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BSD Mailbag 11.2.19

BYE week numero dos is under way! Let’s answer your questions!

MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros
it me, if I were a well-paid baseball player who just won the World Series.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As good as the Nationals looked in games 1 & 2, What happened? Did they uncork the champagne early (a la Jim Kelly)?—LarzLion

This question was asked after game five, and I don’t blame you for doubting. I doubted myself. But getting counted out was the epitome of the Nationals this season; they were 19-31 in their first 50 games, and were losing in five separate elimination games in the post season (the Wild Card game, games four and five versus the Dodgers, and games six and seven versus the Astros) before, of course, winning them all.

I think, as was the case with the Capitals prior to their Cup win in 2018, expectations and pressure were so much of what had gotten to the Nats in past years; they were preseason favorites to win the NL East, if not the pennant or the series. Being the favorite, for this town’s teams at least, sucks. This year, they were preseason favorites for many in the division, but injuries and holes in the lineup made the team perform worse than their talent before they got better - but when they got healthy, and got Daniel Hudson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and especially Gerardo Parra, they got much better.

They also became a genuine team - the affinity the players had for each other, the energy in the dugout being one of fun and accepted weirdness, and the joy they all took in actually playing the game made the team play looser and freer. And that, I think, is why they locked up at home this series - there was more pressure having won the first two games in Houston, and coming home a sudden favorite to perform in front of sold out audiences got to them.

But they got back on the road, got back into the underdog role, and got down in the seventh innings again. Which for this Nationals team was a recipe for a title - and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

With all the talk about the hideous Land Grant Trophy last week, what is the best trophy in sports? While I do love the Stanley Cup, the Floyd of Rosedale is my pick. How can you top a bronze pig?—Pasadena’95

Right now, my favorite trophy is this one:

How Long Until we get a wrestling preview, season starts November 10?—wvlion

Should be coming within the next few days!

Does Punt Week (Indiana) look like a trap game to you? Decent team sandwiched between two unbeaten teams in November—jiminore

LOL no.

James Franklin, for good and ill, is no Bill O’Brien. And that means that, despite poor showings on the road in Bloomington, he doesn’t lose to Indiana - and he sure as hell won’t lose to them at home.

Super run by the team! Just beat Iowa, Michigan, Michigan St 73-40 with two of those on the road in 15 days. Three teams that play tough, hard nose football. Bye coms at a great time. Need to heal up some bangs and bruises.

Is there anything you would like to see the team add in the bye week? More2 back sets? Have we seen everything the defense can throw at a team at this point?—BMAN13

I’m sure anything I can think of that I’d like to see them run are things that are far too obvious to add in, and thus will be things that PJ Fleck and co (and even more assuredly, Ryan Day and co) will be on the lookout for.

The one thing I love to see and rarely do (because situationally, most of the time it’s unnecessary) are fakes. Punt fakes, kick fakes, any kind of trickeration, I’m here for. I’d love nothing more than to score on our first offensive possession in Columbus and then onside kick it. Ain’t gonna happen, though.

Not a question, but a request. It’s bye week and not a lot to talk about so my request is…can someone compile a list or maybe write an article that compiles a list of crazy preseason predictions made by people who make a living following college football. Some examples I remember reading or watching were that Nebraska would win the big10 west and had a shot at playoffs and that Penn State would be lucky to win 6 games after they had to replace a starting quarterback and running back. I can remember where I saw them or who said them, but I know I heard them and that’s why I’m asking for someone to compile the list.—psupro

One of your fellow commenters dropped this below your comment, and I found that interesting - while Franklin I think is about right at #3, having Harbaugh at #1, Dantonio at #2, and Scott Frost at #4 is hilarious to me. They also vastly underrestimated Ryan Day and Fleck, obviously.

But in response to your question, I went through some of the not-too-distant BSD archives to pull these gems (note that I didn’t plow through the comments, which I invite you all to do and drop me your faves in the comments here):

Most irreplaceable player on defense: On this year’s defense, it feels 8 games in as though few players are truly irreplaceable - Parsons still seems the obvious choice due to being the tackle leader year to date, but I’d argue that Chris L’s prediction of Blake Gillikin, who’s returned to his freshman form, may be the most irreplaceable.

