Taking over the quarterback spot during the second quarter against Minnesota is one thing.
Starting for the first time in a prime-time home game against rival Michigan is an entirely different story.
Redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin will do just that at 8 p.m. Saturday, as freshman quarterback Rob Bolden recovers from a concussion. Penn State coach Joe Paterno announced the decision on his radio show Thursday night.
“We’re going to go with Mac [McGloin] to start with,” Paterno said. “There’s an outside chance Bolden will go. Mac is a good enough quarterback. He’ll get the job done.”
On the show, quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said Bolden has been cleared to play after undergoing several concussion tests this week.
“I’ve always been a one-quarterback man,” Joe Paterno said. “I hope we don’t have to use more than one, but if we have to, we will.”
McGloin is a former walk-on that didn’t receive any Division I-A offers. Penn State football historian Lou Prato believes McGloin is the first former walk-on to start a game in the Paterno era. McGloin’s father, Paul McGloin, said his son is known to perform well in pressure-filled situations and big-time matchups.
“There’s not a better game for Matt to have his first start,” Paul McGloin said.
Freshman quarterback Rob Bolden, who started the first seven games, suffered a concussion in the second quarter of Penn State’s win over Minnesota last Saturday.
McGloin and Newsome filled in for him, but Newsome played on only one drive, in which he had no pass attempts. McGloin went 6-for-13 with 76 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
He’ll transition into an entirely different atmosphere, where a full house is expected during Saturday’s matchup. Michigan (5-2, 1-2) is coming off two-straight home losses to Big Ten title contenders Michigan State and Iowa. The Wolverines are also second in the Big Ten in scoring offense, putting up an average of 36 points per game.
McGloin could be forced into a shootout in just his first collegiate start. McGloin’s football coach at West Scranton High School, Mike DeAntona, is confident in his former player, though McGloin’s first start will come on a far greater stage than any high school game.
“He played in a lot of big games,” DeAntona said. “He never folded under pressure.”
Joe Paterno wasn’t hopeful about Bolden’s status at his Tuesday press conference. Paterno said Bolden still had memory problems after his concussion test Sunday night.
“If you ask me, if we had to make a guess, I’d guess he’s not going to make it, but that does not mean that I know what I’m talking about,” Paterno said Tuesday. “As I said to most of you, I don’t have an MD at the end of my name, and I’m not a psychiatrist.”
On Tuesday, McGloin said Bolden had been throwing the ball around in practice, while he and sophomore Kevin Newsome had been taking first-team reps. Newsome, though, has been dealing with a knee injury.
McGloin wouldn’t comment about starting this weekend.
McGloin, along with Bolden and Newsome, was in the mix for the starting spot when the season started. Coaches and players note him for his confidence in the huddle and winning attitude.
“That’s something you have to expect to do,” McGloin said Tuesday. “In that huddle, you have to be confident.”