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BSD Mailbag 12.12.14

You've got questions, BSD has answers!

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Over or Under? 4 of the following start in 2015: 
Geno Lewis 
DaeSean Hamilton
Jordan Lucas
Trevor Williams
Brian Gaia
Jesse James
Deion Barnes

I'll cautiously take the over with five at the moment. Barnes and Lucas should be locks to start next season, and I'd be shocked if Hamilton isn't starting, even with the abundance of very talented receivers joining the team next season. James will also have some competition, but I'm not ready to place a recovering Adam Breneman or Mike Gesicki ahead of him on the depth chart yet. Plus, any decrease in productivity for James in 2014 has to be placed solely on play-calling and Hackenberg not having any time in the pocket, not because of James' performance. Lewis would be the fifth starter from your list, but remains an enigma. He looked like an All-American candidate in the first four games before nearly disappearing from the gameplan completely. I'm hoping we see a return to form, because he's a gifted playmaker who could make this offense turn the corner into an explosive unit in 2015 with enough offseason tinkering and natural development.

Williams hasn't done anything in particular to lose his spot, but could be passed up next season by either Grant Haley or Christian Campbell. Either way, he'll be a major contributor whether it's a starter or a rotational player. Gaia has the offseason to improve and could develop into a force by next fall, but there will certainly be an open competition for his spot throughout the spring and summer.

Will PSU lose any assistant coaches in the offseason? Does Shoop get a raise to be the D.C. someplace else? Any chance of Donovan being let go? This is new to us, how often do assistant coaches move up and or down. We were very used to the same guys year after year. Gerry Dincher
I think Shoop will be around next season, but could see him being lured away with a head coaching opportunity by 2016. If Penn State had finished 9-3 or 10-2, he would likely be much higher on the radar for a few openings. I don't see him making a lateral move in the future unless another program offers him a ridiculous amount of money to take the same job. I would be surprised to see Donovan let go in the offseason considering what he had to work with this fall, although if the offense is a major debacle in the bowl game Franklin might have to take a hard look at why there has been no improvement during the course of the season and make a difficult decision.

The days of Tom Bradley, Fran Ganter, Larry Johnson, etc. passing up major gigs are likely behind us. If this team starts winning, expect guys like Shoop and defensive line coach Sean Spencer to pursue their dreams and move up the coaching ladder somewhere else.

What are your thoughts on a pink and black alternate uniform for football? CJF seems to be open to the idea. Not sure how I feel about that… icavalera 
I'm very traditional about the uniforms just because the plain blue and whites were one of the things that drew me to Penn State as a child. They undoubtedly have an iconic look that would get lost if they were constantly tweaking the uniforms. But I am starting to come around to the black and pinks, especially after seeing the basketball team suit up in them last week against Virginia Tech. I don't want to see too much change, but the black and pinks would be fun if it were done on rare occasions, especially since it's a tribute to the school's history and not just changing to something unidentifiable in an attempt to be trendy.

During the MSU game, it was said that Connor Cook was sacked 9 times on the year, while Hackenburg was sacked 43. How does that stack up to last year for us, and how does is year stand up in comparison to the rest of the B1G this year? Dbridi
Here's an interesting fact that will give you a good idea: In the history of the Big Ten, no quarterback has ever been sacked as many times as Christian Hackenberg was in 2014. Just think about all of the lousy offenses we've witnessed throughout the conference- not a single quarterback from those teams was under so much distress as Hack was this season. You can make plenty of observations about his poor season, but the biggest factor seems to be the total breakdown in mechanics based on his necessity to always watch the rush and get the ball away as quickly as possible.

Here is how they stack up against other Big Ten teams- as you alluded to, Michigan State did the best job of protecting the quarterback while Penn State was far and away the worst:

1. Michigan State 10  
2. Wisconsin 12
3. Rutgers 19
Minnesota 19  
Nebraska 19  
6. Iowa 23
7. Purdue 24
Ohio State 24 
9. Michigan 25 
10. Indiana 26 
11. Maryland 31  
Illinois 31 
13. Northwestern 34
14. Penn State 42


Did Baylor and/or TCU get screwed? Dbridi 
Definitely. But with six teams that were nearly inseparable, two teams were going to get screwed- it just happened to be Baylor and TCU. Teams who have a legitimate claim will be left out each year with a four-team playoff, just like during the BCS era. When the teams are selected based on subjective measures, it's impossible to pick the fifth best team, just like it's difficult to pick the third-best team or even the ninth-best team. This will just continue until we have a 16-team playoff, just like every other level of college football.

