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Redd will try to fill the void left by Royster.
2011 will be Joe Paterno's 46th year as the Nittany Lions head coach.
This writer tries hard not to interject himself into his articles as it is intrusive to the reader, however, today I turned 42. Four years less than Joe Pa's tenure at Penn State.
It is truly hard to fathom. I thought that the 25 years that the great Tom Osborne spent at the helm of the Nebraska Cornhuskers was remarkable, yet the venerable Paterno has nearly doubled that. He has truly forgotten more about the game of football than most of us will ever know.
But, I digress.
This season will be a challenging one for Paterno and his troops.
Not only have the Nittany Lions lost their all-time leading rusher, Evan Royster (3,932 yards from 2007 to 2010), but they still haven't decided who will step off of the bus first, sophomore Rob Bolden or junior Matt McGloin, as they welcome Indiana State to Happy Valley (PSU tradition dictates that the starting QB is the first player off the bus).
Beyond that, even though PSU returns 14 starters (as well as their punter), none of them were all Big Ten selections.
Hoping to fill the big shoes of Royster are sophomore Silas Redd and senior Stephon Green who totaled only 625 yards and three touchdowns between them in back-up roles.
Defensively, the outlook is good, as Penn State will do battle in the physical Big Ten with a proven unit. They have experience across the D-line, linebacking crew and secondary.
However, as late as yesterday, in his weekly recorded radio broadcast, Paterno gave no indication as to which player, Bolden or McGloin, would start under center but indicated that both players would probably see playing time.
Last season, Bolden won the starting spot, becoming the first true freshman to do so since 1992, however, he was injured in the second quarter of the Minnesota game.
McGloin stepped in and promptly threw his first pass for a 42-yard touchdown. Against Michigan, he became the first former walk-on in the Paterno era to start at QB.
Bolden returned against Northwestern but was pulled after a fumble ended the second offensive series. McGloin led the Nittany Lions to five straight touchdown drives (which included four TD passes) and erased a 21-point deficit, equaling the greatest comeback in Paterno's career and capturing Paterno's 400th victory.
By then, McGloin had wrested the starting spot away from Bolden and boldly predicted a big game at The Horseshoe against Ohio State, where no Penn State quarterback had thrown a passing TD since 1963. He ended up throwing two in the first half but ended up also tossing two pick-sixes in an eventual Buckeyes blowout.
Finally, in the Outback Bowl, McGloin threw a school-record five interceptions in a loss to the Florida Gators.
During the offseason, both players considered transferring but stayed put.
So while the running game is unsettled, it seems that, more importantly, one of the QB candidates must step up and play consistently in order for Penn State to be legitimate Big Ten title contenders.