UNIVERSITY PARK - Matt McGloin entered the season as one of the more underappreciated quarterbacks in Penn State history.
Through four games, McGloin is in the midst of a great senior season and is quietly moving up the career passing charts - even though he did not become a full-time starter until this year.
McGloin completed 24 of 36 for 318 yards - marking personal highs in completions and yardage - as the Nittany Lions controlled Temple, 24-13, Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Calm, poised and fully in command of a more complex offense, the maturation from the previously impatient and at times hot-headed player has been impressive to watch.
"You have to give this guy a lot of credit," PSU coach Bill O'Brien said. "To this point in the season, he's a much improved quarterback."
Now a fifth-year senior who struggled and admittedly pressed as the backup on a string the previous two years, McGloin raised his touchdown-interception ratio to an impressive 9-2 while alertly getting rid of the ball and taking zero sacks against the blitzing Owls.
"I've learned," he told the throng of reporters that engulfed him, "that sometimes two first downs and a punt is not a bad thing."
That's music to the ears of quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.
"To me, Matt turned the corner the last 10 days of spring ball," Fisher said. "Matt has provided really good leadership for us. He's learning to control his emotions. He's putting his eyes in the right place. He's seeing coverage, and he's throwing the ball to the right guy. The game has slowed down for him."
McGloin agreed, saying he's been "coached up" by O'Brien and Fisher, and O'Brien credited his QB for the first of his two short rushing touchdowns on quarterback sneaks that extended Penn State's lead to 14-3 shortly before halftime.
"He did a great job on the touchdown run because we were misaligned on that play," O'Brien said.
Penn State has been excellent in short-yardage situations, and McGloin converted four third- or fourth-and-shorts Saturday, including the team's first two rushing TDs this season.
McGloin said he generally doesn't like to run because, "I hate to get hit," but O'Brien has implemented one of the New England Patriots' staples.
"We run New England's offense, and we watch a lot of (Tom) Brady," McGloin said. "Coach O'Brien is always telling us that in 12 years, (Brady) hasn't been stopped on a quarterback sneak. I watch his sneak and how he does it and what technique he uses. Fortunately for me, I haven't been stopped yet doing it."
Asked to elaborate, McGloin called another audible.
"I'll keep that a secret," he said.
After alternating (despite outplaying) Rob Bolden over the past two years, McGloin said he's relieved to now be able to play through his mistakes. But those have been few and far between as there have been precious few balls that he's forced.
His two interceptions this year, including one Saturday in the red zone, have come off tipped passes.
"The best thing he's doing is understanding that you don't always have a play," Fisher said.
McGloin has also been especially good at managing the two-minute drill. He moved the Lions into position to win the game at Virginia, and he capitalized on the opportunity Saturday.
"I love the two-minute drill and the no-huddle offense," McGloin said. "It's a great offense, and I feel like it's a great fit for me. Coach O'Brien and Coach Fisher are teaching me a great way to run it and just manage the game."
Though he felt he "left some plays on the field," against Temple, McGloin said he's pleased with how he's played so far, and he's encouraged that the Lions, now 2-2, are taking momentum into the Big Ten schedule.
"The defense has played great week in and week out," McGloin said, "and I think we are at our best right now."
Thanks, in no small measure, to the transformation of Matt McGloin.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com.