In Which Nick Horvath receives the FJM treatment

Not trying to steal OctaShields thunder but I didn't have much work to do this afternoon and after reading this literary masterpiece, I couldn't help myself. Nick Horvath desperately needed the firejoemorgan treatment. It's disgusting that guys like this still get paid to repeatedly spew the same old, tired drivel that has been out there since 1992. I guess I shouldn't let it get to me but it drives me crazy. So, without further ado...


Strictly Speaking: Penn State's 2011 season? Think second half at Ohio State by Nick Horvath

Oh boy!  A new article by my FAVORITE Pennlive writer hack, Nick Horvath! His writing keeps me on the edge of my seat, eager to read what new and refreshing spin he has on my favorite football team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

It’s rare that both the future and the dismal present flash before your eyes in one football game.

Nick, you are absolutely right! I’ve never seen a team play so bad one half and play so wonderfully the next. I mean, I haven’t seen a game play out like that since the Lions played Northwestern…LAST WEEK. As for calling this season dismal, well compared to the seasons that Oregon and Auburn are having, why yes, it is dismal. In fact, you could say that losing four games by 20 points or more could be considered dismal. But surely you realize that this team has suffered a vast array of injuries and is quite young, with Freshmen and Sophomores showing up all over the two-deep depth chart.

I’m so glad that we agree that the future was on display Saturday. That first half was a thing of beauty. It showed what these young players could do, when they play together, while limiting mistakes and turnovers. It’s refreshing to see you’re being rational and levelheaded about this. What’s that? Oh. You weren’t talking about the first half? You were referring to the second half when the Lions lost their best LB and their first and second string running backs? Oh dear.

But that is exactly what transpired for Penn State Saturday at its usual chamber of horrors in Columbus, Ohio.
The Nittany Lions, playing the risk-reward game with daring, played an almost flawless first half and erected a stunning 14-3 lead over powerhouse Ohio State.
To many, the crisp 30-minute performance certainly hinted of what could be in store for the 2011 campaign. To others, it was nothing more than a tease against a superior foe that showed up overconfident.

I guess it just depends if you’re an optimist or a pessimist. I am an eternal optimist. I look at these kids and see the potential, while realizing that most of them playing on Saturday were 18-20. Of course Nick, let’s not give these kids any credit. OBVIOUSLY, if they played a good first half, it wasn’t because they were well prepared or well coached. My goodness, how silly of me to even think such a thing! The Penn State homers sure are lucky to have somebody like you to make us realize what REALLY happened. It wasn’t that the Lions played well; no sir, it was that the Buckeyes were overconfident and played terrible! Thank you for setting me straight. I wouldn’t want to come across as a pompous blowhard.

As we all know, a forgettable second half followed. Ohio State unleashed a 35-0 whirlwind, held Penn State to 60 total yards, returned two Matt McGloin interceptions to the house and roared off toward a possible berth in the Rose Bowl.

That nonperformance was a stark reminder of what has become a spotty Penn State team whose losses have been administered by the whopping margins of 21, 21, 20 and 24 points.

Wow, this team must be terrible! To lose four games by an average of 21.5 points does not look good. I know a journalist such as you, has no room for context in his writing but may I add a little? Three of the four games were on the ROAD against BCS bowl winners. The last time a team had to do this was, let’s see, NEVER.  That’s right, during the BCS era, no team has EVER had to play three teams on the road that had won BCS bowls the previous year.

Something else you might consider mentioning is that this terrible, horrendous, awful Penn State team scared the crap out of the Buckeyes on Saturday. In fact, they had Sweatervest Tressel as angry at his team as he had ever been. An awful team is a team like Indiana or Minnesota. Those teams weren’t able to make OSU break a sweat. This PSU team took OSU to the whooping shed for a half.

McGloin’s jaw flapping at the Ohio State sideline after his first touchdown pass no doubt helped to awaken the Buckeyes. A former walk-on who has only started playing recently, McGloin hardly had earned the right to taunt the Buckeyes.