Does Ohio State have a legitimate shot at the National Championship? And because teams will look at our game film against them, can we count that as us participating in the College Football Playoff? Dbridi
I honestly do. I'm not placing any money on them, but I've watched all of the playoff teams nearly every week and don't think there's a true dominant team this season. Plus, Ohio State continues to defy my expectations so I think they're capable of putting together two great games. I did think their defense would sink them if they were to make the playoff, but after watching them put it all together against Wisconsin, I'll say any outcome is possible.

And if you're worried about the future of this program, consider this- between now and Jan. 1, Nick Saban will spend hours and hours studying a young team with significantly less scholarships than anyone else in an attempt to try to figure out how to stop a playoff opponent with a lights-out offense.

In the history of bowl matchups are we the most "just happy to be there" team ever? vern05
No. Obviously the fanbase is much more excited about the Pinstripe Bowl than they normally would be since it's been such a long wait, but just think about programs like Indiana, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, etc. that almost never go to a bowl game. They would be happy to be at any bowl under any circumstances.

Is the NFL "football family" ad the worst ad of all time? You know, the ad where the family starts out as Vikings fans, then branches out to all 32 teams within 30 seconds. That would never happen in Philly — various body parts would be scattered across the city to hide evidence. bveo12
It's not all that unusual in other regions for people to switch NFL allegiances. As a Clevelander, I've had many friends who moved to other regions and it did not take long at all for them to ditch the Browns for their new local team. Honestly, I can't say I blame them.

How much improvement (if any) do you expect to see from the offense for the bowl game? Will the 3 weeks of practice without having to prepare for a specific opponent be enough to clean-up the O-lines fundamentals/assignments to the point where the offense can operate more efficiently? Drea1020
Unfortunately, none. I want to believe the extra three weeks of practice will help the offense develop at a rapid rate, but after so much disappointment I have conceded the fact that it will likely be next fall before we can expect much improvement. I was impressed with the OL after the victory against Central Florida considering all of the inexperience and was ecstatic with the fact that they would only get better as the season progressed. I really wish I could go back in time a few months and slap myself for getting so excited.

What product can you name that you were on the cusp of buying, but the commercial was just so thoroughly awful that not only did you decide not to purchse, but you bought the competition just to spite them? rahpsu92
That would be Jared Jewelers and Subway because not only are their commercials so grating, they also affect me on a personal basis. You would be amazed at how many times I've meet someone and their face just lights up as they say "Did you go to Jared???" or "Do you like Subaway???" as they laugh for the next 10 seconds at their own joke. I can tell it's coming because of the way their eyes widen like they just came up with a brand new joke I couldn't have possibly heard before.

Did the performance by Cardale Jones cost JT Barrett a free trip to NYC? He was not going to win, but did the Wisconsin game just reinforce the idea it is just a plug and play offense? Former_DC_Buck
I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but that's a very interesting point. I think the reason he did not receive an invite is because of he was forced to miss the B10 Championship Game with an injury. Since he came on as a Heisman candidate so late in the season, he probably needed one more big performance in a marquee game to be considered a finalist. Barring another injury, you can probably bet your last dollar he'll receive an invite next year.

I did find it unfortunate that neither Barrett or Tevin Coleman received an invite with just three finalists this season.

Mary Ann or Ginger? GoodOleDays 
Mary Ann is the winner. I didn't even have to think about that one.

Why does beer taste so damn good at lunchtime? leeharvey418
Because not only are you enjoying a tasty brew, you also get to experience the novelty of doing it in the middle of the afternoon. It's kind of like going to the movies on a Tuesday afternoon- you will find it much more enjoyable than if you go on a weekend just because it's such a pleasurable departure in your routine.

Is there ever any good reason not to hit the "double meat" button on a Sheetz MTO screen? vern05
Only a communist would pass on double meat with a simple touch of a screen. Fun fact: One of the members of the Sheetz family is a big fan of BSD. These are truly hallowed grounds of the interwebz.