Backup QB Bolden steps forward for finale
DALLAS -- Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden has lost his starting job to Matt McGloin in each of the past two seasons.
But with McGloin still dealing with a concussion suffered Dec. 17 in a locker room scuffle with teammate Curtis Drake, Bolden is expected to get the start Monday when No. 24 Penn State (9-3) faces No. 20 Houston (12-1) in the TicketCity Bowl.
"The longer you go, the odds of [Matt] playing aren't very good," interim coach Tom Bradley said Wednesday.
Bolden, a sophomore, started the first seven games this season, but his last start came Oct. 15 against Purdue.
McGloin, a redshirt junior, started the final five games, but he has missed the Nittany Lions' first two practices at Bishop Lynch High School.
Bradley said McGloin remains "day to day." But he has not been cleared to return to practice since the incident with Drake 12 days ago in which he had a seizure after hitting his head on the floor at the Lasch Football Building. McGloin was taken to the hospital and later released.
Bolden is completing only 42.2 percent of his passes (46 of 109) for 548 yards. He has thrown just one touchdown pass and four interceptions in nine games.
McGloin has connected on 54.1 percent of his attempts (125 of 231) for 1,571 yards. He has tossed eight touchdown passes and five interceptions in 12 games.
Bolden didn't play in three of the final five games, and he was just 2 of 11 for 22 yards in a mop-up role in his two appearances against Illinois and Wisconsin.
"Is he going to be a little rusty? Probably," redshirt junior center Matt Stankiewitch said. "But hopefully we can get a lot of that rust out in practice."
Bolden took all of the snaps with the first-team offense Wednesday. Shane McGregor, a redshirt junior walk-on, is the backup. He played sparingly in two games this year, completing 1 of 4 passes for 12 yards.
"[Bolden's] done pretty well," Bradley said. "He keeps getting more comfortable every day, and he's working hard. It's just a matter of getting the reps again.
"We got to get [McGregor] ready just as fast as we can. That's just the situation we're in."
Fullback Michael Zordich, a redshirt junior, said the offense still is trying to adjust to Bolden, who has thrown just six touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in his career.
"We're just kind of trying to get used to each other again, get used to playing with each other again, and we've been doing that over the last couple of weeks," Zordich said.
"I think it's just a different vibe with the two quarterbacks. Neither one's a bad vibe, they just have a different moxie. Matt is the wiry kind of guy. Bolden is real calm, cool and collected.
"We're doing some things different. There's a lot of very little small changes."
Bradley said sophomore tailback Silas Redd, who was slowed the final three games by a bruised collarbone, is "back to 100 percent."
But the Penn State offense will be missing Drake and Shawney Kersey, a pair of redshirt sophomore wideouts who combined for 10 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown, because of personal reasons.
"We haven't had Kersey for a while," Bradley said. "Shawney had some personal matters to attend to, [and] he hadn't been at practice."
Bradley said he and Drake made the decision to leave Drake at home.
"We talked it over [about] why he couldn't come to the game, and he understood it," Bradley said. "It has nothing to do with the fight.
"It had to do with missing practices -- he was taking care of some personal things. There's some academic things that came up, but it wasn't an academic issue."
Drake's absence will limit Penn State's wildcat package, although freshman wide receiver Bill Belton has also taken direct snaps from center.
"[Drake's] still on the football team," Bradley said. "He'll be back in January when we come back to school."
Bradley said the Nittany Lions would like nothing better than to cap off the program's third 10-win season in the past four years with a victory against the Cougars.
"That's kind of a benchmark, getting to 10 wins," he said. "I'm hoping we can get there."
First Published December 29, 2011 12:00 am