You are SO right. In fact, after that first touchdown and McGloin’s subsequent “jaw flapping”, the Buckeyes proceeded to give up 24 plays for a total of 142 yards. Compare this to the 10 plays and 58 yards that OSU was able to produce. They also allowed another TD and would have given up another 3 points had PSU opted to try a short FG. If McGloin didn’t “flap is jaws” maybe OSU would have been able to run 11 plays!

Few among the PSU partisans expected a championship season. Nor did they foresee a 6-4 overall record with no signature wins.

Hmm. PSU partisans, please stand up. Ok, now, if you couldn’t FORESEE a 6-4 season at this point, remain standing so the rest of us can point and laugh at you. Also, don’t be frightened by the guys bringing the straight jacket. They’re really nice people. Back at the loony bin, you can explain to fellow crazies, Michigan and Notre Dame fans, which of the three teams will win this year’s MNC.

I think it’s safe to say that, coming into this season, 95% of the fan base expected losses to Alabama, Iowa, and OSU. Would it have been nice to have beaten one of those teams and earned that ever elusive ZOMG SIGNATURE WIN!!!!? Of course but it’s not like those losses were surprising. The only bad loss was to Illinois. Even by wiping that loss away, that would give PSU three losses so that would mean they had nine other games to play. It’s not unreasonable to expect the team to go 7-2 or 8-1 in those other games. So remind me once again, why it’s so hard to fathom four losses? Oh yes. I forgot. You’re trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. In that case, keep shoveling my dear fellow.

Those who always see the glass half-full will embrace Saturday’s first half with hopes it will replicate itself often a year from now. While there is hope, don’t be fooled. Season 2011 could well be as bad or worse as 2010.

Of course 2011 could be worse. The team could suffer through a lot of injuries again. The coaches could forget how to coach. Beaver Stadium could burn down. Bolden could be accused of stealing a laptop or requesting $100k dollars to play at Penn State. Those could all be reasons why 2011 could be worse than 2010.

Now let’s take a quick look at why there’s hope. PSU has 11, count them, 11 Seniors on the team. 11 out of 119 players are SENIORS. Of those 11, only three are starters on defense. Two of them, Bani Gbadyu and Chris Colasanti are getting playing time because of injuries and the fact that they’re seniors, not because of their play. That means eight starters are returning on defense, along with the young guys pushing the two LBs for playing time. Onto the offensive side of the ball you find five starters. Two are WRs, where there is so much talent that Chaz Powell was moved to the defensive side of the ball. One is PSU’s all-time leading rusher. That production will be missed for sure but in case you missed the NW game, there’s this kid, I think his name is Silas or something like that, who looks like the real deal. Yup, you’ve got it nailed though, no reason to be excited.

The Lions have young, talented players at key positions. The problem is that there are not enough of them, especially up front. Recruiting seems to be treading water, and the pipeline of linemen on the current roster doesn’t look too deep in quality.

Not enough talented players? Derek Moye, Justin Brown, Silas Redd, Curtis Dukes, Curtis Drake, Brandon Beachum, Shawney Kersey, Khairi Fortt, Pete Massaro, Sean Stanley, Derrick Thomas, Mike Hull, Stephon Morris, Malcolm Willis, Mike Zordich, Devon Smith, Mark Arcidiacono, Nate Cadogan, Eric Shrive, Khamrone Kolb, C.J. Olaniyan, etc would all like to have a word with you.

There are many differences between Penn State and nationally elite teams like Ohio State, for sure. The one that stood out, though, was Ohio State’s roster-wide wealth of talent. When the dozing Buckeyes finally heard the alarm go off, they bullied the Lions and imposed their will.

The Bucks wore out Penn State’s thin and injury-depleted defense, and subtle adjustments suffocated its offense that had zoomed from liberal to conservative with an 11-point lead.

This was just one game. What it reaffirmed, though, was that one of Penn State’s immediate needs is an influx of talent across the board that can create fierce competition at all positions — especially linemen on both sides of the ball.

