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BSD Mailbag: Spring Football Edition

You've got questions, we've got answers!

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The defense will be even better this season. Discuss. misdreavus79
That isn't a question, but let's consider this thought. The added experience should result in an improvement to the secondary. Marcus Allen, Christian Campbell and Grant Haley were all major contributors as true freshman and will be even better as sophomores. The loss of Mike Hull may hurt but Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell are superstars in the making who may make us forget about Hull early in the season. The other spot should be in good hands with some sort of combination of Ben Kline, Jason Cabinda, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten. Penn State will need to break in some new faces as full-time starters at defensive end, but candidates like Garrett Sickels, Evan Schwan and Carl Nassib have plenty of quality experience and are brimming with potential. That's without mentioning redshirt freshman Torrence Brown, who may find himself in a starting role at some point in the 2015 season. They will also have the benefit of lining up next to Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson, who will form what is likely the best defensive tackle tandem in all of college football.

Like Brown, there should be several other players (on both sides of the ball) who have breakthrough seasons in 2015, so the overall defense could be deeper and more talented than last year's dominant crew. At this point I see two keys for the 2015 unit to exceed the 2014 defense: Wartman and Bell need to stay healthy for the majority of the season and at least two defensive ends need to emerge so that Penn State can maintain pressure from a four-man front.

Paris Palmer will undoubtedly be someone to keep an eye on. Any other names you're particularly watching on the O-Line? PSUHist14
There will be plenty of eyes on JUCO transfer Paris Palmer as he looks to lock down on of the starting tackle positions. I'm particularly interested to see what happens with another transfer offensive lineman- former Stanford center Kevin Reihner. Stanford is my favorite team to watch outside of the Big Ten because they're a bunch of smart dudes playing smashmouth football. Reihner was not a star as a Cardinal, only appearing in six games in 2014. However, he comes from an excellent system that really understands how to develop linemen and the addition of experience and depth will be more than welcome, especially to the interior line.

I also want to see what happens with the defensive transplants from a year ago- I think Derek Dowrey will continue to develop and either start or be a primary backup at guard while Brian Gaia slides back to defensive tackle where he seems better suited.

There are also a slew of redshirt freshman who will be competing for playing time. Among those, I'm most interested to see if Chasz Wright is prepared to play a major role in 2015. Wright is a 6'7", 328 lb. behemoth who is also athletic enough to run a 4.9 40-yard dash. He came in as a raw prospect in need of development, and it will be interesting to see if offensive line coach Herb Hand and company have been able to mold a young player with the tools to become an absolute stud.

The Galen/Jay offensive playbook had trouble getting receivers open mostly because it was limited to 2-3 guys running long out routes. BOB’s playbook had guys open all over the place, but he also had ARob. Donovan’s playbook seemed to be back to guys that could not get open. Is that because the routes are too long/predictable? Or was it more of an issue of young receivers with immature techniques and a tire fire of an o-line? PSU Mudder
For right now I'll say inability of receivers to get open was mainly caused by inexperience of both the wide receiver and offensive line units. It was clear that Saed Blacknall and Chris Godwin did not have their timing down with Christian Hackenberg for the majority of the season. A full offseason of repetition, repetition and more repetition should do wonders to fix that. Furthermore, the inexperience at the OL position played an even larger role- receivers didn't even have a chance to make a break on an intermediate route before Hackenberg was either running for his life or already picking himself off the ground.

Penn State has an extremely skilled set of receivers who are moving up the ranks and my guess is that concerns about this group having difficulty getting open will quickly become an afterthought.

Who do you honestly think wins the kicking job for the start of the 2015 season? Lucius429
I don't think even James Franklin himself could provide an honest answer at this point. Why? Because when it comes to a group of inexperienced kickers you just don't know what you will get until you're in the heat of the battle. There are plenty of kickers out there who can drill 55-yard field goals all day long in practice, but will shank a 26-yard attempt as soon as they're in live-game action. My hope is the coaches identify the right one in camp and he performs well enough so there's no question about him keeping his job. As we've learned during the past few years, life is much easier when you aren't worried about the kicker missing a field goal each time he trots out on the field.

Sweet Caroline: Best song or bestest everest song? jman07
Since I'm old enough not to care about publicly admitting this, I'll say "really good song." I've never been a huge Neil Diamond guy, but that is one catchy tune. Plus, I now associate it with happy times inside Beaver Stadium where I've developed so many fantastic memories over the years. No matter what anyone says, if a song brings that much joy to so many people I'm all for it. There's a place in my heart for every song that reminds me of spending a fall afternoon watching my Nittany Lions.

What is the socially acceptable hour for one's first beer on Blue-White Saturday? First mixed drink? First straight hard liquor? leeharvey418
The Blue-White Game is the lone fleeting taste of football that keeps you from having to go a full nine months without it. On this magnificent occasion, you need not follow any social norms or standard guidelines. Do whatever makes you happy as you bask in the glow of it all for one brief glimpse before the achingly long drought until September.