Hey, Nittany Lion fans: college football season is only 11 days away, which is eight days closer than the Eagles’ Monday night opener in Washington. Yet after today, the Birds have a starting quarterback, and Penn State still does not.
Of course, Bill O’Brien is in a little bit different of a position than Chip Kelly. PSU’s head coach is trying to decide between Tyler Ferguson, a junior college transfer who was leading the competition thanks to his experience, and Christian Hackenberg, perhaps the more heralded blue-chip freshman. O’Brien doesn’t have the luxury of seeing how both kids respond in a preseason game, either.
Heading into his second season in Happy Valley, O’Brien was reluctant to make a decision on his signal callers little more than a week out from their first game against Syracuse. The reality is he’s probably going to want to see both of them in action early this season, as reported by Rich Scarcella on his Nittany Extra blog:
“It’s very close,” O’Brien said before practice. “I told the team yesterday. They’re two of the best young quarterbacks I’ve ever coached. Tyler’s 19 years old and Christian’s 18.
“I’d say by the end of the week we’ll make a decision on who will start against Syracuse. I would say that both guys would play this year. I think both guys need to be ready to play this year.”
Such a situation – both quarterbacks receiving playing time – is a lot more common in college, especially early in the year when coaches haven’t had a chance to see how guys maintain their poise when playing in front of 110,000 fans. The first game could go a long way toward a final decision though, so who gets the first crack at it will have a big opportunity.
“The guy who’s the starter is gonna play the majority of the snaps,” he said. “Whoever the backup is will be a young guy who needs to get his feet wet a little bit. Why not play him a series here or there to get him into a major college football game and let him get his feet wet?”