Blue White Roundtable day boys and girls. Your questions come from the honorable Run Up The Score. Then there's the rest of us. You know the drill.
Two consecutive games, two dominating performances by the Nittany Lion running game. Why the drastic change in production?
Well, against Iowa it helped that they were decimated with injuries. And against Wisconsin it helped that their run defense is terrible. But it does appear that the offensive line is finally coming together. After playing together through the first five games they are coming together as a group now. This is a good sign going forward and looking ahead to 2008.
Another key to the running game opening up has been the play calling. Take a look at the first down play selection so far this year.
Against Iowa and Wisconsin many of our first down runs came late in the game after it was put away. You can see they opened up the play book on first down a lot more in the last two games rather than run up the middle into a box stacked with eight or nine defenders. Iowa and Wisconsin were on their heels for much of the game not knowing what to expect. The safeties couldn't cheat up and wa-la! Running lanes galore! It's much better than run up the middle on first and second down and hope your quarterback can keep converting 3rd and 8.
Since the departure of Tom Osborne before the 1998, Nebraska quickly fired Frank Solich, hired a bad NFL coach, and on Monday fired its Athletic Director. Is there any way to avoid this sort of fiasco when Joe Paterno eventually retires?
I think a case could be made here for hiring from within the program. Keep the coaching staff in tact and maintain stability. Bring in someone from outside the program with a west coast offense and a 3-4 defense and we'll struggle for a few years because we don't have the players for those schemes.
It's going to be interesting to see what happens when the emperor steps down. There will undoubtedly be a struggle among factions to fill the power vacuum. Tim Curley will be tasked with replacing a man that has been coaching there since he was a baby. He's going to want his guy. Boosters will push for people like Kirk Ferentz and Greg Schiano. Fans will push for guys like Gary Barnett and Bill Cowher. Whoever they pick there will be a large group of people who will say he's the wrong choice.
It's tough to follow a legend like Joe Paterno. The next guy can try his best but never be good enough. It wouldn't surprise me to see the next coach last three or four years and fail and then the next coach after that succeed for a decade.
Terrelle Pryor is on the verge of crossing Penn State off his list, if he hasn't already. Does Penn State absolutely have to sign a quarterback in this class, or can we afford to wait until next season?
Terrelle Pryor is gone. Do yourself a favor and forget about him. He's going to be a Buckeye so get used to it.
Right now it appears we will not be taking a quarterback in this class. We were only courting two this year: Pryor and E.J. Manuel who committed to Florida State. We'll be ok next year as long as Clark and Devlin stay healthy, but we won't have many options for a #3 QB. Taking a quarterback in next years class will be essential, and I hear there are a few good ones that Penn State is already going after and getting good vibes from.
Describe a scenario in which Penn State ties for the conference title. Obviously, Penn State has to beat Ohio State. What other dominoes need to fall?
Speaking of Ohio State, I'm looking for a ticket. Just a single. If you have one, drop me an email. Sorry for the shameless plug there.
Obviously we have to win out. That will put us at 6-2. We'll need Illinois and Ohio State to lose another game and Michigan has to lose two. I think the most likely scenario is Illinois beating Michigan this week with the spread offense the Wolverines seem to have trouble with and then losing to Ohio State. Michigan still has to play Wisconsin, so we need the Badgers to pull that one out. Then we need Ohio State to lose to either Wisconsin or Michigan. That's not as unrealistic as I thought it would be before I started answering the question, but Penn State obviously needs a lot of help. Now if we don't take care of business the rest of the way none of this matters.
Will Penn State have its typical lazy start in a noon road game?
I don't think so. The Indiana defense is terrible. We should be able to run on them pretty easily. The key is the coaches not getting too conservative. They have to pass to open up the run. If we come out determined to run the ball even if Indiana has the box stacked with nine guys we're going to struggle. I think the Michigan game was a wake up call in this regard. I think the past two games have given the coaches confidence they can open up on first down and have success.