It was 4th-and-1 at the Michigan 19 midway through the second quarter, and Mac was pumping his arms to coax the crowd into letting the coaching staff know settling for a field goal was unforgivable.
It was 3rd-and-5 at the Michigan 45 with a seven-point lead, and Matt McGloin found Justin Brown nestled between two defenders for a 15-yard gain on perhaps the biggest play of a wild night, the key conversion that led to Collin Wagner’s 42-yard field goal to cap a 41-31 win in front of 108,539 resuscitated fans in Beaver Stadium.
Talk the talk and walk the walk, Mac did, setting up the next chapter to an unfulfilling but memorable 2010 season when Northwestern rolls in for perhaps Joe Paterno’s 400th career win and bowl eligibility.
“Whether people believe in me or not, deep down inside I knew and my family knew that one day this would come, and I just had to be prepared for it and I was,” McGloin said.
Penn State sewed together a tailor-made gameplan for McGloin, calling for a heavy diet of runs, screens, and short passes underneath, picking its spots to go vertical against a green and unintelligent Michigan defense. There weren’t any out routes outside the hash marks, no swing passes in the flat. Gut the defense. Chew up clock.
“That’s as well as we can play,” Paterno said. “Mac had a lot to do with it.”
Paterno gave no indication the quarterback position may be up for grabs. Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno nipped the question at the bud.
“No. No. No. It’s Rob Bolden’s job,” Jay Paterno said. “He got hurt and he’s coming back.”
Conventional thinking says this has to be discussed amongst the staff. Mac’s been equally as impressive in his two cameo appearances as Bolden has been in half a season’s work. Granted, McGloin’s gone up against two of the worst defenses in the Big Ten but did his job.
This goes beyond arm strength, passing efficiency, measurements. Penn State’s offense is following its leader and playing loose in a way the militant Bolden couldn’t fake.
“Rob is kind of a quiet confident and McGloin is a loud confident,” candid senior right guard Stefen Wisniewski said. “As a huddle, you feel the loud confidence more than the quiet kind.”
Why screw that up?
McGloin is being tarred-and-feathered for being a walk on, even though he’s on scholarship. Except none of it’s sticking.
“I’ve been a backup for the past six weeks,” said McGloin, who found out he was starting Tuesday. If they say, ‘Matt, we’re gonna start Rob again,’ like I did in Minnesota, I’ll be ready to go if called upon.”
Penn State is fortunate Matt is being a good sport because Mac has got to be wondering if this is enough, if the success he’s tasted the last two weeks isn’t just a dry well.
“I got a lot of e-mails and suggestions this week as to what we should do,” Jay Paterno said after the game. “I didn’t answer them because I knew what we had.”
Now, everyone does.
Nate Mink is a senior majoring in journalism and is the football editor for The Daily Collegian. His e-mail address is email@example.com.