The names and faces have changed, but the premise is still the same. Every Friday morning your humble BSD staff will lay out their predictions and expectations for the upcoming game. Today we preview the Youngstown State game.
Tomorrow's game isn't going to be a great barometer as to how the season is going to play out. Playing youngstown State the week before Alabama, I’m really looking forward to three things: Robert Bolden, strong defensive play, and no injuries. Now that Robert Bolden has been named the start at QB, it will be interesting to see if he is the one and only starter or if Newsome will be worked in as a Wild Lion/MikeRob type player. The caoches have said previously that they would play all three guys, so it will be interesting to see if they still do that. I hope to see Bolden execute the offense and show us what he can do with his legs. The Spread HD is at its best when the QB is a threat to run. Against YSU, I’m fairly confident that we will be able to execute the offense and not turn the ball over. Expect the offense to be very bland, not tipping off any trick or surprise plays they might want to save for Alabama on September 11th.
Defensively, I expect our defensive line to overpower YSU’s inferior offensive line creating enough havoc that our rotating LBs can make some big plays and our DBs can pad their stats with INTs and fumble recoveries. Hopefully we don’t see Anthony Fera on the field except for kickoffs (which should be early and often.) I expect DE Jack Crawford to have a monster game and look unblockable at times.
Allowing YSU to score a TD would be a let down in my opinion, especially since Pitt held them to 3 points last season.
Prediction: Penn State 42, Youngstown State 3
Going into Saturday I'll be looking for two things, the offensive lines ability to work as a unit, and the special team's ability to do anything right. Ultimately it won't matter how good Bolden is if the line can't get it together. That was the team's downfall against Iowa and Ohio State and could very well be their undoing this year. Give Bolden 3-5 seconds a snap and I like our chances a lot more.
Outside of that I don't see many reasons why this team can't be successful. I don't really buy into the theory I've read that Bolden is a last resort not a viable option. Joe hasn't always had 5 star talents to pick from but he's still been successful without them. In general I'm expecting some growing pains, but the investment should be worth it overall. Hopefully the fans will recognize that Bolden doesn't need to be Michael Robinson to get the job done. Personally, I'd take a Zach Mills.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Youngstown State 12
Until proven otherwise, it should be presumed that our defense will be excellent. I'm curious to see how excellent. The past few offseasons have not been kind to Larry Johnson's depth chartery. This one has been exceptionally kind: not a single injury or smokeout offense (tho with the way BWareLaFlare has been tweeting, I'm not gonna inhale). Devon Still was set to jump on the scene two years ago, but is now finally healthy. Jack the Ripper had 5.5 sacks last year, in what, his 4th year even playing the sport? Latimore has always looked good in uniform and may be ready to translate more to playmaking, Stanley saw plenty of snaps as an undersized true frosh, Ollie Ollie Ogbu was just elected Captain and is in for his last ride, and I cannot wait to see my boy Jordan Hill put those tree trunk thighs to work. Mostly, I wanna see LJ do what he's been recruiting to do for the past 5 years: run a deep rotation that wreaks havoc in the trenches.
Depth is what I'll be watching for on the other two units as well. The secondary is experienced and healthy, and I wanna see the young talent they've been grooming for the nickel and dime packages. And I'm just not sure how long it's gonna take me to get over the incredulity of our LBU situation. It's our least experienced unit, contains no 'name' players (yet), and legitimately runs 6 deep? Can. Not. Wait. All the necessary talent evaluation required in advance of the Bama game equates to proper dominance over cupcake opponent.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Youngstown State 6
Obviously I'll be watching the quarterbacks just like everyone else. I'm still in shock that Robert Bolden was able to win the starting quarterback job after only three weeks of practice. It's exciting, but at the same time it makes me nervous. Ultimately this decision is going to pay off in the long run, but it's going to be a bumpy ride while Bolden learns on the job and Penn State gets this all sorted out.
Defensively I'll be watching the linebackers. I'm not completely sold on Chris Colasanti as our best option in the middle given his lack of playing time the past three years. I'll be watching him and Mike Yancich very closely. I'll also be watching the secondary to see how Stephon Morris and whoever is playing nickelback look.
Ultimately this should be a comfortable victory, but keep in mind this is basically a glorified scrimmage. I think we'll see the offense trying some things that may not work well just to see what they have to work with and what they have to do to improve. So it's going to look clunky at times, but the defense should give them plenty of room to play with.
Prediction: Penn State 34, Youngstown State 7
I'm interested in seeing how the coaches deal with Bolden and the other quarterbacks. No Joe Paterno team is showing too much against the Penguins in week one before visiting the reigning national champs in week two. With a true freshman under center, we might be lucky if we see more than the occasional screen. I'm assuming at least one of the other guys take some meaningful snaps, but when? What if Bolden struggles? What if he doesn't?
Special teams are also at the top of my mind, and you can judge a lot even against a team like Youngstown State. Hopefully, the long snaps will be crisp, the kick coverage disciplined, and the return teams smart and ambitious. If we're going to do anything significant this year, we need superior special teams, and I want to at least have some hope that we're on track.
Prediction: Penn State 41, Youngstown State 6
I want to see Penn State dominate in the run game. Last year, though they didn't come out and look bad in the first few games per se, you knew the offensive line was going to have trouble against better teams. If Penn State is going to beat Alabama, it's going to do it on the ground, and getting rolling against the Penguins is vitally important. Of course, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks, but the offensive line and the back field will probably be much bigger factors as the season goes on.
I'm also excited to see the second team linebackers. Bet you didn't see that one coming. But seriously, I want to see the depth with my own eyes, and not just read about it. Give me some Mike Hull and Mike Mauti and I'll be a happy guy.
Prediction: Penn State 38, Youngstown State 3