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BSD Mailbag 8.30.19

The football season is once again upon us! And to head into this lovely inaugural football (and holiday!) weekend, we’re here to give the As to your Qs.

2019 MTV Video Music Awards - Roaming Show Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images for MTV

Rate the following from 1 (least likely) to 10 (most likely) and why....

  • The first pass from Sean Clifford is a TD
  • The first pass from Sean Clifford is an INT
  • Idaho will not score a TD all game
  • Idaho scores on their first offensive possession
  • At Halftime PSU leads by less than 20
  • PSU scores more than 50


I’m going to put these in order from most likely to least likely, and give you my rankings.

  • PSU scores more than 50 - 9 - Not my prediction, but in some ways it’d be more surprising if this doesn’t happen - Idaho gave up 79 points to Fresno State last year, after all.
  • At halftime PSU leads by less than 20 - 7 - I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens, though like the above, it’s definitely not my prediction. If this does happen, PSU has a couple of quick scores to start the 2nd half and the backup offense is in the game by the end of the third.
  • Idaho will not score a TD all game - 6.5 - so often, we as fans forget how tough it is to shut a team out. In 2017 it felt like we expected it to start the year, and this year our defense is even better. Again, this wouldn’t be surprising - but I wouldn’t put money on it.
  • The first pass from Sean Clifford is a TD - 5 - about halfway through last year he was running a perfect QB rating with all his passes as TDs, so this would not be unprecedented.
  • The first pass from Sean Clifford is an INT - 1.5 - Clifford may turn the ball over in this game, but in his first start, his first pass won’t be an interception. It’ll be something to get his confidence up - and the Idaho defense isn’t good enough to be intuitive enough to have the first pass be completed to their team.
  • Idaho scores on their first offensive possession - 1 - lol this is not happening. The only thing surer than PSU winning this game is PSU’s defense being up for the game.

First game excitement already, even though its Idaho, it is still opening day!! How worried/excited are you to see the new parking and traffic patterns implemented? I did find out I can still enter and exit my lot the way I have for the last 5 years even though it isn’t on the official entrance/egress form. That is good.

Why can’t someone at the university look into getting better cellular reception in the lots and stadium on game day? they are adding phone charger, whooop’d dee doo. No need since I can’t really use mine in the lots worth a damn. They are talking about going to electronic tickets, too. This is very scary for with the current access.—BMAN13

I’m not an engineer nor well versed in cellular technology, but you would think they’d be able to boost signals on gameday - going viral is absolutely a thing, and it’s tougher to get such name recognition and positive viral stories going without cell reception.

And I think a lot of us have been making more out of the new parking than it’ll really impact us...but I guess we’ll see on Saturday!

What’s your overriding game strategy for the first 3 games? Do you play conservatively so the offense gets the fundamentals and learns to gel? Or play YOLO ball to win bigly and impress everyone with the firepower? How do you split the plays for the running backs? Do you run trick plays so the future defenses have to plan for them, or do you keep them safe in your binder? If the score allows, do you rotate in your backups so they’ll have some game-experience, or keep the starters in until the very end so they will have more experience?—48-14

Hell no to any conservative game play. You won’t put in any trickeration, of course, but for the first five games (because, really, do we think Maryland’s gonna be a lot tougher than Pitt?) you play to win, and win big, with the staples in your playbook. And the first two weeks’ll see the 2nd and third strings in by the fourth quarter - on offense, at least. We’ll see a healthy rotation on defense as early as the first quarter, in most games this year, in order to keep our starters healthy deep into the second half. And with a defense as deep and talented as ours, we shouldn’t see much drop off when those rotations occur.

Agree or disagree? Even though special teams account for 20-25% of all plays during a college football game, most Special Teams coaches split duties because they don’t know how to kick, punt or snap anyway, so have no clue how to coach specialists and mostly don’t bother.—Smee

I’d have agreed prior to the addition of another coaching position last year - now you see a lot more special teams coaches with that as their focus. Which is as it should be, as special teams is in many cases an undervalued and underappreciated facet of the game - just as Marcus Allen & Grant Haley in 2016, or shudders Penn State in 2018.

Does the “Swinging Gate” formation ever work/fool anyone? What’s the point?—Pasadena’95

Hey, it works in the movies! And it has worked in college/lower level football in certain instances (if there’s been any times it’s been used to good affect in the pros, please let me know in the comments!). It seems to me, just by the nature of the formation (and most trick plays), it’s better used by teams that may not be as athletic or on-paper-talented as their opponent, so they use the unexpected to gain an advantage. A number of things need to go right in order for this trick formation in particular to work though.

How many players on the Idaho team have the nickname Spud, and is it confusing during team meetings? They probably refer to them as “Spud L., Spud G. and Big Spud” or something like that.


