Amateur Blog Mob Week 4 - Penn State vs. Eastern Michigan

Blog mob . . . ASSEMBLE!

(via FoodNetworkClips)

This week, the Amateur Blog Mob finishes the non-conference schedule as Penn State heads into battle against the Eastern Michigan Cupcakes!

Say hello once again to our panelists - 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.

 

Penn State was 6-17 on third down against Temple on Saturday.  What can the team do to fix that?  Is it a quarterback derby issue?

Rowlff Dogg: Have more plays in the playbook. If it's 3rd and short, it's going to be a fullback dive. If it's 3rd and 5+, it's going to be a curl route that might make a 1st down. Of course, the QB derby doesn't help the matter. But I'm going to try a different approach this week. Since the stubborn old man in the booth always does the opposite of what I want, I'll offer this- I love the haphazard QB rotation! Please pare down the playbook a little more! Please stay as long as you want!!!!

WFY: I am just going to say that the quarterback derby is the issue for everything on the offense until proven otherwise. Neither Rob Bolden nor Matt McGloin is ideal and playing both means neither gets in a rhythm or can stop looking over his shoulder. The playing calling seems equally indecisive as well. The solution may be picking one quarterback for a half or more and seeing how things go. That might fix it, it might not, but at least we'd have more reliable data to base an opinion on.

J Schnauzer: The bigger issue is they were third and long more often than they were third and short against Our Traditional In-State Rival. PSU also was as unsuccessful in short yardage situations as they were in long yardage. After breaking down every meaningful third down I don't pin the blame on the quarterbacks as much as on the offensive line. The line was wildly inconsistent last Saturday. The run blocking was poor, the fumble in the quarterback-center exchange (on 3rd down no less) could have sealed the loss. In order to advance down the field with a vanilla offensive game plan the blocking needs to be sharp. Maybe another week will sort this out.

McGuire: Take more timeouts? Kidding.

I do think that the offense is having trouble adjusting to different timings based on the different quarterbacks on the field. The same plays may be called for Bolden and McGloin but each player has different tendencies and timing on plays, and that has to be difficult for the entire receiving corp and the offensive line (which is a major crack in itself.)

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(via Ed Collyer)


Last week, I asked whether Bolden's touchdown drive against Alabama in the fourth quarter was his defining moment. That was clearly premature, so I'll ask again. Bolden's big drive at the end of the fourth quarter, particularly the slant to Moye on 4th and 2 - defining moment?

The Underdogs: Not exactly 4th and 15 or MRob scoring the go ahead touchdown vs. Michigan in '05 here. A few scattered displays of excellence isn't Bolden's problem. Most players with exceptional talent can do that, even Tony Pepperoni. We need consistency. A long sustained drive without the drive killing hiccups here and there. An entire quarter versus a semi-competent defense without a sack, fumble, sackfumbleception, would be nice.

J Schnauzer: Along with Mauti's interception it certainly was the defining moment of the game. I loved the call. Going single-back on 4th and 2 with the game on the line instead of kicking a field goal? That has to increase the confidence of the offense. You can't consider it a defining moment until you have the benefit of hindsight, and sometimes a football season doesn't progress poetically.

WFY: See last week's answer, right? Nah, I don't think that will be defining moment. Converting two fourth downs late on the road is great, but I do not believe a defining moment against Temple is possible for a Nittany Lion quarterback. I certainly hope not.

I am thinking back to previous quarterbacks and what I would consider the defining moment. For Daryll Clark, I think of the fist pump after scoring at Wisconsin in 2008. Anthony Morelli's 2007 Outback Bowl was something I thought was going to be a defining moment, but in reality two pick-sixes at Ohio State come to mind. For Michael Robinson, I think it was taking out that poor Minnesota DB in 2005, though the Derek Williams touchdown against Northwestern could be it too. Zack Mills - his 69 yard scramble against Ohio State.

Did anything Bolden do remind you of any of those plays?

 

Anyone know anything about Eastern Michigan?  Are they a candidate for Big Ten expansion?

McGuire: We got to know Eastern Michigan a little bit this week thanks to our new friends at The Eastern Echo. We learned that Dominique Sherrer, their top running back, may be limited at best after sitting out last week at Michigan. Eastern Michigan will likely hold him out until they get started in MAC play. So in his place The Eastern Echo tells us that Javonti Greene (now the team's leading rusher with 346 yards) will likely be the primary ball-carrier.

