OC Joe Moorhead evaluates Penn State's quarterbacks

Tim Owen, Staff Writer
Blue White Illustrated

A native of Pittsburgh, Joe Moorhead has his own recruiting territory. As is the case with all of Penn State’s assistant coaches, part of their job is to identify and target prospects who hail from their respective geographic area.

Moorhead, the Nittany Lions’ second-year offensive coordinator, has other tasks as well when it comes to recruiting.

Not only does he put a stamp of approval on everyone offered to play on his side of the ball, he is in charge of discovering the best quarterbacks from throughout the country, those who have the tools to operate a scheme of his that is rewriting record books at Penn State. What Moorhead looks for are the tangibles and intangibles, skills that can both be quantified and those that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

“Can they beat you with their arm? Can they beat you with their legs? Can they beat you with their brain?,” Moorhead asks. “How good of a leader are they? Are they a winner? Do they come from a winning program? All those things combined kind of paint a picture of the type of guy you’d like to have lead your program.”

When he’s on the recruiting trail, that’s what he’s in search of. On his team are examples of which he can use as a model.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call Thursday morning, Moorhead evaluated each of the four scholarship quarterbacks currently on PSU’s roster. Here’s what he had to say:


TRACE McSORLEY

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“When you look at it from an objective measurable criteria I think Trace has done a very good job. He’s at or near the top of the majority of the passing categories in the Big Ten. When you compare it to the opening four games of last year or the last four games of last year, he’s way ahead of where he was last year in passing yards. He’s doubled his touchdowns. He’s lowered his turnovers. He’s rushed for about 200 more yards, and he’s about right at pace where he was finishing off last season. He’s directing an offense that’s averaging 40 points a game and 500 yards. Our explosive plays are up 15 from our first four games of last year. … The No. 1 thing that the quarterbacks are judged upon is wins and losses, and we’re 4-0 and No. 4 in the country, so I think Trace is doing a great job.”



TOMMY STEVENS

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“Tommy has done a very good job in the two-quarterback package. I think with his positional flexibility of being able to operate the offense as a true quarterback while also having the skill set to be a runner and be a pass receiver gives us a diverse package (in order) to utilize the things that he does well. That (package) will continue to grow throughout the season. When Tommy has had an opportunity to be in there as a true quarterback, I think, he’s shown the ability to move the ball down the field and put points on the board, which I think is a very comfortable feeling to have.”



SEAN CLIFFORD

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Steve Manuel

“Sean is a guy who has showed tremendous maturity as a true freshman. He was very well-coached in high school by Coach (Steve) Specht and those guys out in Cincinnati and really has a grasp of offensive football and put a lot of work in on his own to come into this season to understand what we’re trying to do and why. We’re very excited about Sean’s progress and his potential.”



JAKE ZEMBIEC

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Steve Manuel

“Jake has done a very good job. Like the other younger guys, when we go through the week with the offense that’s going to play in the game with the travel squad, you really only have two guys getting reps so everyone else in there is getting mental reps and going through individuals and things like that, throwing routes on air. Once you get in-season it’s not like spring ball or fall camp where you are repping out a bunch of guys because you have to get the ones and twos ready for game situation. But Jake is doing a good steady job across the board and he’s a guy who has done everything we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here.”


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