Amateur Blog Mob Roundtable Week 2 - Penn State vs. Alabama

Blog mob . . . ASSEMBLE!

Cult Of Personality (via superfighter727)


Welcome back to this week's edition of Blue/White Roundtable!  This week, we once again feature the opinions of the best in the world, the voices of the voiceless, the Cult of Personality - the Amateur Blog Mob.

Meet our panelists - Kevin McGuire and the Nittany Lions DenDevon from Nittany White OutWilliam F. Yurasko from William World News, and all of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse. 

Did either QB show you enough to make you confident in our offense for the year?  Who's your guy for this week?

McGuire: Nope.

I honestly felt that both quarterbacks played pretty evenly when you compare the two. Matt McGloin had the better numbers but if Derek Moye and Justin Brown can hang on to a couple decent passes then Rob Bolden's numbers look a little different. While I feel Bolden played well enough to get another start (even if splitting time), there was no question that the offense was more consistent with McGloin under center. It helped that his receivers were more open than when Bolden was playing. Were receivers making adjustments as the game progressed, which would have benefited McGloin?

Perhaps.

I would put the offense in Bolden's hands, and see what he does against a tougher defense. He says he has grown a lot since last year's game, and I tend to believe it. We just need to see it on the field.

As I said yesterday, it would not shock me to see this quarterback competition go on for another week or two, and it will be settled before Big Ten conference play opens up in October against Indiana.

Rowlff Dogg: The tricky thing about this first question is trying to figure out how much of the offense we really saw against Indiana State. Based on that one performance, no, I am not confident in either quarterback. However, I attribute that lack of confidence as much to the coaching staff as I do either QB. Secondly, my QB is and always will be Rob Bolden. If the coaches stuck with him last season, we might not have made a bowl game. But he'd be more prepared for this season. The sooner we stick with him, the sooner we reap the dividends of his considerable upside. It's just too bad we mortgaged 2011 for a meaningless bowl game in 2010.

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Adam: I tend to agree that the offense we saw against the Sycamores isn't the one we'll see this weekend.  That's a Paterno staple.  I don't think I've seen any reason to worry about the QB position.  By my eyes, both are adequate and each has his own flaws.  Bolden certainly didn't do anything to lose his job against the Fightin' Larry Birds.  I'd go with him this week.  If he's completely ineffective or injured, McGloin off the bench isn't a bad middle reliever, but you can't pull Bolden if he's ineffective for one series.  Do that and you'll destroy his confidence.  ‘Bama's a tough defense - points and yards are going to be hard to come by.  Avoid the fatal mistake and win the field position game.

What's your preferred offensive game plan headed into this Saturday?

Devon: I'd come out throwing. Silas Redd ran over the Indiana State defense, and made everyone forget that he's replacing a guy who's #1 in the record books for rushing at Penn State. He was awesome, the offensive line threw around the Sycamore defenders like rag dolls, and in space, well, Redd was electrifying. The obvious thing, then, would be to pound the rock, to not take chances against a fantastic Alabama defense, and to put this game in the hands of your running game. But that's been Penn State's M.O. against big-time opponents this past decade, and, well, it doesn't work too often. The margin of error is just too high, especially when drives flame out in the red zone. When you're a ten-point underdog, you need to take some chances, and if the Lions can do that effectively, they might just stun the Crimson Tide. Throw the ball down the field, and make your own luck.

WFY: I think that the Nittany Lions are going to have to throw the ball to get the defense honest. While the run blocking appears to be improved from last year, I do not believe that they can dictate the pace of the game outright against Alabama's defensive line, even with Silas Redd, so they need to throw short and mid-range passes to open things up some. I'd feel a lot better about this approach if TE Andrew Szczerba was 100%; Kevin Halpea is going to have to step up. I would also feel better about this scenario if Stephfon Green wasn't in the doghouse, because he can actually pass block and isn't too bad on screens. I don't know that the Joe Suhey screens are going to be enough. Derek Moye is going to have to catch any ball close to him and use his height and long arms. This isn't an ideal plan, but I think Bama is going to stack the box and force the issue. That is what I would do with them.

Rowlff Dogg: A balanced attack that uses all of the field and keeps Alabama guessing. I want our offense to attack from the get-go and not be afraid to take some deep shots. Sadly, there isn't a thing about our offensive line or our coaches that leads me to believe that this is possible.

