CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Bill O‚??Brien said before the season that Paul Jones would play. He just didn‚??t say at which position.
When Matt McGloin was forced into the locker room in the second quarter with an elbow injury, it was not Jones who took the field to replace him, but true freshman Steven Bench.
The reason, O‚??Brien said after the game, was because Jones had been practicing at Penn State‚??s ‚??F‚?Ě tight end position.
Jones, once one of the country‚??s highest-rated signal-callers coming out of high school, will still practice at quarterback as well. But as the third-stringer.
‚??Bench was the No. 2 quarterback,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said after Penn State‚??s 17-16 loss on Saturday. ‚??Jones is going to play some F-tight end for us and he‚??ll still play quarterback. We do that at practice and next week keep playing Paul at both positions.‚?Ě
It wasn‚??t something the Lions advertised. Jones remains listed as a quarterback by the team and indeed warmed up for the game by throwing passes rather than catching them..
More telling, though, was when Penn State lined up with their full units for practice snaps and Bench was under center with the second-team offense.
The first clue may have come on Wednesday, as Jones reportedly was not wearing the traditional red no-contact jersey like the rest of the quarterbacks.
When he showed up at the game Saturday, he had switched his number -- again -- from No. 7 back to No. 13.
Jones did not get in the game at either position and is still waiting for his first career snap at the college level. He redshirted in 2010 and was sidelined in 2011 for academic reasons.
Bench, meanwhile, played well enough in his cameo.
The rookie from Georgia completed his first pass attempt before going 1-for-6 afterward for a total of 12 yards. But he also picked up 18 yards on the ground and steered the offense to three first downs on the final drive of the first half.
‚??He‚??s doing a heck of a job and that‚??s why I went with Bench as the No. 2 quarterback,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??I thought he did some good things, especially at the end of the first half. He‚??s never really ever run a two-minute drive before, just a couple in practice.
‚??Overall I think he did a heck of a job for his first time playing.‚?Ě
McGloin sported a sleeve on his right elbow in the second half and had it iced up after the game.
On consecutive drives, the senior banged the elbow off of the helmet of a pass rusher while his arm was coming forward to throw. The second time sent him to the sideline grimacing, and, eventually into the locker room.
X-rays were negative, and McGloin said he did not expect to miss any time going forward.
‚??Nothing a little ice and Motrin can‚??t fix,‚?Ě he said.
McGloin returned to the sideline at the start of the second half. O‚??Brien sent Bench in to start the drive before giving McGloin the call on third down, which he converted.
Making his first career start, tailback Derek Day left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. He had his left arm in a sling after the game and said he would be reevaluated back in State College.
Starting tailback Bill Belton, recovering from an ankle injury suffered in the second half of the loss to Ohio, did not make the trip to Charlottesville.
Day finished with a game-high 47 yards on 18 carries in his place, outgaining Virginia on the ground as a team (32 yards).
Curtis Dukes took over the bulk of the carries after Day left, running for 30 yards.
Penn State brought a total of nine true freshmen on the 70-man travel roster, including Wyoming Valley Conference standout Eugene Lewis.
Lewis remains listed as a second-teamer at wide receiver on Penn State‚??s depth chart, though O‚??Brien has said they will try to redshirt him.
He was joined by fellow classmates Bench, CB Da‚??Quan Davis, TE Jesse James, DT Austin Johnson, DB Jordan Lucas, TB Akeel Lynch, Valley View grad LB Nyeem Wartman and WR Trevor Williams.
Davis, James, Lucas, Wartman and Williams all appeared in the opener. Bench made his debut.
Wartman appeared on special teams against the Cavaliers but went to the locker room in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury.