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Passing records continue to fall in PSU’s rout

November 18, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK - Throw out the offensive record book at Penn State because many of the old marks don't stand much of a chance as long as Bill O'Brien is head coach.

Matt McGloin is now PSU's career passing TD leader (45). Along with: single-season completions leader (251), season passing yardage leader (3,071), most career 300-yard passing games (6), most 200-yard passing games (17) and most consecutive 200-yard passing games (9).

McGloin set or extended all those records Saturday as he threw for a career-high 395 yards and four TDs.

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"It's a great honor, and I'm truly blessed to be considered amongst some of the great quarterbacks that have played here," McGloin said of his records. "And to be on the top of the list in some of those things, it's a great honor, and it feels good when your hard work pays off."

Allen Robinson got in on the fun, too, setting PSU's season receptions record (73) while catching 10 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns.

"With the great receivers that came through here, I'd say it definitely means a lot," Robinson said.

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Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson smiles after scoring on a 26-yard reception during the Nittany Lions’ victory over Indiana at Beaver Stadium.

There was a joke going around the Beaver Stadium press box, relayed from the TV broadcast, about what's the record for most records set in a game.

And this is just the first season for O'Brien's innovative, pass-happy, gambling offense at PSU.

It's guaranteed to be a winning season, too, after the Nittany Lions blistered Indiana, 45-22, before 90,358 fans. Penn State is 7-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten heading into next week's finale against Wisconsin.

The game took on a somber tone in the first quarter when standout linebacker Michael Mauti, the heart and soul of the PSU team, suffered what appeared to be a major left knee injury. The Lions had a lull shortly after that but played inspired football the rest of the day in crushing Indiana (4-7, 2-5).

McGloin and Robinson didn't just lead the way, they put on a dynamic offensive show.

"It's exciting," McGloin said of the records, "but I like the wins column more. ... Now we're at seven wins, hopefully we'll get one more and make it eight."

McGloin has never shied away from his distaste for being called a former walk-on, but that fact has to be punctuated given how he has emerged as a bona fide stats superstar his senior year.

About the only major PSU record McGloin didn't break Saturday was the single-game passing mark, which belongs to Zack Mills (399 vs. Iowa in 2002). McGloin completed 22-of-32 passes, didn't let his one interception bother him and finished with an incredible passer rating of 207.2.

No one could have imagined McGloin would have the kind of season he's having - 23 TDs, five interceptions, 279 yards per game - although O'Brien knew very quickly after taking over the program that he had a quality guy running the offense.

"I knew right away that we had a competitive kid, and we had a kid that football was very, very important to," O'Brien said. "The way he was on the field, in meetings, the way he took notes, the way he listened - you have to have those traits to be a successful quarterback."

The coach also wants a signal caller with "a brain that can work fast" to run his complex, audible-heavy offense, and he knew early on he had that in McGloin.

O'Brien told a story about how he told McGloin to draw up a play on the board in the spring.

"He drew it up within about three seconds, neatly, and he knew the read, what everyone did," the coach said. "He drew up the front, the coverage, the protection, where it was supposed to go. ... It was gun trips right 64 special H sneak. I'll never forget it, and it was bang. I just knew at that point that we had a kid that was working and wanted to be the starting quarterback."

McGloin has been criticized for many things during his career - from his cocky attitude to taking too many risks - but he has proven this season that he has what it takes mentally to run O'Brien's system.

"He's got a good football IQ, and he likes to learn," quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher said. "That's such a big part of it is you've got to like to learn, and you've got to want to study. And he takes great notes."

No matter how much was expected of McGloin, much less was expected from Robinson before the season. He had only three catches for 29 yards last season, only to emerge as a breakout star this year with 73 catches for 978 yards and 11 TDs.

Robinson hasn't just put up numbers, either. The sophomore has proven time and again to be a dynamite playmaker who can go up and make tough catches in coverage.

O'Brien talked about how Robinson is a great athlete and also a very good basketball player, which he said translates well to the football field for the receiver.

"He has good hand-eye coordination, he can jump, he has the ability to lower his weight and change direction of routes," O'Brien said. "He has just done a really nice job."

McGloin's smarts and Robinson's athletic ability were on display on a fourth-down play in the first quarter. McGloin called an audible at the line of scrimmage when he saw single coverage on Robinson, and he lofted a fade pass down the left sideline that Robinson caught over a defender for a 26-yard TD.

"I saw a lot of single coverage today, and me and Matt were definitely able to hook up a lot," Robinson said.

"There's no doubt he's our best playmaker," McGloin said. "As a quarterback, you have to get him the ball ... you have to put the ball up and let him make his plays. He played one of his best games of his career today, and hopefully he'll finish strong next week and he's going to be one of the best wideouts probably in the nation come next year."

Indiana threw for 454 yards but had no running game (24 yards), while Penn State was able to balance out its offense behind 135 yards from Zach Zwinak. The Lions finished with 546 yards of total offense, their highest total in a Big Ten game since 2008 against Michigan State (557).

Despite the big day, McGloin - as he has all year - said the offense could have been even better.

"It was a good day, but there is always room to improve," he said.

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