As expected, the first question at the first media conference of a new Penn State preseason was about the quarterbacks.Those two untested and yet highly-promising quarterbacks.
Everyone wants to know even the smallest details about true freshman stud Christian Hackenberg and intriguing junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson.
So head coach Bill O’Brien was hit with this subject right away today in the typical packed Beaver Stadium media room.
It’s been an issue complicated, at least a bit, by Ferguson going home to California for most of July to be with his mother, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
And yet Ferguson gets the very early nod for now in the QB race, O’Brien said. It still is understandable considering that he worked through all of spring practice at Penn State while Hackenberg finished high school.
Meanwhile, Hackenberg was named the unofficial top newcomer in the Big Ten.
“Tyler is a little bit ahead because he has knowledge of the offense,” O’Brien said. “So sure, he’s a little bit ahead. He takes most of the reps with the first team right now.
“But again, Christian has come in here and really done a nice job. For a true freshman to come in here and do the things that he’s done in the first three practices is really good to see. He’s attentive. He must be staying up late at night studying the playbook because he’s come from day one to day two to day three and improved and he asks great questions in the meetings.
“They make their share of mistakes. Tyler makes his share of mistakes, but he’s had a good three days.”
Last month, O’Brien said he had hoped to name a starter between the two by the middle of training camp. It seems the plan is still to decide on a quarterback sooner than later, but he did back off on the timing a bit.
Penn State opens the season Aug. 31 against Syracuse at Met-Life Stadium on the outskirts of New York City.
“I’m going to do what’s best for the football team, so … I hope you didn’t mark it on your calendar, so you’re all outside my office in two weeks — a week from now or whatever. Just hold your horses,” O’Brien told reporters.
“I think they’re both, like I said, talented guys, and I just want them to continue to grasp what we’re trying to do and go out there and play the next play. Don’t worry about the last play. … It’s not an easy offense to learn as a quarterback. You’re going to make mistakes.
Last season, senior “Matty McGloin, he made mistakes but he was tough. He was resilient. He played the next play, and that’s what these guys got to continue to do. And then when we feel we have a guy that we think can start the game against Syracuse, we’ll name that guy the starter.”
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