You are looking LIVE! at the Blue/White Roundtable, heading back to State College accompanied by the sweet sounds of Philadephia's own Boyz II Men to see the Nittany Lions take on the Temple Owls!
Here's how this goes - every week, yours truly will pose a variety of questions to Penn State bloggers from every corner of the Nittany Lion internet. We'll post the greatest hits here each week, but make sure to check out our blogging brethren for their full responses every week!
Say hello to this week's panelists - our own Cari Greene, Ali Soheilian, Bill Engel, Matthew Pencek, Michael Canzoneri, Carole Kirkpatrick and LB from PennLive's 50-Yard Lion Blog, Kevin McGuire from The Nittany Lions Den, and all of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse!
Ted Roof's defense almost pitched a shut out this week against the Midshipmen. Were you surprised by how well they defended the triple option?
Kevin: No, only because I feel the front seven is a real strength of the team this season and against this style of offense Penn State seemed well-suited to limit the success of the Navy ground game. This is one of those games that you cannot be upset with a high rushing total allowed because that is all Navy tries to do. For the most part, when Penn State needed to come up with some big plays to stop any scoring threat, they did.
Rowlff Dogg: Although my score prediction had Penn State giving up 17 points, I was not surprised at all by the stellar defensive performance. No opponent has a smaller offensive line than Navy and that played right into the hands of our strong defensive line. The interior penetration messed up plenty of plays and our ends and linebackers were quick to get to the edges. Add to that Navy's inability to pass vertically and our beleaguered secondary had a much needed relatively easy day. In short, despite its different offensive scheme, Navy was just what the doctor ordered for a confidence-inspiring win.
J Schanuzer: This isn't the Navy of the past few years. A triple-option is best negated with a patient yet fast lateral defense--something Penn State has become very effective at containing in the past decade. It was very promising, but the unique offense of Navy doesn't necessarily mean it will translate into a top-notch PSU defense for the remainder of the year.
Ali: I wasn't surprised at how well they performed against the option; however, I was surprised at how quickly/early in the game they played against the option. Generally, it's early in a game where the triple option or a "spinner" offense (another type of offense that is based on misdirection and option plays) can jump on a defense with misdirection plays. This team was well coached and well prepared for the task, and they took care of business.
Michael: No, I thought the new defense clicked for Penn State in the Virginia game and I believed it would carry through to this game. Especially since Ted Roof has been facing Navy for the last 7 or 8 years now. I figured he would have a few hundred pages on what to expect from the Midshipmen.
We've gotten to see this team three times this year. What improvements have you seen? Have we taken a step back anywhere? What specifically will you look to see improvement in this week against Temple?
LB: Matt McGloin carried the momentum of a strong start throughout the entire game. I was also impressed that he was able to evade and outrun opposing players when he was chased out of the pocket. His completion percentage was much improved at 62 percent, but his arm strength could be a concern. His 45-yard pass to Allen Robinson could have been touchdown if McGloin was able to deliver the ball there. Kicking is still a sore spot. Kudos to the fans for supporting Sam Ficken and cheering him on while he made his practice kicks before the game, but his potential to make field goals still worries me. Based on Bill O'Brien's calls during the game, it may worry him, too.
Rowlff Dogg: This team continues to improve on a weekly basis in almost every facet of the game. Because of the youth and inexperience of the players thrust into starting roles, it is hard to determine on a weekly basis if anything in particular took a step back. Naturally, there will be growing pains, especially with a new playbook to learn.
Offensively, I try to focus on how the offensive line picks up blitzes, the role of the various tight ends, and how the young wide receivers run their routes and recognize McGloin's audibles. Defensively, I smile at the blitzes we bring and pay special attention to the secondary. All of this is done at home on the DVR. When I'm at the game, I allow myself the pleasure of watching the defensive front 7 wreak havoc.
As for this week, I need to see improved special teams. The opponents are only going to get tougher and it is imperative that we have a kicker and a punter we can depend on in a tight game.
