BSD Mailbag 2.7.14

Just look at all that loose neck skin. Pull yourself together, man. - Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

You've got questions, BSD has answers.

How many kickers do we really need since it looks like we have two or three walking on this year. And do you have a feel for who will handle punting duties this fall? 877Townie
Sam Ficken and Chris Gulla return for 2014 along with the three walk-ons you mentioned. This is obviously enough, but it in this case quality is much more important than quantity. Even if Ficken keeps his job and remains as the full-time starter throughout the season (which I suspect he will), the staff will have spent enough time around the younger kickers to determine if it will be necessary to use a scholarship in next year's recruiting class.

As far as the punting situation, the job will simply go to whoever is most deserving in camp. Take Jeremy Boone for example. Boone beat out a scholarship punter as a freshman, and then went on to be one of Penn State's best punters in school history before heading to the NFL. The true talent will rise to the top.

Ed. Note- For those of you interested in our recruiting expert's opinion on the matter, here is Nick's response about which punter has the inside track to be the starter in 2014:

I would say it's going to be Chris Gulla. I find it hard to believe he was very far behind Butterworth last year in practice, but obviously fell behind in seniority paired with the fact that he could redshirt. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Troy Stivason there next year either. He's a 2014 walk on who was recruited as a Kicker and Punter. Considering the sheer number of kicker walk ons coming in (including the #2 ranked kicker in Jorge Powell), I would assume that the staff will give him an opportunity to earn his roster spot as a punter. All in all, I think Gulla is the frontrunner at this point in time, with Stivason as a top competitor.

With temps in the 30s, soon to be in the 10s, and the furnace out since Sunday at 3am and it won’t be fixed until Friday, do you: A. Move into a local hotel until Friday B. take up the furnaceman’s offer to overnight in a temporary fix at $70 plus labor (and you’ll still be on the hook for the new long term fix and labor) C. Clear out the living room, set-up a tent, fire up the fireplace and make the best of it. Note: you have three kids, an ice storm is in process and the kids will likely be home all day Wednesday (at least). spigmana

I absolutely hate overpaying out of convenience, but taking your furnace guy's offer may be your best bet since three nights lodging and meals will add up quickly. Although ordering room service after a dip in the hotel's indoor pool and hot tub sounds mighty tempting. I have a feeling you pulled out the credit card and went with that option.

Calculate the odds that some of our eleventy-billion DB/athlete recruits will grow into OL before this fall’s camp. PSU_Lions_84
1:483,109

I would have put that in the millions, but remember Jay Alford was once a high school quarterback before becoming one of the nastiest defensive tackles in all of the Big Ten. Odds are against something like that happening again.

Am I the only one annoyed that at basketball games, when the Lion’s wearing a jersey, his neck is flapping around like a turkey’s wattle? Why doesn’t the lion tuck his neck into the shirt? Sloppy. sReck3
I completely agree. My wife and I have a an American Bulldog/Pug mix with a ridiculous amount of neck rolls. It's the first thing that pops in my mind whenever I see the Nittany Lion in his basketball jersey. Like I tell my dog- pull yourself together, man.

Is there a "code" Bill follows when he writes a fantastic sports article as to where it gets posted – either here or OnwardState? Does he flip a coin? Can he post there and put up a fanshot link here? Can he post the same article to both? Does he save his best work for BSD? Is the pay better at one or the other? (LOL) Are there any journalistic ethics involved? When he introduces himself at a presser, what publication does he rep? smee
Fortunately for us, we brought Bill on board before Onward State had the chance. Bill cleared it with us beforehand, and there have really been zero conflicts with the arrangement. He does an excellent job with both- we're different in enough ways that Bill can be creative and have plenty to write about regardless of the publication.

Is it creepy to follow the recruitment process? Is it getting out of hand? Does it border on exploitation? jiminore
No (within reason), yes and yes.

Here's how far things have come in a short amount of time- in 2005 I read that DWILL's college announcement would be televised. He was the number one recruit in the nation, and possibly the only one that year whose announcement would be televised on national TV. Unfortunately for me it was aired on ESPNNEWS, which was the only ESPN not included in my cable package. Shortly after his announcement, I scoured the internet looking to find out if he selected Penn State. I couldn't find anything. Nada.

Now, compare that today where the #57 defensive end out of Georgia makes the same announcement in a packed gym in front of scores of reporters and cameramen. Recruiting coverage has become a huge industry and will only get bigger from here, regardless if it's within reason or not.

Do you think JIF will continue the penchant for going for it on 4th down as much as the previous coach did?spigmana
Surprisingly, yes. Vanderbilt actually rolled the dice 28 times on fourth down last season, compared to 24 for Penn State (In fairness, Penn State had 34 fourth-down attempts in 2012 with a senior quarterback leading the way). Ready for the exciting part? Vanderbilt actually led the entire nation in fourth-down efficiency, converting on 78.6 percent of its attempts.

Ed. note- Devon was quick to remind me that Vanderbilt was among the worst teams in the nation with converting third downs. Remember how frustrating it was to watch Penn State fail with so much frequency on third downs last season? Well, Vanderbilt was even worse.

Now that the 2014 class is signed, sealed and delivered... what are thoughts on the 2013 recruits who have yet to see playing time? We all know how good 18-yr. old Hackenberg is, and we saw great things from Adam Breneman, Brandon Bell and Richy Anderson. Meanwhile, Tyler Ferguson left the program, and Zayd Issah became an outlaw. But what about Garrett Sickles, Brendan Mahon, the Cothran/Cothren duo, DaeSean Hamilton and the rest of the 2013 class? Who among them do we expect to see break out in 2014? ColoradoLion
Offensive tackle Andrew Nelson is someone I'm expecting to breakthrough and have a big 2014. Nelson quickly transformed himself from an undersized high school kid into a 300-pound Big Ten lineman. Reports throughout the season indicated he more than held his own as a member of the scout team. Whether or not he's a starter in week one, he has an excellent future ahead of him.

Is it true that we will have only 9 graduating seniors coming out of the 2014 season? That’s how many I counted on the 2014 roster posted at gopsusports, but that seems really low. Raoul69
By my count there are ten- Adrian Amos, Bill Belton, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Diffenbach, Sam Ficken, Mike Hull, Ryan Keiser, C.J. Olaniyan, Tyrone Smith and Zach Zwinak. This means that some of the younger guys will be counted on to become leaders and that the program will be returning plenty of talent as the sanctions continue to expire.

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