Ex-walk on outshines Michigan QB RobinsonBy GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Oct 31, 2010
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson put on a performance worthy of all the pregame billing heading into Saturday night’s game at Penn State, and set a Big Ten record in the process.
A little-known quarterback wearing blue and white that stole the spotlight from him, though.
Matt McGloin’s name should be familiar now to Penn State fans after throwing for 250 yards and a score in the 41-31 win Saturday night over the porous Wolverines (5-3, 1-3).
What a debut for the first former walk-on to start at quarterback in coach Joe Paterno’s 45-year tenure with the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2). McGloin seized on an opportunity that opened after freshman Bolden, who started the first seven games, was limited in practice this week while recovering from a concussion.
“It was a great feeling,” the sophomore from Scranton said. “I’m glad the coaches believed in me, the players believed in me and, most importantly, the fans believed in me tonight.”
He played against an early typecast as a go-for-broke gunslinger by effectively managing the game with screens and short passes to set up an occasional shot downfield. Evan Royster’s 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns softened up an already mushy middle.
But the best runner on the field wasn’t even a tailback.
Robinson threw for 190 yards and a touchdown and ran for 191 and three scores. The yards rushing gave him 1,287 through just eight games—enough already to break the conference record for season rushing by a quarterback held by Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El in 2000 (1,270).
Still, there was no Michigan celebration in Happy Valley.
After opening with five straight wins, Michigan lost its third straight. This season is beginning to feel an awful lot like 2009, when a 4-0 start ended with a 5-7 finish.
“We’re a team. We’re a family. You can’t break a family,” Robinson said. “Even though there are going to be some downs, you can’t break a family.”
Coach Rich Rodriguez said Robinson still wasn’t 100 percent recovered from a right shoulder injury, but the Heisman Trophy candidate was far from the problem on this night.
Once again, the defense deserved a healthy dose of the blame. They gave up 435 yards to Penn State—and that was still six yards less fewer the Wolverines’ Big Ten-worst season average entering Saturday night.
An unusual 3-3-5 alignment had two third-year sophomores in the secondary, along with one redshirt freshman, as well as a true freshman in safety Ray Vinopal who got beat on a 20-yard touchdown grab by receiver Graham Zug that gave Penn State a 28-10 lead.
Critics are wondering again about Rodriguez’s job security, with Michigan still one win short of bowl eligibility for the first time in Rodriguez’s three-year tenure.
“Sometimes our youth gets picked on somewhat, but our young guys have to grow up in a hurry,” he said. “At some point, we have to grow up and be aggressive and roll with it.”
Instead, it was Penn State that picked up momentum with a second straight win following a two-game slide. An offense once maligned for red-zone miscues and a choppy running game had perhaps its finest outing of 2010.
All this with McGloin running the show. Like a seasoned veteran anticipating coverage, he told reporters he didn’t know who would start at quarterback for next week’s home game versus Northwestern.
Position coach Jay Paterno did his best to squash any hint of a quarterback controversy, even though his head coach and father declined to answer a question about it after the game.
“No, no, no. It’s Rob Bolden’s job. He got hurt, he’s coming back,” Jay Paterno said. “But the great thing is we got two guys that we know can really go into … big-time environments and make plays, so that’s a great situation to be in.”