The day has finally arrived. This will most likely be the last post on BSD before the game day open thread. It's been eight long months, but we made it. Penn State football has arrived. Although we expect nothing short of a complete blowout tomorrow, there are still a lot of things to look for. The staff here at BSD has put together their thoughts on our expectations for tomorrow.
While I'm of course excited for an actual football game, it probably doesn't get any less exciting than Coastal Carolina. Now that we have a starter, the next big question mark is about the offensive system. How will it work? Is it really a "glorified wishbone"? Or just an adaptation of the Run n' Shoot? How much will it look like 2005?
What's a little frustrating is that, while I want answers, I don't want them on Saturday. Oregon State is an important game against a team with a good set of coaches. Showing any of our cards against a middle of the road I-aa team would be a huge mistake. And not just on offense. Any tricks Bradley is hoping to use on defense to compensate for a questionable secondary and thinned out set of linemen and linebackers needs to be put in the proverbial "pocket" until week two.
So with that being said, my excitement is mixed, like getting to see the presents under the tree but not being allowed to open them.
What we really want to see, I think, is both quarterbacks getting meaningful snaps (relative term against Coastal Carolina, of course). Yes, Clark is the starter, but I think it's important, after the way the Morelli era was conducted, that the starting quarterback prove, on the field, that they deserve the privilege. Tomorrow is going to be a blow out, but that doesn't mean we have to run the ball up the middle for the last three quarters. Watching Clark score 30+ points in the first half, only to have Devlin come in with the second team and two different running plays to choose from, is not help anyone decide who gives the team the best chance to win.
Kevin's Prediction: PSU wins 49-14
Let's face it, the score should take care of itself. I'll be looking for style points from Penn State. Sure tackling, sharp special teams, minimal turnovers, finishing off drives with touchdowns instead of short field goal attempts. That's what we should be focused on. Remember that in 2007, Penn State fumbled four times against Florida International, turned it over three times against Notre Dame, and lost two fumbles against Buffalo.
We're all expecting an overabundance of plain, ordinary handoffs tomorrow, but I'll be interested in how the crowd treats Daryll Clark if he struggles early. And if that happens, will Pat Devlin's proposed playing time actually be decreased in an effort to build Clark's confidence? Will he be allowed to throw the ball in anything other than obvious passing situations?
RUTS Prediction: PSU wins 41-10
Everyone is dying to see the quarterbacks and how they will perform. I'm not really worried about that tomorrow. The offense will be fine with Royster, Green, and a very experienced group of wide receivers and offensive linemen. What I'm more interested in seeing is the defense.
What will the starting linebacker rotation look like? Sales and Hull have good experience, but can they develop into play makers? Gbadyu and Bowman have the speed to be playmakers, but do they have a good grasp on the defense and their assignments? What will the secondary look like? Can A.J. Wallace tighten up his game and become the lockdown corner we all expected him to become when he signed with Penn State? Is Mark Rubin fast enough to play safety or will he get pushed from Astorino? Can Tony Davis return to his form in 2006 or will be a non-factor like he was last year? There are a lot of questions on defense, and if they can't easily control a team like Coastal Carolina it will not bode well for the rest of the season.
It's the first game of the year so there are going to be mistakes and things not go our way. I think we'll win easily, but we'll come out of this game still feeling uneasy about some things. But Joe always says you improve the most the week between your first and second games. Let's hope it doesn't look like there is too much to correct next week.
Mike's Prediction: Penn State wins 45-17