True freshman Rob Bolden is learning on the job at Penn State
Penn State has limped towards the halfway point of the season with a 3-3 record. Anything that could have gone wrong has for head coach Joe Paterno. The defense has been riddled with injuries and the offense, for the most part, has been ineffective.
The Nittany Lions are the worst scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 18 points a game and have shown little signs of improvement up to this point. If Penn State struggles on the road at Minnesota then you might have to take a long look at true freshman quarterback Rob Bolden.
Bolden has thrown for 1,177 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions through six games this season. His completion percentage is around 56 percent and gets progressively worse inside the red zone.
Penn State has been ineffective with him at quarterback near the goal line and has zero touchdown passes inside the 20 in Big Ten play. It’s part of the reason why the Nittany Lions have the worst red-zone offense in the league.
Not all of Penn State’s struggles are Bolden's fault. The Nits are down to their third-string tight end in Kevin Haplea and have already lost right tackle Lou Eliades for the season. The running game has been non-existent this year, especially in Big Ten play, where they are averaging just 83 yards on the ground as team. With no real threat of a ground game, it makes it difficult for Bolden to be an effective passer.
In saying that, Bolden is not a true freshman any longer when it comes to playing football. He’s played two hostile road games at Alabama and Iowa and has six games under his belt. At some point, Bolden has to take that next step in progression, step up and make some plays. Penn State is one of the top teams in the league in third-down conversion but that hasn’t translated to any success on the scoreboard.
Bolden is coming off the worst performance of his career against Illinois where he was 8-of-21 for 142 yards, with a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown. If the offense continues to struggle then the Penn State coaching staff needs to re-evaluate him under center.
Maybe he is not the right fit for what they need to do on offense. Maybe they need to go with a Daryll Clark-like quarterback in Kevin Newsome, although Newsome is not as good of a passer. Whatever it is, Penn State better figure it out because if Bolden is the guy of the future then he needs to start making some plays and show improvement. Right now, I’m just not seeing it.