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Amateur Blog Mob Roundtable Week 12 - Penn State vs. Ohio State

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Blog mob . . . ASSEMBLE!

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We may lose and we may win, but we will never be here again.  So open up, I'm climbin' in.  Take it easy.

With heavy hearts, the Blue/White Roundtable returns.  Ohio State is a worthy opponent and we still have a shot at the Big Ten Championship, so I encourage everyone to take a break from reality and enjoy some football talk.

Also, #ProudPSUforRAINN has raised over $422,000.  We're just $78,000 away from the goal, so here's your friendly reminder.  DONATE NOW.

Say hello to this week's panelists - All of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse and Michael Canzoneri, Bill Engel, and Ali Soheilian from Penn Live's 50-Yard Lion Blog!


Last week was extremely emotional for everyone, especially the Penn State players. Did that emotion help or hurt them against Nebraska? With a more normal week upcoming, what effect will that have on the Ohio State game?

The Underdogs: I'm not entirely sure the emotion helped or hurt the team. I suppose an argument could be made that we came out somewhat flat, but when don't we? We are what we are. A bad offense and a great defense. If anything the emotion provided the captains something to rally the team behind enabling the 4th quarter comeback bid.

As for question 1a), there is a distinct possibility in a letdown game, but not due to a hangover from the emotionally charged Nebraska game. I'm more worried about the dark clouds circling the program and the potential effect that has on the players. Hopefully, they can find motivation in playing for each other, the man next to them in the foxhole, blocking out the extracurricular circumstances.

Engel: Everyone handles things differently but once you step on the field, it is football and either you win the individual battles or you don't.  On the offense's second to last drive where they had three plays to get a yard or two, they didn't win the individual battles.  I think the hostile environment in Columbus will have an impact.  What remains to be seen is how the team reacts.

Rowlff Dogg: If the emotion helped them, it sure had a funny way of showing it in the form of a 3 point loss. Especially considering how little the offense did prior to the their typical "Hey, we're losing in the 4th quarter? We'd better do something!"

Had we managed to pull off the win last week, I'd expect a big letdown in Columbus. Since we were so close, I think there's still a chance that the team can rally around each other and pull off a gutty win in a place that's been very difficult for us.

J Schnauzer: I was actually surprised at how normal the game appeared. The defense played well, the offense struggled, and the special teams defense couldn't buy a deep stop. I'm not happy with the result but it was comforting to see the players appearing focused on the game and themselves and not on all the craziness around them. They are stronger than most.

Soheilian: I don't think the emotion helped or hurt the team's play this past weekend. I think the one thing that did, though, was this offense's inability to get it going once again. I understand we have the spread HD system, but if McGloin's going to be our QB, I say we tailor some more plays that play to his strengths, and give him more of an opportunity to succeed.

Canzoneri: Couple the allegations with the loss of two coaches and the media consistently misstating facts and using rumor as fact in many cases, it definitely hurt.  It had to be close to impossible for the team to focus their attention to the game plan and the game itself.  They still made a great effort.  The "normal" week has seen a definite downswing in the amount of media attention, which should return the team to the normal way of doing things.  Hopefully, the team takes out some aggression on Ohio State.


Matt McGloin didn't have his best game against Nebraska. Is he the long-term solution at QB now that Bradley has been installed as the head coach?

The Underdogs: I'm not convinced there is a long-term solution at QB on the roster currently. I have yet to see it anyway. A new QB coach is this doctor's prescription. Oh look...

Canzoneri: Finally, the definitive choice has been made and the team can move on from this two QB system joke. Even with a number of missteps during the Nebraska game, McGloin almost had another game winning drive under his belt.  If that isn't your long-term solution, I don't know what it is.

J Schnauzer: Long-term as in 2012? No. Long-term as in the last two to four games of the season? Absolutely. The QB competition race has sailed. Continuity and certainty is desperately needed right now for fans and players alike.

