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Breaking down PSU's QB situation: All 4 discuss competition and their futures
April 16, 2011 - Cory Giger
UNIVERSITY PARK -- It's tough to pick which was worse during the Blue-White Game, the weather or the quarterback play.
Rob Bolden got the start for the Blue (first-team offense) and badly underthrew his receiver for an interception on the first play. Kevin Newsome fumbled three plays later starting for the White. Matt McGloin then fumbled two plays later in his first series with the Blue. Paul Jones backed up Newsome and threw only one pass.
McGloin wound up having the best day, not exactly because he was so impressive but because the other three were so unimpressive. The junior from Scranton completed 5-of-10 passes for 109 yards and threw a 17-yard TD to Brandon Moseby-Felder to lead the Blue to a 10-0 win.
Bolden was 0-of-5 passing, Newsome 3-of-7 for 22 yards and Jones 0-of-1.
Rain fell throughout the scrimmage, limiting the crowd to about 7,500, and it began pouring at halftime. A comical scene played out about 90 seconds into the third quarter as PSU facilities coordinator Kirk Diehl, at the behest of Joe Paterno, started running onto the field to tell an official to stop the game.
That occurred at exactly the same time Bolden was running a play, and the scrimmage came to an abrupt end after he threw an incomplete pass to Devon Smith.
From a football standpoint, the scrimmage revealed virtually nothing. Things were dummied down even more than usual in a spring game because of the sloppy conditions, and no players or units really stood out.
The real action occurred in the postgame media room as all four quarterbacks addressed the hot-button topics of the competition and their futures at Penn State.
Here's a closer look at what all four had to say:
It's impossible to figure out what he's going to do. One minute he says he loves PSU and sounds like he's staying.
"I'm all in for Penn State right now as a student and as an athlete," Bolden said.
But the next minute he talks about how he's still considering leaving.
"There are a lot of things that I have to think about other than football," he said. "Well, football is the main thing, but with my coaches, we have other things that you guys maybe don't know about that we have to go over."
He's closer to a decision but hasn't made a final one yet, and he doesn't have a time frame, either. He also believes he is getting a fair shot in the quarterback competition and has no hard feelings about Paterno refusing to grant him a release from his scholarship in January.
Bolden said anyone thinking he's already decided to transfer because he hasn't yet announced he would stay is incorrect.
"I don't think that's true," he said. "I'm here, I'm having fun. I enjoy Penn State. ... Everybody here at Penn State hasn't treated me any different since this thing has happened. They've all been good towards me. So it's nothing about the school. Everything here is great. I love it here. Just me and my coaches, we had some hard times, obviously, and based from that, we've just got to see where I'm at."
Bolden looked about the same Saturday as he did as a freshman starter last season. He was wildly erratic in misfiring on all five pass attempts -- the weather may have played a big part in that -- and he was unable to get the offense moving at all.
"I think my most progress was reading defenses," he said of his spring work. "I got better at that. Joe was on me basically every day. He wanted me to speed it up and get the ball out, don't take double hitch steps or stuff like that to slow my receivers down a little bit, and I think I did real good in that."
He spent a lot of time in the film room watching his performances from last year, plus he worked with former Nittany Lion quarterback Daryll Clark. Whether all of that work will someday pay off for Penn State or another school remains the big question.
Bolden's father was outspoken about his son not wanting to be at PSU back in January, leading some to believe he is helping make the final decision.
"He told me just to be here and make sure I wasn't like one [foot] in and one out," Bolden said of his dad. "He told me while I'm here just to do everything I need to do to make sure that I'm getting better and while I'm here just to be all in."
Bolden admitted he goes back and forth on the decision and that starting over at a new school "would be really hard."
Just like to last year, McGloin came in for Bolden and was able to move the offense.
He threw a nice 20-yard pass that was dropped by Justin Brown, but he also underthrew Devon Smith and had the receiver come back for it on a 36-yard gain to the 9 that set up an Evan Lewis field goal.
