It's Wednesday. Time for the Blue & White Roundtable. RUTS has the questions this week so let's get to it.
It was a good showing for Tony Hunt, Paul Posluszny, and Levi Brown at last week's Senior Bowl. When do you see these three guys getting drafted, and where would you like to see them end up?
Levi Brown and Tony Hunt helped themselves the most. Levi solidified himself as a top 15 pick, which means he is most likely bound to a team in the middle of rebuilding. The general consensus is Tony Hunt will go somewhere in the third round and possibly as high as the late second round. He would make a good fit on any team with a blue collar image, like Pittsburgh, the Giants, Cleveland, or Chicago. I hear the Seahawks spent a lot of time talking to him at the Senior Bowl.
Poz had an ok week at the Senior Bowl. He went in projected to be a late first round to early second round pick. He didn't see much action in the game leading some people to suggest Jon Gruden was hiding him hoping he slips to a position where Tampa Bay can draft him. He reportedly didn't do well in drills, and Nittany Lion fans should prepare themselves to see Poz's stock drop in the NFL combine next month. He's not the fastest kid on the field and that will make him drop some. I think he will end up going late in the second round. I hear Tampa Bay and New England are quite interested in him. A lot of people speculate he may end up on the Steelers, but I think that's just western Pennsylvania wishful thinking.
Penn State's men's basketball team dropped another game on Sunday, as their latest come-from-ahead effort resulted in a 65-60 loss at Minnesota. Now the Lions are 1-6 in the conference, and 10-10 overall. How many more wins will the Lions get this season, and does Ed DeChellis deserve another year at this point?
Actually they lost on Saturday, but when you're riding a six game losing streak the days just kind of run together. I'm going to say they win at Northwestern, beat Iowa at home, and pull out one more win against either Purdue or Illinois at home. Three more wins and they finish 13-16.
I think Ed deserves one more year, maybe two. When you look at it, this is the exact same team we had last year with Sophomore Danny Morrissey playing instead of the veteran Travis Parker. Morrissey is a good shooting guard, but he doesn't bring the defense or court leadership Parker had. Next year they bring in a lot of fresh blood with Talor Battle, Jeff Brooks, DJ Jackson, and Andrew Jones while non-productive players like Luber, Walker, and Mooch all move on. Our three biggest scorers, Claxton, Cornley, and Morrissey all return so there is hope. But I wouldn't expect a 20 win season when you are counting on four freshmen to save your program.
Talor Battle will make a huge difference. Ben Luber is not a slashing guard that can create off the dribble. Worse, he's not the kind of guy that can single handedly break a press. He needs help. Battle will give us that dimension we lack this year. But we still lack a dominating big man unless Brandon Hassell shows some major improvement in the off season, and that is the biggest reason for concern. We have plenty of scorers, but our defense is terrible.
How would you fix the messes that are the men's and women's basketball teams?
I wish I knew. With the men I think first and foremost it's a matter of convincing good talent to come to Happy Valley. The best way to do that is start winning, but how do you win when you don't have the talent? And how do you get the talent if you can't win? It's a vicious cycle. I think Ed's doing a good job of recruiting so far. He stabilized the program when came in and put an end to the transfers. This preseason featured more hype for Penn State hoops than I can remember in a long time. So bottom line for the men is I think they are doing a good job of recruiting, but at some point Ed has to start developing talent and winning.
The women's basketball program has a dark cloud hovering over it. Rene Portland's personality and ego drove off an entire recruiting class. Worst yet, she allegedly discriminated against some lesbian players which is suicide on the liberal campus of Penn State. I suspect many students will not support the team as long as she is coach. The negative energy is affecting recruiting. I'm not sure she can recover. I'm afraid to say it may be time for Rene to move on to another program and start over.
Okay, back to football. What will be the fiercest position battles this spring in Happy Valley? Which players should be looking over their shoulders?
I think replacing the offensive line will be like having to choose between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2008. You don't like either of the candidates, so you end up picking the one that sucks less than the other one.
The really fierce battles will occur on the defense. Jerome Hayes, Tyrell Sales, and Donte Brown are going to have a heckuva fight to replace Poz. I don't think there is any clear favorite at this point. If they are all close, Paterno will go with the one that has the best grades. I guarantee that.
There are a bunch of guys fighting for the starting job on the defensive line, but they are all so good they will all see plenty of playing time. Penn State rotates their defensive linemen in and out often so there are no worries there.
I think the guy most looking over his shoulder is Tony Davis. A.J. Wallace is too good to ride the bench. I expect he will take the cornerback spot opposite King leaving Davis to fight for the nickel back or free safety spot.
The Altoona Mirror recently published an article about Jay Paterno, and the criticism that comes his way. Is the venom toward JayPa warranted? How do you assess his performance as quarterbacks coach?
Jay sure picked up the old man's arrogance. He basically stuck his head in the ground and refuses to admit there is a problem. He's not even willing to admit that maybe there is room for improvement. Penn State's offense has clearly been less than average ever since he joined the staff. He hasn't developed a good quarterback yet. Michael Robinson, as great as he was, was not a good quarterback. How many wide open guys did he miss by 10 yards? How did Zach Mills do? He started off great as a freshman, but as the years wore on and Jay coached him he got worse. Until he successfully develops a quarterback into an All Big Ten selection, he will always have the monkey on his back. I'm interested to see how Pat Devlin does.
I'm not a big fan of coaches installing their sons on the staff. Off the top of my head I can't think of one that went on to be successful on their own.
What year will Penn State hoops return to the NCAA Tournament?
If they can get a good big man in the next recruiting class, 2009. If not, 2010.
It's December 1, 2007. What bowl will Penn State be preparing for?
Let's go way out on a limb. Penn State goes 11-1 and gets screwed out of the BCS Championship game when another 11-1 team is selected. Penn State goes to the Rose Bowl.
Chance of rain at this spring's Blue/White game -- 95%, 98%, or 105%?
All potential recruits thinking about Penn State should stop reading at this point.
Since it rains like 75% of the time in State College and the game is in the spring, there is a 95% chance of rain. And they will still have 30,000 people in attendance.