You've already read about the concerns for Penn State on offense and defense. Yes, there are many. The quarterback situation remains unresolved, four starting offensive linemen have to be replaced, and one injury to our safeties could turn our secondary into the football equivalent of WWII Dresden.
We're not without reason for hope, however. Here are three things to look forward to on offense.
1. Business Logistics. Gone is the laborious and murky playcalling system that frustrated Penn State fans and confounded fans of our opponents. "Wait, you guys do what? Seriously? How does that even work?" As the legend went, a decision was made to run or pass. Based on that, either Jay Paterno or Galen Hall called the play. It was relayed to Mike McQueary, who in turn relayed the play to a substituting player. That player ran the call into the huddle, usually with less than ten seconds left on the play clock. Sometimes, Joe Paterno himself got involved in the process. Not exactly the most streamlined chain of command. During the unbelievable opening drive against Alabama in which Penn State burned all three timeouts due to clock management, one of the timeouts was called because the sent-in play not even being on Rob Bolden's wristband.
Under the new regime, BOB has control of the entire playcalling operation. One voice leading the offense, and hopefully getting the play in soon enough to allow the team to adjust at the line of scrimmage. Yes, the offensive line will be green and the quarterback situation is...the quarterback situation, but we can at least expect a lot more organization on the sidelines this season.
2. Silas Redd. We've been blessed with some excellent running backs at Penn State, and Redd has a chance to work his way into the top echelon by the time he's done. What's holding him back? First, the supporting cast. It's too early to tell how the 2012 offensive line will perform with four new starters -- hey, we could get lucky! -- but Redd won't be going anywhere without quality blocking. Or, for that matter, a credible passing game to keep defenses honest. Second, he needs to be more involved in the passing game. Last year, he only caught nine passes for 40 yards. Take away an 18-yard catch against Eastern Michigan, and Redd averaged only 2.75 yards per reception. Here's hoping BOB and his staff are able to change that, as Redd is clearly the best offensive weapon on the team.
3. Tighten Up. On a team that caught 181 passes for 2301 yards, Penn State's tight ends last year caught 15 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown. In 2010-11, five catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns. During that season, Haplea was pressed into duty as a true freshman due to season-ending injuries to Andrew Szczerba and Garry Gilliam, but those guys obviously weren't tearing up the stat sheet prior to the injuries. While Bill O'Brien's 2012 Penn State offense may not have a Gronkowski or Hernandez (yet), there's good reason to expect increased production out of the position. Haplea is a better athlete than most realize, and Gilliam is back from his knee injury. Kyle Carter and Jesse James will also provide options at the position. Yes, they're unproven as a group, but perhaps two of these guys will be able to make PSU's opponents defend the middle of the field.