McGloin later hit Moseby-Felder on the 17-yard score in the back left of the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
"The weather was bad out there today, but I still thought I threw the ball pretty well," he said.
McGloin certainly did not throw well in the final game of the 2010 season as he was picked off five times against Florida in the Outback Bowl.
"It took a long time to get over it," he said of that disappointment. "The feeling I felt after the Outback Bowl was just -- words can't describe it. It was the worst feeling. The next day I promised myself never to feel like that again. And I've been working harder than ever to make sure I don't."
One argument against McGloin starting is that, even if he is a little better than Bolden now, Bolden has a much bigger upside and needs all the playing time he can get to reach his potential.
Asked if that perception makes him mad, McGloin said, "You've got to win now, and it really doesn't matter how you look three or four years from now.
"I can't control what people say," he added. "All I can control is the fact that I need to continue to improve each and every day so I can put myself in a position to be a starter."
Two major things have changed concerning him since this time last year.
He went into the 2010 Blue-White Game as the projected starter, and now he's battling for the third-team spot and considering transferring.
He also struggled big time answering questions last year, sounding so nervous and afraid to say the wrong thing that most of what he did say provided little insight into his actual feelings.
Newsome was much more open, honest and revealing Saturday when discussing if he plans to stick around at Penn State. He spoke about himself and Bolden when he said:
"We feel like we're good football players, and we love the sport of football, we love to play football. And when we're sitting on the sideline and there's nothing we can do to help our team, it hurts us. It hurts our heart. So we want to be able to help. That's the only reason we talk about transferring. We don't talk about transferring because we don't like Penn State. We love Penn State. But we love football also."
Newsome explained why he did not go to the Outback Bowl.
"I respect Penn State enough where I wasn't all in," he said. "The Michigan State game, I thought I didn't have a shot to play, and I wasn't all in. And I didn't think that was fair to Penn State, a school I love, to go down to Florida to the bowl game and not be all in. That's not fair to the team. And I decided to stay home."
It has been speculated Newsome can stay at PSU and switch to running back, receiver or somewhere else. He said that will not happen and that the coaches have never approached him about it.
"I'm a quarterback," he said. "I am a quarterback until I die. ... I have to have the ball in my hands every play. That's the type of player I am. I want to lead my team to a championship."
Newsome said his decision about transferring "has definitely yet to be made."
"I want to be here," he said. "I love this school. I want Penn State in my heart for the rest of my life. But like I said, you only have one life to live. You've got to chase your dream."
He went on to add, "Whatever Bolden [does], whatever McGloin [does], whatever Paul [does], I wish them the best of luck. This team's my family, so I would never want anything bad to happen to anybody here. But I think that we all should do what's best for us because we only got one life to live."
The redshirt freshman says he has no plans to go anywhere.
"I'm here at Penn State. I signed a letter of intent. I'm here ready to play," Jones said.
The highly touted recruit enrolled at PSU last January, took part in the 2010 Blue-White Game and threw two touchdowns. So it was a surprise to many that Bolden, a freshman who didn't arrive until May, beat him out.
Jones is still well behind Bolden and McGloin, according to the coaches, but he feels he has made a lot of progress.
"I feel more comfortable, like I'm not in a shell," Jones said. "Last spring, coming in I would be too nervous about messing up or second guessing how good I was at some point."
He admitted he wasn't exactly thrilled to be redshirted, but he trusts that the coaches did what's best for him and the quarterback position.
"The game feels a lot slower when I'm playing, and I'm just more comfortable now," Jones said. "I don't know if it's because I've been here for so long -- I've been here for a year already -- or if it's been just practicing. But whatever it is I feel comfortable, so I'm ready to go."
He's also the biggest quarterback, and at 245 pounds, he's capable of running over people.
"I'm the same size as the guys hitting me, so I can take more hits," Jones said. "I'm not scared to get hit and give a hit, too. Defenses are told to rip the guy's head off with the ball, so there's no point in actually just standing like a dummy and taking it. I can give it out, too."