An influx of talent that can create fierce competition? THAT’S what is needed? Well lucky for PSU, that’s exactly what they have! A breakdown of the roster, by class: 50 Freshmen, 34 Sophomores, 24 Juniors, and 11 Seniors. Now, if the only PSU news I got was from you and your esteemed colleagues at Pennlive, I’d say “but those 84 Freshmen and Sophomores are all 1, 0, or -3 star recruits!” I would think this because you said PSU needs an influx of talent. So these players must have two left feet, or only one arm perhaps? According to, the 2010 recruiting class brought in 15 (FIFTEEN!!!) four or five star recruits. The 2009 recruiting class brought in eight four or five star recruits and 2008 provided nine four or five star kids. Of these 32 four or five star recruits (that are anywhere from true Freshmen to Redshirt Sophomores) 12 or 13 of them are offensive or defensive linemen, to go along with eight linebackers.

Only then will the Nittany Lions be annual contenders for Big Ten and national honors. That day right now seems like a long way off.

So let me get this straight, the Nittany Lions will be annual contenders in the Big Ten and the MNC when they get solid recruits along both lines? 12 or 13 highly touted line recruits in the last three classes. Maybe 2011 and 2012 seem like forever in dog years but to me, that seems like less than 12 months from now.

Just look at PSU’s most recent recruit, Anthony Alosi. The huge offensive lineman didn’t choose the Lions over schools like Alabama, Florida, Southern Cal and Texas. He picked Penn State over Massachusetts, Connecticut, Richmond and Tulane.

Now Alosi might develop into an All-American, but generally you don’t beat Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio State with guys who only had the likes of Richmond and Tulane hot on their trail. You kidding?

Oh Nicky, I hope Alosi reads this piece and then someday, in the near future, finds you alone in a dark alley. I don’t think it’d be pretty. Now you do have a point here, I’ll admit it. If you had a roster filled with guys that were only recruited by those schools, then you probably would have a hard time beating Iowa. ALTHOUGH I should mention that Boise State has done alright with guys like these. Ohhhhhh, that pokes holes in your doom and gloom theory? I’m sorry I mentioned it. Moving along, I feel like I need to point out that Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, Josh Hull, Darryl Clark, etc., didn’t let their lack of recruiting stars keep them from BEATING OSU in 2005 or 2008. Forget about Iowa though. Penn State doesn’t beat Iowa. That’s just a given.

One last tidbit of information before I continue with this joyful reading; do you know what the definition of irony is? Irony is Pat Devlin was a four star recruit. Pat Devlin plays for Delaware who plays in the same league as Richmond. Pat Devlin never started and won a game against OSU or Iowa, so you are right. You don’t beat those types of teams with players that go on to play for FCS schools. (See? I can play the agenda game too. No wonder you do it, it’s fun!)

As it stands, the Ohio State fiasco cannot be considered an opportunity missed. Rather, it is a reminder that Joe Paterno’s Lions at this stage need to play almost perfectly to challenge Top 10 teams.

Right now the program’s margin of error in big games remains microscopic.

How is this indicative of Penn State!? This applies to any team in college football. OSU didn’t play a good game against Wisconsin, it lost. Wisconsin didn’t play a good game against Michigan State, they lost. Iowa played crappy against Arizona. Guess what happened? THEY LOST! Alabama tried sleep walking against South Carolina, here’s a shocker for you…the Gamecocks won by two TDs! So let me fix that sentence for you, “it is a reminder that Joe Paterno’s Lions all teams, at this stage in this day and age of parity, need to play almost perfectly to challenge Top 10 teams.

There are not enough playmakers. PSU can handle the lesser lights but not the heavyweights.

Tackling, the most fundamental of defensive skills, remains wanting.

What remains of 2010 are two regular-season games and a minor bowl date, probably against an also-ran from the Big 12.

An also-ran from the Big 12? Do you know who an “also-ran” of the Big 12 is this year? TEXAS! I know, I know, this is unpossible because they have a roster filled with eight and nine star recruits so they’re like, awesome and stuff. But it’s true!

McGloin, for his part, shows by his demeanor that he’s capable of having a cornerback’s memory span, which is ultra short by necessity. No doubt he’ll build on the nightmare second half at the Horseshoe. He’s played fewer than 15 quarters in his budding career.

I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not. I kind of think you are but I’ll pretend that you do like his MOXIE. I can’t believe that you didn’t take the time to bash this poor kid too. A lowly former walk-on? How DARE he even think he deserves to play for the Nittany Lions. Such foolishness!

