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BSD Mailbag 10.8.21

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It’s Iowa week, and the Nittany Lions are headed to Kinnick for a top five showdown! We’ve got your answers on that matchup and more.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Will PSU beat Iowa this Saturday?—mook1525

PSU definitely can beat Iowa this Saturday! I’ve gotten out of the predictions game these past few years, and this for darn sure isn’t the predictions post/thread, so I won’t say they will. But they absolutely can (there’s no gimme wins or losses left on the schedule, imo, except for our Homecoming game against Illinois, which we will win big).

Did the writers learn their lesson on the wisconsin predictions this year or will they have to relearn after the iowa game again?—JayMPSU

Hey, now – I actually like it when folks predict against our team! Makes the day after that much more enjoyable (and is certainly better than the alternative, when we’re picked to win and we lose, which I feel like has happened way more often but maybe that’s just because we here get mired in the negativity so often). Penn State PessimismTM for the win!

Am I crazy for thinking this game doesn’t matter that much?—PeteZockyU

Not at all, because it doesn’t! If we win, we still have to win 5 of the remaining games on the schedule in order to have a shot at a Big Ten title. If we lose, our margin for error becomes smaller (winning five may not make us the Big Ten East champs, we’d need some outside help) but ultimately, if we beat the other Big Ten East teams (which is doable) we would face Iowa again in Indy. And frankly, if the options are to lose to Iowa tomorrow or lose to Iowa in Indianapolis, I’d much rather the former.

Though of course I’d prefer to win both, which should go without saying but I’m saying anyway because I know someone will comment on it if I do not.

Everyone said I wasn’t allowed to wish for revenge last week. Am I allowed this week??? Please?—LocalYocal

Boo, you can do whatever you want! No one’s stopping your thirst for revenge, except maybe Johnny Law!

are the locker rooms still pink? Does that have any affect on teams anymore?—Lion Alum

Yes, they are. And no, they are not, unless the team is intently focused on outward displays of stereotypical masculinity rather than fielding an actual competent football team that can win games against a very consistently sound Iowa team (*cough* Jim Harbaugh *cough*).

I’m listening to the Monday podcast on Iowa’s blog (Blackheartgoldpants), and some of what they are saying is so bad it is unlistenable. Things they seem to think:

1) Our LBs are weak and often out of position.

2) Our OL cannot pass block.

3) Iowa’s offense is much better than PSU’s.

4) Iowa State’s defense is much better than PSU’s.

It just really makes me wonder if:

a) they do not know anything about college football

b) they have not actually watched any PSU games this year

c) there is something odd in the water in Iowa that causes hallucinations.

I guess my question for the mailbag is: when other fan bases listen to PSU podcasts, do they have these same thoughts or are the Iowa guys (who on the surface sound knowledgeable) just completely full of shit?—PSU2UNC

I think a lot of fans are self-centered and don’t pay close attention to other teams, which to a degree is understandable – but it appears that there’s a lot of holdover of opinions from last season’s dreadful start to the PSU football season. Of your topics:

1) They were last year – I seem to recall a number of folks calling Ellis Brooks a liability – but are absolutely NOT this year. So far this year, part of the reason why we’re the #3 scoring D in the nation is how fundamentally sound every position group plays. It’s not just the athleticism and creative positions Pry puts the team in – but they trust the guys around them, and their coaches, and are put in a place to win. And Ellis Brooks is the foundation of that corps this year, and looks rock solid – but without Brooks doing what he’s doing, Brandon Smith wouldn’t have been named a B1G DPOY and able to do what he’s doing. I’d like someone to tell Smith to his face that he’s weak.

2) Our OL cannot run block, but they sure as shit can pass block. This is the silliest take out there.

3) This is laughable – just look at the statistical difference between Total Offense and Scoring Offense. Iowa’s best offense is their defense, and their defense is absolutely elite which is why they’re 5-0 and a top five team. But their offense simply isn’t, and I think that a lot of Iowa fans are viewing their beatdown of Maryland as the turning point for their offense and indicative of where it’s going. I’m more of the opinion that Maryland isn’t actually that good and basically gave up immediately, but I guess we’ll find out more as the season goes on (and especially tomorrow).