They have matched last season's win total of two wins, but those victories have come against a pair of FCS programs, Alabama State and Howard. Last week they lost to Michigan 31-3 in Michigan Stadium.

As for candidacy for Big Ten expansion? Nah. Eastern Michigan doesn't add any extra viewers in the state of Michigan, and expansion is all about the TV sets!

Collyer:  I admit to knowing very little about this week's opponent, but Michigan's defense held them to 3 points.  Read that again for full effect.  Michigan's defense.  You remember them, right?  The team that gave up 65 points in one game last year?  This is about to get ugly.   If their starting tailback is out or limited, I expect the defense to hold them to around zero yards rushing.

J Schnauzer: Of all the directional Michigan schools, I consider them to be the least western of the bunch.

Rowlff Dogg: From a geography standpoint, Eastern Michigan is on the right side of a map, whereas Western Michigan is on the left. Central Michigan is somewhere in between them. Athletically, I know that Brian Bixler went to Eastern Michigan. And he stunk. Therefore, Eastern Michigan stinks. From a gridiron perspective, I've learned a simple lesson in life. If it wears green, plays football, and is named the Eagles, it's gonna be lousy. In short, we have nothing to fear.


How much can we realistically expect to learn about Penn State this weekend?

WFY: I think the only things we can learn are bad - the quarterbacks are truly terrible, the coaching staff doesn't have a clue/doesn't care and who gets hurt.

McGuire: Probably about as much as we have been able to see in the first two weeks. I'm not expecting to see much based on recent play, however there are some things I'll be looking for. For example, how about a passing touchdown (or two)? Penn State is one of the six FBS teams to not have a single touchdown pass this season three weeks in to the season. If they can't get one this weekend then something needs to be done.

We'll find out what kind of character this team has. After a tough loss to Alabama and a gritty, less-than-impressive victory at Temple there are plenty of critics right now. These players know that, even if they say they don't know it. They have to come out with a dominant performance before conference play opens next week. If they don't, then leadership on the field and sidelines will continue to be questioned.

The Underdogs: An offense has to emerge. So actually quite a bit. One isn't going to magically appear come Big Ten season unless Michigan trades places with every remaining team on our schedule.

Rowlff Dogg: We can see if this team has any focus whatsoever. This game should be over in the 3rd quarter, Bolden should solidify himself as the starter, the OLine should actually do its job, and the special teams should operate without a hiccup.

J Schnauzer: Quite a bit. I think this offense can turn the corner against EMU. PSU will go with a balanced offense and feature two QBs in a final audition for the starting position. This time next week they will have decided on a starter for the beginning of the conference play.

 

BONUS ROUND!

With news Missouri's interest in the SEC and conference expansion dominating the headlines, what is the Big Ten's best next move?

The Underdogs: Stand pat. The only schools worthy of consideration are Notre Dame and Texas. No other potentially available schools bring academic & athletic fit along with households and TV sets. Thinking otherwise is naive and foolish. Texas has proven to be too much of a problem child to even want to deal with and ND is only in play if the 4x16 super conferences starts happening. They will sit by hoping to maintain their independence until the music stops and even then, they'll have a seat at one of the tables because they're Notre Dame. However, that is far too organized for a system with so many moving parts and entirely too self-interested, self-absorbed, selfish parties (see: Texas) to pull off. Not that self-interest is particularly bad, it's the way of the world, but when players in the game forget the inherent interdependence with others is when it is problematic. UT is out of friends and that might point toward their independence as well with a yearly game vs Notre Dame. But the difficulty of scheduling non-revenue sports will put UT and ND in a bind. I could see them trying to create some kind of national conference with the unwanted spare parts. Call it the Island of Misfit Toys where UT and ND get to be king and queen (you figure out which is which). And I guarantee there won't be revenue sharing as part of the deal. UT and ND see that as win-win. Big Ten sits at 12.

WFY: I think the Big Ten ought to just sit on the sidelines for now and wait for the pieces to fall where they may. There is no silver bullet for Big Ten expansion - as much as everybody has welcomed Nebraska it wasn't as good for the conference as Penn State was, so see where everything winds up. I don't think Mizzou really wants to be in the SEC and might be bluffing to get the Big Ten to invite them. That would be a more natural fit for both parties I believe.

