September 24, 2011

Analysis: Edge needed?

To call Penn State's situation at quarterback a 'battle' between two competitors no longer seems appropriate.

Instead, the pendulum that swings in and out of the favor of both Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden with remarkable consistency swung yet again on Saturday afternoon in the Nittany Lions' 34-6 win against Eastern Michigan.

In this contest, McGloin was on fire, completing 14-of-17 attempts for 220 yards and three touchdowns - though a fourth was a near-guarantee had it not been for a fumble - with no interceptions, no sacks, and only four possessions of work.

Both had varying levels of success, but the picture of the position's future - regardless of McGloin's outstanding play - remained unclear.

Though Bolden, McGloin, Joe Paterno, and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno field the majority of the questions directed about the competition, third-stringer Shane McGregor has had a front row seat for the duration.

According to McGregor, both competitors have handled the admittedly challenging situation well.

"It's a hard situation. Both guys want to play, both want to do well, but for what they've been given, they know they can control only themselves and I think they've done pretty well," he said. "They go in there, they have some success when they go in and whenever they're out, they're patient. They don't cause any drama or anything.

"It's tough because what's going to make the difference? I don't really know. Especially on a day like this, you have two guys that are playing very well. So, I guess we stick with it, we let it ride, and just see how it goes when we get into Big Ten play."

Bolden, meanwhile, completed 7-of-13 attempts for 115 yards, a 71-yard TD pass to Devon Smith, and one interception.

Part of the equation, of course, was Penn State's intention to establish the run game early. However, due to Eastern Michigan's stacking the box to force the Lions to the air, Bolden was limited in his early success, completing 5-of-7 attempts for just 36 yards, largely out of the I-formation while McGloin often lined up with four wideouts.

"I think whenever Matt got in, we as coaches realized, Hey, we're putting our heads up against the wall and we better open it up," offensive coordinator Galen Hall said. "We tried to run the football and Silas made some good runs, but we weren't consistent enough. That's where we are, but when they put so many people around the football, it is tough to run against them. And they played pretty well. Their scheme was pretty good. So, in that scheme, you have to throw the football and obviously we went to a predominantly passing game."

After the game, McGloin was clearly pleased with the effort of the offense as a whole, but still showed uncertainty as to the future of the position. Whereas past interviews focused on winning the job outright, both competitors have fallen into a recent pattern of simply continuing to make improvements and leaving the rest up to the coaching staff.

In short, the terms have changed.

"I don't know. I guess we'll see," McGloin responded when asked if he had done enough to win the job. "I just have to go back and look at the film tomorrow and see how I played overall and give myself a good evaluation.

"If the coaches want to continue to do the two quarterback system, that's fine, but it's not up to me. I just have to continue to take it one practice at a time."

When asked the same question, Bolden was similarly befuddled, but no longer directed media members to ask the coaches for an answer.

"I have no idea. All I can do is just take it one snap at a time and just play ball just like I have been the last three or four weeks," he said. "That's how it's seeming (that the two QB rotation will continue). From talking to the coaches, they haven't hinted that it's going to be me or it's going to be Matt."

Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno came to a similar conclusion, deflecting any talk of coming to a decision that would result in naming a starter outright.

"We feel good that we have two guys that we can play with and have two guys that can make plays to win games," he said. "They both did that today, so I'm not in any rush to keep any one of them out of the game."




 

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