As if this season wasn’t frustrating enough. Penn State head coach Joe Paterno is dealing with another headache this week—starting quarterback Rob Bolden.
The true freshman was knocked out of the Minnesota game and still had some memory loss on Sunday.
He is expected to be re-evaluated Wednesday for concussion-like symptoms and will be kept out of practice until team doctors clear him.
“I’d guess he’s not going to make it,” Paterno said at his Tuesday press conference. “We’ll let the kids (Matt McGloin and Kevin Newsome) compete this week with the idea we won’t have Bolden and see what happens.”
McGloin and Newsome are no strangers to a quarterback battle. They were the two front-runners to start this season at Penn State before Bolden came out of nowhere to win it in fall camp.
Newsome is currently second on the depth chart (the same spot he was last year behind Daryll Clark) and is coming off a knee injury and an illness but is back to full strength for practice this week.
McGloin filled in admirably for Bolden on Saturday. His first completion as a Penn State quarterback was a 42-yard touchdown strike to Derek Moye. He finished the day 6-for-13 for 76 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. That’s about as good as you can get for a third-string, former walk-on quarterback.
McGloin and Newsome are polar opposites on the field. McGloin is a pocket passer. Newsome is more of a runner. Either one should be able to keep the Nittany Lions in the game at home against Michigan Saturday night. The Wolverines are one of the worst defenses in the Big 10 and rank near the bottom in scoring (28.4) and rush defense (144.7) and are last in the league in passing (296.3) and total defense (441 yds/gm).
Newsome was highly recruited coming out of high school. McGloin is a former walk-on. Both were given every opportunity to win the job in the preseason, and both lost out to a true freshman. Penn State will not ask a lot out of either quarterback this weekend if they need to make the start, but Newsome would be the best bet if Bolden can’t go.
Newsome has played in six games this season, although in limited action. He is 6-for-13 for 78 yards but can keep plays alive with his feet. This will be the big X-factor Saturday night. With the Nittany Lions line still in flux, Penn State will need a guy that can improvise.
Newsome has rushed 14 times for 64 yards and a touchdown. He’s shown decent touch on the few passes he’s thrown and is ahead of McGloin on the depth chart for a reason: his athleticism.
McGloin was a good story Saturday—former walk-on from Scranton, PA lives his dream of leading Penn State to a victory on the road in the Big 10. The reality is Minnesota has an awful defense and is the worst team in the Big 10 by a landslide. All McGloin had to do was manage the game, which is exactly what he did. He played three quarters and threw 13 passes for 76 yards.
Penn State is not a high-scoring offense, but they will need all their athletes out on the field against Michigan. The Wolverines are one of the top offenses in the Big 10 and will put up a lot of points on Penn State’s injury-riddled defense. If Bolden can’t go, my guess is that they go with Newsome primarily because of his threat as a runner.
Either way, the quarterback battle is back on. Let’s see who would have been the guy if the other guy didn’t come in and steal the show.