Soheilian: No, McGloin will not be the long-term solution at QB right now.  Yes, he will be the QB for the remainder of this season, but once the off-season begins, there will be another QB battle.  The facts are simply that McGloin played better than Bolden this year, but neither of them played well enough to entrench themselves as the starter going forward.  Jones, Mornhinweg, Bolden, and McGloin will battle it out again this upcoming Spring.

Rowlff Dogg: Jeepers cats, no! McGloin is nothing more than a stop-gap until Paul Jones takes over the world! Actually, we won't have our answer until we hire an actual QB coach and an actual offensive coordinator.

Engel: I think we have some talent at QB and we need a coach who can develop that talent.  All of our quarterbacks have regressed over the past year and there is only one reason why that would be the case.  Hopefully a new coach can come in and effectively develop either McGloin, Bolden, Jones or perhaps Mornhinweg.


What's the defensive game plan against Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense on Saturday? How concerned should we be with Dan Herron?

Rowlff Dogg: Keep Ohio State close enough to tantalize the fans before McGloin throws a costly pick-6. Herron doesn't do that much for me. In a game like this, I'm more afraid of Miller having a coming out party and torching us.

J Schnauzer: The defensive game plan will likely be the same as always: I think there will be some ability to hit them on the right side of their line to create some pressure on Miller. Dan Herron would scare me more if I hadn't seen the defense do a pretty effective job against Trent Richardson. I view him like Dan Persa: give him his yards, just keep him from getting points.

Engel: If we don't have 7-8 guys in the box every play, we are setting ourselves up to lose. Still and Hill have to clog the middle.  The DE's have to contain.  And the linebackers have to make plays.

The Underdogs: I find Herron to be an average back. Having said that, he'll probably go bonkers against us now. We'll be seeing a lot of 4-4 looks from PSU, which is our base defense anyway generally with Astorino advanced forward. This isn't a bad thing either as last week's game reminded us of Drew's strengths is attacking the line of scrimmage. Think back, count the number of plays you recall Astorino making throughout his career at or near the LOS, particularly in the flats compared to deeper in the passing game. It's not even close.

Soheilian: The defensive game plan should just be to stuff the run and let Gerald Hodges get to work on Braxton Miller.  Pressure him all day long and force him into as many uncomfortable situations that you can because he's still a freshman and still has a long way to go.  As for Boom, if we don't play the run well, he will hurt us.  His legs are still fresh because he's only played half a season and he can take it to the house every time he touches the ball.

Canzoneri: Same as it has been against Northwestern, Illinois and Nebraska.  Miller has shown some ability to make great passes, but he is still a good way off.  It is going to be a run-first type of game.


What do we need to know about Luke Fickell? Anything he does differently than Jim Tressel?

Engel: He doesn't wear a vest.

Rowlff Dogg: We know that Luke Fickell looks like Captain Jack from The Office (Episode 02.11: "Booze Cruise").

Soheilian: I would say that Luke is more aggressive than Tressel. He started off the season a little conservative, but since the early season loss to Miami, he has grown into his own. He has an understanding that in order for his young QB to develop, that he needs to let him play off the leash a little bit. At times, Miller has rewarded him and looked brilliant, but other times he's just made silly freshman mistakes.  

J Schnauzer: I know he looks exceedingly like Adam Sandler and is having just as successful a year at his respective craft. My respect for him would increase immensely if he sounded like Toll Booth Willie and angrily came out of tha booooth if asked if his job was on the line. We've learned that when you take away 96% of the 2010 scoring offense from Ohio State they don't have the depth to make it up without a hitch. Fickell has been given a dirt sandwich with the suspensions, and the lack of continuity has destroyed any offensive productivity.

Canzoneri: Fickell has done a good job in a bad situation, but the drop off in Ohio State's play has been noticeable. This Ohio State team just looks different than Tressel's Ohio State teams.  If there is ever a time to beat Ohio State in the Shoe, it is this year.

The Underdogs: I'm not sure I can answer that question. I don't think Fickell is yet comfortable enough in his job to *be* him. He's trying to be Tressel and that rarely works out well.