Carole: That first week, we disappeared in the second half after a strong start. It was better in Virginia with more aggressive defensive play. This past week was closer to a complete game for both offense and defense. McGloin looked more sure leading this offense. Better decision making and quick strikes to put points on the board in the red zone. We have an All Big Ten quality receiver in Allen Robinson. More great tight end play from Carter and James. I'm loving Mauti, Hill, Carson, Hull, and Hodges but what about Barnes and Zeitel being so disruptive.
We need to see more from our running game. Who would believe a Penn State team would outpass it's rushing game? Zordich and Dukes really stepped up this past week in the absence of Belton and Day. Hopefully, we'll see the return of Belton and Day soon.
Also, we still have little evidence of a return game, and I hope to see growing consistency in the kicking game.
Cari: DEFENSE. I was very critical of our defense in week one, and I thought we looked much improved in week two, and even better in week three. I think the win this past week gives us confidence, and shows our offense that we can move the ball (even against the atrocity that was Navy's defense). Confidence is key. I've seen improvement, really, all over the field, and I can't remember the last time I've seen improvement every week. It's heartening, and shows that the players are buying what BOB is selling.
I expect to see our run game pick up a little bit this week, IF Belton and/or Day are back in the game. I hope our O-line continues its improvement, and I'd like to see no sacks of McGloin. I don't see us keeping up the four-turnovers-per-game pace of the last two weeks, but I would like to continue to be ahead in the turnover battle again. I'd also like to see Ficken attempt (and make) at least one field goal.
The Underdogs: While it appears on the surface that we have improved, from a loss, to a should've been win, to a win, it is possible to say that our competition has gotten progressively worse, with Ohio being the best of the schedule to date, thus inducing the illusion of improvement. If you haven't seen what happened to UVa last week, I suggest you take a look behind curtain number 1 (NSFW): http://espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=322590059.
We'll have to wait to see what is behind curtain number 2, because the red snapper doesn't seem terribly appealing. We may be disappointed, but as long as you set your expectations low and alcohol supply high, we'll have a good time.
Temple's been dangerously close to upsetting Penn State in recent memory. What will Steve Addazio do to attack this Nittany Lions team? How different is this team from last year?
Cari: This Temple team is a step back from last year. With the loss of Bernard Pierce (their most dangerous playmaker-OMG FOUR TDs) and some of their best defensive players, I don't see them as as big of a threat as they were in 2011. That being said, we can't take them lightly; I expect Addazio to look to throw and attack our weak secondary as much as he can, whereas last year they could rely a bit more on their run game and Pierce's shoulders. As long as we provide steady pressure from the front seven, I'm hoping they won't be able to torch us too much.
Kevin: We talked a little bit about Temple and what they bring to the table in our podcast today. What you can expect to see from Temple should be similar to what we have seen a lot of the past two seasons, which is an offense based on the run and physical defense capable of roughing Penn State's offense up enough to get the frustrated in hopes of keeping things close in the second half.
There is no secret here. Temple will want to get their running game going and control the clock as much as possible. Temple should know that Penn State has a way of starting well this season, so if they can keep Penn State's offense off the field as much early on and can lull them in to a grind-em-out sort of game, the Owls will keep this thing close and give them the best chance to win with the edge in special teams. Penn State will be more willing to gamble for touchdowns rather short field goals, but the Owls will take whatever points they can as long as kicker/punter Brandon McManus is available. McManus not only should be near automatic on most field goal attempts, he will be the best punter in the game.
So again, for Temple the keys will be to keep Penn State from starting hot, control the game clock and realize the field position and special teams factors play in their favor.
Bill: The best chance Temple has is to ride mighty mite Matt Brown's quickness and get him outside where Navy and Ohio had success. He might break a few long gains but I don't see Temple lighting it against the PSU defense. The problem for Temple is their relatively young and banged up dline. The bye week may have helped but overall the PSU oline should be able to control the line of scrimmage to finally get their running game going. As the time of possession piles up for PSU, Temple will tire and be overpowered in the fourth quarter.