Most irreplaceable player on offense: I’m still on team Sean Clifford, who has vastly exceeded expectations so far this season. But KJ Hamler, partly by virtue of being Cliff’s binky, has got to get a huge nod here.

Five questions for the 2019 offense: Jared was pretty spot on with the answers to the questions he came up with - good job, you!

Stat predictions for 2019: LOL to everyone thinking Slade would lead the team in rushing (all aboard the Cain train!) - he’s got a tenth of what folks were thinking. The receptions were mixed in our preseason predictions, while Hamler has broken out IRL - it feels like, 8 games in, it’s now a foregone conclusion he’ll lead the team in receptions and receiving yards. Similarly, it’s a foregone conclusion that we were all right that Micah Parsons would lead the team in tackles - but my 96 seems low right now (he has 57 YTD, and I expect at least 15 in Columbus alone)

Staff was also almost unanimous in accurately predicting Yetur Gross-Matos’ season - but Shaka Toney was a darkhorse that no one picked, and currently is tied with YGM for the team high.

Season predictions for 2019: In hindsight, all of us seemed a little pessimistic - and surprisingly, no one on staff picked the current most-likely regular season record of 11-1 (though I did say that I could see us go 11-1 or 8-4, with 11-1 likelier). Most of us, like most of you, predicted 2-1 through the three game stretch that just finished up, so being #5 right now is far better than we’d have thought.

Lastly, questioning who’d be handling the naive we were.

The Narrative, the Narrative, the Narrative.

Maybe I’m a sore loser and perhaps I should have asked this last week….We keep hearing from analysts and mgobots that….

”PSU was a dropped pass from losing” ”PSU escaped on a mistake by Ronnie Bell” ”If we played them again, we’d beat PSU”

Forget, that we would have to go through the exercise of overtime……So, did lamont wade break the pass up by making a play on the ball? Reports hint to that. If Ronnie Bell supposedly took so much shit, why wouldn’t he just say “#38 made a good defensive play” and put the attention elsewhere? Why wouldn’t Lamont be more vocal about what, arguably, was his most important play so far in his career?

Michigan can suck a fat one.—mxp864

I think “sore winner” might actually fit here better than sore loser - because, scoreboard.

I agree with your distaste for this narrative, and share it. But I do get where some Michiganers are coming from - at this point in 2016, we were saying very similar things (though our game against the Wolverines that season, injury and bad-ejection depleted as we were, was nowhere near as close as UM’s loss to PSU this year was). In the first week of November, PSU was rolling and not looking back, and how many fans on this here blog were wishing our game in Ann Arbor was played later in the season, because the result would have been greatly different? How many in the media were mentioning that when we were on our way to the B1G championship, even when Michigan didn’t truly knock themselves out of contention until 11/12?

I think that’s similar to what’s going on now (though we’re ranked higher than Michigan was at this undefeated point, which I do find strange). In some ways, it sucks to be the one on the other end of it - but it just goes to show that we’re in our own driver’s seat, and no amount of narrative will change that. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, and I still find myself rolling my eyes at certain Big Ten pundits, but I guarantee you the scoreboard speaks volumes.

Genuine question: How best as PSU do we go about beating tOSU? And I want none of this “pray” stuff (I will be but I want serious answers too) What do we need to do execution wise?—graniteknighte

Similar to the question above (about what I’d like to see us do), I’m sure anything I could come up with here would be countered by the Ohio State coaching staff. Instead, I’ll just point out that the last two years, I thought we’d lose to the Buckeyes by as much as two scores and instead we came out on fire and arguably outcoached OSU in both games before lack of depth and execution fell by the wayside down the stretch (at least on defense last year - the inexplicable fourth down play call notwithstanding, though this year’s offense with Cain would get that first down).

A team that ended the season 9-4 last season lose to Ohio State by one point for the second year in a row last year, and that was surprisingly good. Only once in his five games against Ohio State has Franklin been outcoached, and I don’t think this year will be the second. He and his staff will be ready for that game, without overlooking the teams before.

