Amateur Blog Mob . . . ASSEMBLE!
Black Shoe Diaries is proud to host the return of the venerable Blue/White Roundtable. Despite BSD merging approximately 60,000 blogs in the past year, we've gotten the band back together with some of the finest members of the Penn State blogosphere.
Here's how this works - each week, our panelists will discuss a series of thought-provoking questions brought to you by yours truly, your host and moderator. Their full responses will be featured on each respective blog. Each Wednesday during the season, we'll assemble the best of the best right here on BSD. Every now and then, I'll throw in my two cents as well.
Meet our panelists - our own Ben Jones, Kevin McGuire and the Nittany Lions Den, Devon from Nittany White Out, William F. Yurasko from William World News, and all of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse.
Let's get this out of the way right now - how does everyone feel about Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin being even on the depth chart? How do you feel about the proposed time sharing plan for Saturday's game against Indiana State?
The Underdogs: 100% predictable. 100% infuriating. QB is the only position where we baby kids on the depth chart. A new phenomenon by the way, as we have run off countless quarterbacks in the past because they didn't win the starting job (White, Hostetler). Imagine what the 06 and 07 seasons might have been like had Tony Pepperoni joined those ranks. Or even, 08 and 09 had Daryll Clark garnered a bit more experience during those preparatory years.
WFY: If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback, right?
I understand why Joe Paterno is going to play both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin this Saturday. I just hope that he is being very specific every step of the way with both of them about the plan. For the Alabama game, I think they need to establish the #1 guy and I'm not sure they can do that based on Indiana State and another week of practice. All things being equal, I'd go with Bolden, who has more physical skills. McGloin should only be the #1 is he is distanced himself from Bolden. If that's the case - #buckleup.
Ben: If nobody has clearly taken over the race and put himself out ahead, one more week can't hurt. Would I rather see just McGloin or just Bolden play this weekend? You bet. I think however more good than bad will come of it. If anything it's something else Alabama has to get ready for.
Adam: I feel similar to Ben. If we were going to name a starter, I think we should have named him several weeks ago. If not, this certainly isn't going to hurt. I'm more concerned about what the competition being this close says about Bolden's ability to overtake McGloin.
What are you looking for out of the offense this week? Will the offense we see on Saturday set the tone for the rest of the year?
McGuire: Converting on red-zone opportunities. Too many times last season Penn State struggled in the red-zone, most notably under Bolden (one touchdown pass in red-zone compared to nine for McGloin). I think if Bolden is going to make a statement and win this starting job, he needs to thrive when Penn State gets down close to the end zone with him behind center. To me, that will be the difference maker in the competition. I also want to see how the tight end position holds up. Andrew Szczerba being named the starter after an injury prone 2010 is a nice story, but let's see if he can hold on to the football and give whoever the quarterback is another option to depend on in short yardage situations.
Devon: This week, I just want to see crispness and efficiency. We know how Joe Paterno, Galen Hall, and Jay Paterno like to play this early-season matchups-they're designed to get the pieces moving smoothly, not to run up the score and impress pollsters. We'll see guys getting extended playing time who certainly don't figure into Penn State's greater offensive plans, and we'll see plenty from others vying for spots. Neither quarterback will have the benefit of the full playbook, and I'd be shocked to see anything more than the most conservative of offensive schemes. That sad, I'm going to be watching the offensive line most closely-if they can't bully around an Indiana State front seven, they'll have no chance against Alabama. I don't just want to see them play well, I want to see the line dominate. Aside from that, I'm excited to see Silas Redd emerge as the #1 running back this year, and to see guys like Brandon Beachum, Curtis Drake, and Andrew Szczerba coming back from elongated injury absences.
Rowlff Dogg: A strong running game. The quarterback tryout indicates that there should more passing than usual for a tune-up game. Perhaps one of the candidates tries to press a bit and is having trouble moving the ball. That is where the running game comes into play, to pick up the pieces. Against a completely overmatched defense, I expect the offensive line to pave the way for big running numbers.
Do you expect the defense to be significantly upgraded from last year?
BEN: I think we forget how hurt the team was last year on that side of the ball. Too many good players are coming back this season for Penn State to be anything but a Top 20 unit on defense. It'll come down mainly to pass rush, so if Jack Crawford and Co can get to the quarterback Penn State will be a deadly team.
WFY: I expect a better defensive showing because by all accounts Jack Crawford is healthy again which means an improved pass rush. I also anticipate a serious upgrade in linebacker play. Remember how we were sure Mike Mauti was going to move to the middle? That Glen Carson has simply taken the job and as his own kept Mauti on the outside is really promising. The secondary should be solid and with a better pass rush, should be improved. I am excited about the defense.
