|The Blue-White Roundtable will come to order!|
Man, having one kid is tough. Having two I'm convinced is impossible. I'm tired. Really tired. Like eight hours of sleep this week tired. At this rate I'll be dead by the time Florida International comes to town. But I'll try to hold out for a few more Blue-White Roundtables. Thanks to TNL, RUTS, and TINNOMJ for making me come up with the questions this week. You guys are a big help. Pause. Not.
Huzzah! Preseason practice starts this week! Which position or unit on the team makes you cry yourself to sleep at night hoping they do better than last year?
I think without a question the offensive line has to improve. They were absolutely terrible last year. When you can't open holes for your running back and you can't protect your quarterback it really limits the things you can do on offense.
I feel good about Shipley at center. Even though he's a first year starter, I strangely feel ok about Dennis Landolt at right tackle. The fact that last year's starting right tackle, John Shaw, has been moved to guard tells me that Landolt is good enough the coaches felt like they have to get him on the field. Other than those two guys I don't get a good feeling about the offensive line. John Shaw in my opinion failed as a right tackle, and now he's the starting right guard. Rich Ohrnberger was ok at right guard last year except he tended to jump offsides and miss blocks at the worst times. Hopefully he's a year smarter now and he'll cut down on the mistakes, but now he's moving to right guard so hopefully the adjustment isn't too hard for him that he loses concentration. The left guard from last year, Gerald Cadogen, has been moved to left tackle. He didn't impress me at all at left guard so I'm not expecting big things at tackle.
Which position or unit does everyone fuss over that makes you smile with confidence because you know they will be just fine?
Some people point to the fact we will be starting three new guys on the defensive line as a possible weakness on this team. I'm not worried one bit about it. We are two deep at every position and I am completely comfortable starting any group of those eight guys.
Last year our defensive ends on opening day were Jim and Tim Shaw. Jim was injured all year and never really contributed on a regular basis. Tim Shaw was a converted linebacker that got beat up on a regular basis by the big offensive tackles of the Big Ten. Josh Gaines started several games last year and played well. Hopefully this year he can take the next step toward being a play maker. Maurice Evans is ready to have a breakout year. With Aaron Maybin and Chris Rogers backing them up we're much deeper and much better at defensive end this year. We will miss Ed Johnson and Jay Alford, but not as much as people think. Phillip Taylor has Alan Branch clog the middle potential. Jared Odrick has beefed up to 290 lbs. Chris Baker is an animal if he can avoid his legal troubles. And if he can't, Tom McEowen is on pace to return from his knee injury. He was seeing the field as a true freshman last year before tearing up his knee and taking a medical redshirt. We're so deep with great talent on the defensive line I expect our run defense and pass rush to be downright nasty.
Last week the USA Today unveiled the preseason coaches' poll. Penn State came in ranked #18. Fair, unfair, or about right?
I should proof read these questions before I throw them out there. What is the difference between "fair" and "about right?" Anyway, I think it's a fair ranking, but maybe a bit lower than I think we deserve. Since most people predict us to finish fourth in the conference it makes sense they would rank us lower than Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. I'm not crazy about us being ranked lower than Rutgers, Louisville, and West Virginia. I think we could beat all of those teams. Even back in the 1980's when West Virginia was in their prime we still beat them every year. And can someone please explain to me why Tennessee is ranked higher than us after we dominated them in the Outback Bowl? Oh well. It's certainly better than being unranked like some people.
How much value do you put in preseason polls?
Very little. They are usually good at picking a top five, but after that it's a crap shoot. Remember Iowa starting with a #17 ranking last year? How did that turn out? How about Florida State #10 and Miami #11?
The writers and coaches are too slow to admit their mistakes. They only drop teams a few spots when they lose and they almost never move them up unless one of the teams a few spots ahead of them lose. This gives too much power to the preseason poll. It's too hard to climb the ranks when you start out unranked. This is why they should wait until week four to put out the first poll. How different would things have been last year if Boise State had started out ranked #15 instead of #31?
What are the odds Penn State beats Michigan?
About as good as Joe Paterno checking his email once a week.
What are the odds Penn State wins the Big Ten?
About as good as Comcast and the Big Ten Network reaching a deal by the beginning of the season.
What are the odds Jay Paterno calls a slant pass this year?
About as good as Joe Tiller switching to the wishbone offense.
That's all for this week. I probably have some puke to clean up or a diaper to change somewhere. So go check out the other guys.