DALLAS - In one breath, Rob Bolden says he plans to stay at Penn State, then in another he sounds like he's keeping his options open.
"As far as I can say, I'm here," Bolden said after Monday's loss to Houston.
Then he was asked if he might change his mind depending on who is named the next head coach.
"Well, I guess, nah, nah, I don't know, man," he said. "We'll just see what happens. I don't know how Penn State's going to hold up, I don't know who my coach is going to be. There's a lot of like space out there. I don't know what's going to happen."
Given his struggles this season, Bolden might have a tough time finding a major college program that would give him a scholarship. Then again, he was highly recruited and has a lot of experience for a sophomore, so some school may take a chance on him, or he could drop down and play Division I-AA.
He is open to the possibility of redshirting next year, saying, "I mean, if it's the best thing to do, yeah."
Bolden called his first two seasons "a great learning experience."
"Not every young man can have the experiences that I've been through," he said "It's only going to make me better going onto my life and making decisions."
As for what he needs to improve on the most, he said, "Everything. If I just selected one thing I'd be lying. I need to work on my whole game."
McGregor doesn't get chance
Despite Bolden's struggles all day, backup Shane McGregor, a walk-on from Central Cambria, did not get an opportunity to take the field.
Interim coach Tom Bradley was asked if he thought about putting McGregor in and said, "You know, I did. I thought about giving him a shot two minutes at the end. Great young man. Hard-working. He looked awful good in practice. I thought it wouldn't be the right thing to do for Rob next season."
Running back Silas Redd suffered what appeared to be a right knee injury in the fourth quarter, although trainers also were looking at his left knee on the sideline. He had only a slight limp walking off the field after the game.
Defensive backs Drew Astorino and Adrian Amos suffered concussions, while defensive end Sean Stanley suffered a dislocated elbow.
Astorino: Bradley showed flexibility
Lion safety and captain Drew Astorino is keeping an open mind about the coaching search, but he'd like to see Bradley get the job.
Astorino said communication between the players and coaches has increased, in part out of necessity due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal and all the turmoil/fallout it's caused.
He said the difference between Joe Paterno and Bradley's short regime has been considerable.
"Coach Bradley is a lot younger, and in light of the situation, we had to be more open," Astorino said Sunday. "He did a really good job airing everything out so as a squad we knew what was true and what was ridiculous."
He said Bradley has presented "a good balance in tradition and discipline and moving on into the next generation. Because it is different, and you've got to deal with it differently. People in the 1970s are different than these kids coming into today, and myself as well."
Astorino said Bradley "would do a great job of upholding the traditions that people love about Penn State." He said one issue the players cleared with Bradley was Paterno's ban on jewelry such as earrings. Players openly wore them during TicketCity festivities.
"I mean, and I think he [Bradley] sees it as, what would be the problem?" Astorino said. "We talked about it as a team. He doesn't want them up and down the ear. But it's a culture thing. I don't wear earrings, but a lot of people do. It's not like they look bad. And it's just one more little thing that to be fighting over that we don't need to be fighting over."
Astorino said he understands the sentiment of a clean break from the coaching staff.
"It doesn't affect me at all because I'm out," he said. "There are reasons for Coach Bradley or other [outside] coaches. My personal opinion is I'd like him."
Defense finishes well after bad start
Given that Houston quarterback Case Keenum threw for 532 yards, it was somewhat surprising the Cougars scored only 30 points. Penn State's defense made some key stops, held Houston to just 6-of-17 on third downs and gave up just six points in the second half to keep the final score respectable.
"We just gave up big plays," co-defensive coordinator Larry Johnson said.
"The one at the half [a 75-yard TD pass to a wide-open receiver] was the one that really hurt us because we had a chance to take some momentum into the game, and Drew [Astorino] decided to come up on the run and guy got behind him and big play."
Interim head coach Tom Bradley called that play and some others by the defense "fundamental mistakes."
Protesters turn up outside stadium
About three dozen protesters were outside the Cotton Bowl, although only a few were holding anti-Penn State signs. The rest were protesting political issues.
Some anti-PSU signs read: "Pedophile Rape Enablers" with a Nittany Lion logo; "Penn Rape;" and "Pope JoePa" with a sexually graphic image on it.
There was a lot of screaming between protesters and passersby. One fan angrily walked up to a protester and started yelling obscenities and threats, and the protester countered by yelling religious statements at the man.
News and notes
WR Derek Moye made two tackles after Bolden was intercepted. That's more tackles than DTs Devon Still (0) and Jordan Hill (1) had combined. ... Still, a first-team All-American, was ineffective playing with a turf toe injury and did not record a tackle. ... WR Justin Brown broke numerous tackles on an electrifying 93-yard punt return down the left sideline for a TD, but it was brought back as he barely stepped out of bounds early in the return.