Notes: QB McGloin showing consistency

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
5:40
PM ET
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- All eyes were on Matt McGloin as he focused on short routes and impressed on intermediate, 15- to 20-yard ones during Tuesday afternoon's practice.

He threw only one incompletion on his last six throws — a ball that sailed about a foot over freshman Eugene Lewis' head. He clapped his hands, let out a yell and then resumed anticipating the moves of his wideouts and receiving little criticism from the coaches.

"We feel like Matt's got a really good grasp of the operation, how it all fits together," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said before practice.

[+] EnlargeMcGloin
Matthew O'Haren/Icon SMIQuarterback Matt McGloin is getting a good grasp of Bill O'Brien's offense.
Evan Lewis and Alex Kenney split time at the slot, and McGloin's nicest connection involved Lewis. The fifth-year quarterback tossed a tight spiral against his body and led Lewis to the sideline about 20 yards downfield.

Kenney mishandled one ball over the middle, trying to trap it with his body, but still managed to haul it in. "Hands!" one coach yelled.

Shawney Kersey did not dress because of an ankle injury, so Christian Kuntz rotated in with the first team. Sophomore Allen Robinson appears to be the No. 1 wideout on the outside and showed consistent hands Tuesday.

"Allen Robinson's had an excellent camp," O'Brien said. "He's made a lot of good plays for us."

Freshman receiver Eugene Lewis practiced with the backups, and Matt Zanellato played with the third-string.

Paul Jones remains the backup quarterback, but O'Brien said he needs to show more consistency. True freshman Steven Bench flashed some accuracy but struggled throwing on the run.

Injury update: Safety Jake Fagnano's hamstring still hasn't fully healed, and O'Brien said the coaching staff will have to decide Monday what to do there.

"You got to let it heal," O'Brien said. "Otherwise it'll keep nagging at you."

No other injuries seem to be affecting the roster, however.

The other starting safety, Malcolm Willis, did not practice -- but O'Brien said he's doing much better now and should practice soon.

Tight end Garry Gilliam tweaked his quad Monday night and should be fine. Pete Massaro did not practice because he's coming off a torn ACL from last season and the staff wants to be cautious. Gerald Hodges earned a day off last week, too, so he could rest up.

Malik Golden, Derek Day and Mike Yancich also did not practice. Brad Bars was seen heading to the locker room.

Belton's backup: Day is ahead of Akeel Lynch right now for the No. 2 tailback spot behind Bill Belton.

O'Brien said Curtis Dukes played well the last two days — and that might have been the first time O'Brien mentioned Dukes all preseason.

Tallest player: Freshman Jesse James, a 6-foot-7 tight end who enrolled in January, towered above the other tight ends and wideouts Tuesday. Besides reserve offensive tackle Kevin Blanchard, he's the tallest on the team.

O'Brien hasn't mentioned James much when discussing freshmen. But the coach smiled when asked if he's forgotten the early enrollee actually is a first-year player.

"He had a big play yesterday in practice on a pass route and broke it for about a 50-yard gain. So he's done some good things," O'Brien said. "He obviously has a future for us."

Right tackle battle: Donovan Smith finally returned to practice and looks good at left tackle. But, it appears as if there's a position battle heating up on the other end, at right tackle.

Adam Gress was listed as the starter in the spring, and has mostly practiced with the first team this preseason, but O'Brien said Mike Farrell has come on strong and will challenge for the job.

"I feel good about the offensive line," O'Brien added.

Best camp: One of the finalists for that honor appears to be Michael Zordich, who caught a few balls from McGloin early on out of the backfield.

He's also impressed on special teams, O'Brien said.

"Zordich, at fullback, has had one of the best camps out of anyone here," O'Brien added.

Punting issues: O'Brien admitted he still didn't feel comfortable with the punting game. Alex Butterworth has improved over the last week, but his consistency still isn't where it needs to be.

"We don't always have to punt it," O'Brien said with a laugh. "We can go for it."

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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