I"m going with 8-4...but that's all contingent on the first game. Penn State hasn't played an opening day opponent this tough since Miami in 2001. South Florida in 2005 might come close, but that Penn State team had a lot going for it. This year, not so much. If Penn State can get by Ohio without looking terrible in the process, I'll stick with my 8-win prediction. All of my previously-held opinions on Matt McGloin are in the past, and I'm oddly confident in Bill O'Brien's ability to get him ready to be a good quarterback for Penn State this season. Silas Redd and Justin Brown may have hightailed it out of Happy Valley, but they weren't Ki-Jana Carter (not that Redd gave us the chance to compare him) and Bobby Engram. Say what you want about Ted Roof's defensive track record, but I'm putting faith in Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden to keep this unit together and playing the same kind of fundamentally sound defense we've grown accustomed to seeing from Linebacker U. If opposing quarterbacks have no time to throw, the scary-thin secondary might not be the liability everyone assumes it will be. All that being said, I can only see Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin as likely losses. Virginia, Illinois, Purdue, and Iowa are toss-ups. And Navy, Temple, Indiana are likely wins. What does that leave? Sept. 1. Talk about make-or-break time from the first kickoff.
Looking at the schedule, there is no reason Penn State shouldn't have a season where it wins the games it is supposed to win and loses the ones they are probably going to lose. With that being said, give me a 9-3 record with losses to OSU, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The spirit is willing, but over a season the body is prone to break down. While this team has the talent for a much better record, I'm not sure they'll make it through the marathon. Unfortunately, the back half was already tough and, combined with a thinned-out depth chart, has the feeling of 7-5. My hope is that this team can end the season in a place where every interview they're asked about something other than THAT. A successful season may end up having little to do with football, so it should fit right in with everything else lately.
In the upcoming season, Penn State faces a huge challenge: How to win football games, in a difficult conference, with a depleted roster and no post season to play for. However, the fact remains that, for this season, this team has a tremendous amount of talent. The defense, led by LB Michael Mauti, should still be stout against the run. Against good passing teams, though, the Nittany Lions are vulnerable due to a shortage of talent in the secondary. Offensively, the Lions are led by 5th year senior Matt McGloin, who will finally have an opportunity to show his talent as the full-time starter. This year, McGloin will have less talent to work with as his two most talented playmakers have since departed to USC and Oklahoma, respectively. Add to that the loss of Anthony Fera to Texas, and that adds to the loss of scoring and to a deficiency in the battle for field position.
The toss-up games on this year's schedule are at Iowa and at home against Northwestern (homecoming) and (I can't believe I'm writing this) Temple. All three teams should have improved defenses that are able to get to the quarterback. So, all three games will likely be tight, low scoring affairs, which Penn State could conceivable lose; if Bill Belton and the other playmakers step up, on the other hand, PSU could also conceivably win all three games.
The above said, Coach O'Brien appears to have quickly won the trust and dedication of his new team. Also, there is a large sense of anger and resentment that seems to surround these players. As football is an emotional sport, there is no discounting the value of being pissed off in winning football games. As such, I believe that Penn State will finish the season either 8-4 or 7-5 which, given the actions of the NCAA, is a pretty good debut season for Coach O'Brien.
7-5? 8-4? Are you guys hedging your analysis? A blind man could take in a single practice and see that this squat goes 12-0.
- The defense will have more than 40 sacks;
- The team will be +15 turnover margin;
- Belton goes over 1,200 yards rushing, while Day, Zwinak, Dukes and Lynch combine for another 1,000 yards;
- Robinson becomes a 1,000 yard receiver;
- and Matt McGloin finishes with the second best single season QB rating in PSU history.
- All certifiable facts. Worst case we're looking at 10-2. Worst. Case.
But I'm rolling with 12-0, mo'fo's.
