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BSD Mailbag 10.29.14

Jamie Sabau

How was Hull not named a semifinalist for the Butkus award? Ben16

There's no excuse for Hull's omission from that list, and I highly doubt the Butkus Award committee can offer a reasonable explanation either. Not only has Hull been consistently amazing the entire season, he makes plays when the team needs them the most- which was the main reason Manti Te'o was considered a Heisman candidate in 2012. Even if you just look at the numbers, Hull is averaging more tackles per game than anyone who made the cut ahead of him. It is an awful oversight, plain and simple.

What sort of career in the NFL do you foresee for Zwinak, Hull, James, Hackenberg, and anybody else I missed. Gerry Dincher

I expect a similar trajectory for Hull as the recent members to come out of Linebacker U., which is being selected in the late second round or early third round, then going on to a long NFL career that includes a few trips to the Pro Bowl. I also expect James to have a long and successful NFL career, especially with the way the tight end position has evolved during the past five years. If Penn State can get the offense back on track, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go as high as an early second round pick, but will be playing in the NFL regardless in 2016. Zwinak will get given a shot as an undrafted free agent. Unfortunately, any opportunity for him to be drafted more than likely went down the tubes with his season-ending injury. I could see him hanging around and contributing as a role player if he winds up in the right system for his skillset.

Hackenberg is so difficult to predict at this time. He has the size and ability to possibly be the number one draft pick, but there are too many unknowns with him at this moment. He reminds me of Aaron Rodgers, and I see a similar career path for him, but first we need to see what he can do with a decent line in front of him where he has an opportunity to stand in the pocket and make his reads. Just look at what he did against Central Florida before teams figured out how to shut down Penn State's offense. Right now, he's forced to watch the rush instead of looking downfield, which is obviously hindering his progress significantly. We should know just how good he is in time, but sadly, it won't be this year.

Does the punter(s) suck? Or (statistically) are they ok and I’m just freaking out on the occasional poor kick. 87Townie

They have gotten worse over time. Chris Gulla was actually the BSD MVP of the Akron game, and it has gotten to the point where he had to be pulled from the Ohio State game. His replacement, Daniel Pasquariello, didn't fare much better. The problem seems to be that they're both getting inside their own heads. Many punts have gone off the sides of their foot for minimal gains. It's a common issue for kickers to have perfect technique and perform fantastic during the week, only to have it all go wrong in live-game action. At the very least, it's a fixable problem. It just really hurts to lose out on the field position battle, especially with this offense.

What is the most impactful statistic from Saturday's game? P the S out of the U

There are three things that really stand out for me following this game:

1.) Mike Hull's incredible statline- 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception made for a game for the ages that is among the best individual performances in the history of Linebacker U.

2.) DaeSean Hamilton's 14 receptions, breaking an 19-year old record set by Freddie Scott in 1995.

3.) 256 and 17- the amount of yards and points put up by the Ohio State offense in regulation, the same offense that put up 66, 50, 52 and 56 in its last four games.

Should Wendy Laurent start getting more reps at center? BMAN13

Yes. I definitely liked what I saw on the final drive and the first overtime period (at least in comparison to what we've grown accustomed to this season). All signs point to Miles Dieffenbach returning in some capacity on Saturday, so it will be really interesting to see how things shake out and if the coaches experiment with different lineups. While I haven't been overly impressed with Mangiro this season, it's good to know he has so much versatility and will likely thrive somewhere along the line in time.

Was that the greatest Blue Band halftime show ever? No wonder the Ohio State band was afraid to make the trip. Aqua Velva Man

Sadly, I had to spend halftime in the media room fiddling with my camera so I missed the live version. I did go back and watch video of the show on Sunday, and I thought it was the best performance I had seen in 17 years of attending Penn State games. I'll make sure it's the last performance I miss.

The leaping penalty incurred in 1st OT and assessed in the 2nd OT? Half the distance to the goal seems to be a severe enforcement of any penalty in the current OT scheme. 1) was that accurately applied by the officials and 2) if so, it seems like an unbalanced penalty for that situation – it should be changed. ValleyForgeLion

It was assessed correctly. However, the issue is that it's not called with any consistency- it almost seems like a subjective call that happens to be enforced at random. On top of that, enforcing it on the next possession in an overtime game has a HUGE impact on the outcome of the game, especially for such a wishy-washy rule. I wouldn't be surprised if the rule committee takes a hard look at how the penalty is enforced during the offseason.

Will Delaney finally do something about the shitty officiating week in and week out in this laughing stock of a conference, or does he even care? psuphysicist

I was shocked the mishaps were acknowledged by the conference and that an official was made available to a member of the media. Do I think anything will actually come from it? Hell no. We've witnessed atrocious officiating throughout the Big Ten for years, and nothing has really changed. The only exception was when the officiating crew was suspended in 2006 after Ohio State was upset by Illinois. But the same crew still officiated the Penn State-Purdue game the following week (which was horrendously called, including a pass interference call where no one was within five yards of the Boilermakers receiver and the ball sailed 10 yards out of bounds). The Big Ten gets little respect, and I'm starting to think it all starts at the top.

When do you expect the football team to get some kind of new jersey? Bill

I think they will come eventually, but first Penn State will need to win a Big Ten championship or two and/or make an appearance in the playoffs. Sandy Barbour and James Franklin are smart enough to know that they will need to build up plenty of social capital before messing with the sacred cow that is the Penn State uniform.

What will our record be at the end of November? jiminore

I've been saying this all season- it's so difficult to know what to expect with any game Penn State plays. Without an established running game and a poor offensive line, they can lose to any team on the schedule. And as we witnessed on Saturday, Penn State can also beat any team on the schedule with an incredibly stingy defense and a handful of playmakers on offense. I mostly think Penn State will be fortunate to become bowl eligible, but after Saturday I'll be optimistic and predict 7-5.

I'm trying my best to remain objective about the officiating. Can you give me examples over the last 10 years of game-changing bad calls that went our way against a top 25 opponent? I’m sure there are some out there, but I can’t think of any and need some help. PSU Mudder

Here's the thing every football fan has in common- we all clearly remember the blown calls that screwed our team, while having a short memory for the bad ones that went in our favor. In our case, we seem to have a legitimate case for the abundance of game-altering calls that may have cost us games. I mean, how many other programs have had controversial calls make national headlines with such regularity?

To answer your question, the only time I clearly remember a bad call going in our favor was the 2006 game at Minnesota. Penn State was basically awarded the game in overtime thanks to a pass interference flag against the Gophers that had no business of being called. It will take many, many similar instances for karma to swing back in our favor, that's for damn sure.