Pat Fitzgerald said he thinks saying Matt McGloin has had some success against his teams isn’t the right way to phrase the statement.
No, Northwestern’s head coach would use a stronger word than “some.”
“I think Matt’s had a ton of success [against Northwestern],” Fitzgerald said. “He’s killed us. Really, we have to be gap sound, Matt, he has escape ability and moves well in the pocket and is very crafty. He understands positioning. He’s doing a great job in my opinion, picking up coach O’Brien’s system.”
McGloin has had some memorable contests against the Wildcats, as he has thrown for a total of 417 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions the two times he’s faced them. And while the fifth-year senior has had good games against Northwestern, he is much more concerned with this Saturday’s contest, opposed to those in years past.
“It’s just the way it’s been in the past,” McGloin said. “I don’t really pay too much attention to what I’ve done against teams in the past. They have different players from the last two years, and we have a different offense. So you really can’t read too much into what you’ve done in the past.”
In what was one of the most memorable games in Beaver Stadium history, McGloin led Penn State back from a 21-0 deficit in 2010 against Northwestern. The game was originally the late Joe Paterno’s 400th win, but has since been officially vacated by the NCAA.
Penn State scored 35 unanswered points to end the contest on a cool November evening, and McGloin fired four touchdowns, three of which came in the second half, and was 18-for-29 for a total of 225 yards.
Last season, McGloin was at it again against the Wildcats — this time in Evanston. The Scranton product completed passes to eight different receivers and finished 17-of-26 for 192 yards and two touchdowns as Penn State outscored Northwestern 34-24.
Wildcats linebacker Damien Proby, who made six tackles against Penn State last season, said he has noticed some growth in McGloin’s game on tape this season.
“We can’t control what they do on that side of the ball,” Proby said. “We’re focused on what we can do, but [McGloin]’s definitely improved. We’ve seen on the film this year compared to last year.”
While Proby and his teammates are watching film of McGloin and Penn State, the signal caller is taking note to what the Wildcats do on defense. And though Northwestern is allowing a conference-worst 289 passing defense yards per game, McGloin said the team’s defense presents a challenge.
“They don’t make big mistakes. They play tough, hard-nosed football,” McGloin said. “They’re going to hit you. They’re going to do a lot of good things defensively. We have to play our best this week. We can’t make stupid mistakes. We can’t turn the ball over and throw interceptions. As long as we do that, it should be a great game.”