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BSD Mailbag 11.18.16

It’s BTPR Week, and we’re talking O-Line and bowl possibilities!

NCAA Football: Temple at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Why does the defense play better the longer the game goes on? Is is the rotation? Do we make adjustments? I thought the theory was that the defense wore down because they were reacting to the offense.

Part B. Why does Brandon Smith make big plays when he is sub’d in?—mcbike

That theory is only if you have essentially the same 11 starters on offense playing the whole time, versus the same 11 starters on defense playing the whole time. As bscaff has touched on, we rotate a heckuva lot on defense - so some “backups” play almost the same snaps as starters. In addition to giving them more experience, this also keeps the legs fresh for everyone in the fourth quarter; they haven’t played as much football as their counterparts across the line of scrimmage. And it shows in the fourth quarter, like it did in the trenches against Ohio State.

I don’t think Brandon always does, but the opposing offense I think may incorrectly think of him as a weakness to exploit - not unlike some announcers earlier in the year who spoke about the vast dropoff between Jason Cabinda and him, the play before Smith picked off Purdue’s David Blough.

Since Jim Mora said it was ok to speculate about playoffs...if we actually do keep this dream machine moving and make the playoffs, are we the most "just happy to be there" fanbase in history?—vern05

I feel like this gif perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now:

Because then no matter what happens I’ll be ecstatic! (I just have to keep repeating this mantra Amy said over and over to myself...)

PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THIS LOGIC. Penn State currently leads the B1G East in %chance to win it….. They play two teams to end the season, with one B1G win between them. Ohio State no longer (and they never did after their loss anyway) controls their own destiny, and Michigan got exposed as being a team that struggles on the road…..maybe that MSU game should have been a sign after all. As we know now, if Penn State wins out, the worst they can finish in the east in 2nd place.

Knowing all of this, Penn State is only projected to go to the Cotton Bowl, and Ohio State is being talked about making the CFP, pushing Michigan outside the top 4. Do the talking heads believe PSU is going to drop one of its final games? Or do they believe that it will no longer matter who wins the B1G and OSU is getting in the CFP?

Personally, I think it would be very fitting for OSU to be #2 in the country, until Penn State beats Wisconsin for the B1G, and the last rankings push OSU to #7 or lower, just for sitting idle, and slide PSU to #3……I think TCU would like to see that.—PeteZockyU

I’m not sure everyone has thought through their scenarios. I’ve seen, in addition to the Cotton Bowl (which is a NY6 Bowl, so “only” isn’t bad) the Holiday Bowl - which is ridiculous. Let’s think about the scenarios, if PSU wins out: they’re 10-2, and if Michigan wins “the game” then they’re still tied for 1st in the Big Ten East (with the Wolverines headed to the championship game); with the same record, they’ll likely be above OSU.

If Ohio State wins “the game”, then PSU is headed to the B1GCC, where they’d likely face Wisconsin; if they win that game, they most likely would be going to the playoffs (despite what many are saying, Joey Galloway’s right - PSU would be incredibly deserving and both they and the Buckeyes could get in, especially with the outcome of the Louisville-Houston game). If Wisconsin wins, that leaves PSU at 10-3, but still essentially 2nd in the conference; the Badgers would still likely get in the playoffs, as would Ohio State.

The Cotton Bowl doesn’t even have a Big Ten tie-in; if PSU goes there, it would be as an at-large team and because 1) the fans travel so well, 2) the team is a draw and deserves a good bowl bid. But if both OSU and Wisky get into the playoffs, then PSU might sneak into the Rose Bowl, as they would have made the conference title game with more conference wins than Michigan (despite the head-to-head loss) and wins over both the teams Michigan lost to.

If, say, PSU doesn’t make the playoffs but wins the conference? Definitely Rose. If Michigan wins the East, then the loser of the Big Ten title game will likely go to the Rose, and PSU would likely go to the Orange (where the Big Ten has a tie in); iirc, they pick over the Cotton (but could choose an SEC team, though none would be as highly ranked as a 10-2 Penn State).

The Holiday Bowl is the number four bowl for the Big Ten. If someone is projecting us to go to that bowl, they’re thinking we’re the fifth most attractive team to be chosen - which is ludicrous. If we fall out of the NY6 (and the only way to do that, imo, is if Penn State loses), then the Outback bowl snatches us up in a heartbeat.

If we make it to the BIGCG, has a team QB’d by Trace McSorley ever NOT made it to the championship game? We all know about his 4 9 high school title games, is it fair to assume his Pop Warner teams won the league every year too?—vern05

You know what they say about assuming. Let’s just leave it at, Trace is a proven winner and his demeanor, attitude, and the way his teammates respond to him makes me ever wonder why I thought we’d switch him to safety.

