Blog mob . . . ASSEMBLE!
G. Love & Special Sauce - I-76 (via GLoveSSVEVO)
This week, the Amateur Blog Mob cruises east with G. Love and the Special Sauce on I-76 toward Lincoln Financial Field and the Temple Owls for this week's Blue/White Roundtable.
Say hello once again to our panelists - our own Ben Jones from Black Shoe Diaries, Kevin McGuire from the Nittany Lions Den, William F. Yurasko from William World News, and all of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse.
The game was out of reach, but Rob Bolden played through the final whistle. Was that drive his "coming of age moment?" Do you expect that to pay some dividends this week?
WFY: Rob Bolden impressed me on the final scoring drive and at the time I thought, okay, maybe had made a statement. If it pays dividends this week, I think we can point back to that drive and say, yes, it was a coming of age moment. Upon further thought though, I remember thinking the 2007 Outback Bowl was Anthony Morelli's coming of age moment. How did that turn out? I remember Bolden's game-winning drive against Temple last year and thinking that was his coming of age moment. Also, will Bolden be given the opportunity to make it pay dividends? If he and Matt McGloing are still alternating quarters, I doubt it.
McGuire: There were some bright spots to take out of that Alabama game if you care to do so. Bolden converting for first downs after each timeout on the opening drive was good news (timeout usage aside), and driving the team down field for a touchdown latte in the game can be a positive, even if Alabama was letting up on defense. At that point it is all about confidence, and Bolden can say he drove the offense down field against Alabama for the team's only touchdown.
I don't know how much momentum that can have carrying over to this week against Temple, but it was certainly better than going three-and-out against a defense that knew the game was already won, right?
By now we know that Joe Paterno is preparing this week to use two quarterbacks. Here's hoping that game plan doesn't make it out of halftime. The time is now to settle on one guy to lead this offense.
The Underdogs: We'll need an entire game for a coming of age moment. Consistency is the biggest thing missing from the offense right now (from a player perspective). It seems there is a 50% chance a pass will be delivered accurately, then a 50% chance it will be caught. We're flipping coins, kinda like the play calling. Do over! Oh wait, shit. Time out.
Collyer: As much as I'd like it to be, I think it was basically meaningless in that context. It could have been the big moment where everyone in the huddle saw the fire in the kid's eyes, but it obviously would have meant more had we not punted down multiple scores with about 10 minutes left. That didn't happen, the pressure was off, and Alabama had the game well at hand. I do think the drive was important for his growth as a quarterback - at least he proved to himself that he could score against a top defense. But was this a competition changing moment? Probably not.
How effective will the defense be against Bernard Pierce this week?
Ben: I think he's one of those backs that will get his yards. Penn State might slow him down, but he won't get stopped outright.
Rowlff Dogg: Very effective. I expect Pierce will be around 70 yards, including garbage time.
J Schnauzer: I doubt there are two teams facing each other this week that are more difficult to judge than Penn State and Temple. PSU had a challenge well below and well above anything else they will face this season, and Temple had the easiest possible schedule (Akron & Villanova) to this point. Still, the PSU defense is demonstrably better than they were last year in every facet of the game, and Temple QB Mike Geraldi has been an average QB his entire career. I figure the standard Tom Bradley Cover 2 will work beautifully against Pierce and the Temple offense.
WFY: I anticipate that Pierce will a tougher time than last year against Penn State. Devon Still and Jordan Hill have improved and PSU has 5 or 6 starting linebackers for 3 positions. Pierce may break 100 yards, but he'll need over 25 carries to do so.
Grade the offensive line two weeks into the season. Are they better than you expected them to be?
McGuire: I expected them to be better than given credit for in the off-season by many. I liked the veteran mix coming back this season and thought they had the potential to be a solid unit. I think for the most part they have met those expectations, but they have plenty of room for improvement.
I think the run blocking has been their strength by far, although against Alabama it showed that it had some weaknesses to cure. Honestly, against Alabama most teams will find it tough to run. They clearly showed that against inferior opponents, like Indiana State, they're be able to run the football. As far as run blocking, I'd give the offensive line a B for now.
But the pass protection needs to get better in a hurry. The quarterbacks have combined for zero touchdown passes and the offensive line plays a factor in to that statistic (so does game planning though). Bolden has already taken some good hits and McGloin has been forced to throw the ball away without thinking on a number of occasions. Right now the pass protection gets a D, only because the quarterbacks have not been sacked 10 times.
Collyer: The offensive line is much better from what I thought they would look like. I think they've looked better than average with run blocking, even with ‘Bama's tough front seven. Pass blocking was uneven against Indiana State, but they seemed to fix that against the Tide. I don't think Bolden and McGloin are being hindered by the pass protection. I think they're struggling because (a) they just aren't any better than average QBs at this point, and (b) they're not allowed to get into any sort of rhythm because of the rotation. But the line? A for effort, B+ for performance. I'm pleased.
