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BSD Mailbag 10.18.19

It’s white out week, and we’re answering your questions!

Penn State v Iowa
oh, to be a fly on the stadium here...
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Whose been the biggest surprise this year? And why is it Robert Windsor? This guy feels like Carl Nassib 2.0—rpm5103

Windsor is a good choice - and it’s funny to me that Nassib is the comparison you’re going with, because I will go to my death screaming about how Carl Nassib owes Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel some of his signing bonus since they were double (if not triple!) teamed on every play, thus letting Nassib have an award-winning season before getting drafted.

Windsor is benefiting similarly, with offensive coordinators attempting to scheme around Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney (and probably almost any end we put in there) - which frees up Windsor to make plays like he did on Saturday.

How good could Windsor have been...If he ordered 4 sandwiches at The Field?—Claypool3

Aw man, that’s just off the charts good, to an extent that I’m not sure I can even contemplate it. Let’s hope it has (or will) happen.

Is it just me or does anyone else seem to hold their breath when Clifford does that shuffle pass pitch to the RB? I think most of them were to Cain and most were good gains but they just seemed a little awkward to me.—bva-psu

This is interesting—this is actually the first year in which I don’t really hold my breath with the pitch (and for some reason, I even did when we had Saquon out of the backfield, which is dumb because he did not fumble once for us). These young backs just seem to be able to execute when we need them to, and with time, Sean Clifford won’t have slow starts and will be one of them. It’s great to see.

Justin Shorter showed his technical ability to catch the ball--he made a fairly difficult catch look relatively easy. With his size and ability, when are we going to see a conscious effort to target him more?—CyphaPSU

He was dinged up for the Purdue game after taking the targeting at Maryland, and I think they were just easing him back into games last week. Regardless, what’s crazy (good) to me is our embarrassment of riches.

It’s not like we have unlimited offensive plays every game; it’s actually pretty zero-sum. So whose touches would you give up in order to get Shorter the ball more? KJ Hamler’s? Pat Freiermuth’s? Noah Cain’s?

I think that these coaches will put our players and our team in the best position to win. They’ll make adjustments (which they’ve been good at this year), and if an opposing defense looks to lock down KJ, we’ll target Pat. If they lock down Pat, we’ll target Shorter. If they try to lock down Shorter, we’ll target Jahan Dotson. And same with the RBs (including screens, and catches/pitches out of the backfield). This is a great position to be in, and even with our talent two years ago, once Chris Godwin left I’m not sure we were as multi-dimensional as we are right now.

How many more years do you think we have with Pry as DC? I think he’s gone after this year. And he’s earned it.

Follow up, who would you like to replace Pry if/when he gets a HC gig? Gotta be Coach Chaos right?—swift_retribution

While I wouldn’t blame him for leaving after this season, I actually think after next season would make more sense - most folks associated with our program (coaches, staff, recruits) can tell that next year’s The Year. This year, I don’t think we were supposed to be this good - we’re ahead of schedule, helped by other programs’ failures to really impress. But next season, with very little expected turnover, looks like it could be pretty special.

And Pry has interviewed for the head coaching position at a number of smaller FBS schools and turned down the offers (or at the least, removed himself from consideration) - he makes more money as the DC at Penn State than he would as the HC at many other schools, he knows that he loves this job and is good at it (and has a boss he loves and trusts), and he has family in and around Penn State. It’s a win-win for him.

In terms of a Pry replacement, Sean Spencer is already the Associate Head Coach - I don’t see him getting the DC gig (nor wanting it), as he’s so motivated and good at what he does. He’s had many opportunities to become a DC before and not taken them. I think it’s more likely, if it’s an internal promotion, it’d be safeties coach Tim Banks, whose title already includes “Co-Defensive Coordinator”.

This came up at my house as we watched the Iowa game. What if you could take one player from all of Penn State history and place them, at their collegiate best, on this team? Who would you choose?