4) The Iowa defense is very, very good. Penn State’s defense is very, very good. Joel Klatt had a great video breaking down the top three defenses in the nation that’s worth a watch – Iowa’s defense isn’t “much” better than PSU’s, though it is very different. I’m not sure Iowa’s defense is better at all than Penn State’s; it might be, and it might not be. Both are veryyyyy good at what they do, and complement their special teams well.

I think a lot of folks watch their own team play. They may watch other teams, but it’s very easy to watch other teams with your own team’s slant in mind – I’m guilty of this myself! I don’t fault them for this at all, as long as you’re willing to recognize your own potential biases and listen when logic and facts and numbers are presented that might challenge your viewpoint.

A lot of people watched the first game of the season, against Wisconsin, and rather than watching other PSU games, have used that game (first of a new offense, against a very good Wisconsin defense that hadn’t yet imploded) as indicative of the team as a whole. And I hope Ferentz and his coaching staff does as well, because that would be a very good thing for Penn State if they do.

Realize this isn’t a question but figured I’d leave it here….

Spencer Petras has tried to run 21 times so far this season and has amassed -50 yards for an average -2.38 per attempt. Last year he tried to run 32 times total and amassed -4 yards total. Something tells me our defense doesn’t have to worry too much about a running QB. Clifford in comparison has run 40 times for 140 yards. Iowa has allowed 11 sacks so far this season (we’ve allowed 8). The only opponent both teams played, Indinia, Iowa allowed 77 yards rushing and 233 passing. We allowed 69 rushing and 195 passing. Against us Penix didn’t try rushing at all, and he only tried twice against Iowa for -7 yards. Indiana sacked Petras twice, but got no sacks on Clifford.

So the nice thing is our D likely won’t have to account nearly as much for a QB run as Iowa will have to account for Clifford taking off. Iowa will likely have to keep someone in close to account for Clifford runs and that may help spring a receiver (esp a TE) open for some passing. Especially if Cliff feints the run and then passes right at the LOS as he’s done a few times. A non-mobile QB (Petras) is an easier target for the defense than a QB who knows when to run. Hopefully this means we get a couple – or more – sacks on Petras along with a lot of hurries and hits.

(By the by…Nate Stanley ran way more times than Petras but wasn’t very good at it But at least amassed positive yards)—RWReese

This is fascinating! Petras had a much better day against Maryland than he’d had all season up until this point, but I agree that this seems like a liability that Pry & Co should be able to exploit. The Sean Clifford that Phil Parker has to scheme against is not the same Sean Clifford that they saw last season (thank God) and isn’t even the same Clifford that beat Iowa in Kinnick in 2019 – he’s much better, in a system more suited to his skills and confidence, under a coach that, so far, is doing a great job in exploiting our team’s strengths. Clifford will most likely not have an Auburn-like day this week, but I think he’ll be solid and make much better decisions than a lot of Iowa fans are expecting.

Is Iowa the worst state in the country or just the Big Ten? My wife and I have driven through 49 states and 9 Canadian Provinces and have only ever been mooned and flipped off in Iowa. I assume it is because of all the Penn State magnets for football and wrestling on my car. It is the only place that I have ever been disrespected because of my Penn State affiliation.—wvlion

I actually liked driving through Iowa! It was a bit boring in 2012 when I visited for the Penn State game (flew into Des Moines on Friday, drove to Grinnell where our hotel was, and drove from Grinnell to Iowa City and back on Saturday). I bet that the wrestling decals were more of a thing than the football, and not just from Iowa fans – I’m sure that a fair amount of Cyclones were salty as well.

And you can’t say Iowa’s the worst when the state of Ohio exists, man!

Did you know that Captain Kirk will be born in Iowa? In Riverside in the year 2228.—PascalsDog

In point of fact, I *did* know this!