Sometimes, I like to sit back and just let Chris make his punny comments. This is one of those times.

Why are the Idaho helmets potato colored, and yet they are still called the Vandals?—Dbridi

what is the best way to prepare a potato? french fried? mashed? twice-baked? scalloped?—afields16

Idaho week...What’s your favorite potato and how do you like it cooked? Russet? Golden? Fingerling? Sweet? Purple? Red? French fried? Waffle cut? Cubed, spiced and baked in the oven? Roasted? Grilled? Au Gratin? Mashed? Baked?—RWReese

Honestly, I like most version of potatoes. This summer, though, I’ve been pretty obsessed with getting new potatoes (preferably purple, from the farmer’s market) and quartering them, brushing them in oil and dusting on salt and Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning. Heaven.

Potato is the new lacrosse. Over/Under on potato themed jokes this week?—Dbridi

Too many to even set an OU, because it would be over.

How long until we see the pink and black uniforms on the gridiron? Will this ever happen (again)? Wouldn’t a pink and black Stripe Out be the most incredible thing?—UTmountainlion

I do not want to see this. In theory, it would be ok, but in practicality it’s going to suck.

Same with your stripe out idea - because there’s no way that enough folks would wear pink and black to make an impact. Personally, I don’t have any pink Penn State gear (or any pastel pink shirts period) and I wouldn’t buy any just for this game - so if my season tickets ended up in a pink session, they’d be SOL. Blue and white, though, are PSU staples, and every PSUer has them.

Unless you’re my friend Chad and graduated in 2002, go to most games every year, and didn’t own a white top until a few years ago when I made him leave our tailgate with me and buy a white windbreaker from the stadium store the afternoon of the white out game. Don’t be like Chad - own both blue and white Penn State gear.

Clothing superstitions for football season. Do you go with a well-worn shirt? Is it bad luck to reuse the same shirt from the previous season? Do you change it up after a loss? What do I do to help the team? Full disclosure, I just ordered a new T-shirt for game days and a new polo for Fridays.—Pasadena’95

I used to wear everything the same, down to underwear - and I would wash everything between each game. I would sometimes change one or two things after a loss, depending on the loss - for example, in 2014, I didn’t change anything after the Ohio State loss, because we played very well and really should have won.

In 2016 I stopped wearing the same stuff every week, and it’s seemed to work pretty ok since. We’ll see how I feel this year.

Over/Under: 2.5 The number of years that renovations to Beaver Stadium will be behind schedule at time of completion.—Admiral Lord Nelson

I am going to put my money on 16 months behind, so under. I have no frame of reference for this guess, mind you - just speculation.

how long until levis is in the portal? ..too soon?—eartotheground

It depends on how this year goes, and how much he plays this year. It’s more likely that either Michael Johnson Jr or Ta’Quan Roberson enters the portal before Will Levis.

How long does JoeMo last in Starkville with the academic issues that put both the FB and BB teams on probation? Not major sanctions, but some recruiting sanctions levied. Wins vacated, not that it means much—Pasadena’95

If you are Pat Koerbler, JoeMo might be back in Happy Valley after the 2019 season, when CJF gets poached by the folks at USC.

Honestly, I haven’t heard much chatter that he is to blame for this - which is kinda weird, because the buck should stop with the head coach. But perhaps because this wasn’t just a football issue but basketball as well, perhaps it’s more of an issue with the athletes’ academic support department rather than any program. Regardless, of course it’s concerning.

Was the Florida-Miami carnival of errors the poster child for why college teams should get a preseason game/scrimmage during fall practice? That was a gawdawful race to the bottom.—Smee

I was looking forward to that game, but it turns out, it was only because it was football. Rooting for Miami as I’m sure many of you were, the game was super painful as neither team looked prepared and neither wanted to win. Woof. Glad it’s over, and I’m interested in seeing how Florida’s ranking’ll be impacted.

What school’s fanbase is so odious that you wouldn’t consider going to grad school there, and why is it Maryland?—bretthtown

Hey now, Maryland’s University College is almost entirely online, you get a good degree without actually having to interact much with students!

Real talk, I know a few Maryland fans/grads who are good people. But overall, yeah, their fanbase as a whole is very Not Great. Same with Rutgers.

Is there a team you’re “supposed” to dislike, but that you just don’t?

For me, it’s Miami. As a PSU fan, I know I’m supposed to dislike them. But I was born in 1983 and my parents weren’t very big college football fans, so I never got that growing up. My fandom PSU fandom started slowly, picking up steam through high school and then cementing in college. And Miami just wasn’t worth getting worked up about in the late 90s (when I was in high school). And I know all the reasons why PSU fans dislike them. But those reasons don’t seem to be exclusive to Miami at all.—CaptBombs

For me, it’s Iowa and Michigan State. I understand why so many PSUers hate one or both teams, but a lot of hatred for teams for me is about the people - and when I was at Iowa, most of the folks were fine if not downright nice - and that was in 2012, right after the sanctions were levied. I’ve met and know a ton of really good people who are Iowa fans, and so I can’t hate that team.

