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Penn State Football: Is Time Running Out for QB Rob Bolden to Earn Starting Nod?

by on April 25, 2012 6:45 AM

This is the second in a four-part series profiling each of Penn State's quarterbacks.

Penn State did not have to narrow its quarterback competition to two finalists following Saturday’s Blue-White Game.

That’s good news for junior Rob Bolden, who, at eye’s glance, was a clear No. 3 behind Matt McGloin and Paul Jones and still susceptible to some of the bugs that bit him in 2011, when he completed less than 40 percent of his passes.

  • Turnovers — he threw three interceptions
  • Pocket presence — he was sacked twice
  • Completion percentage — 50 percent is better, but good enough to start in the Big Ten?

“I need to do everything, it’s not just one specific thing that I can point out and say, ‘This is what’s gonna make me the quarterback,” Bolden said. “My game, being a leader, learning this playbook, all that is gonna help me out.”

Therein lies the problem. Bolden may not have time to accelerate his play before head coach Bill O’Brien and quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher need to trim some of the fat off the quarterback race.

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O’Brien won’t wait long to move forward with his top-two quarterbacks, once he determines who they are. He said it will be challenging giving three quarterbacks reps while still making sure his two starting candidates are getting in their work.

There’s also incoming freshman Steven Bench, who will need some practice reps however a long shot he is to win the job.

If Bolden is the odd man out, it likely will bring up talk of transferring again. A junior, Bolden could transfer to a Division 1-A school and have two years of eligibility remaining following a redshirt season. If he were to transfer to a Division 1-AA school, he could play immediately.

Bolden was asked if he can rule out transferring at this juncture.

“I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “I’ve got too much offense to learn.”

But Bolden’s issues seemingly extend to the field.

He’s regressed since his freshman season, when he completed 58 percent of his passes and tossed five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Since suffering a concussion Oct. 23, 2010 at Minnesota, Bolden hasn’t looked the same.

He threatened to transfer following the 2011 Outback Bowl, only to see his request denied by then-coach Joe Paterno.

Last season’s low point came via the TicketCity Bowl, where Bolden finished 7-for-26 for 137 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” Bolden said about moving on. “We got a whole new thing here. Penn State has definitely made strides and changes over the last few months, so whatever I did in the past really doesn’t matter.”

Said his position coach, Fisher: “You gain confidence through success, and that’s what our job is as a coach is to coach you for success, continue to work them. Robbie puts the time in. He works hard, and we’re gonna keep coaching him.”

Success has been scarce for Bolden during the last few game-like outings.

A decision is looming. Bolden, it would appear, has limited chances remaining to find some.

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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