Another week, another ugly win for the Nittany Lions.
This week, Penn State had to hang on for dear life against the Indiana Hoosiers in a 16-10 misadventure in Bloomington. While the Lions are 4-1 and 1-0 in the Big Ten, it feels somewhat hollow. Penn State has not looked good in any of their wins and the quarterback rotation of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin looks more ridiculous with every passing week. Each week, McGloin outplays Bolden. Without fail, Bolden trots out on the field as the starter.
In this week’s edition of Morelli OnLion, we’ll take a closer look at the QB numbers, reflect on the win over IU and look ahead to this week’s contest with Iowa.
The Arms Race
For all of you Rob Bolden apologists out there, I have a word to describe you: Delusional.
Had it not been for McGloin coming off the bench last week to throw for 204 yards including a 74-yard touchdown to Derek Moye, the Lions probably would have been upset victims at Bloomington instead of escaping with a six-point win. Bolden got the starting nod once again and promptly threw an interception on Penn State’s first drive of the day. On the afternoon, Bolden was 6-of-14 for 67 yards and the one interception. Again, he did not throw a touchdown pass. McGloin was 10-of-22 for 204 yards and the one TD.
Through five games, here’s what the arms race looks like:
McGloin: 144.3 passer rating, 44-of-76 (57.9 percent), 625 yards, 8.2 yards per attempt, 4 TDs, 0 INT
Bolden: 85.3 passer rating, 39-of-85 (45.9 percent), 455 yards, 5.4 yards per attempt, 1 TD, 4 INT
If that doesn’t make things clear, it’s hard to imagine what would. But it apparently isn’t making things any clearer for coach Joe Paterno, who will continue to use both quarterbacks. The Lions, unfortunately, are becoming a bit of a joke nationally. Unless the QB situation changes, things are going to get worse before they get better.
Game Ball to … Matt McGloin.
While Mac didn’t have his best day, he was more than serviceable coming off the bench. His 74-yard TD pass to Moye was huge and gave the Lions a much-needed spark because they looked flat early on. He continues to step up when Penn State needs it most. Yes, he’s a former walk-on. He’s also the best QB on this team. Give him the starting job, full-time. And let the chips fall where they may.
What Was He Thinking? Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
Rob Bolden? Again? Seriously, coach, are you watching game film? Every week, Bolden starts and every week, the Lions struggle in the early going. Imagine what could happen if McGloin would get the nod from the first minute of the game. Instead of struggling to beat the Hoosiers by six points, Penn State would have put them away by a couple of touchdowns.
Numerology … 464-256
The Nittany Lions had over 200 more yards than the Hoosiers in total offense, yet still had to hang on for the win. They were able to move the ball up and down the field, yet struggled to find the end zone in the win. That will have to change this week when the Iowa Hawkeyes visit Beaver Stadium.
5. Silas Redd — Redd had a big afternoon against IU, racking up 129 yards on 29 carries. He’s starting to show the big-play capability that everyone was excited about when the 2011 season began a month ago.
4. Derek Moye — Moye caught six balls for 158 yards, including the aforementioned 74-yard touchdown pass. He’s becoming McGloin’s favorite target as the season progresses.
3. Anthony Fera — With the Lions struggling to find the end zone, Fera’s three field goals were huge. He connected from 22, 27 and 33 yards out. Much maligned kicker Evan Lewis did not make the trip to Bloomington.
2. Dusty Kiel — The IU quarterback completed 22-of-45 for 184 yards and a touchdown in the game. He was also intercepted once. However, he kept the Hoosiers in the ballgame and performed admirably against a vaunted Penn State defense.
1. Gerald Hodges — Hodges had a monster day on defense, racking up 11 tackles. One of the tackles was for loss. With Michael Mauti out of the lineup, Hodges stepped his game up.
Captain Kirk (Ferentz) and the Hawkeyes have won eight of nine against the Lions. For one reason or another, Iowa appears to have Penn State’s number. That trend will continue this week when the Hawks visit Beaver Stadium. This isn’t Eastern Michigan or Indiana. Expect the Lions’ first conference loss of the year.
Gantdaily.com prediction: Iowa 28, Penn State 14.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!