Wake up, people. We're going to breathe some life into this offseason with a special spring practice edition of the Blue-White Roundtable. Here is the list of bloggers taking part in the BWR.
Holy crap. I remember back in the day when there were, like, three Penn State blogs. Now we're spreading faster than mice in heat. This is crazy, but I love it. Let's get to the questions.
Let's start with the ugly news. Chris Baker, Chris Bell, Phil Taylor, Knowledge Timmons, and Navorro Bowman are all sitting out the spring practice sessions. What impact will this have on the 2008 season?
These guys are all good enough to start on probably 95% of all Div I teams, so if they aren't back for 2008 it's going to hurt. Just sitting out the spring is really going to hurt all of these guys as well as the team. There is no pressure to put in and practice a weekly gameplan in the spring, so the coaches can take the time to coach technique and really make these guys into better football players. Now they aren't getting that coaching, so yeah, it hurts us. But on the positive side a lot of other young guys are getting good reps in their place. So maybe overall this will make us a stronger team down the road.
Would you move Sean Lee to middle linebacker like Paul Posluszny in 2006 and Dan Connor in 2007?
I would not. I think Chris Colasanti is good enough to play right now, and he's built like a middle linebacker. So I would give the spot in the middle to him. He's too good to keep off the field. Besides, Lee isn't used to playing in the middle. It's a new set of assignments. It's a new set of angles. And you have to learn how to weave and power your way through a lot more traffic. Dan Connor was a natural for the position, but Paul Posluszny had a tough time adjusting to the middle. So I would leave Lee right where he is.
If Lee stays on the outside, who would you start at the other outside linebacker assuming Bowman is out of the picture?
I have to figure Sales is the front runner for the spot. But last year when Sales and Bowman were both injured Josh Hull got in there and I thought did a fine job. It's hard to believe, but even with the stable of young stud linebacker talent on this team we may end up starting a walk-on on opening day.
Which position on the field is our weakest link?
I'm really frightened about our situation at cornerback. I was really hoping Justin King would come back for his senior year. That ship has sailed, so now we have A.J. Wallace and Lydell Sargeant. Wallace has the physical tools to be great, but he has a tough time maintaining his concentration sometimes. I think Sargeant is better suited to be a safety or running back than a cornerback. He played ok last year, but there were times he got spun around and looked lost. Behind these guys we have Knowledge Timmons, who can't seem to stay out of the doghouse, Devin Fentress, who nobody really knows anything about, and Willie Harriott, who at 5'8" tall now takes over the moniker of shortest man on the team now that Brendan Perretta is gone. (Not including Kevin Kelly who at 5'6" is only slightly taller than Lavar Arrington's vertical leap.)
Who is your pony in the quarterback contro...uh, competition?
I really don't have one at this point. I just want to see the guy that gives us the best chance to win, but I want both guys to get a shot at it. In the end I think Clark will start on opening day, but I won't be surprised if Devlin gets a series or two. The good news is I'm pretty comfortable with either one of these guys getting the bulk of the snaps.
I've been saying I would like to see a two quarterback system. We rotate players in and out at just about every other position. Why not quarterback too? I would like to see Clark start the game, and then bring in Devlin in the second quarter. Whichever one moves the offense more efficiently should play the second half. If it becomes apparent as the season goes on that one guy is clearly better than the other then you have your guy.
Name three players that absolutely have to step up their performance this spring?
Derek Moye - With Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood all in their final year and Chris Bell with one foot standing outside of the program it's important that Moye get himself ready to be a #1 receiver in 2009.
Willie Harriott - He's already got two strikes against him and he's lucky to even still have a spot on this roster. Knowledge Timmons is sitting things out so this is Harriotts chance to shine in front of the coaches and get himself back in Joe's good graces. We have no depth after Wallace and Sargeant so it's imperative that Harriott keep his nose clean and make a significant contribution.
Nick Sukay - He's most likely going to be #2 on the depth chart at Hero behind Anthony Scirrotto. He's not only going to be called upon to start in 2009, with Davis, Rubin, and Sargeant all graduating he's going to be called upon to be a leader in the defensive backfield. It's essential that he have a productive spring to learn the defense and become a dominating force over the middle.
Who is your pick to win the Red Worrell award given to the offensive player that shows the most improvement during spring practice?
Who is your pick for the Jim O'Hora award given to the defensive player that shows the most improvement?
Your 2008 team captains are...?
A.Q. Shipley, Sean Lee, and Deon Butler.