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BSD Mailbag 9.3.21

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What’s that? A PSUer caught off his guard?

Michigan at Penn State Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

I don’t know how it happened, but the Penn State football season has flat-out snuck up on me. How is it September already? It feels like just a week ago I was high on the news that James Franklin messed around and hired a top five offensive coordinator in Mike Yurcich, and now we’re less than 48 hours away from seeing that offense take the field. I know this type of thing happens as you get older, but man. It’s jarring.

Football’s back. And that’s awesome. Let’s get to it.

With Wisconsin’s rushing attack. What adjustments do you think Pry will make? 5 defensive linemen? Crowded boxes? None?Drea1020

Graham Mertz is a good quarterback (jury’s still out on whether he’s the 2nd best in the conference, but he’s good), so I’m not so sure that Pry will consistently stack the box and dare him to beat the PSU defense through the air. I honestly expect the D to take a little bit of time to adjust to the tempo Wisconsin gives them, stiffening up as the game goes on.

By the second half, I really think that we’ll be able to control a lot of the line of scrimmage using just four dudes up front (maybe five, if Jesse Luketa’s that fifth), but that may be the optimistic, I haven’t thought about football in a while side of me. Which apparently exists, even though I had no idea it did until right now.

Am I crazy for believing that it isn’t a disaster if they lose to Wisconsin? Not that I don’t want them to win, but the whole season isn’t on the line in game 1, especially since it’s not a division game. I’m not gonna write them off if they lose.Pasadena’95

Not at all. The last time PSU was written out early on in the season, with it being called a disaster in September, we went to the Rose Bowl. With how loose and relaxed and happy the team is, they feel like they’re in a great mindset to bounce back even if we start the season 0-1 (unlike last year).

Seriously, who is this optimist who has entered my body and is controlling my keyboard?

What’s the right level of drunkenness prior to kickoff for the Wisconsin game?

Very drunk – numbs any disappointment, leaves me useless for the rest of the day and likely cuts any potential celebrations short.

Lightly drunk – slightly cushioned emotional impact, creates opportunity to turn into angry drunk (a la Michigan 2016), but also maximizes celebratory potential.

Sober – full emotional impact, but if the game goes badly I can always go pull weeds?—Succss With Honor Always

I’ve quit drinking for the most part in all but name the past year+, so for me I’ll probably have one beer and call it quits - meaning mostly sober when it counts. I really am so looking forward to simply analyzing Yurcich’s offense so I’m not even sure whether I want to be inebriated in any fashion - I’m excited in a butterflies in my stomach, first date sort of way that I haven’t been for football in years. I missed this.

Lets talk Running Backs.

What do you think the game plan is for this unit? If we see a RB by committee, is CMY and CJF going to rotate by series, quarter, etc? Does CJF want CMY to rely on the top 3 RBs playing relatively the same number of snaps, despite 1 player having the hot hand? Cain is believed to be the starter, but which RB gets it done against Wisconsin?

Are Fullbacks awesome?—PeteZockyU

I think it’s going to be RB by committee, at least for the beginning of the year, with Noah Cain getting the start. I’d be surprised if they don’t switch off almost series by series, until a back has established a hot hand (and I expect at least one will) - despite what some Wisconsin beat writers might say:

I honestly think a lot of the early games will be just feeling stuff out. And that includes for us spectators - I’m totally willing to be completely wrong about my expectations for this offense, and this season! I just don’t think I will be.

AND OF COURSE THEY ARE AWESOME, PETE. JUST TRY TELLING THIS GUY HE’S NOT.

Penn State media day Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

what is the over/under on the time it takes to get into the stadium this year? will it get any better as the season wears on? recall that the entry/exit from the stadium took an entire off-season to ‘remedy’ a few seasons back—kingkub

Whatever expectations you have about this this year, I think you can throw them out the window. This will be the first year where all tickets are electronic in Beaver Stadium, which means a steep learning curve - our only saving grace is that it appears that the first home game, Ball State, is going to be far from a sellout. Hopefully they’ll work out the kinks quickly this season, with Auburn coming up at night the week after - but my apparent optimism for the season only goes so far, and doesn’t extend to the security and ticketing process at the Beav (nor, it should be mentioned, to the tailgating lot attendants).

