Joe Paterno spent most of spring practice concerned about Penn State's offensive line and its potential in 2011. Early on, he said he didn't really have a discernible first team line and though he said at the spring game he saw improvement, most still believe the line has a ways to go before it'll be ready for prime time.
Bill Engel of PennLive thinks the unit could be a strength this season, though, and here are his reasons.
-All of the starters are upper classmen. Barham, Troutman and Okoli are fifth year seniors.
-Every linemen has starting experience….four of the five projected starters were in the game the first half against Ohio State in 2010 which Penn State dominated
-The projected starters will have continuity having practiced together through the spring
-Penn State’s outstanding wide receivers will open up space near the line of scrimmage
-Five defensive linemen Penn State had to block last year were taken in the first round of the NFL draft (Dareous, Liuget, Clayborn, Wilkerson and Heyward). In 2012, only Jared Crick of Nebraska is a projected first rounder in ESPN’s way too early draft predictions.
The third point, especially, resonates with me. The unit should already have a pretty solid foundation in place. Fall practice will likely be more about building on that and fine tuning for September than trying to figure out roles and which combinations work best together.
Let's not forget, either, that the some of the line's sternest tests against Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin won't come until the last three games of the season. The unit will have all season including a non-conference dress rehearsal against Alabama to prepare for the meat of the Big Ten schedule. That bodes well for Penn State's chances of having its offensive line at its best when it matters most.
Temperance In West By God?
It looks like a lot of West Virginians think beer sales at WVU home games is a bad idea according to the Charleston Daily Mail.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- By a more than two-to-one margin, West Virginia University fans who filed public comments on the proposal to sell beer at athletic events said they oppose the plan.
Opponents said they would stop coming to games, cancel season tickets and even suspend donations to the university.
Toni Boyd said over the past three years "behavior in the stands has deteriorated." She and her family have season tickets in Section 216. She reports that other fans in her vicinity have gone from sneaking airplane bottles of liquor into games to bringing full fifths of liquor.
"Of course, then my family and other fans around us get to endure their profanity, falling all over us drunk, throwing up everywhere, passing out and getting in my 75-year-old mother's face when she is cheering and trying to the enjoy the game, telling her they love her," Boyd said.
My question for Ms. Boyd would be how much of that behavior is hooch related and how much is "being a West Virginia fan" related? There were alcohol sales at the Penn State-Indiana game at FedEx field this year, and to my knowledge, most people went home from that game happy. In my old season ticket location, the folks in front of us passed around hooch every time Penn State scored (or every time Penn State did something remotely good if it was a stinker) and I don't recall anyone ever getting too rowdy in that instance, either.
I think it's all about enforcing an atmosphere of responsibility, and if the stories I've heard from friends of mine who've been to Morgantown for games are even close to true, that atmosphere doesn't exist there, with or without alcohol in the stadium.
Last week, we talked about the BCS' slap on the Fiesta Bowl's wrist and this week, the NCAA is rubber stamping it.
The NCAA Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee today reaffirmed bowl licenses for the Tostitos Fiesta and Insight bowls on a one-year probationary period.
"The subcommittee was greatly concerned with the apparent lack of oversight and integrity associated with previous Fiesta Bowl management," said Carparelli. "Considering the business model changes and new direction of the bowl, along with the actions from the BCS, the subcommittee felt comfortable with reaffirming the Fiesta and Insight licenses on a probationary status."
So as schools like Boise State and Ohio State are bracing for major NCAA penalties over playing ineligible players, the Fiesta Bowl gets off one one freaking year's probation, a million dollar fine and some staff changes for illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending. This a week after Mark Emmert talked about coming down harder on rule breakers.
So much for that.
In Scores Of Other Games