published Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Alabama: Lions like Tide with two QBs

By Michael Casagrande/Correspondent

TUSCALOOSA — The weather for State College, Pennsylvania, calls for room temperatures and maybe a few rain showers Saturday afternoon.

That's far from the muggy conditions Alabama used to its advantage a year ago when Penn State visited the Deep South for the first time this generation.

Don't expect such easy sledding, Alabama coach Nick Saban said, when the Crimson Tide travel to Big Ten country for the first time in 22 years at 3:30 p.m. EDT Saturday. But like Alabama, the Nittany Lions are still sorting out a quarterback competition entering game week.

"Penn State is, I think, a very, very good team -- a much different team than we played a year ago," Saban said. "They seem like they play faster. I think the circumstances down here it was real hot, probably affected them a little bit. They have more experience. The quarterbacks are playing better, which is probably the biggest key offensively."

The Nittany Lions used two QBs in Saturday's opener, continuing a competition that dates back to last season. Rob Bolden, who started Penn State's 24-3 loss in Tuscaloosa last September, was the first on the field for the Lions in their 41-7 win over Indiana State of the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday. He completed 6 of 12 passes for 37 yards, and Matt McGloin was 6-of-8 for 77 yards for the run-heavy offense.

The mystery surrounding Alabama's own quarterback competition remains, though Saban said a resolution was possible by the end of this week.

"We're not going to name a starting quarterback today," he said Monday. "Later in the week as we see how the two guys practice we'll make a determination as to which guy will give us the best opportunity in this particular game, or if there's some kind of combination of the two that would be helpful and useful to us, we'll look at the option of doing that."

AJ McCarron, the first to play for the Tide in a 48-7 win over Kent State, completed 14 of 23 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown. He threw two interceptions, as did Phillip Sims during his 7-for-14 day that went for 73 yards in a co-starter role.

Tide running back Trent Richardson said there's a definite advantage to using two quarterbacks.

"[Opponents] don't know what they are going to bring to the table," Richardson said. "A lot of people are looking for AJ to start, and then Phillip Sims comes in and has a big game. That's a lot the way it was when I was a freshman with Mark [Ingram]. A lot of people didn't know what to expect from me. They might shut down Mark and then I'd come in and have a big game."

The Nittany Lions could cancel out that edge for Alabama, however,

After beating Indiana State, Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said a decision for the quarterbacks in the Alabama game would be made at some point this week.

Alabama and Penn State rotated their dueling quarterbacks differently Saturday. The Tide traded players every three possessions; the Lions swapped out every quarter.

"I was fine with it, McGloin told reporters in State College after Saturday's win. "They sat us down and went through the process. Guys were there saying, "You'll get in there, you'll get your shot, and just do what you do. 'm glad I had a lot of support from the guys around me and I was able to stay mentally focused and stay focused on the task at hand."

Alabama quarterbacks have been off-limits for interviews since the first week of practices in early August.

McGloin didn't play at all in Tuscaloosa last season, as the highly regarded Bolden struggled in his first collegiate road game. He completed 13 of 29 passes for 144 yards with two interceptions and a few more close calls. Both of his turnovers came inside the Tide 30-yard line.

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