New Hampshire DB Jake Kiley Commits to Penn State
July 26, 2011 – | No Comment

States like New Hampshire are often overlooked by college recruiters scouring the northeast. With a population of a little over 1.3 million (barely 14.5% of the population of New York City), the talent pool in …

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Blue/White Roundtable: Roll (up the score on the) Tide

Submitted by on September 10, 2010No Comment

Just as this week’s tilt against Alabama needs no introduction, neither does this week’s installment of the Blue/White Roundtable.  Penn State Clips was generous enough to provide this week’s thought-provokers, and should have a round-up of all the answers later this evening. If you’re not into the whole brevity thing, check out the full responses from our friends over at their respective blogs:

JoePa’s Doghouse
2 The Lion

On to the Q&A:

Penn State’s historical tendency is to “turtle up” on offense for big road games, playing not to lose instead of playing to win. What approach will we take Saturday?

I think that philosophy has prevailed when Penn State’s been able to apply it.  That is to say, when Penn State can go into a game with the mindset “if we don’t make mistakes, we’ll win” they’ll try just that–see Ohio State, 2008.  But this is the kind of road match-up we haven’t seen in recent years, frankly because it doesn’t happen too often for Penn State: an out of conference game against a markedly superior team.  So going in, Joe Paterno has nothing to lose.  Rather than “turtle up,” I expect him to pull out all the stops.  And even if Penn State loses, not only doesn’t it hurt them in the quest for a Big Ten title, but it gives Rob Bolden more experience than if he’s just handing the ball off and throwing slants.  Let’s make no bones about it, the players and the coaching staff have been looking ahead to this game for months.  All summer, Penn State tried to figure out what would best work to beat Alabama.  What schemes, what personnel could best take advantage of Crimson Tide vulnerabilities.  We’ll see a lot of different looks–probably even a Kevin Newsome-led wildcat.  Joe knows well that an early deficit could mean a long night. There won’t even be a feeling out period.  Penn State is going to come out hungry.

Alabama has lost their last two games to Big Ten teams (to Michigan in the 2000 Orange Bowl and Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl). What will it take for Penn State to make it three in a row? How much will Bama miss the Offensive and Defensive MVPs from the 2010 BCS Championship Game, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus?
It's like a horror movie--LOOK BEHIND YOU!
I really don’t think Alabama’s performance in the 2004 Music City Bowl will have much of an impact on this game, and neither does Alabama’s 0-5 record when ESPN Gameday visits Tuscaloosa.  But the injuries to Ingram and Dareus certainly do, especially the latter.  Dareus is a devastatingly good pass rusher whose athletic freakiness is on par with an Adrian Clayborn–and we remember how well the Penn State offensive line handled him.  For an unproven, untested offensive line to not have to worry about Alabama’s best defensive lineman is a huge relief.  Not only will that buy Bolden time in the pocket–and against an aggressive Nick Saban defense every second counts–but it should also create running room for Evan Royster.  As for Ingram’s absence: it’s really not a huge deal.  I don’t think Trent Richardson is every bit as good as the reigning Heisman trophy winner, but Penn State’s rush defense wasn’t going to crack against Ingram, anyway.  From Penn State’s perspective, the best part about Ingram’s injury is that Trent Richardson won’t have fresh legs in the fourth quarter while the defense is laboring in the heat.

If I see__________early in the game it will make me happy. If  I see__________early in the game it will make me sad.

If I see Gerald Hodges early in the game, I’ll be thrilled.  Hodges probably looked like Penn State’s best linebacker against Youngstown State, and while Bani Gbadyu is stout at the point of attack, Hodges can create havoc in a way that few other Nittany Lions can.  Rumors out of practice are that Hodges has been working with the ones in practice, and his athleticism can help neutralize a powerful Alabama offense.  On the other hand, I really don’t want to see much of D’Anton Lynn, and here’s why: it’s often said that the best trait of a defensive back is that you never hear his name called.  Lynn will draw the matchup with Alabama’s Randy-Moss-in-training Julio Jones, and if McElroy tries to pick on Lynn early, and succeeds, it could be a long day.  I’m not asking Lynn to lock down Jones, a la Darrelle Revis, but a couple early incompletions that way could force McElroy to look elsewhere for the remainder of the game.

Three 40+ Field Goals; four touchbacks in eight kickoffs; a touchdown on a kickoff return; a new punt protection scheme…Have the Penn State Special Teams turned the corner or is the jury still out?

While Penn State’s future opponents will certainly put up more of a struggle on special teams than did Youngstown State, there’s no question that the Lions unit will have a tremendously more successful season than they did a year ago.  Special teams breakdowns directly led to both Penn State losses in 2009, and JoePa isn’t used to seeing his team near the bottom of the charts in every special teams metric.  For me, though, the most impressive performance was Collin Wagner’s.  This is a guy who was simply awful a year ago, not only in terms of accuracy but in leg strength as well–and all of a sudden he’s booming near 50-yarders into the wind.  We know Anthony Fera can kick the ball a mile, and we know that Chaz Powell is a dynamic playmaker, but if Wagner can become a reliable kicker, that can keep Penn State in some tight games, and maybe help them steal a win in one of them.

Quick Hits

  • Pick a side: PSU +11.5 or Bama -11.5?

I’m taking Penn State and the points.  Can’t say we’ll win outright, but that spread is a bit much.  Were it 9 or 10, this would be a real tough call.

  • This game has one of the lowest Totals (44) on the board: Over or Under?

Under. But very close.

  • Penn State rushing yards, Over or Under 130?

Over. But I think some people will still find a way to bitch about Evan Royster.

  • Where will you watch the game?

Buddy’s apartment. Should be fun.

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