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Inside-Outside: Dreams and Nightmares

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We're back with another addition of "Inside-Outside", where this week we go over our biggest fears and loftiest dreams.

Inside: We all know how important Daryll Clark is to this team this season. But which two other players are the most indispensable to this team?

Kevin Says...

The person who is most likely to get a potential "oh noes!" from me is Wisniewski.  By all accounts he’s taking A.Q.’s role over nicely and was even projected by Steele to be Penn State’s second All-Conference center in two years. His loss means we not only lose large amounts of all-important "meshing power", but also that the team has to put in another green lineman.

My second answer isn't nearly as dramatic in my mind, but I think Royster is deceivingly important.  Green has wheel, and there is more depth after that, but we saw in the Rose Bowl that maybe Green isn't ready to be an every-down back.  Not that he couldn't become one in 2009, but Royster's patience at the line make grinding out the ground game easy and productive, and I'd worry that if we lost those solid 3 or 4 yards on first down the offense wouldn't be able to properly play catch-up.

RUTS Says...

Sean Lee and Jack Crawford.  Lee for obvious reasons -- not only is he the spiritual leader on defense, but he's the best player on the field if he's completely healthy.  No offense to Josh Hull, but he's about six notches below Sean Lee on the White Penn State Linebacker Of Death scale.  Crawford's situation is a bit trickier.  He hasn't accomplished much of anything so far in his Penn State career, but is being relied upon to be our very best defensive end in 2009.  This should be worrisome to any Penn State fan.  And if we happen to lose him, then what?

Mike Says...

I have to go with Sean Lee as my No. 2 guy behind Clark. He's the senior leader on defense. If he goes down that's a huge blow to the entire team. And as RUTS points out, his replacement is Josh Hull who's good, but not on an All American level like Lee is. But the emotional aspect of losing Sean would be devastating to the defense.

Wisniewski is another good pick, but I'm going to take a slightly different angle and say A.J. Wallace. We're replacing all four starters in the secondary, and only Wallace and Astorino have any experience to speak of. If Astorino goes down I'm confident with the depth at safety we can find someone to plug in there, but if Wallace goes down we may be asking a true freshman like Stephen Morris or Darrell Givens to become every down players. Frankly that scares me.

Outside: Penn State has their share of star power this year, but we have some major holes to fill. Which player from another Big Ten team would you most like to pluck away for our roster?

Kevin Says...

I know the secondary could use improvement, but I have to go with Illinois’ Arrelious Benn here.  The guy makes Williams’ awful throws look good, and when the quarterback is in a bind a simple jump ball to Benn is always an option.
This isn’t to say I’m convinced our wide receivers are going to be as clueless as some are suggesting.  Yes, we are starting mostly fresh, but it also seems one of the easier positions to pick up (if 2005 is any indication, anyway).  Still, Benn would be an incredible #1 option for a team that doesn’t really have one right now.

RUTS Says...

Benn from Illinois is an excellent choice, but I'll take Iowa's left tackle, Bryan Bulaga.  We all know that keeping Daryll Clark upright and healthy is Priority #1 this season, so poaching the best LT in the league seems like a pretty good idea.  Benn is electrifying, but Penn State has a few other guys who can be a vertical passing threat (Moye, Powell).  We've heard good things about rising PSU LT DeOnt'tae Pannell, but I'd rather have the sure thing, thank you.

Mike Says...

Interesting that you guys both went with the offensive side of the ball. I'm actually not too worried there. I think the offensive line and wide receivers will be adequate enough when combined with Clark and Royster that the offense should be serviceable at a minimum.

It's the defensive side that scares me the most. We all saw how deficient the secondary was against USC, and now we have very little experience coming back. And not only are we inexperienced, I think we're thin at cornerback. So I would look for an experienced lockdown cornerback to sure up the secondary. My first pick would be Chimdi Chekwa from Ohio State who started nearly every game last year for the Buckeyes. His stats weren't that impressive with only one interception and 28 tackles, but that tells me teams don't like to throw in his direction.