The Quarterback Question
With the football season just 42 days away, the biggest question simmering in the summer heat remains the same as last summer, which is at the quarterback position. We take a look at the case for each quarterback and why they should be the starter when Penn State takes the field on September 3rd.
The bottom line, quite simply, is that Rob Bolden should be the starting quarterback because he’s the best quarterback on the team.
Bolden came in last August fresh out of high school and beat out every quarterback on the roster, and held the starting spot until he was injured at Minnesota in Week 7. In that game, he started out 11/13 for 160 yards and a TD before getting hurt, then began the Northwestern game two weeks later completing 3 of 4 passes for 43 yards before being pulled. You know how the rest goes.
Bolden’s biggest advantages are his rocket arm, impressive size (6’4″ 211 lbs.), and enough mobility (4.5 in the 40) to be considered a dual-threat quarterback. His raw skills were evident at times last season, but we’ve only scratched the surface of his potential. Bolden has the physical tools to become an all-conference quarterback and, after a full year in the program, he should a completely different player than the guy we saw last season. He even said so himself.
Much was made of McGloin’s leadership abilities and “moxie” during his time as Penn State’s starting QB, while Bolden has been (unfairly) portrayed as shy, timid, and even spoiled or withdrawn. Watch him at THON, or read about him cheering on his teammates at Life For Life, and then try to tell me that Rob Bolden isn’t a great teammate and capable leader.
Both quarterbacks struggled last season against equal or better competition, and their statistics were fairly similar. The difference, as explained by our own Devon Edwards on NittanyWhiteout.com, was that McGloin benefited from the improvement of the offensive line, specifically in the area of the running game, during the second half of the season. The offensive line should be better this season, and the skill positions are loaded. Plug in a stud in the making at quarterback, and Penn State should have a potent and balanced offense.
This season brings a brutal schedule and high expectations. I don’t want the quarterback to be the guy who works the crowd and media better or the guy who looked better last season. I want the starting quarterback to be the guy who has the talent to take this team back to a BCS bowl. That guy is Rob Bolden.
To decide who should be the Penn State starting quarterback, I’ve devised a series of questions. First, which quarterback is more talented? Second, which quarterback has more potential? Third, which quarterback could provide both a passing and running option that could give the Penn State offense more potency? According to most Penn Staters, the answer to all three questions is Rob Bolden.
However, now I have to ask the most important question. Who will lead the Nittany Lions to more wins? The answer to that has to be Matt McGloin.
Let’s start with the hard facts. Last season, both quarterbacks had similar completion rates, with Bolden doing 3.1 percentage points better than McGloin. McGloin threw two more interceptions than Bolden, but threw nine more touchdown passes. McGloin actually ran for more yards than Bolden last season as well, although Bolden’s -11 rushing yards were due to sacks.
So, the stats don’t actually reveal anything much. We’ll move on to the idea that Bolden has more upside then. Heading into his sophomore year, Bolden has a full season behind him and should be working with an expanded playbook. A year of learning should complement his athleticism, so Bolden should be much improved and at a higher level than McGloin.
The only chance to see if any progress had occurred was at the Blue-White game last spring. Bolden had a less-than-stellar performance, going 0-5 with an interception on his first play. To be fair, the game only lasted for a half due to horrid weather, but Bolden’s performance was unimpressive nonetheless. Bolden may have improved since last year, but that certainly wasn’t the case in the spring game.
Regardless of talent and potential, Penn State just seemed like a better team last season with McGloin at the helm. The Nittany Lions started the year at 3-3 under Bolden. After McGloin took over in the Minnesota game, Penn State went 4-2 to finish the regular season. McGloin showed leadership and had plenty of confidence. His timing was good, and the Nittany Lions just played better when he was in the game.
To conclude, I don’t mean to bash Bolden. Both quarterbacks have their good points and their flaws (see Outback Bowl, McGloin). I just firmly believe that Penn State is a better team with McGloin on the field. The Nittany Lions respond to him, whatever the reason may be. So, despite Bolden being more athletic and having more potential, I’m #TeamMcGloin all the way for the 2011 season.
Newsome appears to be behind both Bolden and McGloin in the quarterback conversation, and he did not travel with the team to the Outback Bowl. Most expected him to transfer, but the coaching staff convinced him to stick around through the spring, and he appears to be back this season.
As a quarterback, Newsome has struggled to develop after coming in as a blue-chip prospect in 2009. He saw limited game action last season despite being the favorite heading into preseason camp. His athletic ability makes him a potential dual-threat weapon, but he has not shown nearly enough in the passing game.
Keep an eye on a possible position change for Newsome. He has stated time and time again that he only wants to play quarterback, but he has enough talent to be a contributor at a number of other positions.
Jones has the physical tools to be a big-time college player, but he won’t see the field until he gets his academics in order. He reportedly will not be on the roster this fall to focus on his studies.