Much has been said about the second half lulls we see on offense. How much or how little of it can be attributed to second half adjustments opponents are making without our offense effectively countering them?—CyphaPSU

I don’t know, maybe some but probably not all. I’d argue a bigger problem in second halves of some of our games (not all, there have been some games decidedly void of any such lulls) is execution of the plays called - throws that are out of reach of our receivers, dropped balls, poor decisions as to whether keep or hand off the ball. The second bye week couldn’t come at a better time for this team.

When’s the last time PSU received a first place vote? When will it happen next?—JayMPSU

I’m assuming you mean for football, as we’ve had a number of other sports squads get such votes in this calendar year :)

With that caveat, I was sure that we got at least one vote in 2017—but no, I was wrong. Even when Clemson lost that season inexplicably (because any loss is inexplicable for Clemson in their conference) and Bama became the undisputed #1, all of the votes that in previous weeks had gone to the Tigers (or even more inexplicably to Oklahoma) all switched to the Tide. PSU topped out at #2 that year, with no votes for #1. At least this year, Ohio State is getting some #1 votes while being the best team in the nation despite the preseason bias towards Clemson and Alabama.

That being said, next year. Book it.

Has Oweh turned a corner so to speak? Have been reading he’s been struggling a bit this year grasping all the various responsibilities of his position. Had two strip sacks Saturday, is that evidence that things are starting to come together for him, or is it more a matter of his athleticism makes him a threat whenever his only responsibility is to get to the QB, and otherwise he’s still kind of lost?—phillyfanisc

I think it’s probably a combination of both. And it’s also a benefit of offensive coordinators scheming to get our defensive tackles double teamed and out of the game, which frees up Jayson Oweh (a phenomenon that of course doesn’t happen when Gross-Matos is in the game, because he’s Gross-Matos and most offensive coordinators are not completely stupid).

Will Freiermuth be in the conversation for GOAT PSU TE?—MetsFanXXIII

In the conversation? Sure. But Kyle Brady and Ted Kwalich will be hard to overtake in my book. Recency bias notwithstanding, at this point in his career I don’t see how he doesn’t have a more complete career than Mike Gesicki.

where did the two RB sets go, and why am i so sad about it?—eartotheground

I think we only showed it a handful of times and it wasn’t super successful, so there was no point in tipping our hand on them. I guarantee you that the players and staff are still practicing it and we’ll be even better at this set when we next see it - maybe even in Minneapolis.

Is it legal to have a 4 back set? Maybe a long ‘I’ or a box with QB in the middle.. ?—archerbullseye

If one of the four is the QB, sure. But it’s illegal formation if anyone is bunched closer in than a lot of the tight WR sets we’ve run so far this year.

Assuming funds are limited but enough to go to at least two of the following games, what do you do :

- @Ohio State

- B1G Championship Game

- Playoff Game / Bowl Game

- National Championship Game

My heart says go to Ohio State, because team could use support there the most (yes, I believe my one stupid voice makes a difference). But my head and wallet say hold out and see if they go to the B1G and then Bowl/Playoff game.

After that, just go into hock for an NC game if we make it. Still torn though.—SarcasmJam

I would definitely hold out (and am holding out). I’d do Big Ten Championship game, then opponent depending would decide whether to go to the first playoff game (if it’s another bowl that’s not the Fiesta and not a playoff, I wouldn’t go) or save up for the Championship.

Would you rather win the Rose Bowl or lose in the first round of the playoff?—Hate 710

Lose in the first round, not even a question. Because we aren’t going to be blanked no matter who we play.

Am I crazy? When I watch teams that I do not have an emotional attachment to (Penn State/Steelers) those teams always seem faster than PSU/Steelers. I watched replay of Minny/UMD and both of those teams just look faster. In my defense, the live look ins at Iowa /jNW did not have this effect, however I have noticed it a lot in the past.—jbolt1971

Yes, you’re crazy. We’re one of the fastest teams in college football this year.

Now, I can’t speak for the Steelers, but PSU is definitely faster than any team we’ve played so far this season, and faster than over 100 of the other FBS teams to boot.

Do we give Auburn the White Out treatment when they come to town in 2021 and then do a stripe out for Michigan later that year? Or vice-versa?—spigmana

No doubt this should be what we do. The schedule that year is insanely difficult for PSU - we start out the season at Wisconsin, and later play at Iowa, at MSU, and at OSU (the last of those is the week after we host the Wolverines). We’ll need every little bit of juice we can get out of our home games.

