Bolden was the first true freshman quarterback to get the starting nod in the season opener under Joe Paterno. He ended up making starts in eight contests in 2010, passing for 1360 yards and five touchdowns, while going 112 for 193 (58 percent) and tossing seven interceptions.
Bolden was knocked out of the Minnesota game with a concussion and ended up seeing limited action for the remainder of the season, passing only nine more times. Bolden ended up not seing the field in the Outback Bowl, despite Matt McGloin throwing five interceptions in the contest.
This sparked some off-season drama with talk of and eventual request for a transfer. Paterno convinced Bolden to stay on through the spring, which ultimately led to his decision to remain with the Nittany Lions.
Areas of Strength
- Size: At 6-4, Bolden has about three inches on McGloin. And physically he's "benefited" from the weight room. "He's stronger
- Passing: Bolden's mechanics are seen as a positive and he has a "strong delivery when given time." His timing has also improved as the playbook has become "second nature" to him and he's had the opportunity to work extensively with the receivers in the spring and second summer semester.
- Scheme: The year in the program with extensive playing time and film review has helped him "to understand his own game better." Bolden's grasp of the playbook and ability to read his receiver routes "more comfortably" has also paid dividends. Plus, veteran receivers like Derek Moye and Justin Brown have certainly helped him in this area.
- Attitude: Described as "charismatic," "driven" and "passionate," Bolden's attitude has been viewed as an asset since he arrived on campus last summer. There are concerns now, given the threatened transfer, but more on that later. Bolden has shown the ability to manage the huddle and observers feel he is taking steps toward "commanding it."
- Patience: Clearly, Bolden wants to make an immediate impact and "earning the starting job hasn't killed that instinct." That's not necessarily widely viewed as a negative, but "it really depends largely on how he reacts to situations."
- Attitude: As laid out above, Bolden's overall attitude is viewed as a strength, but the concern is related to the off-season drama that surrounded him. Bolden seemingly has been widely welcomed back into the squad and "there's no visible issues with his teammates," but there are concerns mentioned as to the loyalty he has to the program. "He can do a lot in the preseason to address this to a point," one observer said. "But I am not sure how he can eliminate it at this stage."Former Lion QBs Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark have both spoken to Bolden at length and have advised him of the importance of emerging as a leader, first with players his own age and ultimately with the entire team.
- Reads: While Bolden's grasp of the scheme has come along, the staff is having him focus on reading defenses to avoid pressure and adjust his play. "The line's got to give him time, but he's got to help them by seeing where the attack points are to avoid them," according to one observer. Bolden was sacked twice early in the Northwestern game last season before being pulled in favor of McGloin. McGloin was not sacked the rest of the game.
Bolden is expected to be in the thick of the preseason race and many observers have him picked to land the starting job given his athleticism, size and overall skills. He has to alleviate some concerns with "where he stands" on the team, and "realize that leadership requires a focus on your team."
Bolden's return has been critical to the offense's progression. While he needs to focus on improving his play, the coaches have to place him in a position to succeed.
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