How much did Penn State sit on the playbook in the Indinia game? It appeared to be a repeat of the Villanova game in the second half when it was apparent that IU scoring wasn’t going to happen.—LarzLion

Honestly, after about the first quarter, the only time they didn’t sit on the playbook was when they wanted to remind Ferentz & Parker than Jahan Dotson was a high school quarterback and can sling it for another first down. The rest of that entire game was entirely vanilla, in many ways even more so than the game against Villanova, and with a defense that smothered the opponent like ours did on Saturday, can you blame them?

Did you feel like the crowd energy wasn’t all the way there this week? Seemed like we were a little flat. Fatigue from 3 straight home games against better than expected teams? Disappointment in a lame Indy team? My imagination?—JayMPSU

I could not agree more. I think a lot of it was so many of us were at all four home games in a row (and that is a lot), and none of us expected Indiana to be a night game. I mean…come ON. Combining so many weeks in a row with a night game against a lackluster opponent, and you’ll have a more bored/quieter stadium.

I still went, of course, but noticed different folks (or no folks) around me during the game. And there was a much more relaxed vibe at the tailgate all day than there was two weeks prior, versus Auburn.

This weekend the wife and I are going to stay at the beach to celebrate our anniversary. Due to the nature of Saturday’s game, she has “allowed” me to hole up in a bar for the game as long as we do a nice dinner afterwards (west coast). The two best sports bars in the area are a really nice one with a deck and great views of the coastline and the other is a crappy Irish pub. The rub is that the nice bar is the hang out for the local Ohio State Alumni Association. Do I go to the nice bar and hang out with anO$U fans (will they be dicks?) or do I just hole up in the Irish pub and enjoy my game?—Tmbgiants_3

Definitely Irish pub. If you’re there at 1, they’ll likely let you put on the game (with audio) for at least part of it, *and* they’ll have Guinness on tap. Win/win, in my book.

Who is your defensive MVP so far? I’m going outside the box and saying Jordan Stout. He consistently puts the other team in a tough spot, making them drive them the length of the field. He’s already our career leader in punting average…I think. But that average does include the new rule that includes touchback yardage. Either way, VA Tech must be kicking themselves.—swift_retribution

Listen, I’m all about love for the punters (I’m the one BSD staffer who put Stout on my top ten players list preseason) but, while punting is winning and pinning your opponent is a good defensive strategy, he’s not the one who has blocked field goals or stiffened up in the red zone.

I’m not sure I can pick just one dude, because more so than any team we’ve seen in quite some time, this is just a good TEAM. They pick up the slack around each other, and clearly care about each other while they’re having fun out there.

If forced to pick one, I’d have to go with Arnold Ebiketie or Brandon Smith, though. Ebiketie has lit a fire under the line, which we were fearing would be a weakness, and Smith has used his athleticism to fly all over the field, towards the ball. What a great problem to have, though – because I could easily make the case for, like, four other starters on this defense being the MVP so far.

My brother lives in St. Louis. He is a Penn State grad, but not really a fan of sports. He just has never been interested, but he does want to go to a Penn State game somewhere in the mid-west. As a football fan, by first choices would be Iowa or Nebraska, I don’t care what’s going on out there or what there is to do other than going to the game.

Put yourself in his shoes, you don’t really care about the game, but you’re going, but you’re also interested in the other stuff to see and do in the greater area. Where would you go and why?—Gerry Dincher

If I didn’t care about the game, I’d go Iowa City – it honestly reminds me a lot of State College (but bigger) and I just really liked the vibe there, plus the food and the drinks and the history. I’ve never been to Lincoln, though, so if I do get out there, my feelings might change a bit. IC just screams Midwest to me, as opposed to plains, and that’s more of my kind of vibe (plus it’s closer to St Louis, and more driveable a trip).

Why don’t all players just enter their name in the transfer portal? Why make it such a big deal? Some players choose not to transfer after all but then are left with the stigma.—PSU1979dude

The biggest reason why you don’t want to do this is that the team you’re on is under no obligation to continue to honor your scholarship once you’re in the portal. So, let’s say you enter the portal and decide you want to stay – well, you might not be ABLE to stay, at least in terms of having a schollie.

