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Re: Good article on Morelli...
He played good in today's Blue & White game...
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The heavy rain fell for hours until, as if on cue, the clouds let up in time for Anthony Morelli's debut as Penn State starting quarterback.
For the most part, he didn't disappoint - even though he was just playing a scrimmage against his own teammates.
Morelli, famed for his arm but tied to the bench for the last two seasons, showed zip and accuracy on most of his passes during the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday, including a two-minute drill in which he connected with receivers Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams for some nice completions.
There were a couple of minuses. Morelli fumbled at the goal line on a 4th-and-1 play, one of two goal-line sets in the first quarter in which Morelli's "Blue" team failed to punch the ball in for a score. He was also sacked a couple of times.
No matter. Morelli seemed to have impressed the coaching staff and teammates even before Saturday's scrimmage, which capped Penn State's spring drills.
"The thing I was really looking for in spring was, does he know where he's going with the ball, does he know why going there, and he really did," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "He's made great strides there."
Some seniors or key veterans nicked by injuries didn't play much, if at all. But Morelli's team was filled mainly with players presumed to be at the top of the depth chart. He has big shoes to fill: last season, Michael Robinson threw for 17 touchdowns, ran for 11 more and was the emotional center of a squad that went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl.
Morelli isn't as much of a runner as Robinson and he's not as much of a talker as last year's charismatic starter, but he can certainly throw. Receiver Deon Butler says his hands get red after catching Morelli's throws in practice.
"It feels great, I had to wait for two years. I learned a lot - it was a learning experience," Morelli said. "Things are working out now."
The scrimmage on the cold, overcast afternoon highlighted a weekend full of events and attractions in Happy Valley, including carnival rides in a stadium parking lot.
"I said to the coaching staff on Thursday, Saturday is showtime, it ain't football time. Showtime. Carnivals and everything else out there," Paterno said before the scrimmage. "I could care what happens today, except they want to show off. They want to go out there and it's showtime."
The fans showed up despite the bad weather, bundled in winter jackets and rain ponchos. They tailgated, then came into the stadium and huddled under the overhangs before the rain let up during the first quarter. It was cold and brisk for late April by game's end.
"I'm constantly amazed that people want to see a scrimmage in this type of weather," Paterno said.
As expected, Paterno didn't use his full complement of veteran players. Star linebacker Paul Posluszny saw the field only during warm-ups, walking around in sweats as he encouraged his teammates.
Tackle Levi Brown, the only returning starter on the offensive line, didn't play either, and linebacker Tim Shaw and defensive tackle Jay Alford were in street clothes in the fourth quarter.
There are plenty of questions yet to be answered for Penn State to remain among college football's top teams come fall. Besides the newcomers on the offensive line, Paterno must also replace three starters on the defensive line and the entire starting secondary.
It's also unclear whether Posluszny will return to his All-American form, though Paterno said he is holding the linebacker back this spring only as a precaution.
Paterno said he would have liked to have accomplished more during spring drills, though he's secure in the talent he has coming back at key positions, including wideout, running back and linebacker, where all three starters return.
For now, cornerback Justin King says the questions about Morelli have at least been answered.
"All the knocks that were on him - none of them were true," King said. "He's been impressive."