The fact that Penn State is 5-1 at the halfway point of its season can’t be considered surprising. Few thought the Nittany Lions could defeat Alabama, and forecasts of doom against Temple and Iowa were proven wrong thanks to the Lions’ defense.
So that means the biggest surprise in the first half of 2011 had to be Joe Paterno sticking with the two-quarterback rotation of Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden, even as McGloin has opened up an advantage in the last three weeks.
And, Paterno said Tuesday at his weekly teleconference, expect to see the two-quarterback shuttle once again Saturday for the Lions’ game against Purdue at Beaver Stadium.
“It will be nice if we get to where we’re going to play one, I think for everybody,” the head coach said. “But I’m not going to do that just because people want to know, ‘Hey, why don’t they have one quarterback?’
“We’d probably like to have one. I’m just not in a position that I want to have one right now. Who knows? Some day we may end up with one.”
Paterno denied having any timeline on resolving the quarterback situation.
“Look,” he said, “when the time comes and I think a decision should be made for the betterment of the team ... if we’ve got to be a better football team, if all of a sudden we’re much better off with this guy in the ballgame the whole game, then I’ll sit down and talk it out with the staff and we’ll pick the guy. We haven’t gone to that.”
The theory was that Penn State came close to anointing McGloin as “the guy” after the redshirt junior ran the offense for eight of the Nittany Lions’ 10 possessions in Saturday’s win.
However, Paterno explained his team planned to run the ball more and that McGloin “had a little bit of a feel for what was going on in that particular game.”
“I don’t think you can read too much into that,” he said.
Still, the numbers over the last three games read: McGloin, 36 completions in 58 attempts (62.1 percent), 557 yards, five touchdowns, one interception; Bolden, 16 of 34 (47.1 percent), 213 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions.
As for the team as a whole, Paterno was encouraged by the overall progress but said it had “a long way to go.”
“I was pleased in some areas,” he said. “We ran the ball a little better. I thought the offensive line is playing better with more confidence, more cohesion. We’ve played defense well for most of the year so that hasn’t been a big concern.”
Another topic Tuesday was on Paterno’s health. The 84-year-old coach said he continues to feel pain in his right leg from the sudden move he made on the sideline during Saturday’s first half. While he would like to coach a full game from the sideline this season, it doesn’t sound as if it will come Saturday.
However, he balked at a suggestion that his continuing physical discomfort might make him consider retirement.
“You guys think about it,” he told reporters. “I don’t think about it. I’m thinking about Purdue. I’m not worried about anything else right now. Who knows, maybe I’ll have 10” more years in coaching.
As for injuries, Paterno said cornerback D’Anton Lynn (concussion) and tailback Brandon Beachum (foot) are doubtful for Saturday, but that corner Stephon Morris (ankle) should play.