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BSD Mailbag 10.25.19

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We answer your questions on this Michigan State week!

Heather Weikel

With your Nationals being in the World Series, list in order your favorite teams based on how much you want them to win the national title in their given sport.

Here are mine.

  1. Penn State Nittany Lions football – I remember 82 and 86, but I was 6 and 10 respectively. Old Gerry wants one to remember.
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers – it bothers me that the Patriots are likely to get to 7 before the Steelers.
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates – I have a better chance of seeing a pegasus flying over my house
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins – I have lost count to how many times I have seen them win the Stanley Cup. I would be more excited if I could see more games in person. Hockey just doesn’t work on T.V. for me.

Not listed – Penn State Nittany Lions wrestling – they’re going to win, win, and win as long as Cael Sanderson is coaching at Penn State.—Gerry Dincher

Agreed on Penn State wrestling. Here’s my list:

  1. Penn State football (and it’s not even close, if we were to win a national title when I’m at an age I can remember it I’d probably never get over the happiness)
  2. Washington Nationals (I’m still not fully over 2012’s post season even though we didn’t make it past the NLDS)
  3. Washington Capitals (yeah, we won it in 2018, but that was so amazing I want another cup)
  4. Penn State volleyball (I’d like one more next year before Russ Rose retires)
  5. Penn State basketball (it’s not gonna happen, but a girl can dream)

5.b. just kidding there’s no 5b

If you had been told that we would be 7-0 back before the season started, with a new quarterback, running back, left tackle, guard, starting safety, etc. How ecstatic would you have been, and why are so many people disappointed with the way this team is playing right now? (not me)—wvlion

I’dve been (and currently am!) super excited, because I didn’t expect to be 7-0 at this point - honestly, I expected to lose to Iowa, and then MSU (and later OSU). So the fact that we’re 7-0 so far is pretty darn exciting.

I’m not sure why folks are so disappointed. Perhaps its two-fold - there are flashes of such brilliance in the way our offense is playing, some fans are just disappointed that that can’t happen more consistently (which I do get, but I think there’s a difference between pointing out areas of improvement and flat-out saying that we suck). The other fold is that success breeds greed; last year was a disappointment to so many, going 9-4, precisely because we had back to back double digit win seasons where we went to a NY6 bowl, so not reaching 10 wins (even though, just 3 years prior, a 9 win season would’ve been fabulous) was fiur-everyone-worthy.

Asking for some on BSD...Which is better for a team’s fans – for their team to:

- Go undefeated in the regular season with a high scoring and flashy offense including a win over the top ranked team and one other ranked team, outscoring your opponents 420 – 136, start the year ranked #3…move to #2 in week 3…to #1 in week 5 and stay there the rest of the regular season, have 7 players drafted including the top pick overall plus 2 more in the 1st round and 2 in the 2nd, have the Heisman Trophy winner, be proclaimed one of the best teams ever and LOSE 14 – 10 in the title game. OR

- Go undefeated in the regular season with a boring yet tough defense including a win over the 2nd ranked team and no other ranked team wins, outscoring your opponents 326 – 123, start the year ranked #6…bounce between #7 & #5 until hitting #2 in week 8…fall to #3 after a road win against the most historic program in college football history…and end the regular season at #2, have 13 players drafted, most in the later rounds, but two in the 1st round and WIN 14 – 10 in the title game.

I’m wondering because PSU is currently undefeated, but hasn’t looked so great in every game along the way. My fear is they may end up like the latter team above (1986 PSU), but not be nearly as much fun and look nearly as cool & great as the first team above (1986 Miami), Of the two what should we as fans hope for??

Thanks.—J Breezy

It depends on what you mean by “better”. It’s probably better for the long-term health of said fans to have their team go the first route; fewer palpitations and pacing and rally hats. But the latter is one of our iconic teams, and is such a throwback, that I can’t hate it. Plus beating Heisman winners is always awesome, as is winning with defense and turnovers.

I remember what it was like being #1 all season only to lose and collapse the rest of the season. In so many ways, I prefer to be a fan of an underrated team that no one thinks will make a dent - part of why 2016 was so fun was how our coaches and our players and our fans were the only ones who thought this team was worth a darn. And we were the ones who were proved right.

How many people that are really bitching about Rahne, Franklin and Pry had PSU at 7-0 with 2 top 20 wins, another against a team on the cusp of the top 25 and a top 6 ranking at this point in the season.—BMAN13

I’d say a third. It’s a vocal third, but it’s still a third.

