happy Valley. 

On another note, the Scranton native's ability to put it together on the field has been phenomenal and overwhelming on so many levels. 

Let's start with last year. 

Sure, the presence of Silas Redd in the backfield relieved an enormous amount of pressure on McGloin to perform. But when the Lions did throw, it wasn't pretty. 

Trapped in a predictable and stale offense, McGloin didn't do much of anything statistically. In conference, the gunslinger ranked 10th in the Big Ten conference in both passing yards per game (130.9) and passing efficiency (118.3). 

Because he was in somewhat of a position battle with Rob Bolden, McGloin didn't get the confidence from the fans or coaching staff. Whenever he went out there, he had to prove his worth one pass at a time.

Fast forward to June 1, 2012.

With a firm understanding of the offense, McGloin was declared starting quarterback by new coach Bill O'Brien for fall camp. Whether that was a final decision, no one knew. In fact, it wouldn't have been surprising if all three quarterbacks (McGloin, Bolden and Paul Jones) started games in 2012. 

However, McGloin has shown why he earned that position in the summer and has proven his competence as a quarterback in the Big Ten.

Considering how well he's done this year, I would go ahead and say he's a contender for an All-Big Ten team honor at season's end, with only Taylor Martinez of Nebraska standing in his way. Some may roll their eyes at this, but just look at the numbers he's put up in O'Brien's offensive scheme. 

In 2012, McGloin leads the conference in passing yards (2,436) and passing yards per game (270.7). The senior, who has looked more comfortable in the pocket, has improved his completion percentage from 54.1 percent in 2011 to 64.1 percent this season (second in the Big Ten). 

He also has had three 300-yard performances this year and owns a 185.6 passer rating on fourth downs. McGloin has shown his awareness to escape pressure and scramble away from oncoming defenders. Not only does he have five rushing touchdowns, but he's also only been sacked just 12 times this year.

McGloin's comfortability factor in O'Brien's offense is apparent, and it has produced results on the gridiron. He's not going to be an early-round NFL draft pick, and he's not going to win the Walter Camp Award, that's for sure.

But an All-Big Ten selection is a possibility for McGloin, and it's due in part to O'Brien's offensive scheme and how the senior adopted and applied it on the field.