A lot of people on the message boards and blogosphere have been quick to write off 2005 as a fluke for the Nittany Lions. They choose to look at Paterno's five year trend of mediocrity rather than his previous 35 year trend of greatness. That's fine. That's their right to doubt. But Jeff Rice from the Centre Daily Times offers five reasons why the Nittany Lions will keep the winning trend going. He points out that during the down years Penn State...
1. was predictable on offense
How true this is. I can remember during the abysmal 2003 season just sitting there predicting play after play and being right 75% of the time. I can remember with frustration watching them run the same plays over and over with no success. Galen Hall changed all that when he came on the scene.
2. Had very few, if any, big play guys.
What a difference DWill, Butler, King and Norwood made last year. The Nits came out throwing the ball deep and kept it going all year in 2005. I can think of at least two games where the Lions led off with a deep ball on their first offensive play. That deep threat stretched the defenses and prevented them from stuffing eight guys in the box.
3. had serious depth issues.
This is a result of years of poor recruiting. Bringing on Mike McQuery as recruiting coordinator combined with Larry Johnson Sr.'s dominance of Maryland have provided the Lions with amazing depth at wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker.
4. had un-special teams.
Penn State hasn't had a game breaking return man since the days of Bobby Engram and Eddie Drummond. At times it seemed like our kick return teams ran in slow motion rarely getting the ball past the 20 or 25 yard line.
5. had coaching shakeups.
The Lions lost a lot of coaches in 2000 and it took some time to adjust. Moving Fran Ganter into the Athletic Director's office and bringing in Galen Hall is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround.
So for those of you thinking Penn State is due to return to another three or four win season, think again. These are the five biggest reasons for Penn State's turnaround. And these are the reasons why Penn State is back on top to stay.