There are folks who don’t like Franklin, will never like Franklin, and will take every opportunity to blame everything wrong with any play or game on Franklin. Similar to Rahne. I don’t get it; I try to be logical in how I approach much of my life, and football is no different. I’m far from uncritical of everything on the football team (that person yelling to give the ball to Cain almost the entire Michigan game? Yeah, that was me, even though I did correct the gentleman behind me who yelled “Why’s Slade in the game?” in the third quarter, telling him, well, Slade did rip off that run of half the field...)

But I digress...

How do you feel about this teams inability to get first downs for long stretches of games?Is it a matchup thing with Purdue and MI? Will it continue with OSU? Do the big leads have something to do with it?

Maybe I should rescind this question and instead, based on all the people complaining about others being “so down on this team”, ask...Do you think it’s possible to both be genuinely happy with this team and still see places where we can improve? Is one anathema to have questions? Are we not allowed to see something and think this is nice, but what if some area was improved?—JayMPSU

I combined two of your questions because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your first question. There’s a wide gulf between being “so down on this team” and offering constructive criticism days after a game.

I do have a problem, as my brother can attest, with fans immediately after a 3 score win, saying that our team “sucks” and we “played like trash”. Same with hyperbolic statements like that immediately after winning back to back games against ranked opponents.

There’s a wide gulf from saying that Penn State’s played like a playoff winning team (because let’s face it, besides the beatdown in College Park and vs Idaho, PSU simply hasn’t done that) and saying they suck (because let’s face it, they don’t - a 7-0 team that has played our schedule is nowhere in the realm of suckiness). And I will call out both extremes as I see fit.

For the record, though, we’re a lot closer to being a playoff winning team than to a sucky team. I’d say we’re borderline great right now, not yet elite.

Who is more deluded: Michigan fans who try to argue they “won” on Saturday, or PSU fans who actually think the criticisms they post on this (or any other) fan site have any bearing on how the team plays?—Paebr332

Does anyone think that what we post on here has a bearing on how the team plays? That’s just delusional, none of us are that special.

Which is worse, drunk fans at the game shouting complaints about the team and coaches, or drunk game thread posters typing the same stupidity?—Paebr332

Oh absolutely the former. Being belligerently drunk and vitriolic in person is far worse, because the people who are the recipients/in the vicinity of the complaints can’t turn off their computer or iPhone and walk away (unless they want to waste the hundreds of dollars that got them there).

How is Don Brown still considered a top tier DC after putting a safety in man coverage on KJ Hamler, a man so talented they call him the “Human Joystick”?—skarocksoi

Don Brown’s system is very good in 75% of the games they’ll play every year; fortunately for us (and unfortunately for Brown), a game with an athlete the calibre of KJ Hamler is not one of those games.

They’ll not face athletes like KJ until the last week of the year (Notre Dame is fine, but KJ’d be the best playmaker on their team too), and few athletes can expose them like he did. We’re lucky to have him and I don’t think any fan, especially those who were shouting from the rooftops for him to get more touches last year (like I was), should be wanting his touches lowered in favor of other players.

Wisconsin has never trailed in a game this season. I know they lost a game but didnt trail until time was expired. Lost a game while never trailing a game with time on the clock. How often does that happen?—adamp1984

This is hilarious, I didn’t know this - but I feel smarter for you letting me know. I appreciate that.

So what if some guys (Hamler, YGM, others with eligibility left but a shot to be drafted high) decide to stay? What if this team gets really close to winning the B1G (which looks very possible) or gets into the CFP and falls just short and some of the players decide to stay for unfinished business (a’la Clemson D line last year) versus heading off for the NFL? Meanwhile, it seems the coaches are enrolling the biggest class in the known universe.—RWReese

It’s not likely to happen, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. KJ’s undersized for his role so he could stay to up his draft stock; and Yetur could stay if he really wants a MNC and feels we’ll have it next season. All reports out of this locker room is they’re closer than they’ve been in years, truly enjoy each other and have fun with the other members of the team, and we all know that goes a long ways towards a title (as my weirdo Nats are proving this season).

Is this team more reminiscent of 1981 or 1985, I can’t decide.—Capt.Jack

I don’t remember either of those teams because I was far too young, but I’m going to say 1985 solely because we were barely ranked in the top 20 to start the season before crawling our way into the top echelon as we kept winning. Plus that season included wins over Maryland, Pitt, and Rutgers.

