Matt McGloin has had a season of few regrets.
He’s thrown only five interceptions. He’s rushed for five touchdowns. He broke the Penn State all-time passing touchdown record and the single-season passing yards record in the Nittany Lions’ 45-22 win over Indiana on Saturday.
None of these stats come as a surprise to Penn State’s redshirt senior quarterback.
“I’ve thought I always had the ability, sure,” he said after throwing for 395 yards and four touchdowns against the Hoosiers.
Before the season started, McGloin said he felt he was robbed of the starting quarterback job in 2010 and 2011. Just over a week ago at Nebraska — when Matt Lehman’s fumble into the endzone was upheld by the replay official, McGloin hinted at a conspiracy theory against Penn State.
One week later, he stood by his comments.
“I don’t think I regret anything I ever say,” McGloin said.
Amid laughs, a reporter responded: “That’s why we love you.”
McGloin added that he thought his teammates, none of whom spoke out against the call like their quarterback did, were suppressing the same sentiments.
But McGloin said he loves being the center of attention on this football team.
“[Quarterbacks] love the spotlight,” he said. “We like dealing with [the media] everyday. It’s just the way I am. I’m an outspoken guy. I’m a very emotional guy when it comes to the game of football. I’m very competitive person. I love to win. I hate to lose. I say what I feel, and everybody knows it.”
Coach Bill O’Brien and quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher probably know McGloin’s personality better than most. The two, especially Fisher, have worked with him nearly every day for the past four months.
Fisher said “it’s exciting to see the way he’s played” while simultaneously harnessing his intensity.
“That’s who Matt is,” Fisher said. “That’s part of his makeup. He’s done a better job of keeping that makeup with poise and staying more under control.
“There’s been a couple instances this year when he’s had a tough interception and he’s had to bounce back. I can think of two or three when he has.”
Just two years ago, McGloin was throwing too many picks for anyone to care about he would respond to them. Opponents intercepted nine of his passes in 2010, and he threw the ball nearly half as much.
Now, the attention is on McGloin for the positives, which O’Brien said he saw off the bat. In spring practice, O’Brien recalled asking McGloin to draw up the play, “gun trips right 64 special H sneak,” on the board. McGloin did it, neatly, in three seconds.
“He drew up the front, the coverage, the protection, where it was supposed to go,” O’Brien said. “Things you guys wouldn't know, these are football things.
“I'll never forget it and it was, 'bang.' I just knew at that point that we had a kid that was working and wanted to be the starting quarterback.”
For the first time this season, McGloin earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Indiana. He’s a candidate for the Burlsworth Trophy, presented to nation’s top college football player who began his career as walk-on.
He’s in the top 25 in the nation in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and pass completions. He leads the Big Ten in all of those categories. These are the things that will likely be at the forefront of Penn State fans’ minds when McGloin’s collegiate career ends Saturday against Wisconsin.
“He realizes that,” Fisher said. “It’s neat to see him playing like this. He’s been through a lot, and I’m sure as he would tell you it’s been a journey for him here.”