Since the graduation of record-setting quarterback Alek Torgersen in 2017, Penn football has been searching for answers at the game’s most important position.
This season, coach Ray Priore feels he can win games with either sophomore Ryan Glover or junior Nick Robinson at quarterback.
But only one quarterback can start, and on Saturday against Bucknell, Priore elected to go with his dual-threat option in Glover.
His first career start was a mixed bag.
There were definitely some highlights. Glover completed 57 percent of his passes, despite four drops from his wideouts. His second touchdown of the game was particularly impressive, as Glover connected with junior wide receiver Kolton Huber on a beautiful pass across the middle, putting the ball in a spot where only his receiver could get it early in the fourth quarter.
Glover also made a few nice plays with his legs, using option plays and scrambles, to put together nine carries for 48 yards. He also did not take a single sack.
Still, the Atlanta native’s performance was plagued by turnovers. Glover threw two interceptions and fumbled once to account for three of the Quakers’ five total turnovers. The team also struggled on third down as Penn converted a paltry 30 percent of its third-down conversion attempts.
With the Quakers furnishing a big lead for most of the game, it was surprising that Robinson did not take a single snap after Priore said earlier in the week that both quarterbacks would see time.
“It was just the flavor of the game,” Priore said of his decision to keep Glover in the entire game. “We had a [27-10] lead heading into the half, we had good flow going and there was no reason to disrupt that flow.”
The overall score does lend some credence to Priore’s logic. However, Penn’s goal should be to position itself with the best chance to succeed during the Ivy League slate.
Given Glover’s up and down performance, Robinson — last year’s primary backup to Will Fischer-Colbrie — should be given a chance with game reps to prove he should be Penn’s starting quarterback.
Ivy League teams are not allowed to compete in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. As a result, the only games that count towards the Red and Blue’s championship aspirations are conference matchups. Penn has one more game — hosting Lehigh next week — before it opens Ivy League play the following week at Dartmouth.
With that in mind, there is little risk of inserting Robinson on the heels of Glover committing more turnovers than touchdowns in a non-league game.
After all, the former Georgia walk-on filled in admirably for Fischer-Colbrie when he missed time last year, tossing six touchdowns to one interception while completing over 65 percent of his passes in six games.
Considering Fischer-Colbrie’s inconsistent performance, Robinson arguably deserved to be the starting quarterback last year . Furthermore, if Robinson had put up those numbers over a starter-level sample size, there likely would not have even been a quarterback competition. Still, hypothetical situations should not govern who starts.
The coaching staff has a great opportunity to let a clear frontrunner emerge next week in a game that does not affect the team's championship hopes.
Glover may very well be the better option, but he has not proven that outright based off his performance against Bucknell.
If Robinson doesn't take meaningful snaps next week, Priore and offensive coordinator John Reagan will be missing a prime opportunity to truly determine who is the best quarterback to lead the Quakers moving forward.
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