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BSD Mailbag 11.15.19

NCAA Football: Purdue at Penn State John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Do we beat Minnesota if Shelton wasn’t suspended? Could have used him in pass rush, and I’ve heard him referred to as a “vocal leader” on defense, and they needed some vocal leadership in that first half. For the record, I was fine with the suspension, but I can’t help but wonder in hindsight if that game comes out different with him playing.—vern05

We can say a lot of what ifs about the game last weekend. What if the refs called PI consistently? What if Micah Parsons hadn’t been suspended for the first series? What if Ricky Slade cut inside on the two point attempt? But, yeah, I think we missed Shelton’s leadership above all else on the field on Saturday. The loss isn’t on him, and I still like the message that suspending him gave. But he was definitely missed and we rally on defense sooner if he was out there.

who’s draft stock has gone down more this year? Reid or Gross-Matos? I don’t want to sound critical of our players, but a lot of pundits had huge, disruptive seasons planned for these 2 prior to the first kick, and neither has come close to dominating. still some season left to make an impact, we hope—kingkub

I’m not sure that John Reid had a lot of draft stock - he probably was going to be a late round pick in any case. But I don’t think that he’s underperformed, really, this season - he has five passes broken up and 2 INTs, but he’s not the corner that’s being targeted on most snaps (that’s whomever’s lined up on the other side of him). I think he’ll be fine and this year hasn’t done much either way to change his stock - but if he’s invited to the combine, that would.

As far as Yetur Gross-Matos, he does lead the team in tackles for loss but, yeah, he’s been a little disappointing. I think a lot of that has to do with offensive coordinators scheming him out of the game with multiple players on him, but it also has to do with him not stepping up in a way we expected. The defense hasn’t played much different when YGM is in; part of that is a testament to the depth and talent on the line, but part of that is that Gross-Matos isn’t putting up the numbers we’d expected.

Does the Running Back Usage from the Minnesota Game Indicate a Shift in the “4 Quality Back” Approach? Understand Cain was dinged up, but CJF’s explanation for his absence included a description of the other three backs as all being at 100%. Yet the game was pretty much all Journey. (I didn’t even realize until just now that Slade had 0 carries on the day). Are we going to see more of a 2-2 split here on out, where Journey and Cain are 1a and 1b, and Slade and Ford are 3a and 3b?—papa_wheelie

I think that what we saw on Saturday is what Franklin told us we should’ve seen all year but never really did.

He’s said we would ride the hot hand when a RB was having an especially good day, and that’s what we did with Journey Brown this past week. In other weeks, this wasn’t apparent despite the coachspeak, but this week really modeled that to good effect. Except on the two point try.

What are the next steps to becoming elite? because these last few inches have been brutal the last few years. Not that i’m not enjoying it but when you keep knocking on a door, you would like to come on in someday.—PhillyLion

The biggest, glaring weakness I see every week is execution. How much of that is on the coaches vs the players is something I’m willing to debate - but it feels like our players are being put in a position to win on gameday, with the playcalls there. I don’t want to say we need perfection because we don’t; but we do need a little luck and some consistency, neither of which we’ve been high on this year.

X receiver struggles in our offense: Not intending to be anti-Rahne here. Second year in a row the X receiver has struggled/been somewhat overlooked in this offense. Is it: a) coincidence b) function of the quarterback reads/not getting to the X in his progressions c) not calling plays in the playbook where X is the primary receiver d) simply a characteristic of this particular system that the X receiver is least utilized. And if the answer is d, would it be more beneficial overall to run more two tight end or two running back sets than have the X receiver not being utilized?—phillyfanisc

I don’t think that this is schematic. I think that this has happened for a few reasons:

  1. Matchups. KJ Hamler and Pat Friermuth are often greater mismatches for the defense than the X receiver is. With those athletes matched up against an LB (in the first case) or a CB (in the second), that’s a matchup we should want our coaches to exploit. Even if Justin Shorter is the X man.
  2. Comfort. Sean Clifford is still a young quarterback, and he’s been going to his security blanket KJ as his first read most of the time. And he trusts KJ to get open schematically more than others, for better or (sometimes) worse.
  3. Performance. Shorter has been targeted more these last few weeks and still hasn’t been able to pull in the ball. Jahan Dotson hasn’t had this issue, so you go to the player who can reel the ball in - especially in high pressure situations.

Since it’s #Puntweek watching the rugby punting thing the last few years…

I’m now looking for someone to develop an ‘onside punt’ scheme. The punter would deliberately hit a low screamer with the sole intent of bouncing it off an unaware receiving team member for a recovery. You’d train your whole punt team to look and react accordingly when the play is on.

Sure it won’t always work (but early on, it would have a higher probability of success than an onside kick), and it could bounce off your guy for a 17 yarder sometimes, but that’s football. What say you?—McCloskeywasinbounds

This is a really interesting concept that I’d never thought about before. The difference being, of course, that the kicking team can be the first team to touch the ball (once it’s gone 10 yards) on an onside kick - whereas the only way what you mention would work is if, as you said, the receiving team unwittingly touched the ball. Otherwise, as with regular punts, if the kicking team touches the ball it’s downed where it was touched and the receiving team gets it.

It seems like it’s a big thing in Canadian football, but since they’re trying to rework rules for less contact on special teams, I doubt they’d redo the rules to make this option more attractive in the NFL or college.

If one has a significant other that is a graduate of Indiana that hasn’t fully embraced puntweek, what actions would be suggested to stoke the flames of the rivalry. I’ve already started flushing the toilet when she was in the shower while yelling PUNTWEEEK, but I’m open to more creative suggestions.—mattinglywasking

I can’t express how loud I laughed when I read this question. This is awesome, and also I just deleted a joke about how she’s going to leave you now but rest assured it was a good one.

