The biggest question facing the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2013 focuses on the quarterback situation. Junior College transfer Tyler Ferguson and true freshman Christian Hackenberg both enter the season with a chance to be the starting quarterback. It’s still unclear who will be under center in New Jersey on August 31, but choosing Ferguson will make the most sense.
Just a few months ago, it seemed likely that Hackenberg would receive a redshirt for 2013. However, Bench’s transfer meant that Hackenberg would have to be given a roster spot.
Hackenberg, though he was a five-star, highly-valued recruit, will only have a few weeks of college practice under his belt when the season kicks off. He’ll likely need more time than that to become comfortable. Playing against big-time college football defenses is a lot different that the defenses he faced in high school.
Ferguson, on the other hand, already has more experience at quarterback. True, he only played at the junior college level last season, but he still gained valuable experience that will help him this season. While in school last year, he showed a decent arm, throwing for 2,614 yards with 22 touchdowns.
Another reason why Ferguson should start over Hackenberg in the season opener is the fact that he has been enrolled in school since January. That means he’s had a few extra months to work with his receivers and learn head coach Bill O’Brien’s complicated offense.
Ferguson has had about eight months more than Hackenberg to get used to his new team. He also had the opportunity to run the offense in the annual Blue-White game. In that game, the junior college transfer completed nine of 15 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
With the hype that will come with Hackenberg, it won’t be surprising to see him on the field at some point this season. However, when the Nittany Lions take the field to face Syracuse in the opener, Tyler Ferguson needs to be the one leading the offense at quarterback.