Monday, July 31, 2006

Penn State's Inferiority Complex

Sometimes I think Penn State fans are the biggest bunch of whiners. No doubt we have that reputation throughout the blogosphere and message boards. Any time a writer dares to suggest Penn State is not good or lacking in an area, they are barraged with flames from Penn State fans. Often times it's nasty and doesn't make any sense. Rather than debate, some idiot ends up calling the writer names and making some crazy prediction about Penn State not losing another game through the end of the decade.

I wish I knew where this came from. Other fans from other programs that I run into on the internet don't seem to be this way. They can debate and back up their claims with theory and statistics. They don't immediately fall back on trash talking like Penn State fans do.

Today's post by Tom Dienhart is a great example (hat tip: The Nittany Line) Dienhart has the audacity to suggest Penn State will be "worse than advertised" this year and Penn State fans jump all over him. Here is some of the response:

Teams will not score more than 24 against us, and with Hunt, Dwill, Butler
and Morelli (a top ranked QB i might add), we will score that many by pure
luck.

Come on. There is nothing that can back up this claim. We're supposed to believe we're going to score 24 points on pure luck? It's just thrown out there by the Penn State fan as if it were fact. Here's another one:

I gotta admit, when I read your stuff, truly, I laugh out loud!
Why attack the writer? He thinks Penn State will drop off this year. So what? Make your point if you think he's wrong, but don't attack his integrity. I don't know why Penn State fans are like this. Every year the preseason polls come out and every year Penn State fans complain we don't get any respect.

I have a theory. I think it stems back to 1994, the year Penn State got snubbed by the pollsters in favor of Nebraska for the national title. Penn State fans really believe we had the better team that year. I think it all stems from that. And beyond that, many older fans can remember that Joe Paterno has gone undefeated five times and he only won the national championship one of those years (in 1982 they had one loss to Alabama). Incredibly, they went undefeated in '68 and '69 and didn't win the national championship either of those years.

I'm sure anyone can understand if your team went undefeated five times and only won the title once, you would feel slighted as well. I think this, combined with decades of success that have created (sometimes false) expectations has created an inferiority complex within the Nittany Nation. We expect our team to do well every year. When others express less than our expectations we get defensive. Combine that with the feeling we are always getting looked over by the college football pundits and you have created an inferiority complex that motivates Penn State fans to lash out at our detractors with delusional remarks created from our false expectations.

But fortunately, we're not all that way. Most Penn State fans are capable of watching the games and talking about football intelligently without stooping to personal attacks. It seems we just don't frequent the blogs and message boards enough. My theory is it's the younger generations of fans that create most of the problems. They are the ones with enough technical savy to know the difference between a blog and a message board. Your average baby boomer booster isn't surfing BWI to find the latest dirt on Maurice Clarrett. And again, I think it stems back to 1994, when kids born after 1980 were just coming of age and becoming true Penn State fans. I suspect they were told stories about the glory years of the 70's and 80's and felt like their team was going to be a dynasty forever. Then they got snubbed in '94 and they weren't mature enough to realize sometimes you just get screwed in the game of college football.

Then in 1999 they were told they were going all the way again. But Minnesota had other plans and knocked them off that year. That sent them into a tailspin that saw four losing seasons in the next five years. As a fan base we were hurt and angry. The older fans were mature enough to know we had a good run but everything must come to an end. I think the younger fans felt like they were robbed before they ever got to experience the good years. That immaturity is what we see acting out today in the form of an inferiority complex.

Anyway, that's my theory. Spout off in the comments and tell me if you think I'm right or wrong.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

GET UP!

Starting to feel that blue blood pump through your veins yet? Are you as psyched for the season as I am? If not, watch this. Only 35 days to go.

Linebacker U. Gets Another Verbal

The Penn State Nittany Lions landed their tenth verbal commitment for the class of 2007 on Friday afternoon. Andrew Dailey from Washington High School in Massillon, OH has decided he wants to play linebacker for Linebacker U.

