- Associated Press - Thursday, September 9, 2010

STATE COLLEGE, PA. (AP) - Greg McElroy doesn’t think he could have succeeded right out of high school.

Alabama’s senior quarterback says the college game for a freshman moves at “100 mph.” And that makes him all the more impressed with what Penn State’s Rob Bolden has accomplished in one promising start against Youngstown State.

His second career start will be a lot tougher. No. 18 Penn State (1-0) travels to Tuscaloosa to take on the top-ranked Crimson Tide (1-0) on Saturday night.

“I would have gotten killed. I was skinny,” said McElroy, who redshirted his first year at Alabama. “That’s OK. We make due with what we’ve got. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. For some people, not so much. It worked out for me, I guess, in the long run, right?”

Sure did.

McElroy is 15-0 as Alabama’s starting quarterback, with just five interceptions in 361 career attempts. He completed 61 percent of his passes last year in helping the Tide to a national championship.

McElroy didn’t miss a beat last week in the season opener against San Jose State, going 13 of 16 passing for 218 yards and a TD.

“He scrambles outside the blitz in the pocket. … If he’s outside, he can run. He’s a heck of a competitor,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “I think he’s a guy that when they’ve been in trouble, he’s answered for them.”

Bolden last week threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns at home against the Penguins _ an FCS team _ in a sensational debut. He is the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener in Paterno’s 45 years as head coach.

“He sure didn’t look like a freshman last week,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “The guy hard counts like a veteran, draws the other team offsides. He stood in the pocket, took a couple of licks and completed” passes.

A month ago, this game could have been billed as a duel between two top running backs in Alabama’s Mark Ingram and Penn State’s Evan Royster. But Ingram, the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback, is unlikely to play Saturday because of a left knee injury _ though Saban hasn’t ruled out his star.

Royster is 42 yards shy of the 3,000-yard mark for his career, and he’s 441 away from breaking the school career rushing mark of 3,398 held by Hall of Famer Curt Warner. But Royster had a subpar game last week with 40 yards on 11 carries after the offensive line got off to a sluggish start in opening rushing lanes.

The Nittany Lions will likely need more production from Royster and backups Stephfon Green and Silas Redd to keep Alabama’s defense off-balanced and Bolden out of third-and-long situations.

Paterno thinks Bolden has the poise to handle the pressure.

“He’s going to get knocked around. We can’t protect him (against Alabama) like we did. … He’s going to have trouble finding open people,” Paterno said. “But I don’t think he’s going to lose his poise.”

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