Penn State Nittany Lions: Virginia football

Former Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco, who was granted a release from his scholarship Nov. 30, has been in contact with Penn State -- but future scholarship restrictions have prevented any kind of transfer.

"There's been definite interest and some discussion," said his father, Frank, a PSU alum, "but my understanding is just the scholarship numbers are going to affect it. I think if that was different then we'd be very much heading down that path."

Penn State will have just 65 scholarships available in 2014, and it's set to have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster by then.

Michael Rocco would have to sit out in 2013 due to transfer rules but could compete in 2014 as a redshirt senior if he opts to stay within the FBS. His father said he's already moved out of Charlottesville, and he'll make visits this week and next before enrolling in a new school.

The elder Rocco declined to name the schools still under consideration but said they involve the FBS and FCS. Michael last spoke with Penn State about a week ago, and his father said that no longer remains an option because of the restrictions.

"Penn State needed an additional quarterback for the spring, and Mike was ready to do that," Frank Rocco said. "Nonetheless, he's going to be somewhere in a couple weeks."

Michael Rocco threw for 2,671 yards in 2011, the most for a first-year starter in school history, and led the Cavaliers to an 8-5 record and its first bowl game since 2007. But Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims transferred to Virginia, and the two battled against one another for playing time throughout the 2012 season.

The Cavaliers finished a disappointing 4-8 this past season, and head coach Mike London fired four assistants.
Matt McGloin jogged to the locker room late in the second quarter with an apparent elbow injury, and true freshman Steven Bench is now in at quarterback.

It's not yet known if McGloin will return, so Penn State might now be without all of its top skill players from the spring. Starting tailback Silas Redd (transfer) and backup Bill Belton (injury) are gone, No. 1 wideout Justin Brown defected for Oklahoma, McGloin is injured and kicker Anthony Fera transferred.

Stat of the half: Three. The number of fourth-down conversions PSU made in the first half, two on the opening drive and one on a fake punt that resulted in a 19-yard run by middle linebacker Glenn Carson. Bill O'Brien's gambles have certainly paid off so far. They're 3-for-4 -- and the Lions' scored their only TD thanks to two of those conversions.

Player of the half: Jordan Hill. He's wreaked havoc in the middle of Virginia's offense and also grabbed an interception that's bound to appear on some highlight tapes. He's been one of the few bright spots in this game.

What's working for Penn State: Turnovers. Linebacker Michael Mauti stressed that his team had to force fumbles or make interceptions this week, and Penn State's done both so far. Mauti forced a fumble, and Hill hauled in an interception. Unfortunately for PSU, the offense couldn't capitalize.

What's not working for Penn State: Special teams. Sam Ficken missed two field goals -- from 40 yards and 38 yards -- and punter Alex Butterworth can't seem to hit a punt longer than 40 yards.

What's working for Virginia: Blitzing. The Cavaliers' front-seven has confused Penn State's offensive line by showing different blitzes. Penn State's having difficulty adjusting. And while that's just led to two sacks, it's forced several incompletions by McGloin.

What's not working for Virginia: Passing game. Michael Rocco is missing some easy throws, and his intended targets aren't making this any easier. Tight end Paul Freedman fumbled in the first quarter and several players made critical drops. A strength of UVA has been looking like a weakness.

5 Questions: Former QB Frank Rocco 

September, 7, 2012
Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.

This week's subject is Frank Rocco, a former PSU quarterback who's also the father of current Virginia signal-caller Michael Rocco. Frank Rocco played the role of backup quarterback from 1978 to 1981 and was a graduate assistant on the 1982 national championship team.

He now coaches football for Liberty Christian High School (Lynchburg, Va.) and has played PSU commit Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union) three times.

5 Storylines: Virginia 

September, 6, 2012
Every week, NittanyNation takes a look at five storylines that stand out for Penn State's opponent: What should fans keep an eye on? What's the bigger picture? What might be on display Saturday?

Here are NittanyNation's Week 2 storylines for the Cavaliers:

1. It's a family reunion for Michael Rocco. The Virginia quarterback's father played as the backup quarterback on Penn State's 1982 national championship team, and his grandfather was an assistant under Joe Paterno. Rocco has a lot of family in Pennsylvania, and they're all coming down to watch him. Michael grew up as a Penn State fan, and that was his dream school, so it should be a surreal day for the junior. Paterno offered him a grayshirt, not a scholarship, because he had already offered Rob Bolden and Paul Jones. Rocco opted for a scholarship elsewhere.

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Virginia QB Rocco connected to PSU 

September, 3, 2012
A framed photo of a young Michael Rocco still hangs in the family room, one where he's grinning wildly while straddling the Nittany Lion statue and wearing a Penn State sweatshirt.

Because of his family's connections to the university, Rocco grew up strolling the sidelines of Beaver Stadium and donning clothes embroidered with that Lions logo. His grandfather, Frank Sr., served as an assistant under Joe Paterno. And his father, Frank Jr., played as the backup quarterback during the 1982 national championship season.

[+] EnlargeMichael Rocco
AP Photo/Alan DiazPenn State was once the dream school for Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco.
Now, Michael, Virginia's starting quarterback, is watching film to find weaknesses in the team he once rooted for.

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