UNIVERSITY PARK - No matter how much he would like to steer clear, Jay Paterno can't stay away from the so-called teachable moments.
"I like to avoid teachable moments," he said. "That means you screwed up. That's a polite way of saying you screwed up."
Saturday's 24-0 win over Kent State provided two clear teaching moments for young quarterback Rob Bolden.
Lesson No. 1: Don't be as aggressive running the football.
Bolden scrambled for 17 yards during one second quarter play, but instead of going out of bounds a yard or two earlier, Bolden lowered his shoulder and was hammered by Kent State's Josh Pleasant near the Kent State sideline.
Penn State's quarterbacks coach couldn't see the end result of the play because of a bad angle. But he heard enough from the crowd reaction to form an opinion.
"He's not Mike Robinson," Jay Paterno said, laughing. "Stop watching those YouTube clips of Mike running people over."
Joe Paterno did see the play.
Like his son, he wasn't thrilled.
"He took off running a few times, which I didn't want him to do," Paterno said.
Lesson No. 2: Don't force the ball into coverage.
Bolden found out what could happen when you do after Kent State's Norman Wolfe jumped a slant route by Derek Moye early in the second half for his second interception of the day.
"The second one, he probably should have handed off," Jay Paterno said. "That's the one that the coach would say, 'Hey, that's on you, not us.' But still, that's on me coaching, ultimately."
Despite the youth, Jay Paterno said Bolden has learned from some of those teaching moments, and he pointed out one example.
Bolden threw a beautiful ball to Justin Brown for a touchdown, but a holding call nullified the score. On third-and-18, instead of forcing a throw that wasn't there, Bolden got rid of the ball and allowed Collin Wagner an opportunity to make a field goal.
"He learns," Jay Paterno said. "He makes a mistake, and he doesn't make it again. For a freshman kid in his third week - whether he was a freshman, sophomore or junior - three games into his first season starting, he's doing some really good things."
The true freshman is three games into his first season starting and, with Iowa looming, only two weeks away from starting his first Big Ten game. Although Bolden's numbers aren't gaudy - he is 60 of 85 for 600 yards and three touchdowns, but also five interceptions and several fumbles - Jay Paterno said he is farther along than he anticipated.
"He's making some really complex reads and good decisions on some things," Paterno said. "Obviously, he's not what he's going to be the next week or the week after, so he's got to continue to get better every day."
Otherwise, those teachable moments could be more numerous with Big Ten defenses on the horizon. But Stephfon Green said Bolden will continue to have the support of the team.
"He still has a lot of work," Green said. "Rob knows that and the whole team knows that. He's still young. He's going to make young mistakes. You can't be too hard on the guy. You keep him level-headed because he doesn't get big headed, nor does he get hard on himself. He's gonna be a great player."