Smith’s Slant: The More You See, The Less You Know

Story posted September 2, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Dan Smith

We sit here just a couple of days before Penn State football kicks off their 2011 campaign against Indiana State, and we know little more than we did at the end of the 2010 season. In fact, we may know even less.

At least then we were sure that Joe Paterno was coming back for his 46th season on the sidelines. But now he may not even be on the sidelines for the first game, thanks to an injury sustained in practice.

At least then we were confident that the quarterback situation would sort itself out in the eight months between New Year’s Day and this Saturday. But now we have two starting quarterbacks listed on the depth chart.
An offseason that was supposed to shed some light on how good this team really is has only brought about more questions.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons to think Penn State will be better than they were in 2010. They come into this year with six senior starters on defense, with healed injuries and another year of experience under their belt. It would take a bevy of injuries for this unit not to return to its place atop the Big Ten defensive rankings.

And with Silas Redd entering his sophomore year with as much potential as any Penn State running back in recent memory, there is excitement on the offensive side of the football as well.

But there is a familiar nagging in the lead up to this new season. How will the Nittany Lions deal with the loss of All-American guard Stefen Wisniewski, the anchor of the offensive line? What is the status of backup running back Stephfon Green? Can Justin Brown and Devon Smith help Derek Moye with the receiving load?

Those are tough questions without easy answers. And yet they pale in comparison to the big one: who will be under center this season?
It is once again Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin battling in practice for the right to be the first one off the bus on Saturday. If you think you have seen this movie before, you have. And you can only hope that the sequel does not end like the original.

Reports surfaced Thursday that Bolden has been chosen as the starter, which should not come as much of a surprise. He is the one with the most potential and talent, and if this team is going to be elite, he has to be the quarterback.

We have heard a lot about Rob Bolden in recent weeks: about his maturity, about his leadership, about how he’s growing into the role. And of course, that’s always a good thing. A more mature Bolden can only help this team.
But as I recall, Bolden’s main issue last season was that he just did not play very well. He held on to the ball too long. He struggled to check down when his first option was not available. And we have not heard anything from those observing practices that indicate Bolden has taken his game to another level. If he had, do you really think Matt McGloin would still be in the conversation?

Maybe Joe Paterno is pulling another fast one on fans with these coy press conferences. Maybe he knows exactly what is coming this season. But I believe that in the coming weeks, as we sit in the stands of Beaver Stadium searching for the answers the offseason could not provide, Paterno will be on the sidelines doing the exact same thing.

Dan Smith is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and is the Executive Editor of ComRadio. To contact him, email