Blog mob . . . ASSEMBLE!
Brice Fox & Daniel Weber - This is Indiana (Official Music Video) (via IURemix)
What is Indiana? A basketball school.
This week, the Amateur Blog Mob opens the Big Ten schedule with a trip to Bloomington as Penn State faces off against the Indiana Hoosiers.
Say hello once again to our panelists - our own Ben Jones, Kevin McGuire from the Nittany Lions Den, William F. Yurasko from William World News, and all of the D-O-double-G's from JoePa's Doghouse. And joining us now for conference play, the 50-Yard Lion blog's Michael Sedor, Bill Engel, Michael Canzoneri, and Ali Soheilian!
Is it worth starting Matt McGloin this week at QB? Will we settle the QB competition this week, or are we destined to see this last throughout the Big Ten schedule?
Sedor: Yes, Matt McGloin should start against Indiana. He's the only Penn State quarterback that's put in a watchable performance in 2011. And, yes, it was against Eastern Michigan. OK, sure, the 1-10 for 0 yards stinker the Man with Moxie put up against Alabama didn't do much to dispel the "he can't do it against good teams" chorus. But what exactly did Rob Bolden do in September to deserve playing time? Call him what you will -- McPickSix, McGroin, McLovin -- but the Scranton Gunslinger should also be called PSU's starter.
Rowlff Dogg: We've already wasted 4 games that could've sped up Rob Bolden's development. So, why wouldn't we continue to retard it? We're going to be asking this same question during the offseason while we dodge Bolden transfer rumors. After yet another middling Florida bowl game, you just know Joe Paterno is going to say, "Gee, I wish I had done this..." just like he does every year. Well Joe, NOW is the time to something about the quarterback controversy that YOU created.
If I'm Skylar Mornhinweg, my second question is: are you taking any walk-on QBs this year? (my first question is: Do I really have to listen to Jay???)
WFY: Sure, what the heck, start McGloin and bring Rob Bolden off the bench so Bolden has the advantage of seeing how things develop. Oh wait, McGloin disagrees with Joe Paterno that puts him at advantage? Who knows? I think the only way this competition gets settled is if one of them gets hurt.
I've been on the side of making Bolden the #1 all season long, based on his potential, but that is getting harder. McGloin looks better against bad teams and worse against good teams than Bolden - but neither can beat a good team right now. In short, I don't know what to think any more.
J Schnauzer: I thought so. Perhaps this competition can stretch one more week against the last awful team PSU will face. It turns out Temple isn't as bad as assumed. If McGloin struggles against good defenses, then it must be explained how he went 13 for 19 against a Temple team that is a top 10 passing defense and scoring defense.
Let's go back to Temple: on drives that McGloin threw the ball, there was a TD, a PSU drive into FG range with 37 seconds, two punts largely due to long distance after a holding call, a punt after Redd couldn't convert a 3rd & 2. The biggest concern I had with McGloin last year was his propensity to lose games where Penn State had the lead. Four games in and he's not had an interception or a fumble. Not great, but not horrible either. Again, he didn't lose the game, therefore I'm leaning towards the current scholarship player Matt McGloin.
Soheilian: No, absolutely not because he still has not shown anything on the field against equal or better competition. He did what he does best, beat up on teams that pose no competition. There was never a defensive back within five yards of any Penn State receiver this past weekend. I don't foresee any outcome from this weekend's game that will settle this QB competition, I think we'll have to wait until Iowa or Illinois for that one.
Jones: I think you have to start Matt McGloin. It doesn't matter how he played last year against top teams, Penn State fans have been looking for a guy to step up and McGloin did last week. We all might want to see Bolden get snaps under center, but in the end we have to go with the guy who is playing well. I wouldn't be surprised to see the QB battle go into the Big Ten season, but in the end neither of these guys are playing so well that it's a clear choice who should be getting the duties.
Penn State is deep at linebacker, but Mike Mauti was one of the best players on the field. How much will his absence impact this defense? Can Nate Stupar keep up the frenetic pace he set last week in Mauti's absence?
McGuire: I think Stupar will fall back a little on the enthusiasm level, but considering the situation it looks like Penn State is in as good a situation as possible. Having a fifth year senior like Stupar is a nice luxury to have and although he will not match Mauti's overall impact on the defense, Penn State could have worse options.
Losing Mauti will take its toll in some games, but this week the impact should be somewhat minimal.