Another #Puntweek query...Should the NCAA set a maximum age limit for college foosball players? Seeing as how we’ve now got 25, 26, 27 year-old Aussies and NZ’s lining up as college punters.—Smee

Absolutely not. If there was any sort of age limit like this on college sports, we would never have gotten to see this:

Do you really expect a lot of punts this week?—jiminore

No, probably not. Penn State has only punted 47 times this year (a little over five punts per game), and Indiana’s only punted 37 times - a little over four punts per game.

What am I saying? Indiana’s always chaos, so each team’ll probably punt 8 times this Saturday.

I’m going to be in Ecuador for the PSU-OSU game. Although I am looking forward to the trip, I’m pretty upset that I’m going to be missing the biggest game of our season. I have Hulu Live on my phone, but how else can I watch the game internationally?

Muchas gracias.—Bob Sacamano

First of all, download a trusted VPN to mask that you’re out of the country as best you can (folks who are more tech savvy than me, drop your recommendations below). The game is on Fox, so depending on what type of sports package you have on Hulu, that should work once your VPN is set up. If you have a regular tv provider, you should be able to use one of the fox apps to view it (I forget which one now that they’ve changed it this year - every time I go to watch a game, I have to cycle through all the fox apps like a dork).

Do you agree with OSU being portrayed as a villain in the HBO series “Ballers”?—BlueandWhiteTangerines

I don’t watch Elizabeth Warren’s favorite tv show but this is hilarious to me. As long as we’re not the villain, I’m ok with any of it.

Do we get 100,000 people at the game this weekend? PSU has had a fantastic season, and the team deserves a lot of fan support coming off a tough loss. Thinking ahead, do we get over 60k for Rutgers??—bearwithscarf

Announced attendance or actual?

I think it should be around 100k but maybe not for the full game. I know we’ll probably have a few extra tickets, but if it is really gonna be cold and windy like the forecast indicates, many probably won’t stay the entire game this week.

As for Rutgers, I think, like this week, it depends on the weather. If it’s a relatively mild weekend to end the season, I think it could actually beat this week. Because folks like to see a win, and Rutgers will be a win. A lot depends on how the team plays at Ohio State - if it’s a close loss or even a win, morale will be pretty high. If it’s a blowout loss, more folks will stay home.

I’m a bit sad to see it happening, because it’s affected both sides of the equation, but… almost two full seasons in, how smart is that Scott Frost move looking?—Smee

Aw, man, as the years go by, firing Bo Pelini has looked a lot dumber than the mistakes Frost says his players make on the field. I’ve never been to Nebraska, but I’ve heard they’re nice, so they probably don’t deserve this. But also I remember 1994 (and 2012), and they’re in a second tier behind Michigan, Notre Dame, and Texas in preseason delusional expectations, so my sadness for them doesn’t last too long.

The NCAA. Which is more likely: the entire organization is a cynical and corrupt money grab, or it is simply clueless as to it’s incompetence?—Paebr332

Why is it called a “JUGS” machine, and will Shorter be married to it this week?—48-14

A JUGS machine is actually the brand name (who knew?). According to the company’s website, the machine, which was originally used only for baseball, and its name comes from:

The machine was named the JUGS Curveball Pitching Machine, from the old-time baseball expression “jug-handle curve.” The key to the machine’s instant popularity was its portability, durability, and its ability to accurately throw all types of pitches, especially curveballs.

Also it is now Shorter’s best friend, sorry, those are the rules.

What sort of wood do you imagine the Olde Wooden Boot to be crafted from? I’m going with Elm. In fact I sort of want to start calling it the Olde Elm Boot. But there are arguments to me made for other varieties as well.—SubLime

So I feel ridiculous saying this but I have no idea what you are talking about and for once google has let me down. I hang my head in shame.

Any chance to get the frenemies responders to join in the chat again? That was fun, even though we lost—those Minnesota writers were cool answering our most pressing questions. The Purdue dude was cool too.—LarzLion

I hate to break it to you, but it sounds like we won’t be having a frenemies post this week. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Office Thanksgiving-themed potluck the week before the holiday. What are your thoughts?—Succss With Honor Always

I love these! Some of my favorite office memories are the potlucks I used to have when I wasn’t working remotely. You can taste others’ favorite dishes, and discover that some folks have hidden baking or cooking talents that you had no idea about. I would always bake pies (because I’m good at that and they are delicious) but I loved eating mac and cheese and meatballs or stromboli, stuff that I wouldn’t be having at my family’s Thanksgiving.

What are your top five favorite ice cream flavors? I like them all except plain vanilla and chocolate. Why go with plain when you have so many other options. Also, when you go to a place to order ice cream have you made a decision by the time it’s time to tell them what you want? I usually just blurt out something that comes to mind from the 10 to 15 options that I am still mulling.—Gerry Dincher

I don’t really have a top five ice cream (I know!). I love most ice creams as long as they don’t have pineapple or coconut. My favorite styles, though, include a non-vanilla base with chunks of something to chew. I especially like ice creams with peanut butter in them (either a peanut butter-flavored base, a peanut butter swirl, or any sort of peanut butter candy). And it’s rare that I’ll eat ice cream that doesn’t have any sort of chocolate involved.

Beer jelly beans. Enlightened genius, or a pox on humanity?—Smee

Holy hell, I want these! As long as they’re not IPA flavored, then they can burn in hell.