The first viewing of Robert Bolden was against weak opposition: Youngstown State. However, there was plenty to be optimistic about on first viewing. His poise in the pocket was very strong to start, and apart from the odd bootlegs by design, he stayed there.
The difference between him and Newsome was very evident, when Newsome's first pass was lofted 20 yards down field and almost intercepted. Also, Newsome had about 20 rushing yards in his one series.
Back to Bolden, his favorite target is 6'6'' Brett Brackett. He threw to Brett on what appeared to be many check downs, which shows he's going through the progression of the routes. Brett won't blow anyone away with speed, but his height, and size, make him tough to cover for corners. So, allowing Brackett to get the ball at it's highest point will be very tough on opposing defenses.
Bolden's stat line read: 20-29 239 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT. The interception was a poor read, but it didn't help him that Derek Moye fell when cutting back on the five-yard curl route. He also forced some throws at the end of the half, which led to a 48-yard Collin Wagner field goal. However, Bolden also had four of his throws dropped. One by Brackett, one by Smith, one by Powell, and one by Kersey/Moseby-Felder (I couldn't get a good look at the number from my seat).
Also, Bolden was not the only freshman to impress on Saturday. Freshman LB Gerald Hodges is going to be a star, and may be the next great Penn State linebacker. He always flowed to the ball, and even if he didn't make the tackle, he was within five yards of the ball carrier. The play that stood out for me was a reverse by Youngstown State. They ran the reverse to the side Hodges wasn't occupying, and as the WR was turning the corner, Hodges was there to make the tackle. He reads the game very fast, and he looks to be a solid tackler already.
Another freshman who played well was freshman RB Silas Redd. Silas hits the hole incredibly fast, and he is just an exciting runner to watch. Also, he produced one of the most exciting five yard runs I've seen at a Penn State game. He just faked the LB for Youngstown State out of his shoes, and although he was dragged down by a DB, he still impressed.
These three freshmen were the ones who really caught my eye, but there were also good performances from LB Khairi Fortt, CB Derrick Thomas, and K Anthony Fera. Bottom line: Penn State may not have the best season this year (I've predicted 7-5/8-4), but in another year or two, we could be seeing a national championship contender.
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