NOTE: Click the links to the right for Neil Rudel's commentary, notebook, video footage and look-ahead to Alabama.
UNIVERSITY PARK -- He prefers to be called Rob instead of Robert, just one of many things almost no one knew about the Michigan kid with a cannon arm and remarkable confidence for an 18-year-old.
Rob Bolden is so confident that he chose to come to Penn State knowing that Kevin Newsome was already there, and that prized recruit Paul Jones already had committed, too.
Everyone saw why Saturday afternoon.
"In a couple of years, he's going to break every passing record here," Nittany Lion running back Stephfon Green said. "The kid is good."
The Associated Press
Rob Bolden was 20-of-29 for 239 yards and two TDs.
Only PSU's coaching staff knew exactly how good before Saturday. Then Bolden went out and played with poise, showed off his strong arm and good footwork and looked like anything but a true freshman in his first college game.
Bolden completed 20-of-29 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 19 Penn State to a 44-14 victory over Division I-AA Youngstown State before 101,213 fans at Beaver Stadium.
No, the competition wasn't great.
Yes, Alabama might make Bolden look bad next week.
But in his debut, Bolden showed enough good qualities to believe that he could be a four-year starter and lead the Lion offense to big things. The fact that he was the first true freshman ever to start a season opener under Joe Paterno was a non-factor.
"You hear about [freshmen starting] at other schools, but it's kind of out of character for Penn State," receiver Derek Moye said. "But when I saw him in person, I knew he had a shot of playing a lot this year."
Bolden threw one interception, but that wasn't his fault as Moye either fell or was pulled down by Penguins defender David Rach.
The Lions started the game conservatively and tried pounding their running game, but that didn't work. They gained only 132 yards on 29 carries.
As the game moved on, the coaches let Bolden do more and more. He handled each progression well, checking off receivers and finding his favorite target, Brett Brackett, eight times for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
"He showed above and beyond what we expected with his poise and confidence," said Brackett, who caught only three passes all last season.
Penn State found itself trailing, 7-3, when Dominique Barnes took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
"We fell asleep," said PSU defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who noted the defenders overpursued and didn't fill their lanes.
Collin Wagner kicked three field goals in the first half -- all at least 44 yards -- and Bolden found Brackett from 20 yards out for a 16-7 halftime lead.
The Lions blew things open in a hurry in the third quarter, starting with Chaz Powell returning the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Bolden later hit Brackett on a 22-yard TD pass with 8:56 left in the third to make it 30-7.
Green scored from 6 yards, and backup quarterback Kevin Newsome did the same in the fourth quarter. Newsome did not enter the game until the 10:07 mark of the fourth quarter, didn't throw a pass and carried three times for 21 yards.
Matt McGloin, the third starting quarterback candidate, came in for only the final play of the game and handed off.
"Joe led several discussions," quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said of the decision to start Bolden. "Several times he called [the assistants] in and said let's talk about this. And he talked to the offensive coaches and talked to the defensive coaches about what they were seeing from their side of the ball.
"And basically it came down to where we all, everybody was in agreement with what we need to do. There were no issues there whatsoever. Joe went around the room, and everybody had the same answer. Once that happened, I think he felt comfortable."
Contrary to JayPa's comments, there was a report last week that some of the assistants were in Newsome's camp to start.
"That was not the case in the meetings that Joe led," JayPa said. "I'm not going to get into who said what; I'm not going to get into that, but there was no question. ... Best way to tell you that is it's not accurate."
Based on what Bolden showed Saturday, it would appear he would be the starter for some time. That's not necessarily the case, though, according to Joe Paterno.
"We are going to play it week by week, practice by practice," JoePa said.
Fourth quarter: Penn State 44, Youngstown State 14
Kurt Hess hit Ely Ducatel for a 7-yard score with 54 seconds to go for the Penguins.
Fourth quarter: Penn State 44, Youngstown State 7
Kevin Newsome saw his first action of the game and finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, and true frosh Silas Redd played and showed quick feet. The drive was 6 plays, 56 yards, 3:13.
Fourth quarter: Penn State 37, Youngstown State 7
Stephfon Green finished off Penn State's longest drive of the game with a 6-yard TD run up the middle, capping a 10-play, 85-yard drive. Rob Bolden completed three of his six passes on the drive for 61 yards, including gains of 27 to Devon Smith -- who was wide open on the sideline -- and 21 to Justin Brown on a third-and-10.
