When the Nittany Lions take the field on Saturday, it will be the first time in Joe Paterno’s tenure that a true freshman will start an opening season game at quarterback.
It will also be the first time Robert Bolden plays in front of a crowd of over 100,000.
Think he’s nervous?
Personally, I couldn’t imagine having too many hours of sleep tonight if I were in that situation.
As Penn State fans, we expect a blowout. We expect a solid offensive and defensive performance against lower-tier non-conference clashes. When Bolden takes the first couple snaps and starts to feel comfortable with his game, we’ll hopefully be able to see why the coaches made the decision to start a true freshman instead of Kevin Newsome, Matt McGloin, or Paul Jones.
Honestly, Penn State fans should expect a heavy dose of the running game, mixed in with a couple easy screen passes or short routes to get Bolden used to the college game in a high-performance arena. At least to start the game off.
Then, come the third or fourth quarter, you’ll see the backups get some more snaps as the Lions start to pull away. Typical opening day at Beaver Stadium.
But what should we look for from our starter?
Robert Bolden is a strong thrower. He’s extremely nimble around the pocket, but doesn’t think to scramble first, although he has the talent. Maintaining his poise and having good presence will be the major key to success at this level. If he can prove to stand tall in the pocket and lead the offense to successful drives, I think the kid has a bright future.
Will he play away the following week in Tuscaloosa? That remains to be seen. Remember, the Lions still have three other quarterbacks chomping at the bit, determined to make any and every effort to win the coaches’ affection.
But for now, that lies with Mr. Bolden – quarterback, true freshman, starter.