Jones: It'll obviously be hard to replace Mauti on the field, but I think Stupar is going to hold his own pretty well. We often confuse, not being "EPIC OMG LINEBACKER U" types as being bad linebackers. Stupar isn't great, but he's going to go out there and give you 100% every down. In the end, with the linebackers in the rotation it should be more than enough to hold down the fort.
The Underdogs: Stupar is a bit like McGloin. Good effort guy, but a bit overmatched versus the top teams. If you don't believe me, pop in the Iowa 09 tape and watch them run right at him the moment they knew Lee and Bowman weren't there. Speaking of Sean Lee, punch that kid's ticket to Hawaii. Or wherever the hell they play the Pro Bowl these days.
WFY: Mauti's latest injury is a tough one because I think he has that extra something that you need late in a close game. The interception against Temple comes to mind. However, if you had to pick a position to suffer a serious injury to a starter, you'd go with linebacker. Instead of being at least 2 deep at every linebacker spot, they are now 1.66 deep at every spot, right?
Stupar seized his opportunity last week and caused all sorts of havoc against Eastern Michigan, including a great read that almost turned into a pick-six. I don't expect him to continue it at that level as the Big Ten season progresses, but I think he'll be solid.
Rowlff Dogg: From a game-to-game standpoint, I don't think the linebacking play drops off much at all. Nate Stupar is not a significant step down from Mike Mauti talent-wise. However, Mauti will be sorely missed when we're facing a big 3rd down late in a tight game against a tough Big Ten foe. Mauti's passion is what will be missed the most. He was the heart and soul of the defense. It will be very interesting to see who steps up and fills the leadership void.
Engel: Mauti was not only our best linebacker but was our heart and soul on the field. Stupar is a bit of a drop-off athletically but brings a similar emotion and hopefully as a fifth year senior, can be a leader as well. There will be an impact but not as big of a drop-off as it would be if we lost someone like Still.
Canzoneri: Obviously, the biggest loss for the team isn't Mauti's playing ability; it's his leadership and energy. Stupar stepped in and the defense didn't miss a beat. What concerns me at the linebacker position is Fortt's and Hull's coverage abilities. They looked lost at times, but that could just be inexperience. Right now, I am more concerned about Lynn not making it back for the Iowa game.
Let's turn to Indiana. Highly regarded assistant coach takes over a struggling, low-tradition program. Is Kevin Wilson the guy to turn it around? Shouldn't they be at least a little better than they've looked this year?
Sedor: Some schools will never be successful at college football for historical, geographic or financial reasons. Indiana is one of them. So is Temple. Oh, wait...
McGuire: It's pretty hard to turn around a program without any players that can do anything. With Indiana, they really have to work their way up form the bottom and with Kevin Wilson's system it will take time to start seeing any kind of change. Obviously losing to North Texas was a little embarrassing, but look at Wilson has been doing. He has already landed a top quarterback recruit and that got people talking about Indiana football at times when nobody would ever think of discussing the Hoosiers. Baby steps, slowly but surely, piece by piece.
Kevin Wilson may not be the guy that makes Indiana a Big Ten contender, but if given time he could be the guy to get them in the right direction.
Collyer: Kevin makes a really interesting point here. Penn State and Indiana are these inverse mirror images of each other in major college athletics - exceptional at one major sport while being miserable at the other. I like the Wilson hire in much the same way I like the Pat Chambers basketball hire by the Nittany Lions. Wilson is more decorated as a coordinator, but each has the energy and drive necessary to put in the work. But maybe Chambers isn't the best comparison to Wilson. If Kevin's last sentence is right, then the best comparison to Wilson is Ed DeChellis.
J Schnauzer: I knew they were bad, but I thought they at least had a pulse. Kevin Wilson has the pedigree, the facilities, and the support of the AD behind him. Give him two years to establish an offense and four years to establish a defense. I'm convinced this team will finally turn the corner.
The Underdogs: Too early to tell. Who knows what Wilson thought when he took over the job and saw the puddle of diarrhea he had to work with. He at least hoped for something solid he could mold into a semblance of a shape. Chances are he's rebuilding them from top to bottom and that usually means a rough first year. Except, Indiana's limitation has always been their ceiling and it remains to be seen if he is able to raise it.
Pick one - Dukes or Beachum.
WFY: Dukes, he's healthier, right?
McGuire: Well, Beachum is not playing this week, so I'll go with Dukes. Honestly I think I need to see more of Dukes before making a real decision between the two, and I hope BEachum comes back soon because I think having him in the mix can be an underrated asset for the offense.
