I know that a lot of fans think that the Penn State starting quarterback position is still up for grabs. Some fans wish that the coaching staff would just choose one guy no matter who he is, just so that Penn State can say they have one definite quarterback. Others hold on to the notion that Rob Bolden was a more highly regarded recruit than Matt McGloin and the other notion that McGloin doesn’t play well against “good defenses.” During the broadcast of the Eastern Michigan game, one of the announcers made a comment that gave the impression that Bolden was a more mobile quarterback than McGloin (Bolden had negative rushing yards in six games last season).
I just don’t get it. The fact that Bolden was a big time recruit and McGloin earned his scholarship by walking on doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is performance. So far this season, the “competition” between McGloin and Bolden hasn’t been very close.
That’s what we’re talking about right now. Rob Bolden has played in games versus Indiana State, Alabama, Temple and Eastern Michigan, and he has only completed 46.5% of his passes. Take out his 11 for 29 versus Alabama and he’s 22 for 42. That’s still only 53.4% completions. Not to mention three interceptions for the supposedly safer quarterback.
I know Bolden is still young and I know he’s being taken in and out of games, but even so, you’d expect to see some kind of improvement from last season. That’s what I was looking for when I called for Bolden to be named the starter in August, but Bolden doesn’t seem to have advanced his game at all. McGloin on the other hand, looks like he’s capable of making plays against Big Ten competition. When he’s behind center, the offense is more fluid and the ball comes out quicker. If the stats aren’t enough, it’s clear to me that McGloin looks like a better quarterback.
The part of the quarterback argument that I really can’t stand is the “bad defense” argument, or the notion that McGloin only plays well against teams with poor defense. McGloin detractors use this to dismiss his heroic performances versus Northwestern and Michigan. I agree that aside from a euphoric fist half versus Ohio State, McGloin’s performance sunk against stiff competition last season, but there’s no proof that Bolden would be any better.
Last season, Bolden predictably struggled in a road match at Iowa, completing on 20 of 37 passes for only 212 yards, but the real clunker came a week later when Penn State hosted Illinois. Bolden completed a splendid 80-yard bomb to Derek Moye but still finished only 8 of 21 for 142 yards in Penn State’s 30-13 loss. There’s no real evidence to suggest that Bolden gets better when faced with a solid opposing defense. The big thing to look at is what has happened this season. One quarterback looks like he’s improved while the other is still struggling to complete passes.
Big Ten season starts this week. It’s time to make a choice. It shouldn’t be that hard. It’s time for McGloin.