Nitt Picks is Fluffy Again

It seems you can't read a Penn State preview this year without half the article reminding you Paterno is old and his contract runs out after the 2008 season, but if you scroll down through this article in the Chicago Tribune you find an interesting statistic.

The Nittany Lions' 29-8 record during the last three seasons is third-best in the Big Ten. Of the conference's 11 teams, only Ohio State (33-5) and Wisconsin (31-8) have better records. And no Big Ten team can match Penn State's 3-0 record in bowl games during that span.

Say what you want about about Joe's age and his control on the team, but the fact of the matter is only two teams in our conference have better records the past three years.

Say Wha?

Whenever the Bleacher Report shows up in my google alerts I roll my eyes and click on it anyway. And typically I'm treated to uninformed opinions like those of Brendan Monaghan who predicts Penn State will finish seventh in the conference this year. Behold his reasoning.

7.  Penn State

Something is rotten in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  While the Nittany Lions played unremarkable football on the field (they won all of one road game, in Bloomington, Indiana), their off-the-field conduct gathered plenty of headlines.

Six suspensions last season and two dismissals before this season suggest that the legendary coach Joe Paterno may have lost control of his program. 

Indeed, with a lot of talent gone, particularly on defense, this looks to be another disappointing season in State College.

Taking the place of the inconsistent and much-maligned Anthony Morelli will be Daryll Clark, who reminds some of 2005 star Michael Robinson. The wide receiver corps looks strong, with seniors Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood.

There are big questions, however, on a defense that has been hit by graduation, dismissal, and injuries. A bowl game looks within reach, even if it’s in Detroit.

Detroit? If the best we can manage is the Motor City Bowl for a team returning 17 starters from a team that went 9-4 last year I will personally knock on Joe Paterno's front door and ask him to resign.

Questions Questions Questions

The Reading Eagle posts Ten Big Questions for Penn State this season. Predictably, two questions center on Paterno's future and two are devoted to our off the field issues. but still a good read with some nuggets on the quarterback competition and Stephfon Green.

Ron Musselman of the Post-Gazette puts together a Top Five List of his own. Short space so only one question about Joe and one about off the field issues in this one. But there is one thing I disagree with here.

2. A depleted defensive line

This was supposed to be a position of strength. But now that former starting defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phil Taylor have been kicked off the team, the front four is not nearly as strong as it once appeared to be. The Lions are solid at defensive end with Maurice Evans and Josh Gaines. Evans, a junior, was a one-man wrecking crew last year in his first season as a starter, compiling 12 1/2 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for losses en route to earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. Gaines, a fifth-year senior co-captain, is a two-year starter who has been steady. The tackle spots will be anchored by redshirt sophomores Abe Koroma and Ollie Ogbu. Junior backup Jared Odrick started seven of the first eight games last year before suffering a season-ending injury.

I would hardly characterize our defensive line as "depleted". And while it's true that Baker and Taylor were "former starters", it's misleading to suggest they were at the top of the depth chart. Jared Odrick started every game before his ankle injury, and he was projected to be named the starter once he's healthy again. Abe Koroma and Ollie Ogbu also started a bunch of games for us last year so we're hardly hurting for depth in the interior of the defensive line.

Yay! Let's Talk Football

Kudos go to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who consistently avoids the tired articles about Joe's age and our off the field issues and actually commits to putting out actual football articles once in a while. This week Sam Ross treats us to a look at the quarterback competition. The first half of the article is your typical "And in this corner weighing 225 lbs" stuff, but I found this quote from Paterno later in the article very interesting.

Paterno has said often in recent weeks that he had been urged by his son, quarterbacks coach Jay, to get Clark into games earlier in the season as a change of pace.

"I just felt uncomfortable doing that because Anthony had gotten so much criticism -- and a lot of it wasn't his (fault)," the elder Paterno said. "I was damned if I was going to let the fans dictate who was going to play quarterback."

You think he's talking about the dreaded "website mob" again? Who are these characters anyway?

We saw something like this a few weeks ago where Paterno almost came right out and said Morelli lacked confidence and Paterno felt he had to stick with him or else risk him falling apart.

The article goes on to suggest Paterno would be open to playing two quarterbacks this year, but can only offer this direct quote to back it up.

"I think you're talking about different animals," he said of the two situations.

Not exactly a definitive "Yes, go bet money in Vegas that we're playing two quarterbacks this season," but he didn't rule it out either.

Etcetera - Blog, Sweat & Tears takes a stab at piecing together the depth chart. Major highlights include Derrick Williams at WR instead of the slot, Clark starting at QB, Tony Davis starting at cornerback over Sargeant, and the starting linebackers are Gbadyu, Hull, and Sales.

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