Bolden delivers in Penn State’s season-opening win
Posted on06 September 2010.
Daily Collegian, Penn State U. via UWIRE
Rob Bolden took a five-step drop, looked to his left and his first option wasn’t open.
But he didn’t look like the first true freshman to start a season at quarterback in the Joe Paterno era on the play. He coolly turned toward the middle of the field and found Brett Brackett, who lunged into the endzone, completing Bolden’s first career touchdown pass and giving Penn State a lead it would never relinquish in an easy 44-14 victory against Youngstown State on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Bolden looked crisp as he completed 20 of his 29 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns and an interception — Derek Moye slipped on the play, allowing for the easy turnover. the Lions offense as a whole, however, looked shaky early, specifically on the offensive line, and it carried just a nine-point lead into the break against the FCS Penguins.
“We did alright,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “We have to look at the tapes and we have to get into a tough football game and we have to make some big plays against tough situations. When we go through that I’ll know better.”
Bolden responded well after his turnover, recording his first touchdown pass, a 20-yard strike to Brett Brackett.
“He has a quick release and throws the ball on the money,” said Brackett, who set a career high in catches with eight and yards with 98. “…He’s done a great job. He came in here and he’s impressed a ton of people.”
The freshman’s first touchdown drive was aided by a penalty and the run game, but the second scoring drive, which came after Chaz Powell started the second half with a 100-yard kick return touchdown, was pretty much all Bolden. He was flawless on the drive, going 4-for-4 for 44 yards and capped it with a 22-yard lob to a wide-open Brackett on the sideline at the goal line.
Bolden played until the game was out of reach, and sophomore Kevin Newsome came on to relieve him with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. He led a touchdown drive but didn’t throw an official pass (one incompletion was wiped out by a pass interference penalty). Redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin handed off to Curtis Dukes on the last play of the game, but quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said that wasn’t the plan and “that’s not a reflection of where Matt stands [in the quarterback competition].”
Joe Paterno had said all three quarterbacks would see time Saturday, but that was thought to meant significant snaps. Given the depth at quarterback, Joe Paterno said Bolden’s spot is not necessarily secure even though he looked good against Youngstown State. Paterno was noncommittal on a starter next week at Alabama, though it’d seem puzzling if Bolden didn’t get the nod given his showing.
“all those kids are good prospects,” said Joe Paterno, who was frustrated at the number of quarterback questions being lobbed his way in the postgame press conference. “We had to make a decision on one. He’s got an arm. He’s got poise. He did some things a little better than the other guys on more occasions.”
Jay Paterno said the decision to start Bolden came in meetings led by Joe Paterno, and it was unanimous among coaches.
“it came down to where everybody was in agreement with what we needed to do,” Jay Paterno said. “there was no issues there whatsoever. Joe went around the room and everybody had the same answer.”
The Penguins gave the Lions a scare, at least for one quarter when Dominique Barnes took a Kurt Hess screen pass 80 yards — the longest touchdown pass Penn State has given up since 2003, when Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker found Kyle Brown. Youngstown State had a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter before Penn State rattled off 41 unanswered points.
Kicker Collin Wagner, who was 1-for-5 last season from more than 40 yards out, hit a trio of field goals from 44, 49 and 48 yards. Those kicks coupled with Brackett’s touchdown catch gave the Lions a 16-7 halftime edge before Powell broke the game open on the opening kick of the second half.
Wagner’s last field goal came after Bolden’s first drive in the two-minute drill. With time winding down in the half, Bolden directed the offense in the no huddle, going 3-for-5 for 24 yards. He took hits on several of the passes, but stepped into his throw each time.
Perhaps surprising to see was Bolden being given the green light to air it out. Youngstown State stacked its defense to stop Evan Royster, who didn’t give Bolden much help in the run game, finishing with 40 yards on 11 carries. the offensive line’s run blocking was underwhelming, and the holes weren’t there for Royster.
Joe Paterno said the Lions will have to improve next week when they head to Alabama in what he said would be Penn State’s toughest test since it faced Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. his son noted the challenges of playing the defending national champs with a freshman quarterback.
“When you come in and learn a new system at quarterback it’s like learning a new language,” Jay Paterno said. “We kind of had to put the Rosetta Stone program together to help him learn the language. He learned Spanish, next week he’s gotta know mandarin Chinese. on the road he’s gotta be fluent in it and under pressure. We’ll see, it’s obviously a bigger step.”
Copyright 2010 Daily Collegian
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