It’s also about perception, right? Because if you put your name in the portal (aside from any obvious reason, like a coaching change or family situation), that’s interpreted as a negative on the team you’re leaving, rightly or wrongly. If you decide to stay after that, can you really be part of that same team? I’m skeptical.

Joe Moorhead had emergency surgery, didn’t see this posted anywhere else. But something happened to him Saturday before Oregon played and he had to have emergency surgery. Still in the hospital at last report. Hoping all the best for JMo.—Shakey70

Agreed – best wishes and best of health, JoeMo! Nittany Nation is behind you and wishing you a speedy recovery.

So Joe Moorhead was out this Saturday for the loss at Stanford. This was obviously a result of the punch delivered by Franklin a few years ago, making Franklin a deity among coaches, and the best long game player on earth, Right? Right?—mattinglywasking

Maybe “the wizard” that Gus Johnson was referring to in 2016 was actually CJF all along!

I honestly didn’t remember this until you brought it up. It would be funny if he didn’t have surgery and Oregon didn’t lose in his absence…

Urban Meyer? did you not know this would get out? There are cameras everywhere and people post everything Urban Meyer bar so does this start his exit from the Jags to USC?—kingkub

Likely, he just wasn’t thinking – most college football coaches are pretty egotistical, arrogant dudes so he would likely not even entertain the idea that someone in the state of Ohio, at his own bar, would sell him out.

Oh, silly Urban…social media posts are forever!

Do you think Tyler Bowen wishes he had stayed at Penn State in light of the foolishness surrounding Urban Meyer?—Gerry Dincher

Probably at least a little bit, but this is good experience for him and I’m sure he’ll be able to parlay this season in Jax with a good position down the line.

Bobby Petrino vs. Urban Meyer: Who wins the title of Scummiest Head Football Coach of All Time?—Paebr332

Do you think Urban was just trying to help the waitstaff? Maybe the young lady had ordered a dry rub?—PSUGuru

Nice try, bub. I’m not gonna buy it, though, no matter what he’s trying to sell (and it sounds like the Jaguars squad isn’t buying it either…)

CFB Traditions: After watching the White Out (which is widely regarded by many to be one of the coolest traditions in college fb), and then seeing “Jump Around” with Wisky (I don’t get it), what are, in your opinion the coolest and lamest CFB traditions?—Tmbgiants_3

Clearly, I’m biased so the white out is the coolest tradition. Lamest is probably Sweet Caroline, if that can be called a CFB tradition.

The tomahawk chop is actually lamer than Sweet Caroline, though, so let’s go with that.

What’s the deal with all these probability percentages that media outlets are using. “Team X has __% chance to win.” “There was a 3% catch probability on that play.” Is this based on science or is this just another case of ESPN making stuff up?

Also by the way, I was at the Miami (OH)/Directional Michigan (Central) game this past weekend. Mac Hippenhammer says “Hello.” He had a nice game—8 catches for 170 yards.—Scoop Dawg

It is definitely based on advanced statistics and math, not science, but I’m sure there’s some semblance of reasoning behind it, even though I don’t know the specifics myself. Paging ckmneon & jcross9!

Now that we have 0 as a number option in college fooball...what’s the next numbering revolution coming and why should it be more quarterbacks wearing numbers outside of 1 – 19? We need more 20s, 21s, 22s. Where our modern-day Fluties and Kosars and Shulers (well, maybe not the last one)? And there is precedent at PSU. Rich Lucas wore 33 for part of his time as QB back in the late 50s! And who could forget Matt Nardolillo? Well, probably most people, but he rocked #22 as a backup to Tony Sacca in the late 1980s/early 1990s.—MJBPSU

I love random players wearing numbers that you don’t expect. I totally had forgotten Tank Smith’s number until I saw him on the field, rocking a number 38 from the TB position, against Villanova, and that was such a great moment. I also think we need more upper numbers, too! Who wouldn’t want to see a #57 quarterback? (I understand why logistically under the rules it cannot happen, but I want it to).

When can I buy a jersey with any number I want on it? Shouldn’t that be here by now?—JayMPSU

You can from China!