Can you explain the fan that pays some amount of money for a game ticket, spends some amount of time and money for travel to the game, presumably some amount of money for parking, only to leave no matter what at the beginning of or during the fourth quarter when the game is far from resolved? I don’t get it!

Just got back from the Steelers game which was a 10 point game and saw a guy who had been cheering the whole time and was wearing a jersey, get up at about the 10 minute.mark, declare to his friend that he was gonna head out, and headed out.

I wonder if these people turn off most of the movies they watch before they’re over too. Just up and stop them at the 1.5/2 hr mark.—GSAPS

I think your question is projecting more about you and than about those folks that you’re complaining about, as you don’t know what’s going on in their lives or their health that would cause them to leave the game early.

Personally, I’ve left games early when they’re close. I have season tickets (and I do realize how blessed I am to be able to afford them) and sometimes a) I’m sick and I can’t make it through the whole game, or b) life gets in the way of staying the whole game.

For example, in 2016, I left the Minnesota game at the end of third quarter. Yes, that Minnesota game. I had left before this:

Why did I leave? One of my good friends was having her Bachelorette party in DC that night, and in order to make the tail end of it I had to leave the football game early. Note that I still missed half of the party, which started at 7; but my devotion to Penn State football had me start that four hour drive at the end of the third quarter rather than just staying home and watching the entire thing from my house or Exiles before excitedly hurrying over after the overtime win.

Instead of being in Beaver Stadium, I got to hear Steve Jones call the game tying drive and game winning overtime, I got to cry in the car when Saquon ran the ball into the endzone, and then I got to drink and dance and have fun with some wonderful people in celebration of love and life and, yes, football.

Personally, I think it’s more a testament to my love of Penn State football that I went to the game at all, rather than an act that should be derided because I left early. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with a similar story.

What is the scariest thing that happened a game you attended?

I was at the NY Jets game when Dennis Byrd got paralyzed. Sitting behind the goalposts that he got taken out of the stadium on.

The QB from North Schuykill, Jaden Leiby, broke his neck this past weekend. Going to make a tackle, he is now facing paralysis. I cannot imagine being the kid, playing the game he loves, or his parents. Prayers to you Jaden.—kingkub

I have pretty good internal defense mechanisms when it comes to my memory, so I don’t recall a lot of scary things that have happened in games. But Buffalo’s punter having his leg snapped earlier this year was probably up there - but luckily Evan Finegan seems like he’s well on his way to getting better.

Which B1G coaches are on the hotseat?

Hard to believe the M coach with the most stable employment status is P J Fleck at Minnesota. MSU and UM may be looking for new leaders this off season. Lovie seems to have bought another season. Ash is already gone, Locksley is new this year.

Would Wiscy part with Chryst after a subpar season? Does NW still love PF?—kingkub

Dantonio’s got to be all but gone, with the off-field (and on field) stuff going on in East Lansing this year. After last week, the only way UM is looking for a new coach is if it’s Jim Harbaugh’s decision to leave - they’re on their way up after cratering, and going 9-3 under him may be as good as Michigan can get right about now.

Paul Chryst has more than earned the benefit of the doubt up in Madison this year (and that Michigan beatdown is looking better and better in hindsight), and the unfortunately the only way that Fitzgerald is leaving Northwestern is if he’s dragged out (and one year like this certainly isn’t enough to do it). Maryland’s made their bed with Locks this year, but next year’ll be another story.

Fleck may be stable in Minnesota - but depending on how they finish the season, and what other jobs open up, he may find himself in demand elsewhere. I think the most likely other domino to fall may be (drumroll please): Scott Frost. Yes, that’s right, the aforementioned preseason #4 coach of the year may be on the hot seat! He’ll be coaching for the post season this weekend - because who really thinks Nebraska will be able to beat Wisconsin or Iowa later this season - and, despite saying preseason that the high expectations for the Huskers under him were good, he may not have been ready for the job.

