Morelli OnLion: The Arms Race

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

Once again, Matt McGloin outplayed Rob Bolden in a 16-10 win over Indiana.

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.

Two-Minute Drill:

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.

The Countdown

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.

Gameday: Iowa

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. 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 He’s also a regular on “Sports Central,” which airs on ESPN Radio in Altoona and State College. E-mail him at Also, be sure to check out Morelli OnLion on Facebook!

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5 thoughts on “Morelli OnLion: The Arms Race

  1. buggyracer

    I don’t care WHO they pick, as long as they pick one. If this continues the correct answer is to pick a new coach…the current system is harming the entire team. My take on it is that Bolden has more physical skills and isn’t as prone to the Romo-like idiotic decisions (I’ve seen McGloin make some TERRIBLE throws that should never have been made), but McGloin is generally more accurate and able to handle weaker defenses with more success than Boldin. Neither of them is a long-term answer, and in fact if the season goes south over the next few weeks I’d like to see Option C.

    • jeffs1

      I’m all with buggy and smokey on this one. Though the team seems to respond better with McGloin in the game, how many redzone fumbles, dropped passes, and passed tipped by the WRs only to be intercepted can you blame on Robo?

      Like Smokey noted – there have been at least 3 long passes Robo has put on the money with Moye/Smith that would have been for sure TDs had the WRs held onto the ball.

      At this point in time, I don’t believe there’s a single fan who trusts the abililty of either of these quarterbacks, and the coaching; excuse me, lack thereof.

  2. Dustin Parks

    When McGloin got the starting nod last year against Michigan, that gave the team a huge spark and it led to our third straight win over the Wolverines. What Paterno sees in Bolden I don’t understand, as fans want McGloin to be the full-time starter. Rotating them in and out has made even the most die-hard supporters of the Nittany Lions are saying we are a joke.

    It’s almost like we’re falling back into what we were in 2003 and 2004. The fans want McGloin as the starter because he is more efficient. Forget the horrible bowl game he had against Florida, he’s the better quarterback, and that’s seen. The players seem to play better knowing he’s the guy calling the signals.

    I want McGloin as the QB, as does everyone else. No offense to coach Paterno, but he needs to open his eyes and put Bolden as the backup only.

  3. Aaron T. Evans

    They both stink because neither is allowed a chance to establish any sort of rhythm. Swapping QB’s out every other series is a recipe for disaster. It shows the quarterbacks and the team that you have no faith in either of them. Both bring something different to the table, but Joe needs to pick one and stick with him.

  4. smokeybandit

    There you go again trying to use a boxscore to justify why you want McGloin in there.

    What if Moye dropped McGloin’s TD pass, but caught the sure TD pass he dropped from Bolden. Suddenly the numbers look a whole lot different. Even as is, you’re using stats of a guy who completed 45% of his passes on the day to justify how good he is.

    Go take a look whose has the by far superior completion percentage on 3rd down. Go look at who has performed better in the 4th quarter of games. These are the stats that mean something during a game. Not the 10000 foot view season statistics summary.

    Face it, both QBs stink…equally. And it’ll stay that way as long as they are given no coaching.

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