Same with MSU - I have a good friend who went there. He’s awesome, so by extension, I can’t hate MSU. That 2015 Big Ten Championship game was tough for me, though, as I was conflicted - ultimately rooted for MSU by virtue of his friendship, and watching it with him.

Little League World Series or MLB World Series? For me unless the Pirates (lol) are playing I am picking Little League. To me it is much more entertaining watching 11-12 years olds than the two teams with the largest payrolls playing in the fall.—bva-psu

I definitely get your rationale (I prefer watching NCAA football to pro simply because I like watching all of the players play because they love the game, when most won’t make any money at it) - but I just am not a fan of watching kids I don’t know, whose families I don’t know, play sports. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But to each his own, and I get it.

What in the world is Major League Baseball thinking with these all white and all black uniforms? Is the decision worse because the white clad pitchers have to wear black hats?—Gerry Dincher

It was so hideous. Especially the guys who wore all black but white cleats, or all white but black cleats. I can’t think of a worse overall scheme for players weekend. There were literally no redeeming qualities in that.

Does PSU MBB make the tournament this year? Bonus question: Does PSU WBB make the tournament also?

Other answer: Taylor Swift never lives up to the hype.—LarzLion

I think they’ll be on the bubble until the Big Ten tourney, where they’ll play into the semifinals and end up making the tournament. Woop! Lady Lions, though, I think’ll need another rebuilding year before Carolyn Kieger can bring the team to the dance.

And I really liked Taylor’s album!

How do you rank the new Taylor Swift album compared to the others? For me, I’m still a fan of 1989.—PSU Mudder

Here’s my ranking of Taylor’s albums:

  1. Red
  2. 1989
  3. Lover
  4. Speak Now
  5. Reputation
  6. Fearless
  7. Taylor Swift

1989 and Red are both my favorites, but Red gets the edge because, like 1989, I like literally every single song on it, but All Too Well is my favorite Taylor song and it’s on Red. Lover is still new, of course, but so far so good - I’ve listened to it a dozen times through by now, mostly while working, and it holds up. As with her last few albums, though (including 1989 and Red, imho), the initial single doesn’t reflect the rest of the album, and is far from a favorite - at least I don’t mind ME!, though, unlike Look What You Made Me Do, which I still find one of her stupidest songs. And that’s saying something, since she wrote an entire album as a freshman in high school.

What is the worst song that people in groups love to sing at ludicrously loud decibels? For me it’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Weddings, bus trips, parties. Just awful.—EnisEnvy

It’s gotta be Sweet Caroline. Ugh. I was happy that they stopped playing it at the Beav, and groaned when there was such an uproar that they had to bring it back.

As you meet people in your journey through life, any casual conversation usually leads to where they are “from.” If someone tells you “Pennsylvania” and you ask them for specifics, you might immediately judge them on their response. If so, which places in PA create a positive pavlovian response in your brain? For me, either Happy Valley or Bucks County.—Smee

Besides my time in Happy Valley, I haven’t lived in Pennsylvania, so I don’t really feel I’m the best person to answer this (obviously saying State College or anywhere in Centre County invokes a positive reaction). I’m really interested in the answers of the community, though, so leave ‘em below!

What’s your PTO plan of attack? I’ve got nearly 2 weeks I need to take the rest of this year, and that’s in addition to the 9 days I already have planned around PSU weekends & holidays. Generally I don’t take much off in the summer time. But I think I’ve left too many for the rest of the year. Back to the question…Is it better to evenly spread them out throughout the year, lump them together, or something else?—JayMPSU

I generally spread them out. My family and I take a vacation in May so I typically use a week then, and as you mentioned, I plan some days off around PSU football and wrestling weekends. This week, I’m taking a vacation to Mexico in December so that’ll put me under the number of days I am able to roll over, so I won’t be scrambling and taking time off near the end of the year like I was last year. I’m a big planner, so last year’s realization in November that I had extra time that I’d lose bothered me to no end. That’s not happening this year.

You can return to high school and do only one year over, the other three are more or less the same - what year do you go back to?—PSU1979dude

Probably freshman year - I know that’s weird, but that was a time before I could get a job, so I was mostly hanging out with my friends, being on student government and just feeling out the high school scene. I’m lucky in that I was never really bullied or had issues in high school, getting along with most everybody, but I really enjoyed where I was personally as a freshman, after having some rough years in middle school.

