Blue White Roundtable: Alabama Week Edition
September 7, 2011 – | 1 Comment

Once again, it’s Adam Collyer over at BlackShoeDiaries providing the questions, and we, your humble bloggers, providing the answers. Mine are below, and you can venture off to the remote areas of the blogosphere that …

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The Return of the Blue/White Roundtable

Submitted by on August 30, 2011No Comment

It’s an institution of the Penn State blogosphere, and sure enough, it’s back for the 2011 season. That’s right, what we’ve got here is a genuine, bona-fide, electrified Blue/White Roundtable. There might be fewer seats, what with Black Shoe Diaries swallowing up half the blogs that used to participate, but we’ll forgive them, since it’s BSD’s Adam Collyer with this week’s questions, and, I assume, the write-up tomorrow. I’m not sure who else will be participating, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that you can check out William F. Yurasko and Nittany Lions’ Den over the next day or two and read their thoughts.

Now, to the fun part:

1. Let’s get this out of the way right now – how does everyone feel about Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin being even on the depth chart?  How do you feel about the proposed time sharing plan for Saturday’s game against Indiana State?
Take your pick, Joe.
It doesn’t surprise me, but that doesn’t mean I like it. Granted, I understand the thinking–practice can only simulate a real game scenario so much, and getting Bolden and McGloin on the field in a real, competitive, scenario will be more telling, even if it is a warm-up game against the most delicious of cupcakes. In theory, one could outplay the other, and prove himself “the guy” moving forward, but that’s not likely. While it would be a story if either quarterback struggled, I doubt that’ll be the case, at least not beyond the usually early season uneasiness as a team starts to gel. To me, the bigger issue is just that–a lack of a true starter means a lack of one quarterback getting all the first team reps. It’s even in the little exchanges–getting the ball from under center, handing it off to the running back–not to mention timing plays, especially on passes–where that kind of experience matters, and denying it from the team could be a form of self sabotage. I’m a staunch member of #teamBolden, but at this point, I’d rather see Matt McGloin named the starter tomorrow than head into Alabama without knowing who’s going to be first off the bus.
2. What are you looking for out of the offense this week?  Will the offense we see on Saturday set the tone for the rest of the year?
This week, I just want to see crispness and efficiency. We know how Joe Paterno, Galen Hall, and Jay Paterno like to play this early-season matchups–they’re designed to get the pieces moving smoothly, not to run up the score and impress pollsters. We’ll see guys getting extended playing time who certainly don’t figure into Penn State’s greater offensive plans, and we’ll see plenty from others vying for spots. Neither quarterback will have the benefit of the full playbook, and I’d be shocked to see anything more than the most conservative of offensive schemes. That sad, I’m going to be watching the offensive line most closely–if they can’t bully around an Indiana State front seven, they’ll have no chance against Alabama. I don’t just want to see them play well, I want to see the line dominate. Aside from that, I’m excited to see Silas Redd emerge as the #1 running back this year, and to see guys like Brandon Beachum, Curtis Drake, and Andrew Szczerba coming back from elongated injury absences.
3. Do you expect the defense to be significantly upgraded from last year?
This was three years ago. Woah.
Yes, and for two reasons: Bani Gbadyu graduated, and Chris Colasanti graduated. The last time I was this excited for addition by subtraction was when Anthony Morelli moved on, and it didn’t matter which of Pat Devlin or Daryll Clark would be quarterback, because either would be a giant step up from Morelli. In this case, we don’t have unknowns filling in for Gbadyu and Colasanti, we have Mike Mauti, who’s tantalized Penn State fans for three years and, if healthy, is a legitimate All-America candidate. Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson, Nate Stupar, Khairi Fortt, Mike Hull…does it get any better than Penn State’s simply unreal depth at linebacker? Last year, Penn State’s biggest problem on defense was injuries. The defensive line was decimated, at times, and so was the linebacking corps. Nick Sukay got hurt just as he was turning a corner, and depth there was lacking. The loss of Pete Massaro hurts, but should this unit stay healthy, I expect a significant step up from last year. If the reports are to be believed, this was one of the toughest, most demanding training camps in recent memory. If the coaching staff was able to impart some much needed toughness, maybe the Penn State defense can get its swagger back.
4. Outside of the money earned, these games are no-win situations for major powers.  A win is expected and anything less than complete dominance is a cause for concern.  How do you define success for Penn State this week?
Success would be both quarterbacks playing phenomenally, the defense pitching a shutout, Silas Redd breaking tackles and running past outmatched defenders, and the offensive line pushing around Indiana State’s front seven. It’s Mike Mauti flying from sideline to sideline, beheading Indiana State’s skill players, and Jack Crawford finally looking like the player we thought he’d be by now. Frankly, this is little more than a glorified scrimmage, but Penn State is a team with significant question marks. Being able to answer even a few of those would make this game a successful one.
5. Predictions?

Penn State wins, 51-10. McGloin outplays Bolden, and that’s all anyone will talk about.

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