Defenseless Indiana is just ahead at the nation’s capital and, if the Hoosiers do little else, they are renowned for building confidence in opposing QBs. Additionally, because of injury, they might not even have theirs.

In this regard, McGloin and the rest of the Lions have a chance to get well in a jiffy.

Then comes what could be Penn State’s real bowl game, a Senior Day clash with a Michigan State team that might be playing for the conference championship and would have to step over the Nittany Lions to get it.

Step over the Nittany Lions to get it? Gee, you wouldn’t be trying to imply that this team will lie down would you? Or that an MSU win is a foregone conclusion? See, that’s the funny thing. MSU has NEVER beaten Penn State at Beaver Stadium. Many less talented PSU teams have beaten MSU in Happy Valley. PSU is currently 13-4 against them, including a 37-13 beating in 2004, when PSU had nothing to play for and MSU did.

This finale over the Thanksgiving weekend is what Penn State really has become at this point, a spoiler. It is a role the mid-level program should disdain.

No doubt that it does. The key question is whether Paterno has the time, the solution and the energy to break the current cycle.

Penn State posted back to back 11 win seasons for the first time since they joined the Big10. Since 2005, they have a 57-16 record. Plus 2 Big 10 Championships. Yup that definitely sounds like a mid-level program. Since you compared PSU to Iowa and OSU earlier, why don’t we take a peek at how they’ve done in the same five seasons. Iowa has gone 46-27. OSU has gone 63-11. As you can see, Ohio State is on a very good run right now, Iowa has had Penn State’s number the last few years. My question is this, if PSU is a mid-level program, what does that make Iowa?

Sure the veteran coach has done it before, but that was in another time with another team that had a superb triggerman in Michael Robinson. But Robinson’s long gone and both his replacement and a deep, talented supporting cast don’t seem to be anywhere in sight.

Revisionist history is so fun, isn’t it? A superb triggerman? Wait a second, we are talking about the same Michael Robinson right? As in, the guy who is playing FB/RB for the Seahawks? Ok, just making sure. Great leader? Check. Great teammate? Check. Would do anything it took to win a game? Check. Great Runner? Check and double check. Superb triggerman? No he was not. He was such a great QB that he didn’t start until his senior year. Coming into that year and through the early stages of that 2005 season, the fanbase was CLAMORING for Anthony Morelli. That is how SUPERB of a triggerman he was. These were his numbers, 162 of 311 (52.1%) for 2.350 yards, 17 TDs and 10 INTs. Compare that to Anthony Morelli’s senior season: 234 of 402 (58.2%) for 2651 yards, 19 TDs and 10 INTs. This doesn’t include M-Rob’s running abilities but I think it shows that, as a thrower, he was not superb.

The other point is even more laughable, if that’s even possible at this point. His replacement? I’m not exactly sure what that means. In case you fell into a coma and still think it’s 2006, I hate to tell you this but Robinson hasn’t played QB since 2005. In fact, there have been two “replacements” for him to graduate since then. Now we have young kids named Robert Bolden and Paul Jones who have even better physical tools than Michael ever had. Will they develop into the leader he did? That remains to be seen. Deep, talented supporting cast? Oh yes, it was so deep that Penn State started three (THREE!!!!) true freshmen WRs, along with a freshman TE named Andrew Quarless. To even suggest that the 2005 team had anywhere near the skill position depth that this team has is absurd.

Like the remainder of this fractured PSU season and the current quarterback situation, this will prove interesting watching.

Whether you like what eventually develops will depend on your perspective.

Phew. That was exciting wasn’t it? I hope you are happy Nick Horvath. You made me waste an entire afternoon pointing out your faulty logic and your not so hidden agenda. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. You being the competent wretched columnist you are would never let something as trivial as statistics and research, along with past performance, cloud your reasoning. You couldn’t more right. 2011 will be a dismal season. It will be dismal because, when the Lions are 8-0 and rolling over opponents, we will be subjected to articles from you proclaiming how awesome they are and how you knew it all along. Then again, perhaps you’ll pull this turd back out after a narrow PSU victory or defeat, polish it up, and tell your readers that the future is grim.

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