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BSD Mailbag 10.19.18

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Let’s not talk about homecoming, except for the tailgating, m’kay?

NCAA Wrestling: Division I Wrestling Championship Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When is the last time Trace didn’t throw a touchdown pass in a game? I know this would be fairly easy to look up, but let’s face it…I’m lazy and it’s more fun this way. Oh wait, this isn’t like mentioning a no hitter in the seventh inning is it???—psupro

He’s thrown a touchdown in every game he’s started in at Penn State, so now 34 games and counting.

...and now I’ve probably jinxed it, like I did when we lined up for the field goal on the 19 last week when I turned to the man behind me in Beaver stadium and informed him that we were 100% in terms of scoring from inside the red zone.

How is it possible that a pass that went backwards is ruled as a forward pass? Can a jar hold a door ajar?—Gerry Dincher

It makes no sense to me, though it sounded like the refs said that because Lewerke’s motion went forward, it was a forward pass. Which is ludicrous and entirely indicative of the refereeing in this game as a whole.

Please, please don’t get our own Nick Blonde started on this.

Am I the only one wondering why coaches did not give Tommy or Sean a single series against MSU? It looked like Trace was having an off day. I get that Trace has earned every snap he gets this season, but would it be so wrong to try one of the backups when he struggles?—pags22

Yes.

Why would you bench your record-setting quarterback, the player who is almost single-handedly the reason you only lost to Ohio State by one point? I get that he played, for him, poorly - I’d argue the worst I’ve seen him play. If you bench him, you lose potentially more than that game; you lose the locker room who has rallied around him, and you could lose his psyche for the rest of the season. Instead, you demonstrate you still have faith in him.

I guarantee you, though, that if James Franklin thought someone besides Trace would lead us to winning the game, he would have put the other player in. It could be, perhaps, that the coaches know more about what personnel to use than we do? Just a thought.

Does Tommy come back if he knew he would only see the field 2-3 times so far?

I know he has been injured but think he has been able to play for a while. People here have a love/hate feel for Tommy. Many think he is just a gimmick while others want him on the field more. I am part of the second group. Some players (Trace) just seem to play above their potential. When Tommy is on the field I get a similar feeling. I just don’t think he would have came back to be used like this. And could this possibly hurt CJF with future players decisions?—bva-psu

There’s no guarantee that Tommy would’ve seen more time at another program (just look at Clemson), but it seems that Tommy is still satisfied with his decision.

Last year, and in 2016, I agree about Tommy; but against Ohio State, the only game in which we saw him play, I didn’t feel that way about him. There’s still some time, and I really hope the Lion becomes a force in our offense.

I doubt this hurts CJF, at all.

It’s apparent that there is a lack of depth on the DL. You don’t switch a borderline starter on the OL to DL and have him play meaningful snaps in the game after he switched. Is this a case of recruiting misses or lack of player development or is it just a perfect storm of injuries and some of the above reasons?—LarzLion

I think it’s all of the above. There’s no arguing that the Penn State staff have had some misses on the defensive line (and at linebacker, let’s be honest); because of that, they’ve had to throw some young guys into the fray earlier than they hoped, then those young guys (Fred Hansard) get injured. I’m not so sure it’s a lack of player development; Sean Spencer is one of the best coaches on staff, and he’ll continue to be. But recruiting misses and injuries, definitely.

two questions...

1. How many punts this week?

2. Is it possible that Tommy is injured?—jiminore

  1. All of them
  2. He was preseason, of course, so there’s the possibility it’s lingered and he’s not yet 100%

I am torn: should we be happy that the upperclassmen (eligible to declare for the NFL) underperform?

On one hand, perhaps none of them (e.g. Bates, McGovern, Gonzo, Miller, Givens, Reid, JJ, Polk, Taylor, Sanders, Simmons) would leave early for the NFL. Then we might have the most veteran team in college football with like 17-18 starters returning for the 2019 season. On the other hand, is that really a good thing? What if the team does not take the next step to “elite” status even with a hugely experienced team? Shouldn’t we rely more on the talented youth from 2017 and 2018 classes? Finally, keeping most of those upperclassmen will affect the available spots for the 2019 recruiting class as well, so we might be forced to turn away blue-chip talent.—lamgol

This is just silly. You should never be happy when players underperform if you wish your team well; if you want them to be competitive and at their highest level, that means performing at or above their abilities. No matter the consequences to high performance.