I’m planning on getting through those doors about 45 min before kickoff, at least. I’d rather be in my seats sobbing, like I know I will be being inside that stadium again, then fighting my way in last minute.

What do you think attendance will be in CFB?—LarzLion

I’m of two minds on this. One, I think there are folks who are so thirsty for football that they’ll be ramped up and raring to go - but two, a lot of folks realized after the last year that maybe they don’t need to shell out so much money and energy by going to all the games, especially some (on paper) crappy early season ones. I’m certainly planning on going to all the games, but I understand the feelings of the latter.

I’m not so sure we’ll see much impact on attendance in certain conferences, where it didn’t seem as though COVID made much of an impact on attendance in 2020, but I expect especially teams who played without fans last year will simply feed on the crowd’s energy - even more so than in years past. It’s going to be a fun year, even if the stadiums aren’t full.

How much weight is ZZ1pennst2016 gonna gain When he has to eat his words from that excessively long fanpost he authored? Also, he is gonna have to eat his words, right? Right?!—LocalYocal

I honestly have been so offline that I have no idea that of which you are speaking - so I had to find it. And well, he tried? I’m not a huge fan of the buzzfeed-esque writing style used in the post (if that makes me hypocritical, please excuse me), but he tried. I’d like to see him consistent at least.

Could 7-5 happen? Of course, and anyone who says it can’t is an idiot. But I think we’re closer to 12-0 than 7-5, with my money on 9-3 (I just don’t see us losing to Michigan or Auburn).

what do you make of Desmond Howard sneaking onto the PSU bandwagon and calling them his sleeper?—BMAN13

I have weird superstitions for PSU games, but they change year to year. Some years its wear the same gameday shirt or jersey. Other years its no PSU gear on gamedays. I’ve collected some shirts from other colleges this year, do I start a “wear the opposing schools gear on gameday” ritual to see if that has some mojo?—skarocksoi

I think it was 2016 where each week of the season, my sister wore nail polish that was the colors of that week’s opponent - against OSU, for example, she had four silver nails and a fifth red accent nail on each hand. Clearly, that juju worked (that is, if my memory’s still working).

I’m a big fan of superstitions. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?

Flipping around channels today and found on ESPN the IMG v Bishop Syracuse game. Watched for a few, then quit due to the one-sided nature of the game. Left feeling validated that, IMO, these “super schools” like IMG shouldn’t exist.

Then I saw this, Like the writer, part of me loves that fact that they duped ESPN, however I can understand the potential injury issue. Thoughts?—Tmbgiants_3

I mean, I think if you’re faking being in high school and faking offers, coached by a coach that wouldn’t be able to pass a background check...I’m not concerned about injuries (because a lot of the players seem to be adults who can make decisions for themselves, not the high schoolers they purported to be) but rather the decision makers at ESPN that allowed that to happen. It’s not just hilarious - it throws open how corrupt these programs and decisions on the network are, something we all sorta knew but were able to cast some plausible deniability towards.

Nov 11-13.....hate Meatchicken all week or spread out the hate? the men’s hockey team will host scUM and their 45 1st round NHL draft picks on Thursday(11th) and Friday(12th) nights before the student whiteout football game(13th)….do you prefer to spread out your hate for them over multiple weekends or welcome the opportunity to get it all out over a few days?—kingkub

I just don’t care enough to hate them this much to think about it over two months out, sorry. You do you, boo - I’ll just root against them whenever the good guys are playing them, in any sport.

Off-season rumors of Suriano looking to come back to Penn State. Personally I think it’s peak offseason internetting, but that would be interesting on team chemistry, and championship tournament point total metrics. Thoughts?—mattinglywasking

Your characterization seems to nail this on the head to me - by many accounts, his presence in the PSU locker room was not the best and he never really acted like or was embraced as a full part of the team. And the way he left, seemingly with his family trashing the Penn State coaches, just sounds like sour grapes and burned bridges (how very Jersey).

Being on Rutgers suits him, imo. He should stay there, he won a title there after all. And we’re fine at 133, with our program’s first national champ at that weight returning for two more years (and a great sparring partner in the reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the weight room).

