Yours truly is hosting the Blue and White Roundtable this week. Galen came up with the name. I kind of like it but I think we're open for suggestions. Anyway, make sure you check out Run Up The Score and The Nittany Line to get their take on the state of Penn State athletics.
Fans have been very critical of the Penn State coaches and the more specifically the offensive play calling this season. Besides Joe's ability to dodge the low hit, how would you rate the performance of the coaches against Wisconsin?
For the most part it was ok. The Illinois game was rock bottom this year. I could count the number of plays they ran in that game on one hand. Against Purdue we saw them throw down the middle some and they worked some new wrinkles into the play book. The Boilermakers had no answer for the fake bubble screen draw play to Hunt. Against Wisconsin I don't recall seeing anything special. I was disappointed we basically never really tried to establish the running game. Hunt had 11 carries all day. We tried 5 rushing plays in the first half. We passed 36 times in the game and ran only 19 times.
The worst play call was the fourth down attempt in the fourth quarter. I had no problems with them going for the first down, but why they ran a sweep to the right befuddles me as Charlie Weis would say. You only need one yard. If you can't power forward to get it you deserve to lose. And if you are going to run a sweep, why not do it behind your All American at left tackle? That was a dumb call.
Let's go out on a limb and say the Lions beat Temple this week. What do you think our chances are of beating Michigan State and winning out?
I know I came up with the question, but I don't want to touch it with a ten foot poll. I think it's safe to say we know what to expect out of the Lions. They will play tough D, but the offense can't score unless you give them the ball at the five yard line. Even then there's a 25% chance they will turn it over and a 50% chance they will settle for a field goal.
Who knows which MSU team will show up? Will we get the team that blew the huge lead against Notre Dame or will we get the team that made the greatest comeback in NCAA history against Northwestern? If they win against Minnesota this week, the Spartans will once again be coming into Happy Valley with 5 wins and desperate to make a bowl game. I think once again the Spartans will be watching football from the EZ chair in December and January.
Next year we return this same offensive line except for Robert Price and All American Levi Brown. Please give me a glimmer of hope that things will be better next year.
Well, Price is gone. That's a good thing. Cadogen and Auletta will probably be the new starters. They need to hit the weight room and get a whole lot better or 2007 could be a very disappointing season. Since they are both sophomores there is hope they can improve. Ohrnberger seems to have settled in at right guard and doing pretty well. Shipley seems to be doing ok. These guys should keep getting better. John Shaw looks completely lost though. Being a junior I'm not optimistic he can make a huge improvement this off season.
Waiting in the wings is some hope. The Lions have recruited well at offensive line the past couple of years. Antonio Logan-El, Lou Eliades, J.B. Walton look like they have future starter potential.
Barring some major help, Penn State is most likely looking at playing in the Outback Bowl against the SEC #3 or #4. There is also a chance we may end up playing in the Alamo against a middle of the pack Big 12 team. Given the circumstances, what would be your dream matchup? On the flip side, what would be your nightmare matchup?
I would like to see us play Tennessee if we go to the Outback Bowl. We've had some great bowl games with them in the past like the 1991 Fiesta and the 1993 Citrus. Both were blowouts and PSU won so at least I think they were great. If we slip to the Alamo Bowl I would like to see us play Nebraska. There is still a little bitterness in Nittany Nation over the 1994 season. The 2002-2003 series was split so nothing was settled there.
The team I would dread to play would be Florida if they should slip or LSU if they should get selected ahead of Tennessee. Those games could get really ugly.
While football season is winding down, basketball season is about to start up. How excited are you about the Nittany Lion cagers this year? What are your expectations for the team following last years NIT appearance?
I'm really excited. I went to school at Penn State during the John Amaechi and Pete Lisicky years so I can remember the days when Penn State was actually respectable. I used to love watching the games in Rec Hall and I was there when we knocked off Purdue in 1995. They were ranked #6 in the country at the time and the whole campus went nuts. I feel bad for the Penn State seniors who have never felt that kind of euphoria after a basketball win.
Last year they went 15-15 and made the NIT with a very young team with not so much depth. This year they return everyone but Travis Parker. Geary Claxton and Jamelle Cornley are going to be fun to watch. They get Danny Morrissey back to provide a spark off the bench. They're much deeper this year than they were last year. Claxton's broken hand is a major setback, but it may work out well in the end. It will force them to play together as a team until he returns which may pay big dividends when we hit the Big Ten schedule and beyond. I'm expecting this team to finish somewhere around the middle of the Big Ten and earn an NCAA tournament spot.
Everyone clamoring for a Big Ten championship game gets their wish when football Armageddon occurs on November 18th and Michigan meets Ohio State in Columbus. Who do you like in that game? Ok, maybe that was a poor choice of words. Obviously we don't like either team. Who do you think will win and why?
I said a few weeks ago I think Ohio State peaked too early. They spent all summer getting ready for the Texas game. Then they beat Penn State and Iowa teams that were not ready for prime time. They haven't had a test since.
Michigan strikes me as a team on a mission this year. They seem extremely focused and they are playing extremely smart. They had a hiccup against Ball State most likely due to looking ahead, but they survived it. Penn State and Illinois showed that stingy defenses can hold the Buckeye offense to a low score. I think Michigan can hold OSU to 14 points, and I think the Wolverines have enough weapons on offense with Henne, Hart, Manningham, and Arrington to win.