Is it wrong that I eased the pain of the MSU loss by thinking that wrestling season is right around the corner?—wvlion

Nope, not at all.

Penn State sports, in general, break your heart over and over again; but wrestling under Cael seems to always grasp victory from the hands of defeat (especially this past year). Winning the Big Ten isn’t the prize, Tom Ryan, winning in March is - and In Cael We Trust (ps, see y’all in Pittsburgh in March!).

Who is your pick for the Hodge Trophy this season?

1. Jason Nolf

2. Bo Nickal

3. Spencer Lee

4. Seth Gross

5. Cenzo

5b. Someone else?—kavija66

In order of most to least likely:

  1. Jason Nolf
  2. Bo Nickal (only putting him here because I’m unsure how he’ll adjust to the increased weight; if he’s his usual pinning/teching self and adjusts like he did in 2017, he’ll beat out Jason)
  3. Spencer Lee
  4. Zahid Valencia

Seth Gross won’t get it; he’s not a bonus point machine, and though I’m happy he won last year, if he’s a finalist that’ll be as much as he gets. Cenzo is quietly one of the most dominant wrestlers at Penn State—well, one of four coming into this year. And since he’s unheralded, that means he won’t get the press.

I think, without Nickal at 184, Valencia takes to the bump up quite nicely and makes a strong run.

Corollary question... What’s the chance Cenzo wins four individual nattys but no Hodge?—Smee

Very high.

I wrote him off in 2017, and you all know what happened; personally, due to the somewhat “fluky” nature of the pin, I wasn’t convinced that Cenzo could do it again. In the Big Tens, IMar wrestled very smart, and Cenzo was in it until the end when the Illinois grappler won; but in the finals this past season, it was all Joseph. He flat-out beat Martinez, and not on a crazy dope move like the year before; he just overpowered him, and looked the better wrestler. It felt not close.

So, say UCF wins out. CFP or no?—Smee

They absolutely *should* be in; but they likely only will be depending on who else is in. If UCF is undefeated, who would you keep out amongst Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame? All of them have legitimate shots at going undefeated themselves.

The best thing about this discussion is that, if all of this happens, the calls for an expanded playoff will be heightened; I just don’t wish what happened to PSU in 1968-69 on anybody.

Thoughts on the Nick Bosa situation?

Has withdrawn from school in order to prepare for the NFL Draft as a JR. My thoughts: he’s apparently within his rights, but this sets a terrible precedent. And it will become the norm unless the NFL revises its underclass draft eligibility rules to require completion of fall semester classes. Meanwhile, another Ohio State player didn’t go there to play school.—bveo12

Considering he will have had to sit out 23 of the season due to injury and was planning on entering the draft, I don’t blame him one bit.

I doubt it will become the norm; is it normal for players to get injured in their final year of competition? No, not at all. And there were many who saw Leonard Fournette sit out his final bowl game and worried that would set a precedent; so far, that hasn’t been the case. I think cases like this are few and far between, and since players have very little power in the college football dynamic, I support them getting theirs when they can.

Ice cream: Am I the only one who found grilled sticky ice cream sadly wanting?—jlf5

It was 10000x better than the white out. I went to the Creamery last Friday morning, and my friends and I got white out for everyone at our tailgate prep to taste; I was entirely too optimistic and got a huge spoonful. Apparently, the look on my face when I tasted it was something to behold.

At least I tried it, though; my sister, who was adamant on trying fermented shark when we went to Iceland, abstained. To each their own, I guess.

Best Time Zone? Lived on the east coast for the first 22 years of my life, have now been in CST for the last 4 months and….I think its better?

Football starting at 11 am on Saturday is great. MNF at 730 instead of 830 is wonderful considering I can no longer skip my 730am meeting at work like i may or may not have skipped my 905 classes in Thomas (dad, if you read this, i never actually skipped class. that was a joke. for #content).

So, would you say there is one time zone that is certifiably better? Least downside/ most upside?—18novalion

I love living on the East Coast; watching football after noon is the best.

I think I’d be ok in God’s timezone, but the west coast is just too much for me. Every time I’ve traveled into the Pacific time zone, whether for work or pleasure, it’s thrown me off completely. Having grown up in and lived my whole life in the EST, it’s the default for me so I’m inherently biased.

Hi Cari, Long time reader, first-time commenter… who’s your favorite member of Black Shoe Diaries and why? I’ll hang up and listen!—Dylan Callaghan-Croley

Oh, Dylan, you know I love all of you as if you were my own!

...It’s totally Ben.