Matthew: The only reason that game was close last year was due to the inefficiency of the Penn State offense. I don't count the win over FCS Villanova as meaningful. Temple lost to Maryland who barely beat FCS William & Mary 7-6 and last week lost to Connecticut. No Bernard Pierce means no productive running game for the Owls and quarterback Chris Coyer's 41.1% completion rate will not get it done.
The Underdogs: Maryland is a hideous offensive football team (they put the "offensive" in offensive) and they coasted to an easy victory over Temple (the way one might coast down a mountain bike course with high degree of difficulty without a bike) despite a near catastrophic second half meltdown. I expect this Temple team to be a near clone of last years in that they can't pass, but are worse running the ball (which we bottled after the first drive). The real difference in this year's game from last year's is the two guys calling the offensive plays for PSU who also happens to be the same guy coaching the QBs. If I remember last year's Temple game we had all sorts of issues with zone and delayed blitzes (surprise!), which overloaded certain sides of the line and the OL failed to slide protections adequately. Hopefully, there will be some improvement from the UVa game as I'm throwing out Navy as an outlier.
Cari: I don't know how much of last week was our offense gelling and putting pieces together, and how much was Navy's defense. I think we'll find out a bit more this week, but I think we'll still score more than enough to win it. In the ballpark of 27-14, including a garbage Temple score late.
Kevin: I expect another low-scoring contest between Penn State and Temple. I think McGloin finds some success with Allen Robinson early on but I question if the passing game will be able to keep it going for four quarters. But no matter how much Penn State's pass attack struggles to be consistent, I do not even know if Temple's air attack will be a viable threat. So this one comes down to whether or not Temple can use Matt Brown and a possibly healthy Montel Harris effectively to wear down Penn State up front. Penn State was worn down against Ohio, and that could happen once again against Temple.
But when push comes to shove, I think Penn State gets the last laugh and wins a tight one.
Penn State 20, Temple 17.
The Underdogs: I choose what is behind curtain number 2 in hopes of some OL improvement as BOB goes boom or bust and doesn't attempt a single kick, goes for it on 4th inside the 50 and for 2 after each touchdown, and tries to insert himself as a punter. Somehow that will equal a 26-13 win.
Rowlff Dogg: Penn State 31, Temple 14. Afterwards, Dave Joyner announces a 40-game series to be played over the next 10 years. No more non-conference games. It's Temple Forever!!!!!
J Schnauzer: Penn State 38, Temple 19
Ali: Penn State's going to be too much to handle for the Temple Owls. Look for them to jump out on top in the first half, and try to grind out the game, while trying to establish some sort of a ground attack. Keep in mind, this Temple team has struggled with turnovers early as well, they had five fumbles just this past week against Maryland, so I expect the turnover streak to continue for the Lions Defense. Penn State 38 --- 17 Temple.
Michael: The offense's consistency is the wild card here. If the offensive line gets their blocking assignments right, it is smooth sailing for Penn State. Look for a replay of last week.
Matthew: As New York Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said during the 1999 American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox, "Relax. We've been playing these guys for 80 years. They're never gonna beat us." Whether it is Wayne Hardin, Bruce Arians, or this current crop of Owls, Penn State will find a way to win. PSU 24 Temple 13.
Bill: Penn State big in this one 41 - 13.
LB: This Temple team is no cupcake, but Penn State rides momentum from their first win to a close 20-17 victory.
Carole: With predictions of +9 over the Owls, I'm sticken' with Ficken' and predict that it will not be the ugly 14-10 come from behind win repeat from last year. I think our defense can put pressure on junior QB Chris Coyer and shut down leading rusher Matt Brown. So far, the defense is letting opponents lead in just about every category on offense except in points scored. That changes this week. Look for McGloin & Co. to continue to score and do it early. The Magnificent Seven led by Mauti keep the Owls out of the end zone. Penn State 24, Temple 6.
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