Have the reports of Matt Limegrover’s demise been greatly exaggerated?—swift_retribution

One of the memes I’m so glad has died over the course of this season is how much our o-line sucks. The perennial preseason narrative that this is the year the offensive line comes together finally feels like it’s come to fruition, and I am absolutely here for it.

I actually remembered to add AriesGD’s question in here!

I feel like this has happened to us before so I wanted to take a look, and I couldn’t find any record of it. I think it must be a rarity but also the Big Ten is notoriously shitty in scheduling their potential division title winning teams not named Ohio State of Michigan (if you want proof, look at Iowa’s schedule next year - woof) so I’d be shocked if it hasn’t happened before, and in the recent past.

A few random ones:

Thoughts on latest Star Wars trailer?

Who’s the most underated player on each side of the ball to whom we should pay more attention?

Can you get with the Maize and Brew guys and figure out if the refs were trying to get Michigan to win because you guys are still outsiders and they are old money or if they were trying to get PSU to win because you were higher ranked and/or everyone hates/is jealous of Michigan? BWI andgBlog have me confused. Or was this some grand scheme by Delaney that failed to get you two into a 6 overtime game that would benefit Ohio State in some way.

Finally, speaking of overtime, what do you think of the new rule? And if they are truly concerned about player injury should they go to the two point section earlier?—Former_DC_Buck

  • I think it looks awesome and I’m interested in seeing how they retcon The Last Jedi (though I’m not one of the fans who hated it)
  • Jahan Dotson is getting no love from our fans, who want more Shorter while continuing to throw to KJ (see above). In terms of defense, it’s Antonio Shelton to me, who’s the heart of that defensive line (in addition to being actually good at football).
  • I don’t see anyone trying to make the case that the refs were trying to get Michigan to win; I think the PSUers who are complaining about refereeing were complaining about it in general, because it sucked. And if there are folks who are complaining about it on BWI please do not link to it here because I don’t want those premium boards spilling over, thanks.
  • I am ok with it! and your point is well taken...because special teams are where the most injuries occur. Though returns are some of the most exciting and fun parts of the game, where players who don’t start on defense or offense can shine.

OL blocking downfield in RPO offense: During the last game, there was a Michigan lineman correctly called for “Ineligible man downfield”. As I understand it, linemen can only be 3yds up field on a pass play, but this led me to wonder: In an RPO offense, how do linemen know whether it was a give to RB or a pass? Or are they coached to not run downfield regardless?—bbsaxman

This is the biggest problem with the RPO, because if an o-lineman is doing his job, he’s not looking back at the quarterback to make sure that it’s a run instead of a pass. So the possibility of an illegal man downfield is much higher - and not getting those called more often is a mark of good coaching and making sure your players have it drilled into their head to be situationally aware of where the line of scrimmage is and how far down field they can go on any RPO play without getting flagged.

I almost typed that I’d rather a guy not block enough on a run play than get flagged like this on a pass play, but I’m not sure that I would rather that - I’d rather neither, thanks. And leave it to Matt Limegrover and Ricky Rahne to make sure the players know what to do.

Football: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State. If you were all-powerful and can guarantee one of these four teams wins the NC, one goes winless, one finishes 10-3 with a bowl win, and the fourth goes 7-6 with a bowl loss: which of the four teams do you prefer for each outcome.

Penn State does not exist in this dystopian hellscape, so you may ignore any implications in regards to the Nittany Lions.—Paebr332

Wins NC: Ohio State. Hey, they did it in 2014 and we won the Big Ten two years later. I didn’t die and I didn’t hate it, so this is fine.

10-3: Michigan State. I know there’s a lot of folks on here that hate Dantonio and MSU, and I’m here to say - I understand that, and I don’t blame you. But I know some great folks who are Spartan alumnae so I fully admit I am not impartial here. Plus, most MSU fans are way more pragmatic and would be happy if not excited about a double digit win season.

7-6: Michigan. Because even 10 wins are not enough for Michigan fans, so let’s give them only seven. And they’re used to losing bowl games anyway, so that portion of this equation would not be abnormal for them.

Winless: Notre Dame, hands down. Brian Kelly is a garbage human and most of their fans are insufferably smug. Case in point:

I know, I know, why call attention to a guy with a handful of followers and no avi...but I had to because the lack of self awareness is so jarring.

What were your feelings on College Gameday’s choice of guest picker this weekend?—Smee

I was very underwhelmed. Lara Spencer is fine, even if every time I hear her name it takes me a few minutes to remember who she is because I’m immediately thinking about General Hospital.

