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Blue-White Roundtable Goes Cold Turkey

Galen was late in getting the questions out this week. How late? Let's just say the first time I read the questions, they were posted on The Nittany Line this morning. So I literally put about five minutes into this. As a thought came into my head it flowed through my fingertips and now it flows through the magical tubes of the internets to your eyes. Go check out The Nittany Line and Run Up The Score to get their answers. Don't expect too much from RUTS. We have a hard enough time getting him to answer the questions even when he has a week to think about them.

After 27 years Rene Portland resigned without explanation.  Did she actually leave on her own or was she forced out?

My personal belief is she was asked to step down or else be fired. It's quite telling that she did not have a press conference and chose instead to release a statement. And on top of that she was not present for Curley's press conference. And here is an interesting exchange in Curley's presser.

Q: Coach Paterno hired Rene Portland and he's been one of her bigger supporters throughout the years. Have you talked to Joe about this?

A: "I had a brief conversation with him this morning. I didn't have a chance to talk to him at any great length, but I did reach out to him this morning to let him know that this decision was made."

to let him know that this decision was made.

Interesting that he didn't say he let him know about Rene's decision. No, he phrased it as this decision, which leads me to believe Curley was involved in the decision. Maybe I'm wrong though.

What's the chance Penn State hires someone with ties to the program?

Historically that's what we do, so it would not surprise me one bit. I think they would go outside of the program if they have to, but they will explore the former ties road first. Suzie McConnell is supposedly the leading candidate. She played for Rene in the 80's. She's coached in high school as well as the international stage and the WNBA. I think she would be a great candidate for Penn State.

Enough with the bad let's talk football - it's spring practice baby!  Tony Davis started the spring off at safety, good move?

I think it's a great move. Davis has the size to play safety and he is definitely an upgrade in speed from Donnie Johnson. My only concern is his tackling ability. He whiffed a few times last year when he found himself one-on-one with a guy in the open field. You can do that as a cornerback because you have help behind you. Do that as a safety and you probably just gave up a touchdown.

But what makes this move great is the player that gets to replace Davis at the corner. A.J. Wallace is a Justin King clone. Penn State has two NFL caliber shutdown corners in King and Wallace. We should easily have the most physically talented secondary in the Big Ten if not the entire nation for possibly the next two years (if King comes back for 2008). This will allow the linebackers to blitz at will and the defensive line can just pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. I'm absolutely giddy over our defense right now.

The starting four down lineman consisted of Josh Gaines, Jared Odrick, Maurice Evans, and Abe Koroma - does that sound like a winner or will we see someone else sneak in there by Blue/white?

I'm not too wound up over who is wearing the blue jersey or the green jersey on the first day of spring practice. Penn State likes to rotate eight guys in and out on the defensive line. Odrick, Baker, Taylor, and Koroma will be the defensive tackles. I feel great about the first three. Koroma is an unknown, but he reportedly did very well in the Big 33 game last year. I remember reading how the coaches loved his work ethic. He's a quiet kid who does what he's told and doesn't have to be told twice. That will go a long way under Joe Paterno. There's a chance now that Tom McEowen may be ready to go in time for the season.

The defensive ends will be primarily Evans, Gaines, and Maybin. It wouldn't surprise me if true freshman Devon Still saw some playing time this year. I think we'll get more production out of our defensive ends this year just from the sheer fact we have more depth now. Overall I'm quite satisfied the defensive line will be good right away. By the end of the season they will be great.

Connor seems to be back at middle linebacker - is he following in Poz's footsteps or is it a bad move?

Joe says that's probably his natural position. He played in the middle as a true freshman and did well. He played the middle in high school and says he feels more comfortable there. I think he'll pick it right up better than Poz did. I like the idea of him in the middle. Teams won't be able to run away from him. I can see him not only beating Poz's career tackle record, but seriously making a run for Greg Buttle's single season record of 165 tackles as well. He's got an extra game to do it.

Lightning Round

Name the player that wins the Jim O'Hora Award (for most improved D player in spring) & the Red Worrell Award (most improved Offensive player)?

This is a total stab in the dark. I'm going to say Jerome Hayes wins the O'Hara. They say he has lots of physical talent but he needs to learn discipline. Fortunately the latter can be coached. Josh Gaines and Tony Davis are the dark horses.

I'll guess the Worrell will go to left tackle Gerald Cadogen. His competition, Dennis Landolt, is a darkhorse along with freshman running back Evan Royster.

Tyrell Sales seems to be the "other guy" as in the third linebacker - does he come out of spring with the job solidified?

It's too early to tell. I suspect Sales and Hayes will split a lot of time this fall anyway.

Who wins the backup QB job?

Let's put it this way. Daryll Clark will be number two on the depth chart, but if Morelli gets injured Pat Devlin shoots to the top. I think the coaches want Devlin on the scout team. He will get great experience going up against King, Wallace, Scirrotto, and Davis every day in practice and he will challenge those guys to get even better.