Call me crazy, but I've always been a closet optimist. When this team goes 5-7 or 6-6 or 7-5 or, maybe if we're really lucky, 8-4, I'll point to the myriad flaws and say how we all should've seen the struggles coming. I'd point to a QB, in McGloin, who fails to inspire much confidence against any defense with a pulse, an offensive line replacing three starters, an entirely green receiving corps. A lack of depth in the defensive back seven, and an equal dearth of talent in the secondary. A special teams unit that lost its standout performer and is scrambling to pick up the pieces. A head coach who's never had this much responsibility.
But right now, in the middle of August, you bet your ass I'm looking at the glass half full. Those who've stuck with this team, through the turmoil and chaos and open season on Penn State football players, will be fighting for this team and this university in a way none of their forerunners ever could: for nothing more than the pride and soul of a community that needs them in the worst way, and for each other, because so few could even face the idea of abandoning their teammates. This team won't be lacking for leadership, for motivation, for integrity or for heart. And in the college game, that's as good as anything. When you've been through this offseason the pressure of a close game late is nothing. And when there's nothing to lose, there's everything to gain. Pure energy will carry this Penn State team to an out-of-conference sweep, and as they grow and gel and mature, as the not ready for primetime players take their prominent roles in a new system that encourages them to be free to use their talents, then we'll start to see that this team is almost, just one iota, as special on the field as it is off of it.
Prior to each season, I convince myself Penn State will go 12-0, perhaps 11-1 if there are legitimat concerns about certain units. It's a strange feeling to wonder if I am being way too optimistic by predicting a 9-3 season.
This offense easily could illicit memories of the 2004 season. They also have the potential to surprise everyone by showing a vast improvement over the last few years. It will be difficult, but not impossible. McGloin will have to find a way to become more consistent in his third year as a (kind-of) starter. He seems to be very satisfied with the new system, and confident that it will be far superior compared with the old coaching staff. The inexperienced receivers will have to collectively step it up and prove themselves. We've heard great things about Kenney, Kersey and Robinson. Now it's time to prove themselves. The line is young, but the potential is there to become a much more consistent unit, especially if they can reap the benefits of the new strength and conditioning program.
The front seven should be one of the best in the nation, possibly THE best if one or more of the heralded but untested DEs is able to become a dominant force. They will need to always play at a high level for this team to succeed. The secondary will be thin and inexperienced, which could result in total disaster. If the DBs are plagued with injuries, it could be a very long and frustrating season.
Typically, I would wonder if lack of motivation will be a factor since every game is virtually an exhibition. However, I don't think O'Brien is the type of coach that struggles to get his team up. The players seem like they are ready to go to war for BOB and company week in and week out. Anyone that slacks off will also have Mauti and Zordich in their faces, which can't be a very pleasant experience.
I'm probably throwing plenty of logic out the window, but I think a surprisingly satisfying 9-3 season is ahead with losses to Wisconsin, Purdue, and Ohio State.
There's a big difference between risk and stupidity...There are times to take a risk, and there are times to protect the ball...Matt's getting much better every week. Now, he's not trying to make every throw, not trying to throw every ball 100 miles per hour. He's putting some touch on the ball, being smart with his decision-making and leading our football team.
Coach Fisher's quote is basically the difference between 6-6 and 9-3. For the first time in decades, we have an offense that is dependent on its quarterback to make good decisions, and Matt McGloin will be the guy to make them. The defense will be very good. The front seven will be spectacular. The secondary is talented, but shallow and young. On offense, McGloin is going to have to avoid bad picks and get the ball into the hands of Allen Robinson and Bill Belton.
Despite the drama that's overtaken the offseason, I'm feeling good about this team. I like their attitude, which is coming directly from the new head coach. I'm thinking 8-4, with an outside shot at going 10-2 if things break their way, and the possiblity of going 6-6 if things don't.
Cari: 4-8...or 11-1
It'll probably be somewhere in between. Am I being wishy-washy and non-commital? Most definitely, but I just don't have a read on how the team will do this year. We have the talent and coaching staff to be a top tier team, even without the players who left; but I'm not sure if the off-field issues will be a distraction, or a point to rally around. Ask me again on September 8 (as they always say, a team grows the most between its first and second games).
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