- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Heading into next season, NittanyNation takes a closer look at holes left by departing Penn State players and the candidates who might fill them.
Who: Matt McGloin came into Penn State as a no-name walk-on and leaves after posting one of the best seasons in PSU history. He was the most valuable player on this offense -- arguably on this team -- and he was a confident leader who limited his mistakes and directed comebacks. No departing player might be missed as much as McGloin next season.
By the numbers: Penn State boasted the No. 35 passing offense in the nation. McGloin finished with 3,266 yards and a 60.5 percent completion rate -- but his most impressive stat was his touchdown-to-interception ratio, which stood at 24-to-5.
Job description: The next signal-caller will have to be smart and accurate, two of the main ingredients in a Bill O'Brien quarterback. McGloin didn't have the greatest arm strength -- and the next QB doesn't have to either -- but he has to read defenses well and must become incredibly familiar with the playbook for that NASCAR offense to work. O'Brien remarked just how McGloin was able to know what everybody was doing, how he was such a quick learner, and the next QB's going to have to learn incredibly fast to equal McGloin's success.
Top candidates: Rising sophomore Steven Bench saw limited snaps in 2012 -- he played in two games and went 2-of-8 passing -- but that's more than any other quarterback on the spring roster. O'Brien brought Bench in after persuading him to ditch Rice for Penn State, and it didn't take long for him to supplant Paul Jones as the backup. Juco signee Tyler Ferguson will also compete with Bench for the starting job. He didn't play on the best junior college team, so he's even more of an unknown than Bench. ESPN's scouts say Ferguson's athleticism and accuracy underneath are good, but he gets rattled and isn't as accurate on intermediate and longer throws. Christian Hackenberg is also an option here, but he'll have to catch up pretty quickly -- and he's a long-shot to start opening day.
One to watch: Bench. He did well enough that O'Brien called upon him in Week 2 when McGloin went down with a minor injury. He's a quick learner, and it's his job to lose after he basically received a six-month headstart on Ferguson. This is the competition that everyone will be watching, and all eyes are already on Bench.