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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Blue White Roundtable: Alabama Week Edition

Submitted by on September 7, 2011One 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 are JoePa’s Doghouse and Nittany Lions’ Den to see what those crazy kids have to say.

But enough with the introductions, you know the drill:

Did either QB show you enough to make you confident in our offense for the year?  Who’s your guy for this week?
I’m going to be the lone optimist and say yes. I saw enough from Rob Bolden to be confident enough in the offense moving forward. No, his numbers weren’t fantastic–in fact, someone might look at his line and shake their head. 6 of 12 passing for 37 yards is mediocre at best and, well, pretty awful at worst, especially considering the quality of opponent. But the stats never tell the true story, and in the case of Bolden’s performance last Saturday, they do a horrendous job telling it. Had Justin Brown and Derek Moye hauled in perfectly thrown deep ball, all of a sudden, he’s 8 of 12, for 137 yards. If the offensive line holds it together, and gives him time to throw, maybe some of those deeper routes come together. And if the coaching staff calls the screens and curls when Bolden’s under center, like they always have for McGloin, well, the numbers start to look a bit better. The point is, Saturday, I saw a quarterback who put the ball right where it needed to be, despite being under pressure. That throw to Justin Brown, with a defender inches away from his body, couldn’t have been placed better, and Brown dropped it. That’ll happen–a receiver dropping a deep ball–but the poise to stand in there and take the hit, and the ability to put that pass on a string 50 yards downfield doesn’t, not every day.
What’s your preferred offensive game plan headed into this Saturday?
I’d come out throwing. Silas Redd ran over the Indiana State defense, and made everyone forget that he’s replacing a guy who’s #1 in the record books for rushing at Penn State. He was awesome, the offensive line threw around the Sycamore defenders like rag dolls, and in space, well, Redd was electrifying. The obvious thing, then, would be to pound the rock, to not take chances against a fantastic Alabama defense, and to put this game in the hands of your running game. But that’s been Penn State’s M.O. against big-time opponents this past decade, and, well, it doesn’t work too often. The margin of error is just too high, especially when drives flame out in the red zone. When you’re a ten-point underdog, you need to take some chances, and if the Lions can do that effectively, they might just stun the Crimson Tide. Throw the ball down the field, and make your own luck.
Who’s the most important player on our defense this weekend?
Devon Still. Still was pretty solid in that opening game, not only penetrating inside, but generating great push in moving the pocket. But there’s quite a step up from the interior of Indiana State’s offensive line to that of Alabama–and even though that unit struggled a bit against Kent State in their opener, there’s little doubt that they’ll be much improved by Saturday. Still will need to consistently draw double teams against the run for Penn State to slow down Trent Richardson–if Alabama’s offensive linemen can get to the second level, and defensive backs are trying to stop Richardson, they’ll get trucked. And on throwing downs, Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore aren’t great rushers off the edge. A breakdown in the pocket, something Still might be able to accomplish by penetrating, could help create the chaos necessary for Penn State to slow the passing game of Alabama.
How big of an upset is it if Penn State beats the Crimson Tide?
Big, but not huge. It’s not like Penn State is unranked, and picked to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten. We’re not Minnesota, or Purdue. This is a Nittany Lions team that’s going to be competitive, one that plays a brutal schedule, but one that’s talented, if raw. And it’s not like Alabama was infalliable last week–both of the quarterbacks aiming for the #1 job threw two picks against the Golden Flashes, and Richardson ran for all of 37 yards on 13 carries. Yes, that defense is stacked, and there’s a reason they’re ranked in the top 5, but this should be a close, competitive game, and that spread is deceiving. It would be a nice win for the Big Ten to have, and especially for Penn State, to reassert itself as an elite team, but I don’t think it would, or should, send shockwaves throughout the college football landscape.
This, but backwards.
We’ve had this roundtable before. Not for Alabama (though, of course, we have), but one where Penn State took on a more talented, highly ranked opponent, and the smart money was on the other guys. But me, well, I don’t have it in me to pick against the Nits. If I was going to predict a loss, I wouldn’t be spending this week outside Gate A in a tent in the pouring rain. I think it’s a grind-it-out game, and Alabama plays better, but Penn State wins the battle in the red zone. Think the 2010 Capital One Bowl, but without Daryll Clark’s late heroics. I’ll say Penn State 17, Alabama 13, with Bama getting stuffed on 4th and goal from the 1 to end it. Wouldn’t that be something?
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