So, here’s my take on this. I look at it as a question of need. The current defense is stacked. Sure Lavar, Conlan or Poz would make the linebackers absolutely terrifying. Adding Kim Herring or Darren Perry to the secondary would be awesome. Courtney Brown, Matt Millen or Bruce Clark added to this DL? Yikes. But we don’t have a glaring need there. The defense will be excellent even without adding them.

So I go offense. The Lawnboyz are deep and talented. We two good TE’s and a deep WR core. As much as I would love to add Bobby Engram to the offense I’m not sure that’s the biggest need. So we’re down to QB or OL. As much as I would like to see what Chuck Fusina – who was my dad’s pick by the way – would do in this offense (he was mobile, smart and a great leader) I think the OL is the best option here. Jeff Hartings or Steve Wisnewski would be fantastic additions to the middle of the line. How fun would it be to watch Thorpe and Wisnewski the Elder, two players who are known for their mean streaks, play aside each other? I could also see Hartings, maybe the best technician at OL in Penn State history, move to the center position.

I’d go interior OL. What would be your call?—Kilgore42

I’m actually pretty ok with our o-line so far this year - any o-line isn’t perfect, and the scheme we’re running this year seems to fit with their abilities. I know it’s probably anathema, but I’d probably take a quarterback.

Sean Clifford will be a great quarterback for us, but as of now, he’s just ok to good (great against Maryland, only ok against Pitt and Purdue in the second half and Iowa in the first). If we had an infusion of leadership and game expertise at the quarterback position, there’d be no question that we would be a legitimate playoff contender this season.

But which QB? Michael Robinson is unarguably the best runner we’ve had at QB so could run the RPO well, but his downfield passing wasn’t as good as some of his predecessors. Recency bias, and familiarity with the system, argues that Trace McSorley would be a good choice to. I could also make really strong cases for Todd Blackledge or Kerry Collins, whose leadership on the field would be marked.

But I’m actually gonna go completely left field and choose Zack Mills, circa 2002. Before he was irrevocably broken and a shell of his former self, Mills was money and possibly the only talented offensive player on some of his PSU teams. He was one of the best running quarterbacks we’ve had at PSU, and had an arm to match. I’d love to see what a young Mills could’ve done in this offense at his prime.

O’Neil is an ass, but what was the replay crew watching to determine that there was overwhelming evidence to overturn the call on the field?—LarzLion

While technically it was the replay official’s call, I don’t think the Big Ten has replied definitively that it was the replay crew. Regardless, I don’t disagree - and no one besides the referees on the field that day does.

If John O’Neill is assigned, to another Penn State game, can we set up a BSD fund to have somebody kneecap him before he can take the field? How far ahead are assignments made?

If John O’Neill is assigned, to another Penn State game, could somebody slip some ExLax into his Starbucks McDonald’s senior citizen coffee before the game? How far ahead are the assignments made?

If John O’Neill is assigned, to another Penn State game, could somebody put some Icy Hot in his jock strap before the game? How far ahead are the assignments made?

If John O’Neill is assigned, to another Penn State game, could he slip some marijuana flakes into his bowl of Special K? How far ahead are the assignments made?

All submitted separately by Gerry Dincher

I don’t have much to say to this except lol, and I don’t know how far ahead the assignments are made but they’re not announced until day before/day of. But regarding O’Neill, this is actually a really good piece by Dave Jones.

John Oniell: I know this isn’t Michigan. But…Is O’Neill equally as terrible with other teams?

If YES, then how does he have a job?

If NO, then his inconsistencies show some bias. Right?

Officials have a very difficult job but this guy has been on the wrong side of so many key calls. Can I get talked off the ledge and “he may be bad but there’s checks and balances in place (I.e. replay booth) and you’re being irrational” be the logical response or is there really something here?—rpm5103

O’Neill and his crew aren’t as consistently bad to another program (ie, have four games in nine years in which you’ve had blatant crazy calls that are indefensible all go against one team), but they are definitely the worst crew in the big ten. In 2015, they ruled this a touchdown:

As you may or may not remember, a wide receiver cannot go out of bounds and then come back in and catch a pass - but they ruled that he was forced out of bounds here. The resulting play lifted Nebraska over MSU, and this would be the Spartans’ only loss on the regular season (before being blanked in the playoffs).

