Both Penn State and Alabama entered Saturday's game at Beaver Stadium in the midst of quarterback competitions and both went about settling them in very different ways.
Alabama decided to start sophomore A.J. McCarron and stick with him as long as he was effective. Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, McCarron came out and played well, completing 19 of 31 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. His performance relegated his chief competitor for the starting job, freshman Phillip Sims, to the backup role for the afternoon.
Tide coach Nick Saban was pleased with McCarron after the game, telling Al.com, "AJ did a really good job today in managing the game, taking what the defense gave him and making enough plays in the passing game. It was good."
While Alabama was busy growing more comfortable with its quarterback situation, Penn State went in the opposite direction. Both Rob Bolden and Matthew McGloin struggled to combine for 144 yards and an interception on 12-for-39 passing.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno seemed unfazed after the game, choosing to lay some blame at the feet of the wide receivers, who dropped a number of passes over the course of the afternoon.
"I thought the quarterbacks played a pretty good football game," Paterno said. "One or two throws they'd like to get back, but [the wide receivers] got to catch the ball for them. Let's be realistic here, there was a couple of really big time throws out there that we didn't come up with the ball when the game was in ... when we were playing."
Bolden got a majority of the snaps, finishing 11-for-29 for 144 yards and the lone interception, which was thrown into triple coverage with receiver Derek Moye's back turned. He was almost picked off several other times, too, and had to have two interceptions overturned by replay on one drive.
To his credit, though, Bolden did find a bit of a rhythm toward the end of the game, completing some passes and running for a few nice gains to key a late touchdown drive. It was Penn State's only touchdown against Alabama in two years.
After the game, Bolden reflected on his performance and the quarterback competition this way.
McGloin finished the afternoon just 1-for-10 for no yards. He also narrowly missed a couple of interceptions, but suffered some big drops by receivers as well.
Unlike last week against Indiana State, when he completed six of his eight passes on the day, McGloin didn't get much sustained playing time, never playing more that two consecutive drives. The redshirt junior chose not to cite that as a reason for his inability to get into a rhythym after the game, though. Here are some of his comments post game.
Moving forward, Paterno still doesn't know whether he'll pick one of the two quarterbacks to be the standalone starter, or whether he'll continue to employ the rotation utilized in the season's first two games.
"You got me at the wrong time, I can't tell you that right now," Paterno said after the game. "I got to go look at tapes, I'm going to talk to the staff."
And so, a day short of three weeks from Penn State's Big Ten opener, the quarterback competition continues.