- Josh Moyer, Penn State/Big Ten reporter
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Whatever the answer is, the quarterback will face the same challenge on Saturday by making his first career start. We can't peer into the future to see what the end result will be. (Hey, as Bill O'Brien likes to say, we're no genies.)
But we can look back to see how the last five Penn State quarterbacks fared in their first career starts. Here they are:
Synopsis: After Rob Bolden suffered a head injury against Minnesota the week before, McGloin became the next man up. He was the first former walk-on to ever start under Joe Paterno.
After holding on to a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter, McGloin led PSU on two touchdown drives to give the Lions a 28-10 advantage by halftime. Said Paterno after the game: "That's about as well as we can play."
Synopsis: He was the first true freshman in a century to start an opener for Penn State, and he fared relatively well against lesser competition.
PSU started off slow and led just 16-7 at halftime, but Bolden was able to get some breathing room when Chaz Powell returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Bolden didn't get much help from the running game -- Evan Royster had 40 yards on 11 carries -- but PSU dominated after the touchdown return.
Synopsis: Penn State performed as expected against an FCS cupcake and didn't even really need to pass. PSU rushed for 334 yards and led 38-0 by halftime.
Pat Devlin and Paul Cianciolo played later in the game because, well, there was really no reason for Clark to risk injury. Clark said this afterward: "When you first start, you want everything to go right. I don't think I got touched today."
Synopsis: Morelli started off hot and drove the Lions to a score on their first drive, on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Deon Butler. He was 7-of-10 passing for 110 yards and two scores on just his first three drives -- and he was the first PSU quarterback since joining the Big Ten to throw three TDs in his first career start.
Said Akron coach J.D. Brookhart: "That kid can throw from one half to the other, 20 yards deep. You won't see a better arm this year."
Synopsis: Robinson stepped up when Zack Mills went down the week before with a sprained left knee, and he performed admirably. Although PSU didn't win, Robinson guided PSU on touchdown drives of 74, 80 and 70 yards. And, at the time, only one other PSU quarterback (Mills) had thrown for more yards in a game.
Robinson said this to the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Before the game, I kind of thought they would blitz me a little more, because that's what you usually do to a guy making his first start. You kind of want to get in his head a little bit. They played back and basically told me, 'Look, if you're going to beat us, you're going to have to throw the ball.' And I think we did a pretty good job."
Who'll start Saturday -- Christian Hackenberg or Tyler Ferguson?Whatever the answer is, the quarterback will face the same challenge on Saturday by making his first career start.