STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Uncertainty rules at quarterback for Penn State.
Freshman starter Rob Bolden needs more tests Wednesday on a possible head injury suffered last week against Minnesota to determine if he’ll be available for Saturday night’s contest against Michigan.
Coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday that Matt McGloin will compete with Kevin Newsome, who has a minor left knee injury, in an open competition to start if Bolden can’t go.
Don’t rule out JoePa going with multiple quarterbacks either.
“Play it by ear. I hope I’ve got options,” Paterno said. “The more options I’ve got, the better I’ll like it.”
Penn State historically has also been conservative in limiting players with concussion symptoms. JoePa hasn’t definitively called Bolden’s injury a concussion, though he did say Bolden “still had some memory problems” after a test Sunday.
Bolden failed that concussion test, his mother, Tonia Williams, said Tuesday in a phone interview from her Detroit-area home. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the test result earlier Tuesday.
“If you ask me, if I had to make a guess, I’d guess he’s not going to make it,” Paterno said. “But that does not mean I know what I’m talking about it. I don’t have an M.D. after my name.”
But the 45-year coaching veteran has been around long enough to hold a graduate degree in gamesmanship. The uncertainty may pose another headache for Michigan as coach Rich Rodriguez prepares his Big Ten-worst defense (441 yards allowed per game) for what is expected to be a raucous crowd of more than 100,000 unfriendly fans in Happy Valley.
Bolden dressed for practice but didn’t do much during Monday’s normally scaled-back session. He was listed as “probable” on Penn State’s injury report released Monday night.
Then, Tuesday at Beaver Stadium, Paterno said the team wasn’t going to take chances with Bolden – but didn’t rule him out entirely.
About 20 minutes later on the Big Ten coaches teleconference, Paterno said it was “very doubtful” that Bolden could play.
Bolden was having the best game of his young career after going 11 of 13 for 130 yards and a touchdown versus Minnesota before getting hurt. Saturday night could have been an interesting matchup between two promising young quarterbacks in Bolden and the Wolverines’ dual-threat dynamo, Denard Robinson – who is recovering himself from injuries to his throwing shoulder and left knee.
Despite some struggles, Bolden overall has shown poise in the pocket and mobility if needed. McGloin, a former walk-on, appears to be more of a stay-at-home passer, and threw for two scores against the Gophers.
Newsome, who played a series against Minnesota, is more of a running threat who has been inconsistent with his throws in limited action.
“We still have all our plays in there, all our throws,” right guard Stefen Wisniewski said. “I really don’t think we’re limited on offense at all if we don’t have Bolden.”
Bolden’s injury comes at a time when the Nittany Lions’ struggling offense started showing signs of consistency against an albeit weak Gophers defense.
So the up-and-down running game could play an even bigger role against Michigan – not only to take heat off the replacement quarterback, but to kill time to keep the ball out of the hands of Michigan’s Robinson. It sets up to be a potentially special night for Penn State’s Evan Royster, 31 yards shy of breaking the school career rushing mark of 3,398 held by Curt Warner for nearly three decades.
But Paterno, who often heaps effusive praise on his top seniors, was curiously reserved when given a chance to remark about Royster’s impact on the program.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Paterno said matter-of-factly before moving on to the next question.