End 3Q: Penn State 30, Youngstown State 7
Slowly but surely, the Nittany Lions are taking over this game. Rob Bolden and Brett Brackett hooked up for a second touchdown, this time a 22-yard score with 8:56 remaining. Brackett ran an out-and-up, and although the throw was a tad high, the offensive captain pulled it down near the goal line, then lost his footing but stayed in bounds to finish off a seven play, 58-yard drive that ate up 3:47.
Third quarter: Penn State 23, Youngstown State 7
Chaz Powell returned the opening kickoff 100 yards and was never really touched. He tip-toed down the sideline for Penn State's longest kickoff return since Rich Mauti in 1975.
Halftime: Penn State 16, Youngstown State 7
Collin Wagner has had a great first half, this time ending it with a 48-yard yield goal as Penn State's two-minute drive was well executed. Rob Bolden and the PSU offense covered 34 yards in six plays, and Bolden twice stayed in the pocket despite pressure.
Second quarter: Penn State 13, Youngstown State 7
Rob Bolden threw the first touchdown pass of his career -- connecting with Brett Bracket for 24 yards over the middle of the field -- as the Nittany Lions may have saved themselves the embarrassment of going into the half down to Youngstown State. Bolden and Brackett have had a great rapport; Brackett already has set career highs with four receptions for 56 yards. Earlier in the drive, Bolden threw a beautiful ball to Derek Moye for 27 yards on third-and-10 to sustain the drive.
Second quarter: Youngstown State 7, Penn State 6
Collin Wagner kicked a career-long 49-yard field goal with 14:08 left to cap a seven play, 30-yard drive. Brett Brackett, who seems to be Rob Bolden's favorite target early, had a 7-yard reception over the middle to convert a third-and-4. Devon Smith almost had a big gainer on one play, but Bolden's pass bounced off his hands. Later, Bolden had Graham Zug wide open at the 5 but overthrew him.
End 1Q: Youngstown State 7, Penn State 3
Youngstown State's Dominique Barnes just took a wide receiver screen 80 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-10 as the Penguins are up with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter after the longest reception for YSU since 1999. Barnes took a middle screen on the right side of the formation, cut back to the middle of the field, then took off down the left sideline as he was untouched. The play was YSU's first touchdown against a Division I-A opponent since 2003.
First quarter: Penn State 3, Youngstown State 0
Collin Wagner booted a 44-yard field goal into a stiff wind to cap off an eight play, 35-yard drive that was aided by Youngstown State's David Rach being whistled for a late hit. Otherwise, Penn State's offense was choppy, with the biggest chunk of yardage coming on a 12-yard pass from Rob Bolden to Brett Brackett.
Both teams went three and out after their first offensive series. Penn State was especially conservative, running up the middle on first down, breaking Rob Bolden in with a lateral to Devon Smith on second down and an Evan Royster counter on third down.
UNIVERSITY PARK -- There was just an audible groan for the drum major, who missed his first back flip by a good amount.
He did nail his second one, though.
Rob Bolden just stepped off the bus first at Beaver Stadium, an honor bestowed upon the starting quarterback.
How did he look?
He seemed calm but emotionless and just sort of stared straight ahead as he walked into the stadium. The butterflies had to be churning, and he did nothing to acknowledge the crowd and didn't smile or show anything at all outwardly.
We have video of it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTXxrWoksW0
It's windy and a tad chilly this morning at Beaver Stadium as Penn State is getting ready to play Youngstown State in the season opener.
It will be interesting to see how the wind impacts PSU's offensive game plan with regards to letting true freshman QB Robert Bolden throw the ball.
The Mirror has you covered with the best variety of Penn State preview coverage for today's season opener against Youngstown State.
Click on the links at the bottom right for stories on:
* Neil Rudel's commentary on Beaver Stadium turning 50
* Cory Giger's 5 keys
* A scouting report on freshman QB Robert Bolden
* Upgrades made to Beaver Stadium
* Fans' passion collecting PSU buttons
You can also watch a video of Joe Paterno at the right.
There were questions about the legendary coach's soft voice a month ago. Well, you can hear in this video from Friday's Football Eve pep rally at Beaver Stadium that JoePa is still as fiery and enthusiastic as ever.
The video was shot from a distance, so there's no close-up of Paterno while he's speaking. But the audio is what is really inspiring, especially at around 5:45 when he starts yelling, "We're gonna be in a fight, we're gonna be in a fight, every second is a fight."