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BSD Mailbag 11.11.16

Happy Veterans Day!

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, I’d like to take the time to wish all veterans, especially those of you who frequent this blog, a Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service—we wouldn’t be America without you, and your sacrifice is appreciated by all of us.

With our offense performing as well as it has been, how can we hope to win #puntweek? Where will we find the futility this rivalry was created to celebrate?—InflammableDumpster

I think we can win PUNTWEEK where it most counts - on the scoreboard. Though I have confidence that Blake Gillikin can have the best punting average on the field during the day - and we might even get some good returns, as, in addition to offense, special teams is a big strength of ours this year too.

is it a rivalry if one team doesn't punt?—gestaltshift

I love punting. You know this. I know this. Everyone knows this.

I am okay with not punting this week. But that doesn’t mean that this rivalry will die! We won’t let it!

What if neither team punts? Will we lose our field position advantage? Will it be a double forfeit? Will the game winner be resolved by an overtime punting contest for distance and/or accuracy?—otholion

Indiana will punt. But even if they don’t, it’s because they’ve gone for it on fourth down and we have a significant edge in fourth down conversions—so I’m not worried about that. We won’t lose our field position advantage, because even with horrible field position (like our last touchdown drive against Ohio State, which has a better defense than Indiana), this offense can find a way to score.

What is the over/under for Tommy Stevens touchdowns vs Indiana? Tommy, do you want 3 this week?—PeteZockyU

Combined throwing and running, I’m going for two. But that may be generous. I don’t really expect Tommy in for more that one - maybe two - possessions.

Barkley. I just read that he’s made his way into top 5 consideration for the Heisman in at least one analyst’s eyes. How would he have to finish the season to get an invite to NY? Would gaining 200+ from scrimmage in 2/3 of the final games do it?—bearwithscarf

I asked last week if Saquon has a case for the Heisman. Your answer was a laugh and a solid "no." Well, here we are, a week and another huge performance later, and he’s found his way into some experts’ top 5. Three more big performances and he’s got to at least get an invite, no?—PSUfan93

I combined these two, because they’re similar to me. Listen, I love Saquon Barkley - but even if he’s a top 5 Heisman vote getter (and that’s still an if, as he’s not universally on lists) that doesn’t mean he’ll get an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony. In years past, the difference between, say, the top three and Heisman finalists four and five was so great, they only invited the top three players to the ceremony. So even if Barkley makes it to the top five by year’s end - which, of course, requires the team to win out and Barkley to put up likely 200+ per game - he’d have to have help. That’s also unlikely (not the 200 yards part - the help part).

Some think JoMo gets some HC offers this year. I contend that it isn't something we have to seriously worry about till next year. Who's right?—RWReese

Well, last week I said that I thought 2017 was the year that we would have coaches poached, I think that you’re right. If by you you mean me. Because I’m always right :)

After a few rough years, our offensive line is not only competent, but able to remain competent even with both starting tackles out of the game. Paris Palmer has gone from looking completely lost last year to playing very well this year. Brendan Mahon went down on the first series last week, and I didn’t even notice until the third quarter, when Chaz Wright made his only mistake of the night and McSorley got sacked. Was Herb Hand really that bad, or is Coach Limegrover just that good?—newenglandnittanylion


Anyone figure out exactly when this season took the AWESOME turn that it did? How about the hit on Julius in the Minny game? One could argue that was the tipping point.—bearwithscarf

It was right about that time. That game, particularly around halftime of that game, could be pointed to as the turning point of the season - Franklin has likened the win to his victory at Vanderbilt over UConn. And it was immediately after the beatdown the team took at the hands of Michigan, so it very clearly was going to define how the team would look the rest of the year - and it looked good.

With Senior Day rapidly approaching, who do you think is the most significant player likely to leave early and take eligibility to another school or the no fun league?—wvlion

The two parts of your question don’t really have anything to do with each other, because only graduating seniors (those who aren’t transferring or leaving early to go to the league) are honored on Senior Day.

I tackled the other question a little bit last week, when I was asked about running backs and quarterbacks - I wouldn’t be surprised if Tommy Stevens ends up transferring, but not until after spring if it is clear he’s the staff’s third option. If it’s still an open competition between him, Trace McSorley, and Jake Zembiec, then Stevens won’t go anywhere.

As for others, since Mike Gesicki’s had such a breakout season, he might go to the league - but I’m still not convinced anyone with eligibility goes on if this team is that close to competing for a national championship next year.

When is it okay to feel confident about a game? There aren’t a ton of convincing reasons to be nervous about any of the games remaining on the schedule, but that only makes me more nervous about a young team dropping one for no good reason. I feel like I’m waiting for another shoe to drop and that the team secretly isn’t as good as I think. Is this good healthy Penn State Pessimism, or dangerous soul eating Penn State Pessimism?—psubadger

For the answer, I went straight to the source of Penn State optimism and confidence - our very own Eli. What he says:

Obviously, I'm optimistic to the point where it's a meme on BSD, but it isn't all just a show. I do approach every game in a way that allows me to be happy the longest.

So if I approach every game looking at what can go right, then I spend the entire week thinking of the good things. If the team loses, at worst, I spend a few hours sulking.