In terms of official jerseys, though, you’re much less likely to be able to do this now that NILs are a thing – and teams started transitioning away from that when all signs pointed to NIL becoming a rule eventually. If jersey retailers allowed this, they would in good conscience have to provide some sort of license/kickback not just to the school, but to the player whose name is on the jersey and licensed to them for use. That’s not something not only retailers would want, but that schools would want – they don’t want to have to split their profits with their players!

Why is Gerry DiNardo employed by the Big Ten Network? I can’t stand this guy, but what I find more interesting is that he doesn’t even have all that big of a connection to the Conference. He played college football at Notre Dame, coached in the SEC for 8+ years (where his only three winning seasons occurred), and was just at Indiana (a football doormat, historically) for three years where he won eight total games. His overall coaching record is 59-76-1. So, why do we have to listen to his nonsense every Saturday?—Bob Sacamano

I don’t have the vitriol you do for DiNardo…I think he’s fine, I guess, but he’s no Howard Griffith (who is one of my favorites). And he’s sure as shit better than Dave Wannstedt.

Watching UWW World Championships...What do you think it would take to score on Sadulaev?

Kyle Snyder is barely able to get him to move out of position, let alone put him in any danger of being taken down. I’ve never seen a wrestler that just doesn’t budge from his position during a match against a Snyder-caliber wrestler.

If someone snuck up behind him and hit him with a 2×4 or a steel chair or something…maybe. But even then I’m not sure.—CaptBombs

Man, I really feel for Snyder. He’s a generational wrestler, heads and tails better than most guys at his weight, doing everything he can to switch it up and train and win titles – and he just happens to be competing at the same time as an even more generational wrestler.

It reminds me somewhat of a story I read not too long ago about Andy Roddick. If he had played tennis five or ten years earlier, he would have won likely a half dozen slams, but his time on the court just happened to coincide with that of Roger Federer (and, then, Rafa Nadal) – and how do you compete with THAT??

When is the last time you got carded? Mrs. kavija and I went to the Buccos/Phillies game 2 weeks ago at CBP. She acquired tickets in the Hall of Fame club through work. I went to the bar to order our first of several overpriced beverages, and I got carded. I wasn’t even masked up at the time (don’t worry, I’m fully vacced). Anyway, that hasn’t happened since I was in my mid 30’s! I was quite flattered, tbh.—kavija66

I was carded at Mad Mex the Friday night before the Nova game! It was quite flattering. It happens more infrequently nowadays, of course, but is still great (and don’t remind me that they were carding everyone…)

Besides speeding, what law/rule do you commonly break? In State College, the pedestrians in crosswalk law is never observed. I almost got rear ended by a SC police car when I dared to stop for some students. It is never obeyed.—kingkub

I jaywalk fairly often when I’m downtown in any city. But other than that and the aforementioned speeding, I’m not sure I break many laws/rules? There are probably some random ordinances that I’m unaware of that I break on the regular, but what else is new for most of us.

How do we stop folks from rec’ing Advanced Stats and Advanced Metrics? Don’t misunderstand — ckmneon et al do great work with them, and they are fun reads. Major HT to them! But I think by now we all agree that they are fantastic FanPosts and we can just show the love by commenting on them. Because when we rec them and they ascend to the “Recommended” section they are there for 14 days and things get a little tight in the regular “Most Recent” section. Thoughts?—Smee

Awwww I like seeing folks getting the recs they deserve! And those folks do great work, put a lot of thought and effort and time into their posts. I always go to the fanpost section (not accessing it via the sidebar on the front page) and sort by “active” to get me the posts with the recent comments on them. Seems to work for me.

Posting just before midnight on a work night? Do you agree that sleep is overrated?—PSUGuru

I love sleep. Sleep is in my top list of things I love to do, probably because I’ve had sleep issues for the majority of my life – both trouble falling asleep, and trouble staying asleep. Any time I can get a solid, unwaked 4 hours is a rarity and a time to be cherished.

I was up and posted this because, as per usual, I couldn’t sleep and then said to myself, Self, you forgot to post the mailbag questions post! And of course, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep with *that* hanging over my head. So onto the BSD fanpost site I went.