At this point last season, it seemed like "Penn football" and "quarterback controversy" were synonymous.
While we're not quite at that point this year given senior Nick Robinson's numbers through eight games as a starter — 1774 yards with 13 touchdowns — one can only wonder if now is the time to begin shifting to the future. Robinson won't be around next season, but junior Ryan Glover will, and he should have been given his moment to shine earlier than this Saturday's Homecoming victory over Cornell.
Glover wasn't the starter. He didn't even play one full half of football. He was brought in with 4:56 to go in the third quarter as an ailing Robinson battled injuries, just after the Quakers had conceded a second touchdown and found themselves trailing for the first time all day.
“[Robinson] was limping on the field, trying his best to get out there," coach Ray Priore said. “But we’re so lucky to have an unselfish young man like [Glover]. He and Robinson have had sort of a role reversal, but they’ve handled it so well.”
But soon after Glover entered, Penn's offense came to life. The junior threw for 60 yards on his first drive, including a 40-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Kolton Huber to tie the score at 14 apiece. Within his first two minutes on the field, Glover commanded the offense and cut short any momentum the Big Red had after their score.
On his next drive, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Glover again helped put together a quick touchdown series. His screen pass to sophomore wide receiver Owen Goldsberry kicked off the flea flicker that put Penn ahead, after senior wide receiver Eric Markes caught Goldsberry's pass for the 80-yard score.
The pair of touchdowns were enough for the Red and Blue to come away with the win, their second consecutive Ivy victory.
Though Glover got the starting nod for all 10 games of the 2018 season, he lost the job to Robinson in the offseason and has since largely been on the sidelines. Before Saturday, he had only played in three of Penn's contests this season, mostly as a gadget player.
Although Saturday's game might have been a flash in the pan for Glover, who had only one completed pass in seven attempts all season before Saturday's game, it's worth giving the former starter the chance to perform for the remainder of this season, especially with Robinson's apparent injury.
Even beyond giving Glover an opportunity to prove himself, Priore and his staff should start looking towards 2020 and getting Glover as many snaps under center as possible against Ivy League opponents. Unless a newcomer arrives and takes over the starting role, we'll likely see Glover leading the offense come next September, so it would only be beneficial for him to gain more experience as this season winds down.
At 2-3 in Ancient Eight play, the Red and Blue's chances of an Ivy League title this year are dashed. But with two games left on the schedule — at Harvard next Saturday and home to Princeton on Nov. 23 — Penn's coaching staff has a pair of perfect venues to experiment with new formations and combinations of players, including Glover in particular.
Robinson may be the latest player for Penn football to go down hurt this season, but that doesn't mean the team is out of options. As fans saw this weekend, big plays can come from anybody, and Glover should have his chance to make them happen.
WILL DiGRANDE is a College junior from Warren, N.J. and a Sports Editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.