UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State doesn't have a starting quarterback or a backup, according to quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno.
It has two number ones, he said after the Nittany Lions' 23-18 win over Purdue.
And yet, Rob Bolden was the first quarterback in the game Saturday, just as he's been all season.
Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin is pressured by Purdue defensive end Ryan Russell on Saturday.
Bolden, through his father, threatened to transfer after he was not used in the Outback Bowl. He and his father held a meeting in January with Jay Paterno and Joe Paterno, and Bolden's request to transfer was denied.
Jay Paterno said Saturday that Bolden was not assured of a starting job if he returned.
"Joe didn't promise anything," Jay Paterno said. "[We said] we're going to go out and compete, and that's it. And Rob never asked for anything. He said, 'I just want a chance to compete.'''
Bolden played the first three series Saturday, led a touchdown drive on the second series, and wound up 2-for-4 for 40 yards. His TD drive included a pair of passes to Brandon Moseby-Felder, including a 19-yarder to the Purdue 1.
But when he came out for the third series, he threw two errant passes to Devon Smith.
"Somewhat frustrating" is how Bolden described not building on the 7-0 lead. "But all in all, we got the win."
Bolden also started the second half and was 0-for-2 on his only series.
McGloin, meanwhile, was 2-of-8 in the second quarter for 22 yards and had a touchdown pass dropped by tight end Andrew Szczerba. After Purdue cut Penn State's lead to 13-12 in the third quarter, McGloin completed three straight passes for 51 yards, and Silas Redd scored on a 9-yard run.
McGloin was just as sharp on his next drive, completing three more for 72 yards before, leading 20-12, he was picked in the end zone shooting for freshman Bill Belton, and Purdue's Albert Evans returned it 55 yards.
McGloin wound up 8-for-17 for 145 yards.
JayPa called McGloin's pick, which hit off Belton and was snagged out of the air, "a fluke," and he wanted to keep McGloin in there to build his confidence.
And he believes the rotation is working.
"We're dealing with human beings, and you think about their psyche," he said. "These aren't robots. When you coach quarterbacks, it's about playing psychologist. We have five more big games to play, and we need both of them.
"We have to have more consistency out of both of them and one of the great byproducts of this is neither one of them takes a play off in practice. Even Mike [Robinson] and Darryl [Clark] had a tendency to back off in practice a little bit because they knew they were the guy. I've never seen two guys this focused in terms of learning everything."