Dailey was recruited by Jay Paterno and passed on several offers from over a dozen schools including Florida, Nebraska, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Syracuse, Michigan State and Indiana.

Rivals and Scout both list him as a four star prospect. Dailey stands 6'2" and 210 lbs with a 40-yard dash time of 4.7. Here's what Andrew's coach, Tom Stacy, has to say:
"Andrew is a good person and a good student. He really does a nice job of
representing our program off the field. He's 6-2, 220 and runs well. He's
physical and he's a play maker. He's a three-sport athlete and he makes a
lot of plays for us. We think he's a pretty good football player."

What's impressive about this commitment is that he comes from the state of Ohio. Along with fellow recruit Chris Colasanti from Michigan, it must be unsettling to our Big Ten foes to see us recruiting well in their back yards. Now some Ohio State fan will probably comment that they didn't even offer this kid a scholarship. Pay attention to what Andrew says in talking about Notre Dame not giving him an offer:
"Penn State would have been the school I was going to choose. That's where I felt the best."

Once he met the Nittany Lion coaches the deal was sealed. Eat that!

I'm continually impressed with the quality of linebackers Penn State continues to recruit. Colasanti, Stupar, and Dailey may likely be the starting lineup four years from now, but with this year's recruits Navorro Bowman and Bani Gbadyu and current Lions Jerome Hayes, Sean Lee, Tyrell Sales, and Dan Connor all with eligibility left I don't know how the coaches are going to get all these kids on the field. No doubt some of them may get a rep or two at TE or FB.

I can't imagine we will be recruiting any more linebackers in this class since we only have about 18 scholarships to play with this year. We may not even recruit a linebacker next year for that matter. But even so, the tradition of Linebacker U is set to live on for years to come!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Open Thread



Who do you think is going to win the Big Ten this year? I'm still on the fence about this one. I can still be convinced about a bunch of teams. Let me hear your thoughts then I'll reveal my Big Ten preview next week.

New Faces on the D-Line

Everyone knows the Nittany Lions have to replace three starters on the defensive line this year. Tamba Hali, Scott Paxon, and Matthew Rice were key players in Penn State's heralded defense last year. All three of them will be playing on Sundays this year. In order for Penn State to be successful this year, their replacements are going to have to step it up. The defensive lines for both squads dominated in the Blue-White Game holding both offenses to a combined 44 rushing yards. And indications from coaches and players comments are that things are going to be just fine.

Of course, Jay Alford returns with his 8.5 sacks to anchor down one of the tackle positions. Alford led all returning Big Ten players in sacks last year. Filling in the other tackle position is Ed Johnson, who sat out last year for disciplinary reasons. Who better to ask about Johnson and Alford than the guy depending on them to eat up blockers?

"Life is going to be a lot different without Scott Paxson in front of me, that's for sure," Posluszny said. "But the good thing is we have [Jay] Alford back, and now that Ed Johnson's back, that's going to be great because now we'll have two big guys to plug up the middle of the line at all times."
Anchoring one of the defensive end spots will be Jim Shaw. Shaw transferred from Rice a year ago. He played in eight games last year. You may remember he made a key play in the Orange Bowl forcing Florida State Seminole Quarterback Drew Weatherford into an intentional grounding penalty in the endzone resulting in a safety. Shaw's teammates cannot stop singing his praises.

"(Jim Shaw) has to be the strongest that I've ever seen in my life," defensive tackle Jay Alford said. "He's like the only guy I've seen to [bench press] like 415 [pounds] like seven times, and he runs a 4.6 [40-yard dash]. He's an athlete, athlete. Love him."
Who will solidify the other defensive end spot is a question. Josh Gaines and Mike Lucian are fighting it out for the starting job. Looking over their shoulders are several incoming freshmen with their eye on the spot as well. Tom McEowen and Jared Odrick were animals in the Big 33 game. These kids along with All-Everything freshman Maurice Evans will be hard to keep off the field. I suspect by the start of Big Ten play, nobody is going to be questioning our defensive line anymore.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hungry for More

The other day I got into it with Brain from mgoblog over who was more hungry to win the PSU-Michigan game this year. Brian argues Penn State will not be any more hungry than they were the last seven games against Michigan, in which Penn State has lost them all. I argued that Penn State wants this game really bad this year. After losing seven in a row to the Wolverines, the Nittany Lions are tired of hearing the press say they own us. Last year Penn State let that game slip through their fingers, just like they had done several times before. I think this year they want it bad.