There is still a possibility that both Penn State and Clemson make the CFP, thereby giving Pitt wins over two teams in the Top 4.

a: What are the odds of this happening?

b: What possible combinations of chaos could allow for this Cardiac Hill fapfest to occur?—GophersinCNY40

a) I don’t do the odds, I just go to fivethirtyeight, where they say that PSU has an 8% chance of going to the playoff, and Clemson has a 69% shot (note: I’m writing this before the Louisville-Houston game is officially over, so those stats may be updated, as Louisville is their fourth most likely team as of this writing and if this game holds, the Cardinals are effectively out of it—if you change their model to Houston winning, PSU’s odds go up to 12% and Clemson’s to 73%).

b) Ohio State beats Michigan. PSU and Clemson both win out, including conference title games. It would be helpful if Washington loses as well, but their SOS is so bad that it might not matter - the playoffs could easily take Clemson, PSU, OSU and Bama.

If we win out, does OSU get jobbed at every turn so that UM gets in instead of us? I’m mean, it’s got to be UM or OSU in at all cost, right?—No.21

OSU still has a great shot even with their loss to us; with Speight out, a rematch for Michigan against Wisconsin, so close last time, could very easily go the other way. What looks worse for those two - Ohio State winning and there being a huge argument for expanding the playoffs if an 11-1 OSU is left out for the 2nd year in a row, or an 11-1 Michigan loses to Wisconsin in the conference title game?

Do we burn redshirts on the oline or play for the future? Does the magic of this season warrant the burning of the redshirt, there is no guarantee of being in this position (a possible conference championship game) over the next few years even though the future looks bright.—wvlion

Offensive line is the position group that needs redshirts the most. I wasn’t fully comfortable with Connor McGovern playing so much in his first season in the program, and he enrolled early and was a coach’s son; luckily, he turned out to be pretty darn good so early, and with him being back from injury this week, that’s one piece we don’t have to worry about.

But I really don’t like the idea of burning a player’s redshirt so late in the season, and I’m sure the coaches don’t either. I have a feeling they’ll only do it if absolutely necessary. James Franklin has talked the talk, and shown he’ll do what’s right for the players AND the program, and I put my faith in that.

Given the OL injuries along with the ineptitude of Rutgers does it make sense to keep Bates at guard where he’s been all season and give Brendan Brosnan a chance at tackle? My thought is it keeps Bates where he’s been (and has done well) all season, Brosnan is in his third year in the program and though not as talented, he may be more "ready" than Gonzalez seemed to be, and we keep Fries’s redshirt. A related aside, what is the status of Noah Beh?—phillyfanisc

I think what we’ll see when the offense comes out to start the game on Saturday is the offensive line formation that Joe Moorhead and Matt Limegrover think will put the team in the best position to win the game, and get the players the experience they need. If they think that Bates’ backup at guard (Steven Gonzalez) is a better guard than Brosnan is a tackle at this point in their careers, then everything they’ve shown me this year shows me they know what’s right. There’s a reason why Will Fries was ahead of Brosnan on the depth chart before, though he’s now the backup on the right to Chasz Wright. I think that Fries being moved to third on the chart kinda indicates they’re trying to preserve the shirt here.

What about Sterling Jenkins? Already used his redshirt. Kid is so big he could just stand there and take up space. Is he really that green that he can’t be used to help this injured O line?—bva-psu

Jenkins is the next man up at left tackle. If we have more depth issues, he’s in; he saw some time earlier in the year (versus Iowa) and he’s not completely green. I bet he gets in on Saturday as well, to get more in-game experience.

In honor of Saquan, best player PSU has flipped? Best player flipped from PSU?—rugbyrowe

Saquon Barkley’s got to be up there for the best player that Penn State has flipped from another school (sorry, Scarlet Knights, not sorry). He’s not likely the most talented stars-wise during recruiting, but for players that panned out? I’d say so.

As for ones that decommitted, it’s difficult to use that same metric because the data doesn’t go back that far, and prior to BOB Penn State really didn’t have many decommitments. And none of they players that have decommited in the years since really became household names, or even significant starters (a good site to check out the decommits is 247). So maybe Brandon Wimbush? Just because he may have been starting for Penn State this year? Even though I’m super happy with Trace.

Why are tickets so expensive for this game? Do we really expect much of a Rutgers crowd at the game?—jiminore

It’s still their super bowl, so I expect more fans there than nearly any other game at High Point Solutions this year. But I also expect the ratio to be much more split than it was two years ago. And tickets are expensive because people (Penn State fans in the area, of which there are a ton, but also more neutral fans) want to see this surprisingly-good PSU team play.

