If he's anywhere near able to play, Matt McGloin is going to try to play. Penn State's senior quarterback proved that Saturday, shaking off a strange and likely debilitating injury to his throwing elbow and missing only two plays in the second half.
It was Steven Bench (12), not Paul Jones, who relieved an injured Matt McGloin on Saturday.
"It's just bruised up, a little swollen," McGloin said after the game. "Nothing a little ice and a little Motrin can't fix."
But if McGloin can't play when the Nittany Lions host Navy this week, or at other points during a season that has already tested the team's depth, Penn State's quarterback picture becomes a little different than many would have imagined at the start of the season.
It was true freshman Steven Bench, not sophomore Paul Jones, who got the call when McGloin had to leave the game late in the second quarter with that injury. The Georgia native was sacked on his first career snap, a 4th-and-4 from Virginia's 33, but went on to record a couple of productive plays. He finished 2-of-7 passing for 12 yards and added three carries for 18 yards, including a 15-yard run on a quarterback draw on a 4th-and-3.
Bench drove Penn State from its own 20 to the Virginia 35 in the final minutes of the second quarter but the Nittany Lions, long out of timeouts, could not get the field-goal team onto the field in time to try a kick before the half ended.
Penn State's players and coaches thought Bench handled a pressure situation very well.
"I thought he did some good things, especially at the end of the first half," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. "He’s never really ever run a two-minute drive before. He’s done a couple in practice, and overall I think he did a heck of a job."
"He came in there, and he had no idea he was going to be playing today," center Matt Stankiewitch said. "But you always have to be ready and he did a good job for being as young as he is and not having experience."
Jones, who switched his jersey number from 7 to 13 before the game, had spent the week working with both the quarterbacks and the tight ends in practice. O'Brien said after the game that the 6-foot-3, 258-pound Jones would play the "F" tight end spot, which is more of a pass-catching position than the "Y" tight end.
The idea is to get one of Penn State's better athletes on the field during a point in the season in which the Nittany Lions are still looking for playmakers. The move -- and O'Brien's decision to go with Bench -- might also be an indictment of Jones' development at quarterback.
Either way, teammates are intrigued about what Jones, who still hasn't played in a game at Penn State, might be able to do at another position.
"As you know, P.J.'s an athlete," wide receiver Alex Kenney said. "He just wants to play football, and wherever they're going to put him, he's going to do his best. He's very good (at tight end). Great hands. He's prototypical tight end size. We're looking forward to seeing him play in the future."