Unlike last week, Joe Paterno is biting his tongue.
The Penn State coach said Thursday that the staff would like to settle on one quarterback going forward, and that the Nittany Lions had a person in mind for the job. But he did not name a starter between Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin for Saturday’s game against Northwestern.
“We’re gonna play it by ear,” Paterno said Thursday on the team’s weekly radio show. “We’re thinking about one (quarterback). … I would like to start one.
“Hopefully he’ll do well, but if not, we’ll make some adjustments.”
According to multiple sources with ties to the program, Bolden has received the bulk of the first-team reps in recent days after the coaches had split them equally between Bolden and McGloin early in the week.
The true freshman is expected to return to the starting job against the Wildcats after missing most of the last two games with an apparent concussion.
Bolden started two weeks ago out at Minnesota and was en route to the best game of his young career, going 11-of-13 for 130 yards and a touchdown midway through the second quarter against the Golden Gophers.
But after a poor read on a scramble, Bolden ran into several defenders and hit the ground hard on a gang tackle and did not return to the game. McGloin took over for most of the game, throwing two touchdowns and an interception, with fellow backup Kevin Newsome getting a handful of drives.
Bolden suffered from dizziness and “memory problems,” according to Paterno, but was ultimately cleared by team doctors to play last week against Michigan.
Penn State elected to play it safe with the freshman, however, as Paterno announced on last Thursday’s radio show that McGloin, a former walk-on from West Scranton High School, would get the start against the Wolverines.
McGloin excelled in his first career start, throwing for 250 yards and one touchdown while adding a second score on the ground in a 41-31 win. He did not turn the ball over.
The performance was impressive enough for the coaches to apparently reopen the job that Bolden had won during preseason camp.
A depth chart released by the school on Monday night listed both Bolden and McGloin as possible starters.
“I wish I had the inside scoop,” senior captain and wide receiver Brett Brackett said earlier this week. “Both have been tremendous. I’m glad I’m not a coach – I have no idea who I’d pick.”
Cornerback Derrick Thomas has been suspended from the team since the start of the Big Ten season, and there is still no indication on when he’ll rejoin the squad.
On Thursday, safeties coach Kermit Buggs said Paterno would be the one to decide when Thomas could return.
“That’s a Joe decision,” Buggs said on the team’s radio show. “Whenever he decides to let him come back and be a part of the team, he’ll be back.”
Thomas opened the season as the Lions’ nickelback and recorded his first career interception against Kent State in the third game of the season. He saw significant snaps in the first four games before being suspended prior to the Iowa game on Oct. 2.
Northwestern at Penn State
3:30 p.m., Saturday
Beaver Stadium, State College
Radio: WILK-FM (103.1); WILK-AM (910, 980, 1300)