My question is this though. Will we ever see Stephfon Green again?
Engel: As Joe Paterno put it, Dukes problems are not when he has the ball. I really like his running style but if he wants to play, he has to learn the plays and he has to become a better blocker.
Rowlff Dogg: Curtis Dukes. Our tailgate has a connection* to Dukes, so it is in our best interest to see him succeed. (*- nothing that's an NCAA violation, I swear)
Canzoneri: If Dukes could pick up a block, I would go with him. He has to realize that he is, at times, the last line of pass protection. Until then, it is Beachum without a doubt.
The Underdogs: Why? Yet another case of one being the more natural football player versus the more talented, higher ceiling player. Why do we have so many of these? I suppose because we have to go looking under rocks for players not already picked over by other schools.
Jones: Beachum. From the press box it can be hard to see every number and often times I've thought Beachum was Redd. Not quite the same kind of runner, but more power and a few quick steps. Dukes has looked good though.
The Underdogs: 23-10.
Rowlff Dogg: PSU 29-14. Indiana scores a fluky touchdown somewhat early to make it feel closer than it actually is. And in the upset of the day, the PSU receivers have ZERO drops.
J Schnauzer: Penn State 42, Indiana 10.
McGuire: Penn State has never lost to Indiana, and I expect that perfect streak to continue for at least one more year. Penn State in a blowout that won't look like it because, well, that's what Indiana does. Let's throw in a couple touchdown passes by Matt McGloin too for good measure and to add some more fuel to the fire.
Canzoneri: * There will be 1,500 new articles next week discussing the quarterback situation without anything new to be said. It is becoming as nauseating as listening to Joe Buck announcing, or worse, Chris Berman. * There will be just as many new message board threads on how much JayPa should hit the bricks. This will only be compounded by him writing another article. * If the defense gives up more than a touchdown and two field goals I will be surprised. * The offense will, once again, start slow. The defense will have five (5) turnovers. Sukay gets an interception, so will Amos and a linebacker. The defensive line forces two (2) fumbles. * PSU scores in the 30s again.
Soheilian: Penn State 31, Indiana 3.
Engel: Penn State 27, Indiana 13.
Sedor: Vegas says 32-15. I say Penn State will win but will not cover the 16.5 point spread making them 0-5 in Las Vegas' omniscient eye. Going with the under as well.
WFY: Matt McGloin will light up the Hoosiers. The quarterback situation will have the clarity of the Susquehanna after Tropical Storm Lee. Joe Paterno will coach from the box. Rob Bolden will continue to be taller than McGloin. Songs from the Bruce Springsteen of Indiana, John Cougar Mellencamp, will be played throughout the day. In other news, New Jersey is so much better than Indiana. CB D'Anton Lynn will be missed more than Mauti. Slias Redd will rush for over 100 yards.
Isn't it weird that the Nittany Lions are traveling to play the Hoosiers, but not going to suburban Maryland to play the game? I was all ready to get on the Blue Line to FedEx Field.
And from our BSD regulars . . .
Jeff Junstrom: Take the spread at kickoff, subtract one, and that will be Penn State's margin of victory. Both QBs look good, and Silas Redd gets enough help up front to go over 125 yards on the ground.
Mike Pettigano: PSU 35-14. Indiana makes some good completions, especially when attacking D'Anton Lynn's vacant corner spot. But overall, Penn State stuffs the Indiana run game, forcing the Hoosiers to be one-dimensional. Whoever starts at quarterback doesn't matter anymore. I don't care. Penn State should really focus on running the ball this week, but that doesn't mean be stubborn about it. Throw on first and second downs, then thrown in a screen or run on third. But whatever, just win the game without any big mistakes, and work on being as efficient as possible on both sides of the ball. I'd take a clean win over a flashy win.
Peter Gray: 31-10, PSU. Silas Redd finally gets some help from the offensive line (More accurately, the Indiana defensive line) and goes for 100+ yards and two scores. Both quarterbacks will look proficient. The defense will good, but you'll be able to tell that Mauti and Lynn aren't there.
Jones: Indiana just isn't that good right now. It might start out a little ugly, but I don't see a 35-14 victory being out of the question. Maybe Redd can get it going agian.
Collyer: I feel better about this team than I did several weeks ago. Cupcakes and a Temple blowout certainly helped that. I'm still not completely sold. I think we'll move the ball on Saturday and might even get well ahead early. I also think that the Hoosiers will try to mount a furious comeback in the 4th quarter, only to be denied. Penn State wins 27-14.