What do you think of the possibility of Penn State starting a women’s wrestling program? I think it should have already happened. There is some discussion of it finally happening by Willie over at Intermat.—Gerry Dincher

I could not love the idea more. And though she often trains just next door to me at the Capital WC, reigning Olympic bronze medalist (and former gold winner) Helen Maroulis also spends time training with a sporting gear from the NLWC. Having such a quality wrestling room attracts additional quality, and women’s wrestling in the US is one of the fastest growing sports - Cael sees it, and wants to make central PA a destination for grappling. He has the team to do it, too, and this is a logical next step.

As usual, a few random questions

Did you enjoy Week Zero? Both the appetizer approach to the season and the name itself.

Did you see Brian Cook’s MgoBlog post that he is dialing back his involvement, especially with regards to football related work. I was disappointed with how they treated you a few years back. I was hoping for a more constructive conversation.

RL has kept me busy during the COVID Era so I mostly lurk and honestly don’t even do as much of that so I apologize if this has been discussed. But I usually try to throw in a pop culture question. Favorite film released this summer?—Former_DC_Buck

  • I only watched Nebraska-Illinois, but it was amazing. This sums it up so well:

For the record, I am the latter.

  • I didn’t see that. Good for him, it can be hard to dial it back (as I’m well aware). I don’t wish ill on anyone, and Seth over there is a good dude.
  • I actually haven’t watched any newly released film except for Black Widow! I enjoyed it but I expect that I’ll enjoy Shang-Chi a lot more...which makes me sad because I’ve been wanting a good Black Widow movie for a decade.

just to quell some recent confusion, How many days are in a standard week, according to the Gregorian calendar?—LocalYocal

S-seven? Is this a trick question or is there a meme or something I’m unfamiliar with?

What defunct State College establishments do you miss the most?—Stormy Dragon

Either Skellar, Crowbar, or the Hi-Way on Westerly. Yes, I know that there’s still a Hi-Way on Atherton (the one on East College doesn’t warrant being in the same conversation), but I have such fond memories about arriving in State College on Friday evenings and checking into our motel then heading straight to Hi-Way on Westerly, where the high school kids were just finished going to the football game.

Are all cheeses with holes in them “Swiss” cheese?PascalsDog

And why is American cheese called “American” when it was invented by a Canadian who was using a process developed in Switzerland?—Succss With Honor Always

I think all cheeses with holes may be considered “Swiss”, but not all Swiss cheese have holes. Gruyere, for example, (which makes the best mac n cheese) doesn’t traditionally have holes, and is amazing.

And we Americans just have to put our names on everything! When I was studying in the UK I went to look for American cheese (because I liked it best in my omelets back then, what a sweet summer child I was), and it was just called Processed Cheese over there. And you couldn’t get it on sandwiches, either - even in the ripoff Subway restaurant with the blacklight in the bathroom where we went often after drinking.

Where is bscaff?Frank O’Brien

He’s essentially retired from the blog game :( I’m not sure if he’ll be back for wrestling, but I miss him and his sense of humor already.

As an assistant editor, do you have the authority to force other assistant editors to own up to promises they made to our community in articles they wrote?—”that guy”

Honestly, I didn’t even remember that that was my listed title! It’s obviously quite important and such a badge of honor, right?

(Again, I’ve probably missed something here that I’m sure you all will remind me of in the comments)

What is one thing you do or appreciate more because of the pandemic?

Conversely, what is one thing you don’t appreciate as much or have stopped doing because of the pandemic?—swift_retribution

Gosh, I appreciate tailgating so much more now. I’ve seen most of my tailgating friends, but just complaining about sucky next door tailgates and being around so many folks I care about in the best place on earth is something I can’t wait to get back to next week!

I honestly expected to miss just hanging out in a bar more than I do. I don’t miss the crowded places, I do miss some of the folks.

I also miss going to the movies - I have a short attention span, so when I watch movies at home or at a friend’s, I’m often multitasking. But in the theatre, there’s nothing I hate more than someone else whipping out their phone so it’s often the only time I’m focused on nothing but the movie in front of me. I miss that, and I know I could go back but I just haven’t been so inclined.

What do you all miss? sound off in the comments!