Ben: I'd give them a B. First week was a little messy but I don't think they'll see a better defense than Alabama's and for the most part the pass rush wasn't a problem at all.
The Underdogs: Yes and no. They were pretty dreadful against ISU then I thought they played quite well versus Alabama (although I can't bring myself to rewatch). Bama's LBs and DBs could play downhill and outnumber us in the box on every play because we certainly weren't a threat down the field. Bama tried a number of the same blitzes ISU had success with and we managed them much better (again, only from hazy, drunken memory sans sober rewatch).
Rowlff Dogg: For a team that lacked a passing threat, I thought the OLine played quite well. Alabama gave them a lot of looks pre-snap and adjustments right up to the snap. Still, they did a pretty good job against what will probably be their toughest test all year. After 2 games, it averages out to a B. To the follow-up question, I offer a resounding YES. I always expect the OLine to be a trainwreck. Why shouldn't I? We have the same lousy coaches. Therefore, I will always be surprised when they have a decent performance.
Bottom line - are we looking at a 'Bama hangover against Temple, or do the Lions pull an Illinois '05-type performance and come out swinging against an overmatched Temple squad?
WFY: I don't think the Nittany Lions will come out hung over, but perhaps a little lethargic. Temple will be fired up, so I expect PSU to realize they have a game to play early on. After a disappointing non-con loss like last week, going on the road is probably good, particularly when it will be a pretty friendly environrment for the visitors.
I see some parrallels between Penn State vs. Alabama - the Nittany Lions needed to play a perfect game to beat the Crimson Tide and I think Temple needs to play a perfect game to beat the Nittany Lions.
McGuire: I think Temple is going to give Penn State a good fight in this game, but I don't see how Penn State comes out slow against the Owls. Temple probably comes up with a couple big plays out of the gate on offense and defense but with the way the team lost last week I think Penn State comes out firing with some big plays of their own. This will truly be a test of the leadership on this team too. Last year we saw little from the leadership on the roster form start to finish, so this week presents a good challenge to see what the captains and team is made of.
Ben: Temple is better than people give them credit for. Penn State ought to win this game, but I don't think they have "the switch" that they had in 05.
J Schnauzer: The pessimism and doom I've been reading from some PSU folks has me dumbfounded. Penn State will roll over Temple. If they had one QB by now, they would crush them.
Rowlff Dogg: It's probably somewhere in the middle. Although I think the Vegas line is laughable, I also don't expect a 50 point margin of victory. It would be nice to see Penn State come in to the Linc all pissed off. I don't expect to see a fire in their belly because who would light it? However, I'm not of the opinion that our biggest in-state rival will give us much of a game.
McGuire: I have Penn State winning this one, and the game should be closer than my score may indicate. Penn State 31, Temple 17. Rob Bolden throws the first touchdown pass of the season. In fact, put me down for two touchdown passes from Bolden.
The Underdogs: 23-13 pillow fight. Defense/special teams outscore Temple and the Offense.
Rowlff Dogg: 34-13, good guys. I smell a Jack Crawford sack/strip/fumble recovery/touchdown somewhere in there too.
J Schnauzer: 31-10 Penn State. 45-7 if PSU had one QB.
WFY: People will make too big a deal about being able to buy $6 beers in the stadium. McGloin will get way more snaps than he should. The trim-less white jerseys will not look as good as the ones with trim. I'll be given a hard time for wearing a #11 jersey (it is my favorite number). Redd will top 100 yards. The backup to the Sports Complex will begin on the Girard Point Bridge. The 2theLion tailgate will be excellent. I'll get a cheesesteak on the way out of town. Penn State will beat Temple 27-17.
And from our BSD regulars . . .
Ben: Penn State wins but not but much. In the very least they win with some garbage time points. 27-17
Mike Pettigano: 48-17... Bernard Pierce does break 100 yards against Penn State, but had one hell of a time getting there. Temple hangs with the Nittany Lions early, scores a touchdown on the first drive. Then Penn State wakes up and reels off 28 unanswered by the mid-second quarter. At halftime, it's 28-10. The defense adjusts, shutting down Pierce and Temple's offense, but gives up a late touchdown. Penn State scores a defensive touchdown, maybe by a linebacker. I'm not going to predict how the quarterbacks play, because that's impossible anymore. Silas Redd rushes for 145 yards and three touchdowns, while Derek Moye finally catches a touchdown this season.
Jeff Junstrom: 31-10, PSU. The Nittany Lions head into halftime having not used at least one timeout.
Collyer: I was overly optimistic last week because I wanted to pick the Lions, not because I was convinced we would win. We got smacked around. You'd think I'd play it safe this week.
But I'm not.
This is Temple. I don't care what happened last year, I don't care that they have a mediocre SEC assistant now running the show, and I don't care if Bernard Pierce is a stone cold stud. Penn State 34-13. Pierce is lucky to make it off the field in one piece.