Serious question about referees: do I remember BOB sharing some behind the scenes info of how the zebras are reviewed? Don’t the zebras have to respond with a rule or picture to back up a call? IIRC, he said the league limits it to 3 or 4 calls and the crew chief has to write an explanation.

Am I just dreaming this or is it real? I would pay BSD bucks to see the report from O’Neil—kingkub

The league is supposed to provide an explanation Monday to the coaches involved. Whether those coaches release that explanation, and risk censure on their thoughts on such explanation, is another story for another day.

Odds of seeing ONeill doing another game ?—jiminore

Ever? I’d say 100%. This season? There’s what, 7 or 8 Big Ten crews and we have 6 games left. Unfortunately, though, it seems that O’Neill and his crew get a lot of the high profile games, so the odds that we’d see them at Ohio State or Minnesota are pretty high.

Regular season is now halfway through. What’s your mid-term impression of this PSU football team? Have they met, exceeded, or fallen short of your expectations? What are your revised expectations in terms of wins and losses for the rest of the season with 6-0 already in the books?—MetsFanXXIII

I expected we’d be 5-1 right now with a loss to Iowa; I never expected to be so confident that we’d beat the Hawkeyes as I was during that entire game, if it weren’t for the interference by the referees.

My revised expectations are a floor of 9-3 (that was my preseason prediction, which I don’t normally do as a floor but an average - so I’ve revised it up) to a ceiling of 12-0. If we play like we did last week every week, the most realistic prediction is 11-1.

Why does Indiana scare me?—spigmana

I don’t know why, that’s crazy talk. I was more worried about Maryland than I am about Indiana, and you see what happened there.

It’s at home for us. We’ll win.

When PSU players start making $ off their likeness. What’s going to be the biggest change? Ads? Endorsements? Would love a top 3 of State College business-player advertising combos for hilarity and great marketing all in one.—rpm5103

For most PSU players, until we get a nationally recognized generational player like Saquon again, it’ll be regional endorsements that will make up the brunt of what they do. I’m sure there’ll be commercials more widely seen that include multiple Big Ten position players, but in terms of individual endorsements, I’m thinking car dealerships and other local businesses.

Clifford should do an ad for the children’s section at Schlow Library (I know, they’re a nonprofit/gov’t run so no endorsements) and Pat Friermuth should do hunting gear. Naturally, Jonathan Sutherland should do print ads for a hair salon.

Michigan vs OUS, on a scale of hate vs respect

1 – Full respect, 10 – Full hate

MI – 10


OSU: 6

Michigan: 8

Does Harbaugh eat boogers because

  1. He likes the taste
  2. It’s a nervous habit left over from a crappy upbringing
  3. He thinks it’s intimidating to the other team
  4. He just doesn’t know that it’s socially unacceptable
  5. He’s somewhat deficient in more than a couple ways


It’s because whole milk isn’t readily available on sidelines during the games.

Is it a bad for the conference that there are 3 teams on the road as 4TD+ favorites?—JayMPSU

Well, it’s not good, Jay.

But at least the Big Ten isn’t the ACC! That conference only has one (1!) team ranked in the top 25, and the Big Ten has six, with three in the top 8. Woof.

Where to watch the game on campus or in downtown State College? Someone who knows someone I know gave them 2 tickets to the game, and they in turn gave them to me. Being a good father, I am giving the tickets to my 14 and 17 year old sons and taking them up to the game. From Pittsburgh, we are heading up Saturday afternoon & back home late night after the game. I don’t have a ticket, and presuming I can’t find a reasonably priced one, I need someplace to watch the game. No drinking, due to my having to drive home.

Where should I watch the game? HUB?? Elsewhere?—LukePSU89

I think your best bet is somewhere with a lot of TVs, decent food, and still has the game on. I’d go Champs (either downtown or the one on Atherton, though the latter is more foody) or Lettermans.

