On Sept. 11, 2010, the Penn State Nittany Lions will travel to Tuscaloosa, AL for their biggest regular season non-conference throwdown since Sept. 18, 1999 when Penn State played at No. 9 Miami (Fl.).
The difference between the 2009 Nittany Lions and the 2010 squad that will face the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide will be at the quarterback position. 2009 is Daryll Clark's last season. He has provided a smart and stable solution to the quarterback situation since the quagmire with Anthony Morelli that preceded him.
That's right: Current backup Kevin Newsome will be a sophomore and the Alabama matchup will be just his second career start—his first one on the road, though. He will get a taste of the Crimson Tide a week after Penn State tosses Youngstown State around in their home opener.
Penn State fans should be worried.
Newsome's body of work thus far, in limited action, is not very impressive. He came in during the second half last week versus Eastern Illinois and looked like a wobbly-kneed freshman in need of some desperate fine-tuning.
All is quiet in Happy Valley, too.
Usually, when there is some high level of expectations for a backup quarterback, every cafe and street corner in State College is buzzing. After Newsome saw some action last week, most people in Happy Valley were left holding their breath.
Surely, Newsome will fare better in the future than he did against Eastern Illinois. He did not give the game to the Panthers but he did not look like a quarterback of the future for Penn State.
The quarterback of the future for Penn State is still in high school. His name is Paul Jones. He measures in at 6'3", 223 lbs., and he is the second ranked quarterback of the 2010 class. Jones is drawing comparisons to Donovan McNabb.
Still, Joe Paterno will not start a true freshman at quarterback. If Newsome fails to meet expectations, though, things could get hairy for the Nittany Lions.
Regardless, we all have to realize that it will be Newsome who marches Penn State into Alabama. Alabama will most likely be carrying a top-five ranking at the time.
Newsome totaled 83 yards against Eastern Illinois, 34 passing and 49 rushing. While he did score a touchdown, he fumbled the ball twice and looked reluctant to take a leadership role in the offense.
Newsome was even called for a delay of game. That kind of sloppy play leaves more to be desired for Penn State.
While the Big Ten may be fearing the future now that Penn State has reeled in top quarterback recruit Paul Jones, Nittany Lions fans may be fearing their immediate future.
Penn State needs to rebuild its reputation. Lately, the Big Ten has earned the reputation of a conference that can't win the big game. Penn State has contributed to that by getting knocked off Joe Paterno's rocker in last year's Rose Bowl game.
The only question now is, if Penn State falters and loses two or more games the rest of this season, will we be seeing more of Kevin Newsome in order to prepare him to take over the reins in 2010?