Now that the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to clear the way for athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness,” which PSU players get commercials first, and with which companies/brands?—Smee

Just for the sake of clarity, the NCAA Board voted to start the PROCESS of clearing the way for athletes to start benefiting from their names and likenesses. That’s a big distinction that I’m not seeing a lot of folks clarify, as it’s not splashy - and that’s probably exactly how the NCAA wants it. It looks like they’re doing what most people want them to do when in reality nothing will change for at least two years, and likely none of the players we’re watching right now will benefit from this. And that’s if they end up “completing the process”at all.

Related to Smee’s question: In honor of the vote to allow athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, what are your favorite local commercials featuring athletes?

My nomination is this classic from Eastern Motors.


Eastern still has local sports stars on their ads - and I remember this LaVar one, though I’m unhappy that he’s with Ray Lewis in it.

I really like some of the ads I hear when listening to Nats games, especially with my boy Sean Doolittle. He’s a goober and I adore it.

How long until the NCAA does athletes another solid, and makes the transfer portal “opt-out” rather than “opt-in”?—Smee

Battle Royal: PAPN vs Solid Verbal?—Sperbro

I don’t listen to either, but Godfrey is a huge James Franklin fan and I like that so PAPN I guess.

Who has the worst hair in sports? Russel Westbrook is a strong contender.


Blake Gillikin is up there too.

Favorite peanut butter: Crunchy or Smooth?—kavija66

It depends on the situation. If I’m making something and adding peanut butter, it’s gotta be creamy. Except if I’m using it as a sort of filling or topping, then crunchy. If I’m putting it on sandwiches or ice cream, then crunchy - except if I’m putting it in a PB&J with a really chunky jam, then smooth.

Basically, I like both and I won’t let you make me choose! (Almond butter)

Best and worst Halloween candies?—WorldBFat

Best: candy corn, harvest corn, Reese’s pumpkins (really, any Reese’s), mini Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, Nerds

Worst: Mounds, Almond Joy, Raisinets, something boring like Hershey’s

Halloween and Valentine’s Day be preceded and followed by 2 days off of school. Agree or disagree?—Gerry Dincher

Disagree. Part of what makes both of these holidays so great is being in school for them, so no time off for these holidays (but yes more time off throughout the school year in general).

Question brought about from the Michigan State game: If you had to pick one. Getting spit on or getting shit on? I have worked in ICUs and EDs for a long time. Have been spit on several times but luckily have never been shit on. I hope to keep it that way.—bva-psu

This is a gross question but I guess spit because it doesn’t smell and seems easier to clean off of your clothes?

What is your “guilty pleasure” song? That song that, when it comes on, you can’t help but sing at the top of your lungs, but roll up your car window so that no one knows it’s your jam.

Mine? MmmmBop or Call me, Maybe.

…… apparently I’m a teenage girl at heart.—Tmbgiants_3

Right now, it’s probably “Forgot About Dre”. And anytime Eminem’s verse gets cut off or omitted I get irrationally upset. Except I have very little shame, I’m definitely never a “no one knows it’s your jam” kind of person. If I love something, everyone knows it.

How do you channel your inner nerd? Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, Star Wars, comic book movies?—dmetz

If I love something, everyone knows it. There’s no inner nerd, it’s all outer - and if you all don’t know my love of Star Wars by now, well, I don’t know what to tell you.

I also, as evidenced by previous mailbags, love me some LOTR, GOT, and Avengers movies - though the latter two are sufficiently mainstreamed that I don’t feel there’s much stigma attached to either. I also love Harry Potter, which is a decidedly nerdy fandom you didn’t mention. I am not into D&D or Doctor Who, but not for some of my friends’ lack of trying.

I recently read an article that said employers are becoming reluctant to hire you if you don’t have a social media presence. As someone who is looking to find another job and as someone who doesn’t have a social media presence, this is very concerning. What does BSD Wentworth have to say on this? It’s discriminatory right? Do I need to rethink my policy and just start posting funny memes on the tweetspace?—swift_retribution

This is interesting, I’ve definitely not found this (but it may be my line of work). Most of my friends and family, too, don’t have a vast social media presence so I’d be interested in where you read that.

I have an important question that probably isn’t mailbag worthy, but at least I know it will get read. And hopefully be answered.

When someone flags a comment, can any/all the moderators see who flagged it?—”that guy”

Yep. We can also see everyone who recs a comment, so take that for what it’s worth.