I know I mentioned on here that Ali Krieger was in town the night before to give a talk - last Saturday was her fiance’s birthday, so I guess I’ll give them a pass (maybe she had to leave town for that)...but still. That perfect opportunity was right there, and ESPN (shocker) missed it.

So, we all know CJF and Dantonio history... MSU scoring a TD with an O-lineman in a beatdown, PSU returning the favor in 2016 with a 2nd half Mark would love to forget… But the past 2 seasons, (especially 2017), MSU has been the game to lower the noise of PSU football.

Does CJF unleash it on MSU? Does Micah Parsons return a kick, or run a ball on the goal line for a TD? Does Clifford actually get out of a game for WL to come in for some playing time, or does the throttle stay WFO? Does PSU razzle dazzle with some hitch n pitch, hook n lateral “can’t catch me” football OR Do we see PSU go up by 28-31 points in the 1st half and the offense sputters to the finish line with a comfortable 2 score win but boring 2nd half football?—PeteZockyU

I think it’s not just MSU, if Franklin has the opportunity to run up the score against anyone he’s going to take it. Idaho, Michigan State, Ohio State, he’ll keep scoring in the fourth.

But if it’s that one-sided (and it will not be), Levis will definitely be coming in. Not with any of that fancy schmancy plays you’re talking about, but I’d expect Will Levis to log some downfield throws if he’s in there, in between liberal keepers in the RPO.

“Match-ups” with Michigan State: CJF frequently refers to how the players match up when discussing a game. Do you know of any analyses which look at this? Your “Just the Stats” do this by category, but I’m looking for player match-ups. For example, “KJ will be matched up against Players Y and Z. In this situation, KJ’s strength will be in _____ but the defense will be able to keep him from _____.” Or, “Windsor will be lining up against a second team tackle due to ____’s injury and will be able to put pressure on the QB, forcing quicker decisions.”

From what I read and hear, coaches look for these mis-matches and game plan to capitalize, or minimize, depending on the situation.—48-14

Specifically for MSU, I’m not sure that there are any sites who do this (MGB does a really good job in stuff like this for Michigan). I know the coaching staff absolutely analyzes game film all Sunday to identify these mismatches they can exploit, but I’m not paid enough to do the same. I’ll leave it in their hands and look to be happily surprised when we exploit a few on Saturday.

A friend went to Southern Columbia game last weekend and said the crowd chanted “over rated” every time Flemming touched the ball.

How do you feel about this? I would have been more supportive of the “We Are” chant. It really doesn’t surprise me when this kid chose to go to the most hated team in the area. Don’t think this happens if he was going to Alabama or Georgia. Of course his team won 35-0. I want nothing more than to watch him lose on his two trips to Beaver Stadium before he heads off to play on Sundays. I’m sure he won’t ever say it, but I’m sure CJF blood boils when he sees this kid after giving him the king treatment for years. God Bless college coaches. Tough dealing with teenage kids. Good luck in Columbus kid.—bva-psu

I am very much against this. This is not cool for a kid (because Flemming still is in high school, there’s no debate he’s still a kid). He’s not the first kid to leave Pennsylvania for a school out of state, nor will he be the last highly touted recruit to do so; I’m sure Micah dealt with a bit of this in the period in which he was committed to OSU. People suck.

I don’t really think Franklin’s blood boils - he’s probably still recruiting him, but CJF is nothing if not smart enough to know that these sorts of things happen and you can’t win every battle on the recruiting trail. You just keep chipping away, or you get other players.

Who is Liam Cliffords favorite QB in camps? Lets sign the kid. His brothers favorite WR worked out pretty good.—bva-psu

I believe Liam only recently switched to WR (from QB) so maybe his favorite quarterback in camps...was himself?

In which case, woooooo, we got ‘em!

I’m probably gonna jinx the hell out of the remaining games, but...Is this the best stretch of weekend weather we’ve had in a while to tailgate the home games?—bearwithscarf

We were saying that all last Saturday, and also afraid we’d jinx it. After the record-setting shitty weather last year, we were owed some gorgeous fall Saturdays and we’ve gotten them so far this year. It’s the best, most consistent (in addition to no rain, the early games weren’t so blisteringly hot as they’ve been in the past, and the Michigan game was in the balmy 50s most of the night!).