Are thongs as uncomfortable as they look and how do women (and some men) wear them without constantly picking at their butt?—BMAN13

Speaking of high school, when I was a junior and senior in high school, I wore mostly if not exclusively thongs. You get used to it - it’s only uncomfortable if you forget you’re wearing a thong and actually think you have a wedgie. I’ve found that I “pick at my butt” less while wearing a thong because there’s no creep up - it’s already up, so there’s nothing to pick. You’re welcome for this answer.

The year is 1819 instead of 2019. Would you have survived to whatever age you are now if you were alive then?—Smee

Probably - life expectancy was about my age back then. Like most of you, I’d probably have died of some sort of now-preventable infection or consumption, though I may have been long dead from childbirth complications.

Pick three states to trade for Greenland. This is not a hypothetical. I know people in the State Department.—WorldBFat

I know many people at State too! Mine are more important than yours are! (probably not)

I decided I was going to look at this strictly dispassionately, and answer you based on which states contributed the least amount economically to the rest of the United States. And while there are a number of metrics I could’ve used, I settled on GDP per state, and the three with the lowest GDP in the US are Alaska, Rhode Island, and Vermont. So say goodbye to maple syrup and caribou!

Shark videos. When they show these overhead shark videos from a helicopter or drone just off the beach, why don’t they just give the damn thing the whole 9 yards with a .50 cal? What is the fascination about taking the video, or, even more ridiculous, tagging and releasing? Just take ’em out with the .50 Agreed?—KnitKneeAlliance

I don’t understand the fascination with taking the video - nor do I understand the fascination with killing sharks. Humans are going into their territory and disturbing their lives, and sharks are defending themselves - live and let live, is what I say. If you don’t want to encounter sharks or don’t want to chance getting hurt by them, don’t go into shark infested waters. Period.

Are Gushers candy?—06Lion


Is cereal a soup?—mattinglywasking


Best chicken sandwich: Chick-fil-a or the mythical, legendary, not-sure-it-really-exists Popeyes? Today I drove 20 minutes to try a Popeyes chicken sandwich and they were all out. There was a line of cars around the block for the drive-thru, and pretty much everyone left without ordering when they read the sign saying they were out.—thatdarncat

I haven’t tried the new Popeye sandwich so I can’t fully answer, but Chik-fil-a’s sandwiches are far from their best menu items in my opinion (the nuggets, both grilled and regular, are far superior imho). If you’ve tried the Popeye sandwich, let us know below!

Bigger dick move at a jukebox? Playing an entirely different genre of music than what is playing at the bar? Or…. Playing multiple songs by one artist?

For example: Me, bartending, have had an entire bar playing and enjoying rap, rock, pop, etc. only to have one guy go up put 5 bucks in and play Whiskey for my men beer for my horses on repeat. OR Someone throws in a twenty and plays Douche Matthews Bag for the 39 minutes they eat their wing bites and for the 27 additional minutes after they’ve already left for the night.—EnisEnvy

I think playing multiple songs by one artist back to back is far more of a dick move. I personally have a very eclectic music taste, so would appreciate a little Willie Nelson collab in the middle of my Taylor or Kendrick or Nirvana or whatever. But in your example there’s a repeat of the different genre - that I do not abide in such a public setting. The only time that’s ok is if you’re Jay-Z and Kanye.

There’s 95% of a giant cinnamon roll sitting in the break room at work right now. Its been there for at least 3 hours so clearly no one is laying claim to it. I can just grab the whole thing for myself now, right? Right. I’m not even gonna wait for a response, I’m just gonna do it. Ok, good talk.—skarocksoi

I have nothing to say, I just wanted to include this.



  • Was Pepper just a little too quick to pull the “You can let go now Tony” line?
  • Does this mean Dormammu becomes villian #1?
  • Outside Tony (who went anorexic) didn’t several of them look like they added a few pounds (not Thor whose storyline included going full-on Lebowski)?
  • Does Harley Keener move in with Pepper and Morgan and become the new Iron Man?


  • I really have no problem with it. I see a lot of folks upset that Pepper got the last lines with Tony, but come on - GMAFB. I get that the relationship between Tony and Peter is freaking adorable, with benefits for both of them, but Pepper was the love of Tony’s life. There ain’t no teenage superhero gonna change that. And knowing him best, she knew what he’d been through at that point. I’m fine with it.
  • How quick you are to forget that Avengers-era (2012) Loki is still out there and who knows where! He almost destroyed multiple planets and cities - he’ll be back and without the redemption that his mother’s death in Dark World afforded him.
  • Especially Bruce! (badum tiss) I think Cap did a little, but not so much between the two Avengers - however, the difference when he fought himself was significant imho. Everyone else looked about the same to me.
  • That would be freaking phenomenal, but I’m not so sure it happens because no one knew that was him unless you googled it after (like I did as soon as I left the theatre because I am a huge nerd)