Quarterback is still a question mark for Penn State

Matt McGloin is one of three candidates for the Nittany Lions' QB job. The others are Kevin Newsome and Robert Bolden.
Matt McGloin is one of three candidates for the Nittany Lions' QB job. The others are Kevin Newsome and Robert Bolden.
Posted: September 01, 2010

The questions about the Penn State quarterback situation were raining in over the phone, and Joe Paterno tried to curb the enthusiasm at one point by saying, "I'm getting tired of talking about it."

The Penn State coach said Tuesday he had yet to make a decision on the identity of the starting quarterback for Saturday's season-opening game at Beaver Stadium versus Youngstown State.

As for when he might make the call, "We, hopefully, will maybe do it [Wednesday] night," Paterno said at the first of his weekly teleconferences.

The three candidates for the job are sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin, and freshman Robert Bolden. Paterno said he "tentatively" has decided to redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Jones, who continues to practice.

The coach said he'll probably play "a couple of kids" at quarterback against the Penguins, of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Paterno chose to lump together the issues with all the quarterbacks, even the question of experience, although Newsome played close to 50 snaps last season as Daryll Clark's backup and McGloin, a former walk-on, got on the field for a few plays.

"Every one of the four kids who are out there have potential," Paterno said. "Every one of them has a chance to be pretty good. None of them has any experience. You're not sure what's going to happen when you put them in a ball game. Every day, somebody does something . . . you walk off the field feeling pretty good about it. The next day, he may make a couple of real bad mistakes.

"So we're just playing it by ear day-by-day. That's one of the reasons why we're so late in making a selection. I think potentially there's talent there. But right now, they're just not comfortable yet."

Paterno said he had wanted to make a choice last week but told his staff, "Let's make sure we know what we're doing."

Wide receiver Brett Brackett, who was elected cocaptain earlier this week, said the offense has confidence in whoever wins the job.

"I think the reason they haven't named a quarterback yet is that all have done extremely well," Brackett said. "The competition has made them step up their game as a leader and as a player, and that has helped our team. The coaches have a tough decision to make."

The quarterback competition started with four. Jones, who enrolled in January after graduating early from high school, impressed in the Blue-White Game at the end of spring practice, but was informed two weeks ago of plans to redshirt him.

"Jones had a bad start academically," Paterno said in his first comments on the matter. "He's all right. He did all right [in summer classes]. But I'm a little nervous about it."

Paterno also is nervous about playing true freshmen; Newsome was one of just eight to see action last season. Now, in Bolden, he might have one competing at the most important position on the field.

"I'd rather not, to be honest with you," he said. "You're asking an awful lot from a kid who never has been in the kind of pressure situation that we're going to put him in. I'm not comfortable doing that, but that's where we are. We have to work on getting him ready."

Looming after Saturday is top-ranked Alabama, on the road in Tuscaloosa before 100,000 screaming fans. Just the thought of an inexperienced quarterback in that environment makes Paterno shiver.

But he's excited at what he sees down the road.

"We've got some kids that we really like and we think are going to be good, and there's more than one," he said.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.

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