Devon: Yes, and for two reasons - Bani Gbadyu graduated, and Chris Colasanti graduated. The last time I was this excited for addition by subtraction was when Anthony Morelli moved on, and it didn't matter which of Pat Devlin or Daryll Clark would be quarterback, because either would be a giant step up from Morelli. In this case, we don't have unknowns filling in for Gbadyu and Colasanti, we have Mike Mauti, who's tantalized Penn State fans for three years and, if healthy, is a legitimate All-America candidate. Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson, Nate Stupar, Khairi Fortt, Mike Hull...does it get any better than Penn State's simply unreal depth at linebacker? Last year, Penn State's biggest problem on defense was injuries. The defensive line was decimated, at times, and so was the linebacking corps. Nick Sukay got hurt just as he was turning a corner, and depth there was lacking. The loss of Pete Massaro hurts, but should this unit stay healthy, I expect a significant step up from last year. If the reports are to be believed, this was one of the toughest, most demanding training camps in recent memory. If the coaching staff was able to impart some much needed toughness, maybe the Penn State defense can get its swagger back.
J Schnauzer: Absolutely. The coaching staff hasn't changed, the summer workouts were blessedly free of season-ending injuries, and every player has an extra year of experience. I don't know if it could have been any worse last year. It can only get better from here.
Outside of the money earned, these games are no-win situations for major powers. A win is expected and anything less than complete dominance is a cause for concern. How do you define success for Penn State this week?
The Underdogs: I get drunk and no shots are involved (ed. note - I believe you're looking for this).
Rowlff Dogg: No injuries. Bolden wins the job no questions asked. Trent Richardson contracts leprosy.
McGuire: I think success will be defined by scoring touchdowns on three of the first four possessions, regardless of the quarterback situation, and going in to halftime with a lead of at least three touchdowns. Penn State is not going to intentionally run wild or show off any fancy plays this week, especially with Alabama up next week. Even if Penn State scores between 30 and 40 points, there will be some who want to criticize the coaching or level of play, but I'm not going to worry about that.
Just get out of this week without being injured, and maybe settle on a starting quarterback and I think that will be enough to be a success in week one.
Ben: Just look like you grew up since the Bowl game. Better passing, good running, and a score in the 30s. Penn State is going to play with some basic sets since they won't want to show off too much to Alabama. That being said, I want to see them come out of the gates firing. The "young team" excuse doesn't work anymore. Time to get some Ws.
J Schnauzer: 221-0. Paterno calls off the dogs and keeps PSU from winning by the largest margin of victory in football history.
WFY: Bolden gets the start. Paterno coaches from the box. Silas Redd rushes for over 100 yards. The new jerseys won't look as good as the old ones. The student section will never fill up. Guido D'Elia will dumb down the gameday experience more. The drum major will land both flips. Glen Mason will mention his misses the last blue sapphire during the telecast. Indiana State alumn Larry Bird will be mentioned at least twice during the telecast. Paterno's future will be speculated on. Penn State will win 44-10.
McGuire: Penn State 42, Indiana State 6
I think McGloin will put together the better day in the stat sheet, but I'm looking more at how Bolden manages the offense. I predict Bolden will show more poise in the backfield and an ability to find an open receiver faster than he may have in 2010. I'm looking for Bolden to finish the day with a higher completion percentage and to pick up a few extra first downs than McGloin, and I think that leads to him being named the starter for week two against Alabama.
Brandon Beachum also finishes the day with the most rushing yards, but there is no competition for the starting job as long as Silas Redd is healthy.
Devon: Penn State wins, 51-10. McGloin outplays Bolden, and that's all anyone will talk about.
And from our BSD regulars . . .
Jeff: Penn State covers, winning 47-7. The quarterback battle gets no closer to an answer against the ISU defense.
Tim: 49-0 Penn State. Neither QB will separate themselves from the other, but the offense and defense will overpower whatever Indiana State might throw at them. Silas will have his first of several 100+ yard games this year.
Pete: 42-3. Redd goes HAM.
Mike: 45-6. Redd does NOT break 100 yards. But the RBs combine for 250 rushing yards. Bolden looks markedly better than McGloin. Front 7 collects 4.5 sacks. JoePa coaches from the Press Box.
Kyle: 52-10. The defense looks great, but the backups surrender a late TD. Both McGloin and Bolden look capable, frustrating us as we wait for Joe to make a decision on Bama. We finally get to see what Dukes can do.
Adam: 45-6. No touchdowns for the Sycamores, but they draw first blood with a FG on the first drive. From there, the defense takes over and dominates. Both QB's look adequate in a vanilla offense that sees 3 tailbacks get 10 carries or more.