UNIVERSITY PARK - Matt McGloin looked so shaky Saturday that Kevin Newsome won the eye test between Penn State quarterbacks by default.
Newsome did not play well in the Blue-White Game, but he clearly is the better option at this point in the Nittany Lions' quarterback competition.
Both sophomore signal callers have a long, long way to go before they can be considered reliable. But at least they know it.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
The White’s Matt McGloin unloads a pass as Chima Okoli (52) blocks the Blue’s Sean Stanley at Beaver Stadium on Saturday in the Blue-White Game.
Newsome kept repeating himself over and over - 14 times, in fact, during a five-minute span - when asked about PSU's offense.
"We've got a lot of work to do," he kept saying.
It didn't really matter what question came his way. The answer was always the same.
"I would rate my performance as we've got a lot of work to do," Newsome said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of work to do. We're just going to keep working."
Asked to grade his performance, Newsome said, "If I had to give it a grade, I would give it a grade of, uhh, I would give it a lot of work. I'll put 'LW' - a lot of work."
Newsome completed 5-of-12 passes for 50 yards and committed no turnovers. The frontrunner to start this fall showed good scrambling ability side to side, but that was about it for positives.
He took too long getting his feet set dropping back from center. He badly overthrew receivers when given chances to go downfield. And that bizarre throwing motion of his, well that has to be a lingering concern.
McGloin, the former walk-on, proved he has a strong arm and showed good pocket presence. But some of his throws were downright awful and nowhere near any receiver.
The worst example came in the third quarter when McGloin threw a pass to no one in particular that was directly aimed at three defenders in coverage and was picked off by linebacker James Van Fleet.
McGloin finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards with two interceptions. He should have had a third, but cornerback Chaz Powell dropped a sure pick-6.
McGloin's arm is so strong that he trusts it too much and makes poor decisions.
"Sometimes it gets me into a little bit of trouble," McGloin said. "I think you could see it today. I get into Brett Favre mode, try to fit balls into very small windows."
Joe Paterno, who called the competition between Newsome and McGloin "pretty even," will not stand for turnovers by his quarterback. Newsome didn't do much to impress Saturday, but he did protect the football.
McGloin displayed better-than-expected mobility and noted, "People don't really expect me to be quick, but I showed today I can move around a little bit."
McGloin has some upside because of his arm strength, and maybe what we saw from him Saturday wasn't a good indication of his accuracy.
"I don't think I've been picked off twice all spring," he said.
Newsome, meanwhile, looks like a running back who just so happens to be at quarterback. But hey, the Lions went 11-1 in 2005 led by another player like that, with Michael Robinson completing just 52.1 percent of his passes.
At this point, Newsome resembles former Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, right down to his sort of sidearm delivery. Williams was successful at times and occasionally spectacular during his career, but he never developed his passing skills or altered his unusual throwing motion.
"It's just how I throw," Newsome said of his delivery. "I don't really look at it as weird or awkward. I just throw like I was taught playing in the backyard throwing and just trying to get better with that.
"I have a lot of work to do, as far as throwing, as far as reading defenses, but all I can do is just keep working."
The quarterback who looked best Saturday was the one most people believe has no chance at being the starter this fall.
True freshman Paul Jones, who enrolled in January, completed 5-of-8 passes for 67 yards and threw two TDs to Shawney Kersey. Both of Jones' scoring tosses came on gorgeous fades with just the right amount of air under them to the back left of the end zone.
Jones showed an impressive arm and good mobility, albeit primarily against backup defenders.
"I checked my e-mail afterwards, and people are telling me Paul should be the starter," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "So it doesn't take long for people to make the decisions."
The popular assumption that Jones won't be given a shot at the job this fall is incorrect, JayPa said.
"It may be true that's an assumption on people outside the program's part, but it's not an assumption on our part," he noted.
"We're going to play the guy that we think is going to give us the best chance to win. Whether it's a freshman, whether it's a senior - it won't be a senior; we don't have one - but no matter who it is, it's going to be the guy that gives us the best chance to win."
Right now, that would be Newsome.
But this quarterback competition is far from over, and all three candidates will have a chance to improve throughout the summer and in fall camp. No decision is expected, Jay Paterno said, until late August.
"All of us are trying to fight for a spot," Newsome said. "It's friendly competition. We're all friends, we all speak to each other every day, we're all cool. But at the end of the day, it's competition."
So let the best man win. But more importantly, let whoever does get the job improve drastically over the next four months, or else Penn State could be in for a rough season.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.