Anyone who thinks the Nittany Lions are going to come out fat and lazy in their defense of the Big Ten championship should hear what Paul Posluszny has to say.

"A lot of these guys finally got a taste of how great success can be here, so that just motivated us even more," Posluszny said Wednesday during a meeting with reporters in Beaver Stadium. "A lot of us have seen the worst, going through a 3-9 season, and we've seen a Big Ten championship...We don't want to lose that taste."

Most encouraging, Poz had this to say:

"There's no reason why we can't compete for another Big Ten title this year."

If the mentality of the team mirrors that of their captain, it sounds like they are focused and hungry. That's good news for Penn State fans who worry about a drop off from last years championship squad.

Encouraging News

Jon Mahoney from SI.com rates Penn State on of his top five hottest schools in the eyes of high school recruits.

Coach Joe Paterno and his assistants recruited well in Pennsylvania last year, landing Downingtown East (Exton, Pa.) quarterback Pat Devlin. Penn State did even better with out-of-state recruits, signing the likes of Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) defensive lineman Maurice Evans and Granby (Norfolk, Va.) wide receiver Chris Bell. Penn State got off to a fast start in its recruitment of Class of 2007 stars, snagging pledges from stellar recruits like Central Catholic (Greensburg, Pa.) wide receiver Nick Sukay and Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) linebacker Chris Colasanti.

It seems the organizational changes the team made in recent years of moving Fran Ganter into the AD office and bringing on Mike McQuery as the recruiting coordinator are paying off. Penn State has had two great recruiting years back to back and this year is shaping up to be another good one. So much for those who said the game had passed Joe by. He continues to show he can adapt with the best of them.

Preseason Hopes

The pre-season is always a fun time. Everyone is 0-0 and dreaming of BCS bowls. Everyone looks up and down the schedule and puts positive spin on their team while putting negative spin on the others convincing themselves their team has the best shot to go all the way. So sometimes when we see an object analysis of our team by someone who could care less if your team wins or loses, it kind of stings.

Today, Sunday Morning Quarterback gave his "somewhat obligatory assessment" of the Penn State Nittany Lions. There aren't too many surprises in his assessment. Four starters gone on the O-Line, no M-Rob, three starters gone on the D-Line, all new secondary, yada yada yada. Not surprisingly, he picks PSU to finish around 7-5.

Now your typical delusional Penn State fan will scoff at this and convince himself that Morelli is going to light up the scoreboard, the O-Line will do just fine, Tony Hunt is going to rush for 1500 yds, and Paul Posluszny will single handedly prevent anyone from scoring. But let's be realistic here. We lost 13 starters from last year. We all know Paterno runs his program to make a title run every 3 to 4 years. Last year was the year. This year is a rebuilding year. I would prefer to see a 7-5 rebuilding year rather than the horrendous years that plagued us in the first part of the decade.

But I can't say I completely agree with 7-5 this year. (In fairness to SMQ, he claims he didn't look at the schedule in making his prediction) We play Akron, Youngstown State, Northwestern, Illinois, Temple and Michigan State all at home this year. I have to think we are favored to win all of those which gets us to six wins right there. The remaining games are @Notre Dame, @Ohio State, @Minnesota, Michigan, @Purdue, @Wisconsin. Personally, I think it's realistic that we can win at least three of these games to give us a record of 9-3. But I'm not crazy enough to say anything less than a ten win season is a failure.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Madden on Morelli

Mark Madden from ESPN radio put out a hit piece on Anthony Morelli last week. Where to start with this guy? First of all, I'm pretty sure casual dress Friday wasn't meant to include muu muus. Here's a tip: Maybe next time instead of getting the triple cheeseburger, you might want to think about cutting back to the double.
But enough of that. Let's take a look at some of the drivel this guy gets paid to write:

Morelli's intelligence (or lack thereof) is the elephant in Penn State's locker room. No one wants to talk about it, but it is undeniably a potential negative factor.