Protection? Can we take our own police force with us to Buttgers? Night game…hostile fans...—mhf

I don’t think that will be totally necessary - there should be enough PSUers there to be ok. Plus, you’ll just have to point to the scoreboard.

If I go to the game this weekend, should I expect pedophile jokes? Should I expect them at every road game the rest of my life? I wasn’t mentally prepared for that at the Pitt game earlier this year and I let it get to me. Want to be in the right mind set going forward.—JayMPSU

Yes. And yes. I was mentally prepared for it at Pitt, but it was worse than I expected. I think this year in Piscataway it won’t be as bad as in 2014; back then, Rutgers had something to prove, that they belonged on the field with Penn State and in the Big Ten. They lost, and some of their fans lost their dignity. PSU and her fans coming to town isn’t as new this year, it’s not as much of a novelty, so there’s not as much of a shock factor to it - upsetting people just to upset them. Or at least I hope...

Do we have a shot against Wisconsin? I don’t think so. But I didn’t think we did against osu either. Just read that Michigan’s qb is out for the year with a broken collarbone. Can we realistically win out and beat Wisconsin if Michigan loses to osu?—adamp1984

We’ll always have a shot. I mean, we beat Ohio State, and they beat Wisconsin—so yes, we have a shot. It may not be a good one, but we’re playing good ball right now and anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t have eyes or doesn’t know football.

Is it better to move into a bigger townhouse or a smaller detached—Sperbro

Honestly, it depends on the neighborhood—if you find a smaller detached house in a neighborhood you guys love with a shorter commute, that’s worth it. But if the townhouse is in a location you like better, more walkable or easier to get to your jobs from, then that’s worth it. I don’t really have a problem with either type of house, I just think you’ll feel your home when you see it.

How did you get so big?

Beginning of the season, with a coworker buddy, I said PSU needed to win 18 games this and next season to be in a happy place with the coaching staff. (We left bowl games nebulous, unsure if they counted to the 18.) Having already won 8 games this year, would it be a huge disappointment for PSU to finish with less than 18 wins between this season and next?

Was it a mistake to schedule two Panther teams, back-to-back, next year. Seems like a lot of cat-on-cat violence.

Is it unreasonable to expect Franklin to have another "signature win" next year? (likely it would be in wk 2, 8, 9, or 12)

If someone smokes a cigar at a rate of once every 3 weeks, but owns a humidor and related cigar paraphernalia, is that person a smoker in the general common vernacular?

Since the election, interest rates have gone up, as has the stock market. Will they go back down, short or long-term?

When you’re not wearing pants, what do you most enjoy to wear?—MrNoPants

  1. Yes, I get the NIN reference.
  2. Probably - especially if we get to 11 wins this year, 7 wins next year would be incredibly disappointing with all of the talent coming back.
  3. Don’t fear Georgia State. Or Pitt, like ever.
  4. Pitt will not be a signature win next year, because Penn State will be ranked in the top 20 (if not top ten, depending on where the teams ends up this year) when they play and Pitt most likely will not be. We’ll be expected to win that. I don’t think a “signature” win is something to be expected when you are that highly ranked - no one asks Urban Meyer about such wins at Ohio State, do they? Or even Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, and he hasn’t won his division yet. I hope it’s something we let die for Franklin.
  5. Maybe not the common vernacular, but I consider them one.
  6. Short term, no (imho). Long term, according to non-partisan economists, yes.
  7. I generally hang out in a t-shirt or tank top, sans-pants. I’m not super fancy at home.

Office Holiday Parties—Yay or nay? I’m always down for a good potluck to let me eat and avoid work even more, but I hate getting roped into making something. I dont mind cooking, but cooking for a lunch party is always awkward because you have to somehow make it that day or keep it warm up until lunch. Also I don’t have that go to dish for those situations.—skarocksoi

I’m totally for them. Normally I do desserts (probably unsurprising) and actually, today I’m having one in my office - this is the first year in about four or five that I’m not making pecan pie for our Thanksgiving potluck. I actually had to talk someone down the ledge when she found out I wasn’t doing the pie - she had planned her whole meal in advance around it.

What I did instead:

too many cookies.

Chocolate chip macadamia nut, with the nuts from Hawai’i. Because I’m fancy.

If I were to ask “How you living biggie smalls?” What would your answer be and why?—adamp1984

In a mansion and benzes. Is there another answer? C’mon, son.

Taylor Ham, Pork Roll, or Scrapple?—mattinglywasking

It’s scrapple. Duh.

Also, come to Exiles for the Rutgers game. I may or may not have extra cookies in a Penn State container.