J Schnauzer: I would want them to try and establish their base offense for the season. I assume that means lots of running and less than 150 yards of passing. Although it isn't pretty, an average offense can be highly successful if it's paired with a great defense.

Who's the most important player on our defense this weekend?

The Underdogs: Redd and Beachum. Ball control is the best defense. If I have to pick a defensive player, we'll go with the middle linebacker rotation (Carson/Fortt). Expect Bama to iso whichever might be and count on Trent Richardson to win the one-on-one game within a game. After the turnover fest in Tuscaloosa week one, expect Saban to go similarly conservative.

Adam: It's Devon Still, and I honestly don't think it's even close.  Trent Richardson rolled through the line of scrimmage last year and completely embarrassed our back 7 by running over, under, around and through them.  Our defense is markedly different this year, but he's still capable of dragging tacklers for an extra yard or two.  In a game like this, those hidden yards are going to make all the difference.  Still is our best defensive lineman.  He needs to get into the backfield and either drop Richardson for a loss or force him to run laterally where our defense is ready to make the play.  Stuff the run and you make Alabama one-dimensional.  This is not a game you want to put in the hands of AJ McCarron.  We already know he makes very, very, very bad decisions.

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McGuire: Tough one, because I want to say the entire defensive line, but I'll narrow it down and say Devon Still.

The defensive line needs to bring pressure on the quarterbacks Alabama will be trotting out to the field. Do that and they will be more likely to make a mistake under pressure, just as they did last week against Kent State. Still is the emerging player on the defensive line so he will liekly receive some more attention from Alabama's offensive line, but if Jack Crawford can perform well on the end then it could relieve some of the pressure on Still.

Rowlff Dogg: Drew Astorino. If the coaches try to put pressure on (whichever inexperienced QB is in the game), we have the talent up front to cause problems. In a hostile environment, any pressure is going to result in some errant passes. I liked what I saw from Astorino last week and I expect the center fielder to have a chance to make the big play we always seem to lack in a game of this magnitude.

How big of an upset is it if Penn State beats the Crimson Tide?

WFY: Nationally, it would not be a huge upset because it is week 2, but it would be very good for this year's Penn State team because it has been a while since they beat somebody better than them and an old rival at that. The confidence from a win over Alabama could be big headed into the November schedule. I think the Big Ten would be pretty happy about it too. I am skeptical that it could be a spring board to a National Championship run though, because this team just isn't strong enough.

J Schnauzer: If Penn State gets the upset it will be their biggest win since the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. The debate between Big Ten and SEC football has expired. The SEC has five consecutive national titles and the Big Ten has seen its best continuously handled by the Southeastern Conference. This game would have received top-billing in the past, now many college football fans and the press to feel it is a near-certainty that Alabama will win this game. Another Big Ten/SEC game, another SEC victory. What's new?

A PSU win would reignite this debate. For a mid-range Big Ten team to defeat a showpiece SEC team would send shockwaves throughout the whole of college football. It would burnish the reputation of the league, it would make PSU the favorite in the Big Ten, it would rocket the Nittany Lions up the standings, and it would erase the perception of Joe Paterno as a fading coach out of touch with the modern game.

The Underdogs: Umm, this big?

McGuire: I honestly don't know if it would be considered a major upset, because Penn State is ranked and they are playing at home. Penn State's defense is pretty good and the running game will be respected soon enough. The biggest question is the passing game, and fortunately for Penn State (perhaps), Alabama also has a quarterback battle going on. But this is a very good Alabama team coming in to town this weekend. The defense is stacked and Trent Richardson is one of my favorite players to watch. I remember very well how much Richardson abused the defense last year but I expect Penn State to remember it as well and learn from their mistakes.

Think about this. It is not very often that Penn State is abused two years in a row. Even against teams like Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa I believe Penn State has generally has avoided being blown away in consecutive seasons on a regular basis. I would expect Penn State to play a much better game against Alabama this year than they did last year. Will they win? Probably not, but they'll be in the game in to the fourth quarter.

Upset? Absolutely. Shocker? Not at all.

Prediction for the week?

Devon: We've had this roundtable before. Not for Alabama (though, of course, we have), but one where Penn State took on a more talented, highly ranked opponent, and the smart money was on the other guys. But me, well, I don't have it in me to pick against the Nits. If I was going to predict a loss, I wouldn't be spending this week outside Gate A in a tent in the pouring rain. I think it's a grind-it-out game, and Alabama plays better, but Penn State wins the battle in the red zone. Think the 2010 Capital One Bowl, but without Daryll Clark's late heroics. I'll say Penn State 17, Alabama 13, with Bama getting stuffed on 4th and goal from the 1 to end it. Wouldn't that be something?

