Coach Joe Paterno, who normally is not a proponent of rotating quarterbacks, has said for months he expected Bolden or McGloin to gain enough separation from the other to be designated the main man. But their tight spring duel has extended through preseason drills, to the extent that JoePa has not brought himself to fully commit to either.
"We have two kids who have done very well," Paterno said yesterday during a teleconference with statewide media. "They're both going to play, and we'll see what happens."
Which is to say that Bolden and McGloin, regardless of who should be regarded as 1 or 1A at this point, could still make up Paterno's mind for him by playing lights-out in the early going. Until that happens, the 100,000-plus who will be in Beaver Stadium for the glorified scrimmage against the Sycamores will be counting the snaps, pass attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns accounted for by each player, the better to get a fix on which one will be awarded the larger share of playing time when second-ranked Alabama comes calling on Sept. 10.
For now, though, this parlor game of Name That Quarterback should spark more debates than the Republican caucuses in Iowa. Do JoePa, offensive coordinator Galen Hall and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno play it by ear, rolling with whoever has the hot hand at the moment? Or do they lay out a timetable in which one quarterback plays for specified series or quarters, with the other guy getting the rest?
Indiana State at least offers Bolden and McGloin to get their feet wet before being tossed into the deep, turbulent waters from the Crimson Tide.
Regardless of how things shake out Saturday, the likelihood is that both Bolden and McGloin should find success against Indiana State, whose claim to sports glory begins and ends with the time basketball superstar Larry Bird spent in Terre Haute in the late 1970s. Don't be surprised if Penn State's third-team QB, Shane McGregor, gets an extended taste of garbage-time action after the passers above him on the depth chart have gorged on a Football Championship Subdivision softie that, until last season's 6-5 turnaround, was a welcome addition to any team's schedule, losing 33 straight games from 2006 until 2009.
Of course, his waffling on the quarterback question notwithstanding, JoePa always will make a kittenish opponent sound like a disguised tiger with long fangs and sharp claws. He stressed that his team is "zeroed in on Game 1, against Indiana State," not looking ahead to 'Bama.
Without question, Paterno feels better about his quarterbacks than he did heading into the 2010 season. Bolden was a true freshman and former walk-on McGloin had attempted only two passes for the Lions, both incompletions. Now, they're seasoned, smarter and more savvy, with Bolden hitting on 112 of 193 passes for 1,360 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions, with McGloin going 118 of 215 for 1,548 yards, 14 TDs and nine picks.
"Neither one of those kids played before last year," Paterno noted. "We went into the year and we struggled, and they were part of the struggle."
Joe Paterno, still walking with a cane from injuries to his right shoulder and pelvis suffered after being run into by wide receiver Devon Smith on Aug. 7, said he is "50-50" as to whether he'll man his customary post along the sideline, or follow medical advice and take a perch in the press box. "Upstairs is for the birds," Paterno said.