This is the awkward part of every roundtable where I have to answer my own questions.
Pretend for a moment you're the little Japanese guy on Heroes. You can close your eyes, clench your fists, crap your pants and go back in time. If you could go back and change one play for your team this season, what would it be?
Oh man I can think of about a dozen off the top of my head. I wish I could go back to the end of the third quarter of the Illinois game. Penn State faced a 1st and 10 at the Illinois 27 yard line down 24-20. Morelli threw a perfect strike over the shoulder of Andrew Quarless right at the goal line, but J Leman and his friggin' mullet stripped the ball from AQ's arms. If he makes that catch Penn State goes up 27-24 going into the fourth quarter.
But he didn't make the catch. And two plays later they tried the exact same play again and this time Leman intercepted the ball. Then going into the fourth quarter Penn State had to come back from behind instead of playing ball control and running out the clock. The result was two more interceptions from Anthony Morelli. If Quarless had made that catch and held on it would have completely changed the mindset of the game. Penn State probably would have won and we would be a top 10 team right now.
We're now two-thirds of the way through the season. Everyone likes to debate who will be the Big Ten Coach of the Year. I want to know which Big Ten coach is a complete moron that should be demoted back to fullbacks coach on a team that runs the spread offense?
Joe Tiller gets the BSD moron of the decade award. How many years is it going to take before this guy realizes you don't have the ball for half of the game, so you better learn how to play some defense. Year in and year out we watch Purdue go out there tagging 45 points on lousy teams and losing to good teams 28-24 because they can't play defense. Either he isn't interested in it or he has no respect for the value a good defense brings to the game. Get yourself a decent coordinator. Give recruits a reason to believe you're serious about playing defense. Do something other than being so one sided year in and year out.
The other thing that bugs me about Tiller is his total disregard for compiling anything that remotely resembles a running game. He insists they will pass on first down and second down to set up the pass on third down. That's great and can score you a lot of points most days. But then you get days like when Penn State came to Purdue last year. The winds were whipping around at 35 mph and your high flying passing attack got shut out 12-0. You had the best chance you'll ever get the past two years with no Michigan or Ohio State on the schedule and you totally blew it. Way to go, jackoff.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. But the Bible doesn't say anything about your rival. Which current Big Ten player do you most wish played for your team?
Well it's no secret that if we had a quarterback that could motivate this team and, like, throw a pass to a guy running a post, we would be undefeated right now and probably ranked in the top two.
So give me a good quarterback like Curtis Painter. He's too good for Purdue. Ah heck. What am I saying? Jay Paterno would still be his coach.
It's probably too early to start thinking about next year. Well, unless you're Minnesota in which case you've been thinking about next year for a month or so already. Assess your team's future. Was this year your chance to make a run or is this just a rebuilding year with greater expectations in 2008? Or do you plan to suck in 2008 just as much as you suck now?
The Penn State program is traditionally built to make a run at the title every three years. If history is true and 2005 was our last run you would think we are in year two of the rebuilding phase. Looking at the roster would reinforce that belief. The only guy we lose on defense is Dan Connor. That's a huge guy to lose, but we've been recruiting extremely well at linebacker for years so we'll plug in another tackling machine there and not lose too much. On offense we lose Rodney Kinlaw and Austin Scott. Scott is pretty much already gone. The emergence of Evan Royster at running back has given hope that we'll be fine at tailback next year. Then of course we lose Anthony Morelli, and many Penn State fans wonder if this is a bad thing. If Daryll Clark or Pat Devlin step in and play well the sky is the limit for this team next year.