On the other hand, if I look at it from the perspective of "setting my expectations low so I don't get too mad," it turns out that I am unhappy after the loss anyway. So I spent all week being sad about losing the game, only to still feel sad after seeing it happen. That's the feeling part.

The logical part is just looking at the stats, knowing what you have and what the other team has. For example, worrying about Michigan State because the sky is blue and grass is green is not something I'd do, because, statistically, it's very unlikely they'll win let alone stay close.

And the counter example, against Michigan, I focused more on 1) how happy I'd be if we actually won, and 2) wanting to see if they'd allow less rushing yards than they did against Pitt.

Guys, this is so logical, I’m going to try to be on #teamoptimism going forward. How about you?

How much Valium is consumed if we lose a game? I want to believe, guys, but there is such a surreal air about this team, I can see some air coming out of the bubble against Indiana or Sparty (highly unlikely against BTPR, but cue Admiral Akbar gif).—PSU_Lions_84

I’m going to be a little disappointed if we lose a game, but it’s not going to be because of the record or what bowl game we’ll end up in. It’ll be because of how darn we’ll we’ve been playing these last four games, and where I think this team can go if they continue to play like we’ve seen they can play. I predicted that they’d go 9-3 on the regular season, and that’s still a really good year - and this week is still the most likely loss, in my opinion. And MSU is the least likely, not Rutgers, because Rutgers is in New Jersey and we play better at home. And both teams are pretty equally awful this year.

I just noticed that Notre Dame switched to turf (Apparently, they’ve had it for a a couple of years… Guess I don’t watch enough NBC on saturdays). With the stadium renovations in the works, how long until we switch to turf?—PokeyStixAreAwesome

Ha. As long as PSU has a world-class turfgrass management program (like they have since the 1920s, when it was part of an agronomy program, through when it became its own major in 1992), they’ll have a great method of keeping up the grass. We’ll be one of the last, if not the last, schools to get rid of the grass, methinks.

Who gets the big guy touchdown in the 4th quarter against Michigan State? I think the fan favorite is obviously Joey Julius, but is there a dark horse?—Gerry Dincher

I don’t necessarily think Franklin will go low. He’s classier than he gets credit for - he kneed at the end of the Iowa game rather than really trying for a TD when it was first and goal (believe me, if we had our playbook as wide open as we did earlier in the game, it would have happened). I don’t think that we’ll get a big guy touchdown. Winning by thirty points on senior day will be enough.

Now that I have your attention Cari:

1. Can any man surpass Cael as the apple of your eye?

2. Who would win, Cael or the bear?

3. Will Tommy get a full quarter to show off in his home state vs the team he was previously committed to?

4. If you find Brooklyn Winter anywhere, will you announce it to the Twitterverse?—C.McKean

  1. At our tailgate last week, I was informed that Cael was signing autographs downtown. I told everyone that if Michael Mauti signing autographs couldn’t get me to leave our tailgate, Cael Sanderson couldn’t.
  2. Cael. Obvi. He has the intelligence to study the bear and its weaknesses and strengths, and use them to his advantage. He wouldn’t use his teeth or claws, but his brain is worth more than that.
  3. Nope. But I hope I’m wrong.
  4. Absolutely. Everyone should drink it.

Pizza. Growing up in NEPA I never knew pizza could be folded, let alone be available in shapes other than rectangle. So question. Is the proper way to order a tray or a pie? Question part two. If you don’t order it by the tray, what else have you been wrong about in your life?—EnisEnvy

I’m firmly of the opinion that you should get pizza when you can, where you can, whatever shape. There is no proper way to order it. There’s no proper toppings - whatever you’re feeling that day is the proper topping. I’m not a pizza judger.

Ledo’s is definitely my favorite, though.

Who in the "Marketing" department can we thank for drowning out a spontaneous "U-S-A" chant on Military Appreciation Day by piping in Sweet Caroline?—Aqua Velva Man

I didn’t even hear a chant myself so I’m sure that whoever runs the sound system didn’t either. Also, though Guido D’Elia (who now works for the College Football Playoffs (or did) - who knew??) was the “Director of Football Communications and Branding for football”, I can’t figure out who might have taken over those reigns for you to direct your ire towards.

What is with women's clothing sizes? I bought my wife a coat. The sizes were XX-S, X-S,S,M, L. Do we not want to shame anyone with an XL? I ordered her a small, but that’s really a medium right.

And also with sizes, am I a huge jerk if I refuse to say "venti" at Starbucks? I just say large.—Life of the Marte

I always have thought women’s clothing sizes were ridiculous. I’ll go in one store and buy a small, and in another have to buy a large. That makes no sense. It should be universal, based on measurements, so you could walk right in and go to a rack and know whether it would at least be likely to fit you.

And dress/pants sizes are the same - you’d think that having a numerical system would make it better, but no! I’ll often have articles of clothing of four different sizes that fit me perfectly on the same day. That’s crazypants.

I know it’s Indiana. I know it’s a noon game. But did you know there’s a place in DC where you can watch Penn State football, get awesome eggs benedict and drink $3 mimosas? That place is Exiles. You should join me there this week. It’ll be awesome.