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Penn State Football: Quarterback Rob Bolden Should Start...Again

by on June 13, 2011 11:15 AM

Quarterback Rob Bolden has returned to Penn State. Again.

(Technically, he never left.)

On Sunday night, you could almost see it coming from miles away – on Twitter.

“I hate driving through Ohio,” he Tweeted around 7 p.m. Sunday night.

About four hours later, he made it back to State College, on a chicken wing and answering some PSU fans’ prayers.

“Welp. Ima be sleeping crooked tonight. I need some#wingsover,” is what he Tweeted around 11 p.m. Sunday.

Wings Over Happy Valley, a wing joint on Westerly Parkway in State College, must be ecstatic.

So are some Penn State football fans.

Bolden no doubt will have the college football world all aTwitter with the news of his return to Penn State. That’s especially true since he deftly pulled the old Statue of Liberty play a couple of weeks ago and in a one-sentence interview said he wasn’t sure if he was returning to the Nittany Lions.

Well, he's back, in time for seven weeks of workouts before summer practice starts and two weeks before Penn State's second six-week summer semester begins on June 29.

His Tweet on Sunday was eerily similar to his announcement last January 2011 – also sans press conference and any associated hoopla – that he was returning for another semester at Penn State:

“Finally back…the right things to do??? #wingsover,” is how he put it back in January.

For Bolden, it is the right thing to do. Again.

MAKE BOLDEN NO. 1

Now that that’s over, it is time for Joe Paterno to make the sophomore quarterback Penn State’s starting quarterback. Again.

Bolden’s return should make the guy who wears No. 1 the team’s No. 1 signal-caller and almost-certain starter when the Nittany Lions open the 2011 season against Indiana State on Sept. 3 in Beaver Stadium.

That’s exactly how the 2010 season started – with Bolden, a true freshman, as the starting quarterback. He started eight games last season, and in retrospect may have done better than we thought compared to gunslinger Matt McGloin (as we'll see in a few paragraphs).

Back in May, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, in an interview with Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, said he was pretty sure who the Nittany Lions’ starter will be.

“We had an idea of who would start if there was a game this month,” Paterno told DiPaola, “but don’t ask me who it is, because I’m not going to tell you.”

Paterno added that “nothing is set in stone.”

Still, get out the chisel: Bolden is the guy.

WHY BOLDEN?

He’s bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic, has more years of eligibility and holds more cards than McGloin. He also wins more often.

McGloin is more charismatic, more of a leader (although getting less so) and – as pointed out by his teammates last December – the 2010 regular season MVP.

About those physical tools:

In February, upon entering Holuba Hall for a snow-free run, I saw two rows of receivers running routes. I didn’t recognize a single kid – because, as it turned out, they all were aspiring walk-ons.

I looked at the quarterback; at first glance, he looked like he was the QB for the Snyder Hall IM team. Then I saw the red hair and little swagger. It was McGloin.

McGloin is listed as 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, just two inches and two pounds less than Bolden. But he seemed even smaller in just a grey T and shorts. (A much bigger Kevin Newsome was there, hanging out, and looked like the NFL tight end he still can become.) You have to really admire McGloin’s want-to, tossing out patterns to a motley crew of perspiring wanna-bes from Selinsgrove and Bedford.

That 20-degree day in Frozen Valley was a far cry from Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla., when McG threw five picks against Florida in a 37-24 loss in the Outback Bowl.

PASSED OVER: 9 OF 224

That game started a six-month saga which quickly heated up when Robert Bolden Sr. announced his son was transferring. Maybe we should have seen it coming: Bolden Jr. didn’t play a single one of the Nittany Lions’ 142 offensive snaps in the team’s final games against Michigan State and Florida.

In fact, Bolden threw just nine of the Nittany Lions’ final 224 passes over the last six games of the 2010. Prior to that, he had thrown the Lions’ first 183 passes of the season.

(Kinda gives you a better idea of why he was so pissed, huh?)

Then the Boldens met with the Paternos in early January, the result being that the young quarterback would return with nothing more than a promise to finish out his freshman year in the classroom and on the practice field.

Consequently, we heard nothing from Bolden’s dad, apparently having gotten the message from JoePa in that very pointed tough love session.

In subsequent press conferences, interviews, Tweets and other pubic utterances, not a single Bolden teammate threw him under the blue bus that carries the team to Beaver Stadium every Saturday.

Like Bolden’s public indecision or not, you have to figure that the players -- and coaches – know the same thing: The quarterback who gives them the best chance in 2011 to win is Rob Bolden.

WINNING NUMBERS

Let’s take a look at the quarterbacks’ 2010 numbers. You have to look closely when comparing McGloin and Bolden to see which stat really matters.

Passing: Bolden 112 of 193 (56 percent), 1,360 yards; McGloin 118 of 225 (54.9 percent), 1,548 yards.

Interceptions: Bolden 7, McGloin 9.

Touchdown passes: Bolden 5, McGloin 14.

Rushing: Bolden 30 for minus 11; McGloin 13 for 6.

Starts: Bolden 8, McGloin 4.

Record as a starter: Bolden 5-3, McGloin 2-3.

Record as a finisher: Bolden 3-3, McGloin 4-3.

That winning record as a starter is not a misprint. Bolden won 62.5 percent of his starts in 2010 (including losses at ‘Bama and Iowa), while McGloin won 40 percent of his starts (wins over Rich-poor Michigan and lowly Indiana).

Their records when they were the QB at the game’s end were virtually the same. And get this: McGloin -- although he threw a ton more TDs than Bolden last season -- lost three of the last four games he finished.

So, wow – no wonder Joe and Jay (and probably Sue) wanted to get Robbed.

LET’S GET IT STARTED

But let’s get this straight: Bolden has not yet been anointed the starter. Yet. (Unless I have a vote.)

Still, expect a decision sooner than in 2010, when Paterno The Elder waited the week of the season’s first game, against Youngstown State, before naming Bolden the starter.

In that game, Bolden was the first true freshman to start the season as Penn State’s first-string quarterback in 100 years, throwing for two touchdowns, 239 yards and a victory in his debut.

Now it’s 2011 and on Sept. 3 -- a day short of exactly a year later -- Bolden will be back under center.

For him, it’s a start. Again.

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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Penn State Football: Bolden Returns to Campus, Will Work Out with Teammates
June 13, 2011 11:12 AM
Penn State Football: Bolden Returns to Campus, Will Work Out with Teammates
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