With summer in full swing, many of the preseason publications have hit the grocery store news racks.
There’s plenty being written about the 2011 version of the Nittany Lions and most publications put the squad in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. Of course, most are fixated on the quarterback position and why not? It’s the biggest question mark the Lions have – or so the preseason publications would lead you to believe.
In today’s edition of Morelli OnLion, we’ll take a closer look at the QB spot and what is going to happen there this fall. We’ll also pay tribute to a member of the Penn State family who passed away recently.
Let’s start at QB.
No Question at QB
As you settle into your beach chair and peruse one of the many summer publications that focus on college football, be prepared for a bit of a shock.
Many of those publications list sophomore QB Rob Bolden as the starter on the Nittany Lions’ depth chart. I’m here to tell you those publications are dead wrong.
We said it in the spring and we’ll say it again in the summer – Matt McGloin is your 2011 starting QB, Nittany Nation.
A large portion of Nittany Nation wants to believe that Bolden is better. He’s not. A large portion of Nittany Nation wants to believe that had Bolden been inserted into the Outback Bowl that the outcome would have been different. It wouldn’t. The fact of the matter is that McGloin is a better quarterback. Period.
The numbers back me up here. When you closely examine the 2010 statistics, it’s clear that McGloin won the battle of the QBs. Bolden completed 112-of-193 passes – that’s 56 percent. McGloin completed 118-of-225 passes – that’s nearly 55 percent. OK, pretty even. The interception numbers are also pretty close. Bolden threw seven picks while McGloin tossed nine (five of those came in the 37-24 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl). On the ground, Bolden ran the ball 30 times for minus-11 yards, while McGloin carried the ball 13 times for 6 yards. Bolden started in eight games, McGloin in four.
What those numbers don’t tell you is the fact that McGloin bailed the Nittany Lions out several times. They also don’t tell you that Bolden racked up his numbers against inferior competition during the non-conference slate, while McGloin’s numbers came during the heart of the Big Ten schedule.
Ultimately, however, it comes down to which QB plays with more heart and which one is more mature. The way that Bolden has held the program hostage with his attempts to transfer out of Happy Valley is simply a sign of his immaturity. Quite frankly, Bolden appeared uninterested when he was on the sidelines as the No. 2 QB.
We can only hope that the Paternos (Joe and Jay) don’t cave to Bolden’s childish act and anoint him the starter. There should be an open competition, for sure. McGloin and Bolden will be the front-runners, but don’t rule out Paul Jones as a potential No. 2. Remember, he redshirted last season and was pretty impressive during the 2010 Blue-White Game.
But at the end of the day, you need a QB with heart. You need a QB who knows how to win.
You need Matt McGloin.
Many sportswriters are paying tribute this week to a member of the Penn State media team that passed away. Pat Boland, 42, from ESPN Radio in State College died after a long battle with cancer. Boland had recently given up his broadcasting career to be with his family in Somerset, Pa., as he battled the disease.
I had several chances to work with Pat and was often a guest on ESPN Radio when he and Cory Giger co-hosted “Sports Central” on the Fridays before a Penn State game. The one thing that I always respected about Pat was the fact that he was never afraid to be critical of the program. He called it like he saw it.
I was asked on “Sports Central” about Pat on Tuesday afternoon to share some memories about Pat. Although I didn’t cover the men’s basketball team very often, I can always remember Pat collecting dollar bills from those covering the game for his infamous “attendance polls.” Everyone in the media room would chuckle as they shelled out their singles for the poll, which went by announced attendance. I can also vividly remember hearing Pat doing the Pittsburgh Pirate promos on ESPN Radio in State College. He would mimic the voice of a swashbuckling pirate as he promoted that night’s game.
Pat was a good guy. He will be missed.
Morelli OnLion’s Final Thought: As I was returning from Pittsburgh on the Fourth of July along state Route 22, I realized that I had to change lanes several times when I probably shouldn’t have had to. Why? Because no one – and I mean no one – obeys yield signs anymore. I’m not quite sure when it became acceptable to act like the yield sign doesn’t exist, but that seems to be the case.
For those uninformed drivers out there, when you are merging, the yield sign is telling you to slow down, stop even, if you need to. At one time, author Bret Easton Ellis wrote in his novel “Less Than Zero” that people are afraid to merge.
Not anymore, apparently.
Chris Morelli is an award-winning writer/editor who lives in Centre County and covers Penn State athletics for gantdaily.com. He’s also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at email@example.com. Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!