Quarterbacks Remain Question Mark as Penn State Visits Temple

Story posted September 16, 2011 in CommRadio, Sports by Mike Esse

As it has been for most of the early 2011 Penn State Nittany Lion football season, the quarterback situation has once again taken over as the number one question mark for Joe Paterno’s 1-1 football team. Neither sophomore Rob Bolden nor redshirt junior Matt McGloin has impressed the coaching staff enough to separate himself from the other.

Although Bolden has seen the majority of the snaps in the first two games, and quite frankly has had the better numbers, Paterno still plans to use both quarterbacks this weekend against in-state rival Temple (2-0) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (12 p.m. on ComRadio). Most college football experts attribute some of the lack of offensive production in their 27-11 loss to Alabama to the fact that Paterno hasn’t been able to name a starter.

This weekend against the Owls and next weekend at home against Eastern Michigan will be the last two times Bolden, McGloin and the rest of the Nittany Lions offense will be able to find their rhythm before they open Big Ten play with Indiana on October 1st. Finding that rhythm will be a major determining factor on how much success the Lions will have in the 2011 season.

However, this weekend’s opponent, Temple, hopes to disrupt the Nittany Lion offense and not allow any type of comfort for either Penn State quarterback. After losing most of what made up their top ranked defense in the MAC a year ago, Temple will still bring a terrorizing defense into Saturday’s showdown.

The Owl defense, led by senior linebacker Tahir Whitehead, has only allowed a combined ten points in their first two games against Villanova and MAC foe Akron. Whitehead, coming off a 52-tackle season last year, made 6 tackles in the first two games. Temple’s secondary also will have a major effect on the efficiency of Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin in the passing game.

Senior Kevin Kroboth and junior Justin Gildea have a combined 3 interceptions and 8 tackles in the first two games and will need similar performances against the Nittany Lions, who have failed to have big plays downfield thus far this season.

Defensively for Penn State, it has been their inability to stop big plays that has separated them from being a great defense. In last Saturday’s game against Alabama, the Nittany Lion defense allowed plays of 29, 12 and 30 yards on each of Alabama’s three drives resulting in touchdowns. Two of the three plays came on third down and a stop on either of those drives could have made a major difference in the outcome of the game.

Saturday against Temple the key for the Lions will be to not allow big plays and get stops on 3rd and long, which they were unable to do for the most part against the Crimson Tide. There were still some bright spots for State, which plan to wreak havoc this week against junior Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi.

Seniors Devon Still and Nick Sukay had big hits against the Trent Richardson and the Crimson Tide, and plays similar to those will be imperative when junior Temple running back Bernard Pierce has the ball in his hands.

Pierce is coming off two three-touchdown performances against Villanova and Akron and Gerardi has accumulated over 300 yards in limited playing time in both of those games.  Pierce, who has scored 32 touchdowns in his first three seasons at Temple, had a two-touchdown performance a year ago in a 24-13 loss to Penn State. A similar performance this year, and a Temple win would put the three-year starter into the national running back spotlight.

With all of that said, the storyline as usual is Penn State’s quarterbacks. If one thing needs to be accomplished this weekend in Philadelphia, besides a second win in the win column, it is the emergence of a clear-cut starting quarterback. If Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin has a field day with the Temple Owls this weekend, there could finally be something else to talk about besides choosing a starting quarterback.

Mike Esse is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mje5164@psu.edu.