Meteorology questions: What are the odds of a “monsoon” Saturday? Are fall sunrises prettier than the rest of the year or do I just notice them more because of the timing?—psfann

Latest forecasts have some rain moving in in the second half of our game this week; let’s hope it holds off a little bit more, and that there continues to be no calls for thunderstorms (especially after last week’s Gameday sequence on Yetur Gross-Matos).

I think it’s the timing in terms of when the sun comes up - there are some gorgeous ones year-round, but no doubt it’s felt these past few weeks like we’ve been blessed with beautiful sunrises.

Who is the grumpiest coach in college Football? And why is it Mark Dantonio?—Paebr332

If he wasn’t so grump, it wouldn’t be so hilarious when he actually cracks a smile. Kind of like when Russ Rose actually stands up courtside, you better pay attention when Dantonio lets a grin slip out.

Did Mark Dantonio smile when he lost his virginity or is he so miserable because he is still a virgin?—bva-psu

I have no response to this but I found it so funny I had to keep it in.

Are the rumors true that D’Antonio is going to step down after the season?—LarzLion

My sources are as good as yours (read: not good), but I wouldn’t be surprised. With the turmoil surrounding that program, both on and off the field, it seems like an appropriate time for him to hang up the cleats.

Will this be the year that add actual real lasers to the Land Grant Trophy?

RWReese

I’ll start this reply by saying that Reese didn’t include this laseriffic pic of the Landgrant trophy in his question - he had a basic photo, which, I mean if you’re gonna mention lasers, go full on lasers.

Secondly, this is the most important game of the year. Don’t take it from me, take it from the trophy’s twitter itself:

Now that si.com has turned into whatever the hell it is, where can I get general, national sports news? I haven’t been to espn.com since 2006, and am just looking for a site with headlines and the occasional analysis/long-form piece from a national perspective. Any suggestions?—Bob Sacamano

Aside from the Athletic, which I have heard is wonderful (even though I don’t have a subscription), our mothership here is generally pretty good for overviews of all kinds of sports.

What is your tailgate beverage of choice *if you had to change-it-up from your usual choices?*—thatdarncat

I’m actually not super consistent at tailgates; I’ll rotate from mimosas (including subbing cider for the OJ) to craft beer to whatever you want to call the Natural Light coolers they have now. It’s always fun, though, when we heat up apple cider to add fireball or caramel vodka to it - but of course, that’s only truly great when it’s cold outside, and as we said above, the weather’s just been too darn good this season!

What is a food preference that you have that most other people find strange or dislike? Feel free to make a seasonal selection such as a specific Halloween candy, or just something more in general.—Succss With Honor Always

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that I don’t like, and most things I don’t like (pineapple, coconut, ranch dressing) are things that many people have an obsession over.

You all know I love my scrapple (which is absolutely loathed by many people), and I also love candy corn (especially the now-called harvest corn). I also love black jelly beans, which are disliked by many.

Where can I pick up fill dirt in the DC area? I don’t want dirt delivered to my driveway or curbside. I want to be able to drive a pickup truck to a place and have someone dump a yard or two of dirt into the bed.—WorldBFat

As you know, the DC area is quite large and I’m not so sure where you live. If you’re not just looking for top soil (which of course, you can get at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot), it sounds like there’s a company called RELS that has a number of locations in the area - they sell fill for a lot of different projects, so that might be worth checking out.

Which is the only state in the country whose capital does not also serve as a county seat? Follow-up: Is there a cause-and-effect between this and the suckitude of said state?—Smee

I was gonna google it but I think you accidentally answered this question in the comments! Virginia’s capital of Richmond isn’t in a county, so isn’t a county seat. And I don’t hate Virginia, it’s far better than Ohio.

Just finished Parks and Recreation! Ron Swanson is pure awesome. Any similar sitcom you recommend on Amazon Prime? I don’t have Netflix. I loved The Office and Parks and Recreation was good too.—mook1525

I’m not sure if it’s on Prime, but Brooklyn 99 is hilarious (Captain Holt makes it). I do also like Super Store and The Good Place for comedies - I tried to get into Fleabag but couldn’t. I think I’m gonna give it another try, though, because everyone I know who’s watched it has said it’s amazing.

Are 19 year-olds kids or adults?

Paebr332

I sometimes call people older than me kids, so I’m not so sure I’m a good barometer for this question - but I do think that if I’m old enough to be their parent, then they’ll always be a kid to me. So yes, when I’m 80, I’ll be calling folks in their 60s kids. Deal with it.