Former Penn State great Matt Millen took time out of his busy schedule to discuss Christian Hackenberg, Penn State's chances against Michigan tomorrow and more. A special thanks to ESPN PR Manager Michael Humes for setting up this exclusive interview.
JS: What are your thoughts on the performance of Christian Hackenberg so far? What type of ceiling does he have? What does he need to improve upon to become a more complete quarterback?
MM: He’s a work in progress. He has the requisite skills to be good. You can see he is thinking a lot when he’s playing so he’s still getting the feel for it. He’s just out of high school so he’s adapting socially and academically to college. His ceiling is high because you can tell by watching him that he can see things. He’s just not operating at a high efficiency all the time right now but that will come as he plays. He can make the throws, has the movement skills, sees things and makes good decisions. He has what you’re looking for, but it’s a process.
JS: Michigan is undefeated but has dropped in the rankings because of narrow victories against Akron and UCONN. Is Michigan a true contender to win the B10 and possibly go undefeated?
MM: At this point, the answer is yes. Michigan is a team that is still defining itself. Michigan has all the pieces of the puzzle but the puzzle is not put together yet. All it takes is for the pieces to fit in place and they’ll be off and running. For the year, they can run the table in all of their remaining games, which they can do, and then it comes down to Ohio State. And anything can happen in that game.
JS: Do you see any areas where Penn State has a definite advantage over Michigan? What do they need to do to come out with a win this Saturday?
MM: I don’t see where they have a definitive advantage over Michigan. Michigan has holes, but they have less holes than Penn State. Penn State also has a few more disadvantages with the sanctions. They are some hurdles for them to overcome in this game.
JS: Many Penn State fans are scratching their heads that Penn State passed so much against Indiana, who has a very poor run defense. Was this poor coaching against Indiana or something else?
MM: I was working a game and missed much of that game. The tape of that one is up next for me to review though.
JS: Which under-the-radar Michigan player(s) could end up having a big impact on Saturday?
MM: Penn State has some holes defensively on the edges and in the secondary so I would say there are opportunities for a Michigan player going up against those areas of the defense.
JS: Saturday's game will be an all-stadium white-out under the lights. Which other stadiums would you say compare to this type of atmosphere?
MM: When I played there, we didn’t have a white out, blue out or anything! There are some places with a phenomenal atmosphere and first place I think of when you say Saturday night football is Death Valley in Baton Rouge. But as soon as you turn out the lights at Penn State, it rivals any of those places for a night game atmosphere.
JS: Did you ever see a game as a fan?
MM: I went to one game at Penn State as a fan and that was my senior year of high school when I was being recruited. It was against Kentucky. That was the only game I got to see in person that I wasn’t playing in.
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