I think Notre Dame will realize it has to be in a conference and go to the ACC where I bet they can get more leverage with TV. I think in a nod to basketball (for a change) the ACC will grab Connecticut. That leaves Rutgers, not an ideal candidate, for the Big Ten to bring in to make an even numbered conference. That would lock down the New York City/New Jersey market for the conference. Also, they better have "The Big Conference" trademarked already in case the Big XII and whatever merge.

McGuire: Let's quickly hit the refresh button and see what's going on as I write this (it is likely to change by the time I hit the post button, or by the time the round up is completed so be warned).

The Big East is losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC.

The ACC and SEC have rejected West Virginia.

The Pac-12 will stay at 12 teams and not invite Texas or Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech).

Missouri has an invite to join the SEC. Or maybe not.

I have been on record of saying no matter what happens elsewhere, the Big Ten is in a good position standing pat with their current membership as is. They won't be accused of picking on another conference, as I so suggested they should to the Big East and ACC in the past, and they are still going to be in a profitable situation moving forward. It is a decision I now applaud after initially saying they needed to react.

I initially called for the Big Ten to get involved and begin the process of expanding. I'm still open to expansion but I no longer feel they need to initiate the conversation wiht anyone. If Rutgers makes a call (which they say they have), I would listen but woudl be reluctant to move unless someone else with a bigger profile shows interest.

If Texas, Oklahoma or Notre Dame make the call then I'm really listening.

As much of a perfect fit Notre Dame seems to be for the Big Ten, the odds of the Irish taking up an offer to possibly be the conference's sixth bowl team is likely enough to scare them away (because we all know they're every bowl game's first option, right?). If I'm the Big Ten, I accept Notre Dame in the blink of an eye, and maybe throw Rutgers in as well.

Texas has plenty of reasons to be scared off if you are the Big Ten with the Longhorn Network. Not even the Pac 12 was interested because of it and I felt the LHN could be overcome with making it a part of the Pac 12 Network. 

Simply put, the Big Ten is fine the way they are, but if Notre Dame makes the first move, let's talk.

 

Predictions?

McGuire: I thought Penn State would pull away from Temple last week. It didn't happen. I do expect it to happen this week, and I really can't see Penn State going four weeks without a touchdown pass.

Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 10 

The Underdogs: 27-3.

Rowlff Dogg: 38-6. Penn State will notch its first passing touchdown of the year. Beer will be imbibed and dead animals consumed.

J Schnauzer: 35-7. Go big or go home.

WFY: Rob Bolden starts. Shane MacGregor gets some time in a QB. 2 quarterbacks throw touchdown passes, but I am not saying which 2. Matt McGloin looks pretty good. At least once placekick misses. Derek Moye catches more passes from McGloin than Bolden. Guido D'Elia's reign of terror will continue. Some students will observe Jersey day by dressing like a bunch of outer-borough New Yorkers whose television show unfairly maligns an adjacent state. Penn State wins 44-6.

And from our BSD regulars . . .

Mike Pettigano: Penn State 23, Eastern Michigan 9. As long as the quarterbacks continue to rotate, I'm not calling for Penn State to win any games big, or even at all. EMU is improving, but still a terrible football team. So the home team pushes out a win in painful fashion once again, in front of a raucous home crowd of 89,000. Guido D'Elia gleefully announces a number disgustingly inflated, while claiming the Blue Band plays just as often as it did in the 90s. "Piped-in music? [Sweet Caroline blares over the PA system] What piped-in music? [Drum major gets the band up to play, but is called off at the last second] [Video boards run another stupidly loud and wussy PSU commercial]"

Peter Gray: 28-7, PSU. It'll be the hardest a team has to work for 28 points in recorded history.

Jeff Junstrom: Penn State 29, EMU 0, because according to an ornery old man I met at Career Fair, "Penn State never covers the spread." And he's right (PSU 0-5 ATS recently).

Kyle Martin: Penn State won't struggle as much on offense this week as the have the past two weeks, simply because EMU isn't as good as either Bama or Temple. The defense keeps rolling. PSU - 33 EMU - 6

Collyer:  I'm done with my optimism until proven otherwise.  In the aftermath of the Temple game, I commented that the defense was spectacular and that the offense, filled with potential players who had nice statistical games, is being held back by an indecisive coaching staff that doesn't put the team in the best position to succeed.  The defense will stop Eastern Michigan cold.  The offense will stop itself.  The return game will be fine, but the actual kicking game will once again be terrible.  Penn State 24-0.

 

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