What temperature does it have to be to turn on the furnace in the fall? I generally wait until house gets below 68. How I woke this morning


I live in an apartment building with a fair amount of units, so it’s rare that I have to turn on my heat early - and my bedroom is always warmer than the rest of my apartment. I’ve had my heat/AC turned off for a month now and it’s been great; I’ll probably turn it on the next morning I wake up and it’s below 65 in my apartment.

Public transit: To what degree is it acceptable to make noise on the bus. . . and to what extent should riders feel obligated to shut up, be quiet, and entertain themselves during the daily commute?

I bus it into and out of downtown Seattle every day, and that’s generally my time to read an e-book, BSD, surf Reddit, or otherwise transition between “home mode” and “work mode.” Unfortunately, it seems you occasionally run into three types of people.

  • The Phone Talkers have Very Important Conversations that just can’t wait, so they’ll have them in the midst of God and everyone.
  • Chatty Cathys (of any gender combo) apparently time the ride to meet up with their BFF or their boo, and spend the entire ride gossiping and solving the world’s problems in their outside voices.
  • Music Blasters either have the best Spotify playlist EVAR, or can’t figure out how to silence their phone or make headphones work.

Sadly, I have yet to come up with a socially acceptable way to solve this issue that wouldn’t risk causing a scene. Calling people on it, even tactfully, isn’t very Seattle.—NittanyPUMA

You should never, ever play music or listen to anything on your phone unless you have headphones. Period, the end.

It’s very rare that I’m ok with phone conversations - but if it’s a true emergency (even a work one), the convo should be short and sweet. If it’s more than 3-4 minutes, it’s not an emergency and you don’t need to be having it in a public setting.

Your second situation, though, is far more nuanced. I know I’m sometimes guilty of talking louder than I think I am or I anticipate being, through no malice, and I think there is nothing wrong with having a conversation on public transportation unless you’re yelling or trying to talk to someone across the train or bus.

What’s your favorite game meat? While your choice can include a meat that’s bought in the store, your decision has to be based on the quality of the meat you would expect from shooting or catching it in the wild (so turkey is fair game, but you’d have to be picking a wild turkey, complete with bird shot seasoning).—Succss With Honor Always

Venison. It’s rare I get it nowadays, but every time I do, it’s wonderful.

Grits or cream of wheat? I’m a grits man myself.—dmetz

It depends on the situation. If it’s an everyday morning, where I’m not eating a lot of breakfast, I’ll take a nice bowl of cream of wheat (or even cream of rice, if you’re fancy). If it’s part of a bigger breakfast, with some nice poached eggs and scrapple or bacon, nothing complements that better than some cheesy grits.

Anyone doing a BSD update on other fall sports? Volleyball, field hockey , soccer????—jiminore

Jared’s hired folks to do those other sports in the past, but honestly, the focus inevitably shifts to the “bigger” sports - and the pageviews for pieces on the other sports you mention very rarely (read: only for the big things, like NCAA tournaments) are high enough to make the effort worth it.

Not the best answer I can give you, I know, but it is the most honest one.

Pet insurance--is it worth the cost? $1000 deductible, costs about $400 per year.—48-14

Most of the time, probably not. I know someone in the fanpost indicated that you should check with your vet on whether it would be, and that sounds like the best advice to me.

What’s your favorite Ron Swanson quote?—bearwithscarf

Favorite quote? “Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait... wait. I worry what you just heard was: ‘Give me a lot of bacon and eggs’. What I said was: ‘Give me all the bacon and eggs you have’.”

Favorite gif:

Is the DC area pumped to be hosting a World Series? Or are the Nats an after thought?—psualum9931

I am super pumped, as are many of my friends and family! I was crying when we clinched on Tuesday night (though not as much as when Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam in game five of the NLDS against the Dodgers) - this feels a lot like the Caps’ road to the Cup in 2018, in a very good way. The Nats team is full of weird, weird dudes and I couldn’t love them more (even when they break my heart by losing when I have amazing first row center field seats to watch them in Chicago).

My only fear is that I get the notification for the ticket lottery during the Penn State game on Saturday night and I’ll miss an insane KJ touchdown because I’m trying to put my world series ticket order through.