Penn State football notebook: Syracuse keeps O'Brien guessing on starting QB
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has kept a cool façade throughout the preseason while his team has been engulfed in a quarterback controversy.
But O'Brien acknowledges it's “a little nerve-racking” not knowing who will start at the position for his opponent.
Like the Nittany Lions, Syracuse has yet to announce who its starting quarterback will be for Saturday's season-opening game at MetLife Stadium.
The Orange's Terrel Hunt and Drew Allen have been competing for the job.
“I'm not going to get into how I see the difference in their styles, but we have to do a good job on defense of recognizing who's in the game and making sure that we're ready for what they are going to try to do,” O'Brien said.
Allen transferred to Syracuse after three years at Oklahoma backing up current Steelers rookie Landry Jones. Hunt spent his 2012 redshirt freshman season backing up Ryan Nassib at Syracuse. Nassib, like Jones, was a fourth-round NFL draft pick.
While Penn State's two quarterbacks are similar stylistically, Syracuse's offer a contrast: The 6-foot-5, 226-pound Allen is a classic pro-style, drop-back passer, while Hunt had almost as many rushing yards as passing yards in high school.
“We have two guys that the kids can rally behind at that position and feel good about where we're at heading into Penn State,” Orange coach Scott Shafer said.
Saturday's game is scheduled for an ABC telecast, but Penn State already has had plenty of national TV face time. The ESPN program “All Access: Penn State Training Days” debuted last week.
Guard John Urschel said he enjoyed it — with one caveat.
“But I'd say the biggest thing me and (center Ty Howle) personally had a problem with was (guard Miles Dieffenbach) self-proclaimed himself the best-looking offensive lineman,” Urschel said Tuesday morning. “And I'm not sure if there's sufficient evidence to support that claim.”
About two hours later, Dieffenbach grinned when told of Urschel's reaction.
“We're all a great-looking group of guys,” he said, “but I would have to give myself the call on that one. You can't fight the looks, know what I mean?”
O'Brien cleared right tackle Adam Gress, a West Mifflin graduate, for Saturday's game after he had been limited during camp by a right knee injury. O'Brien stopped short, though, of sayinh Gress would start against the Orange: “Gress and Gary Gilliam will play.”
Linebacker Ben Kline (shoulder) also was termed a full practice participant by O'Brien.
Ruled out for the Syracuse game because of injury were receivers Deshawn Baker and DaeSean Hamilton, defensive end Brad Bars, defensive back Kasey Gaines, offensive lineman Evan Galimberti, linebacker Garth Lakitsky and tight end Brent Wilkerson.
Bars is out for the season, and O'Brien said Hamilton and Wilkerson will be out “for a while.”
Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.