STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- The respected head coach couldn't
decide between two players after the preseason-long race for the
quarterback job, then played both candidates in a season-opening
Alabama's Nick Saban and Penn State's Joe Paterno followed the
same script in Week 1. Now they need to start figuring out what the
other guy plans to do at quarterback when the second-ranked Crimson Tide head to Happy Valley next week in a marquee matchup between two of college football's name-brand programs.
Not surprisingly, both coaches are playing it coy ahead of the
Sept. 10 showdown at Beaver Stadium.
At Penn State, Paterno said both sophomore Rob Bolden and junior
Matt McGloin will share time again. JoePa's son and quarterbacks
coach, Jay Paterno, said the derby will be evaluated week-to-week,
but that the Nittany Lions feel "we've got two guys we can win
Bolden started the 41-7 win Saturday over FCS school Indiana
State, going 6 of 12 passing for 37 yards. McGloin entered the
second quarter, going 6 of 8 passing for 77 yards.
They split time in the third quarter, then both Bolden and
McGloin headed to the bench for good in the fourth with the game
well in hand.
Better get them rested up for the rest of the tough schedule.
"Alabama next week is going to be a physical football game. ...
our conference is physical," Jay Paterno said. "You better have
two guys ready."
Sounds like what's going on down in Tuscaloosa.
Sophomore AJ McCarron started and was 14 of 23 passing for 226
yards, with two picks and a 24-yard touchdown to Marquis Maze in
the 48-7 victory over Kent State. Redshirt freshman Philip Sims was
7 of 14 for 73 yards and also threw two interceptions.
Neither player would be yanked for making a mistake, Saban said
before the game. Statistically, McCarron appeared to separate
himself from Sims -- though Saban didn't name either quarterback his
permanent starter afterward.
"Right now, we feel confident no matter which quarterback is
in," right guard Barrett Jones said. "It's not really something
that we have to really change anything for. We run the same system
with both of them."
Saban didn't sound that upset about the interceptions, which he
hoped would turn into key lessons for his young signal-callers.
They could come in handy against a veteran Penn State secondary
featuring four senior starters.
"AJ having a little more poise, having played a little bit
more, probably played with a little more poise today, but we have a
lot of confidence in Philip and in most cases he plays extremely
well," Saban said. "I think he learned a lot out there today and
I think he will be a very good player for us here."
Back in Happy Valley, both Bolden and McGloin still have lessons
to learn, too.
Bolden could have accumulated more yards, though a couple
well-placed throws to covered targets bounced off his receivers'
hands each time. Displaying more mobility than McGloin, Bolden also
had a tendency to dive head-first for extra yardage outside the
The art of sliding feet-first will come up at position meetings
"You want a guy who wants to compete, who wants to try to get
the extra yards," Jay Paterno said. But "you've got to know when
to hold them and know when to fold them ... at any rate, he'll
figure it out.
The offense seemed to operate a little smoother under McGloin,
especially in a 14-point second quarter. But McGloin also nearly
tossed an interception after trying to throw a pass away while
under pressure up the middle.
Which brings up the other main problem from Saturday's otherwise
easy season-opening win -- the offensive line struggled with pass
protection, especially considering the foe was a lower-division
school. Left tackle Quinn Barham placed part of the responsibility
on the quarterbacks recognizing defensive fronts and stunts.
"It was kind of frustrating," Bolden said about the pass rush,
"but we'll look at the tape and get better so we don't those
problems next week."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)