Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blue-White Week

The annual Blue-White game is this weekend. I sense more of a buzz than in past years. In the past it seemed nobody knew when the Blue-White game was until you read about it on page five of the sports section in the Sunday paper the day after. Now it seems people can't wait for the game this year and I think that's great. There is definitely more excitement in the fan base to get their Penn State football fix. I guess we really were spoiled with winning teams for so many years. A few losing seasons has really renewed a sense of appreciation with the fans.

There are so many questions people will look to have answered in this year's game. How will Morelli perform? Who is going to play on the offensive and defensive lines? Is Derrick Williams back to 100%? Who will start in the secondary?

In all I'm very optimistic for the 2006 season. I think Morelli will take the offense to a new level. While M-Rob could strap the offense on his back and carry them down the field, Morelli will utilize the talent around him and make those young receivers better. I look for Tony Hunt to get more touches on screen plays like he did in 2004. With Levi Brown back to lead the offensive line I think they will be fine by the time we start Big Ten play.

On the defensive side of the ball there are more questions. I think the defensive line will be ok. All those guys have to do is tie up blockers and let the best linebackers in the Big Ten do the rest. The question will come in their ability to get pressure on the quarterback. Their ability (or inability) to do so may dictate the success of an inexperienced secondary. The secondary most likely will feature Justin King as our new (untested) shut down corner. Whoever plays across from King is sure to get tested early. Right now that appears to be Tony Davis. I would suspect by mid season we will see A.J. Wallace making his way onto the field as the nickelback with his eye on the starting job in 2007. The Hero Back position seems to be locked up by Donnie Johnson. Donnie looked fantastic in the 2005 Michigan State game getting a pick and blocking a kick. The FS position seems to be a question mark with Nolan McCready the favorite to land the position. This unit will be tested early so the learning curve is steep. But they all have game experience and the talent to be a good squad.

Bottom line is there are some good omens coming out of spring practice. In years past, Paterno has not been shy about talking down his team when he felt they were not very good. Key Paterno phrases like "We have a lot of work to do" and "We're not where we want to be right now" were heard often during the past few down years. This season there definitely seem to be a sense of optimism coming from the coaches and players. Let's suit up. I'm ready to play.

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