The Underdogs: Bama, 20-6. /sighs

Rowlff Dogg: 30-10 Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense will score as many touchdowns as our offense.

J Schnauzer: 24-13 Alabama. As poor as Penn State looked in some phases of the game last week, recall that in 2005 the Nittany Lions were less than impressive in many of their early games, particularly at QB. Even though I'm predicting a loss, I'm still hopeful.

WFY: What, just one? That's no fun, I'm giving more.

Penn State fans will continue to suggest the White Out intimidates opposing teams, despite evidence to the contrary. 2005 vs. Ohio State was a one-off, despite what Guido D'Elia tells us. The crowd will help fire up Penn State though. Penn State's defense will hold its own into the third quarter. The quarterback play by Penn State will not determine the outcome of game. The Nittany Lions will play very hard and focused football. It will not be enough. McGloin will play more than Bolden. Penn State will attempt a trick play early. Alabama will cover. A non-student/non-alumnus will go over the line in harassing a Bama fan. The "Todd Blackledge Eating Local Unhealthy Food" feature will scramble to find an alternative when he learns at the last minute that the dining halls stopped selling chicken cosmos. ABC will sneak "Deacon Blues" going into a commercial break. Many parking lots will be closed due to all the rain. Joe Paterno will coach from the box. Alabama 24 Penn State 13.

McGuire: I think Alabama goes home with a win, but they'll have to fight for it. I'm not sure what to make of their quarterback situation but I do think it is potentially better off than Penn State's. I think Alabama has the edge in the trenches (both sides of the ball), and I think they have a slightly better running game than Penn State. Alabama has a better defense, but Penn State's defense is going to be in good shape with their secondary and linebackers against young quarterbacks playing on the road.

but when the game matters the most, Nick Saban will depend on his running game, and it will eventually wear down Penn State a bit. I think Alabama holds a lead for most of the game and tacks on some late points to lock it up.

Alabama 20, Penn State 17

And from our BSD regulars . . .

Mike Pettigano:  I might change this... but for now, sadly, I'm picking Bama...

Please, Penn State, prove me wrong. Trent Richardson runs for 110 yards and two touchdowns, but only averages 3.8 yards per carry, while Alabama is held to fewer than 160 pass yards and only 2 field goals. Despite outgaining the Tide by at least 30 yards on the afternoon and finishing plus-1 in turnovers, Penn State has trouble getting itself out of self-dug holes. Silas Redd makes his national debut with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Rob Bolden starts, but McGloin is brought in for a series or two. Penn State misses one of two field goals, and loses 20-17.

Peter Gray: I'm picking Alabama too. I think Penn State should be able to contain the Tide's ground game much better than a year ago, but I'm having a problem figuring out how Penn State's going to score. This week would be a real nice time for one of the two QBs to have a career defining game, because Alabama's going to be loading up to stop the run.

23-13 Alabama. I hope I'm wrong.

Jeff Junstrom: Fine, I'll be John Optimistic around here.

Penn State shocks the world, 13-9, in a wet, defensive battle.

Kyle Martin: Mike took my score prediction 

But I think this is mostly going to be a defensive battle, and Penn State hangs with Alabama on the field and scoreboard the entire game. I wasn't too impressed with Bama's offense against Kent State, so there's no reason the PSU D should struggle against them. Unfortunately though, I think the game is lost because Penn State's o-line doesn't give the QB enough time to throw. Whoever plays QB is going to feel rushed and is going to make mistakes that will prove costly in the end. So I'm saying Bama wins 20-17, but their two TDs are the result of short fields after turnovers.

Galen: If NCAA 2012 is correct, Penn State scores no offensive touchdowns but returns two fumbles for TD's and the second half kickoff to shock the world and win 21-0.

Collyer: 17-13 good guys.  A defensive and field position battle.  ‘Bama strikes first with a field goal and leads 13-10 heading into the last 6 minutes.  Penn State forces a fumble around mid-field and Bolden leads a late touchdown drive, leaving 1:30 left on the clock.  McCarron gets flushed out of the pocket by Still and Astorino picks off a pass to give the Nittany Lions the upset win.

What do you all think?

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