Predictions for the week?

The Underdogs: 20-10, bad guys. At least one pick six.

Rowlff Dogg: O$U 24-6. Sorry, I hate to be so pessimistic. Maybe this will jinx us to a win.

J Schnauzer: What a shame that Penn State can't reliably count on an offense as effective as Purdue's offense. Devier Posey replacing Devin Smith as the number one receiver will give the Buckeye offense enough of a pulse to keep them in field goal range all day long.

Ohio State 15, Penn State 13

Engel: This one has the potential to be ugly from an offensive standpoint or excellent from a defensive standpoint. On paper, we have more balance but OSU has the athletes to shutdown our receivers.  We will see very conservative offensive game plans and I am not sure either team gets to double digits.  Based on my confidence in our offense, I'll say 7-6 Ohio State.

Soheilian: Penn State 23 - 13 Ohio State

I just don't think Ohio State has seen a defense of this magnitude yet all season. I think Miller accounts for at least two turnovers, and Penn State does just enough to separate themselves in the end for a win.  I think this is the week where our infamous screen pass is reborn.

Canzoneri: I still think this game is Penn State's to lose.  17-10 Penn State 

Peter Gray: If McGloin doesn't turn the ball over, Penn State has a very good shot to win. He's been responsible-ish this year, but when McDERP checks in, there's almost no telling how bad it could get. Ohio State's offense is simple: They run. If they insist on play walrusball and running straight at Still and Hill, they'll be in trouble. However, if Miller, Herron and Hall are allowed to get to the outside, things will open up.

This game is going to suck. Ohio State 13 - Penn State 6.

Kyle Martin: I'm not confident about Penn State's chances in this one. Playing in Columbus is not going to be pleasant. But my hate for Ohio State knows no bounds and I just can't pick PSU to lose to them. Penn State - 17 OSU - 6

Tim Aydin: This will be an ultra-conservative game. Both teams will insist on trying to establish a run game and only throw when absolutely necessary. Expect plenty of 3 and outs and field position battles in a game that will be decided by turnovers and special teams. While I'd like to believe PSU can win those battles, I'm just not feeling it. I feel like Braxton Miller is going to pull a few clutch plays out of his ass that will lead to critical scores. Perhaps things will change under the next coach, but I feel that 2008 was a total anomaly. OSU 13 PSU 6

Mike Pettigano: If Silas Redd's shoulder is 100%, Penn State has a shot, but nothing more. The offense looked really sluggish last week--I realize it was an emotional game with a distraction factor of 10--with the offensive line failing to open up the kinds of holes it did against, say, Iowa or even Illinois. And should this game come down to Matt McGloin's passing ability, dear god, let's hope it doesn't. The best recipe for victory will be a clean, efficient offense that gains AT LEAST two first downs every possession, combined with a defense that keeps the Ohio State offense stuck in first gear. A few first downs by the Buckeyes won't harm anything. But big plays here or there, and allowing the OSU run game to start rolling, will. I'm not convinced Penn State has the power to topple Ohio State in Columbus, despite the real chances for either a very close loss, or for the Lions to eke out the upset. Penn State 9, Ohio State 17.

Ben Jones: This was already going to be an ugly game, and if Silas Redd isn't 100% that isn't going to help matters any. I like to think that Ohio State's offense won't give Penn State anything it hasn't already seen this year so that makes me hopeful. In the end it comes down to which Penn State offense we see. If the ball is moving, like it did lets say two years ago, then they've got a shot.

Otherwise this game is toss up until somebody throws an interception.

13-10 Ohio State.

Adam Collyer:  During our bye week roundtable, I predicted an 11-1 season.  Then the world collapsed.  Suffice to say, I'm as shell-shocked as all of you are.  That said, I think this is about as normal a week as the team is going to have from here on out.  That has to be more beneficial than last week.  We're obviously looking at a low scoring affair.  Penn State 13, Ohio State 10.