ESPN has been very negative about PSU's prospects for 2012, with the Gameday Crew being almost unanimous in saying that PSU will lose all road games, and struggle against most of the competition. This is the first of four losing years they say. Do Not Blame The Messenger..........they are not alone!
Las Vegas is reflecting the national viewpoint on these predictions, with the over/under being 5.5 games at some hotels. Remember, Vegas does not predict the game outcomes, it estimates the gambling-public view of what people think will occur, and then posts odds that are expected to balance the books.
I will present the reasons that are quoted for PSU's demise this year, make a few comments.
WHY PSU IS EXPECTED LOSE 7 GAMES IN 2012?
Brand New Offensive Line......This is a valid point. Most very successful teams have senior-laden lines with 30 starts at each position. This PSU O-Line is green as grass. It is hard to expect competence, never mind excellence, of this group if you are not a PSU fanatic.
Brand New Wideout Corps....This is also an entirely valid point. Moye, Brown, and Devon are no longer with the team. From an outsider point of view, this group is a zero, or at least a major question mark, with freshmen and players with no little or no game experience being named as players expected to see significant playing time.
Rushing Game Decimated......Hard to argue that point. Belton was not even an RB in 2011. Now he is the undisputed starter? A freshman is rapidly moving his way up the depth chart. Is that good news? To an outsider, it looks like the team has no running back.
QB needs to learn new system.....Hard to argue that point. PSU was 10th in pass efficiency in the B1G last year, and now Mac has to learn a new system behind a new o-line, with new wideouts, and no running game. Outsiders predict a new low in offensive production from a team that had no offense to begin with.
Anthony Fera is a weapon that will be hard to replace......which translates to poor Special Teams performance. Again, it is not unreasonable for an outsider to take that point of view.
BOB's First Head Coaching Gig.....although unanimous sympathy exists for BOB's predicament being stuck at PSU, there is also an undertow of doubt about this being his first Head Coaching Gig. Nobody can argue with this. More than one former Belichick OC has turned idiot at their first college head-coaching job. We can hope for the best, but this is new ground for everyone involved.
Penn State Fanatics Know There are Mitigating Circmstances
1) The offense does not start Rob Bolden for the first seven games. The effect of this change alone on the team is hard to underestimate,
2) This is just a wild-ass guess, but maybe BOB can coach a better passing offense than Jay. Plus, after decades of most of the stadium, and half the defenses, calling out the plays before the snap, maybe, just maybe, we will all be clueless as to what to expect. The longer BOB keeps us clueless, the better.
3) This depleted PSU roster still has 18 4-Star and 30 3-Star recruits, plus 2-Stars Jordan Hill, Gilliam, and McGloin. These numbers favor PSU's raw-talent pool versus the competition in at least the first four contests, even against Virginia on the road!
3) The schedule sets up to allow gradual improvements of all of the obvious glaring problems in the first 9 games. This team might play itself into being a very good squad by the time November rolls around. Let's face it, this schedule is not exactly murderer's row. The first five conference games are against teams that were all 6-7 or 7-6 last year, with most of them having attrition problems as well.
4) Even ESPN acknowledges that the front Seven will keep PSU in most games. PSU fanatics add Amos and Morris to this equation, and expect this D to improve over last year's version. If two safeties can be found, this D can be a very special unit.
6) Illinois scored 7 last year. Why should that number go up?
7) Northwestern's D stinks, and they lost Persa, their RB, and Wideout.
8) Iowa scored 3 last year, lost their lead running back Coker and their standout wideout McNutt! Zero this year?
9) What? Lose to Purdue or Indiana? Unthinkable!
9) PSU beat OSU in Columbus last year. Both teams are nearly in the same boat. It remains to be seen who will be favored when this contest rolls around.
10) That leaves a Nebraska game on the road, and Senior Day at home against an overrated Wisconsin.
5 wins? OK, I understand your reasons for thinking that, but we know better.
So Let It Be Written.......