Oh really? I've heard nothing but good things out of the coaches and players. Paterno has never been shy about warning the media when he felt the team wasn't very good. All indications this year are that they are going to have a good football team. But according to Madden, the fact that nobody is saying Morelli is a smart guy must mean he's dumb.

Maybe he's not going to graduate at the top of his class, but then we're not talking about rocket science here. It's football. Morelli has been riding the bench for two years now. If he doesn't know the playbook, I can't believe Joe would name him the starter.

But what really bugs me about Madden's piece is the tone. Sometimes we forget we're talking about 21 year old college kids. They have stress all around them. They perform on stages in front of millions of people. People depend on them to win so they can make money, but he's not seeing any of the action. He has to worry about classes and all the other crap that comes with being 21 years old. Media jerks like Madden forget these guys don't get paid for what they do so they deserve a break now and then.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Heisman Hype

It seems more and more schools hype their players for the Heisman trophy every year. Some schools don't need to put effort into hyping their players. The media does it for them. Other schools don't get the hype so they put together advertising campaigns before the season starts. Cal has put together a website for their star running back Marshawn Lynch. Louisville put together a nifty website called the Dirby City Duo for their star QB Brian Bohm and RB Michael Bush. (Hat Tip Heisman Pundit)

Penn State for years has refused to promote it's players. Paterno protects his players from the media and keeps them in a tight circle. Right before the Orange Bowl last season he refused to allow the players attend a scheduled press conference because it was the week before finals and he didn't want to distract them. He won't talk up certain players because he doesn't want other players to feel left out. And they certainly don't put together websites or buy billboard space to promote players ala David Carr. Not surprisingly, Penn State players always get snubbed in the Heisman voting.

Sometimes I'm conflicted in how I feel about this. I would love to see a Penn State player win the Heisman in my lifetime. It would bring the Nittany Nation great joy and it would be great for recruiting. But at the same time, it fits in with the Penn State tradition that no one person deserves more attention than the rest of the team. "There is no name on my jersey" has become a rallying cry for Penn State fans and players. The philosophy goes, when you name isn't on your jersey you have to find another way to make people notice you...as in play hard. There are no logos on the helmets. Everyone wears black shoes. Endzone dances are not tolerated. Everyone is part of the team and nobody is special. As much as I would love to see a player win the Heisman, I would not be willing to do it if it meant giving up this great tradition.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Penn State Under Investigation

Orson over at Every Day Should be Saturday has been on a quest to find a video of the old Joe Paterno commercials for Milano Bread. So far he has come up empty, but he found this nugget from The Nittany Line.

Then today I found this article in the Altoona Mirror where budding young reporter Corey Sober asked new recruit Josh Marks, "Josh, from what I hear, Joe Paterno bribes his players with free Milano bread. Is this true?"

Marks denied being bribed, but the comment has caught the eye of NCAA president Myles Brand.

"We take all accusations of bribing recruits seriously. If Penn State is found to have bribed a recruit, we will take away scholarships and bury their program until they have to beg Pitt to play 2-for-1's in Pitt's favor."

When Hail to the Lion tried to reach Coach Paterno for comment, the coach had this to say:

"Who is Josh Marks? I have never bribed a player with Milano bread. You must have misunderstood. When he said 'bread', he probably meant money. We do that all the time. Is that against the rules? I'm a senile old man ya know. When I started coaching the game of football only had two rules. Eleven guys on a team and only one ball on the field at a time. I can't keep track of all these rules today. I can't even remember where I parked my car when I leave the office at night. Most nights I end up walking home and having Sue drive me back after everyone has left so I can find my car again. Who are you?"

Expect a full NCAA investigation into this. Hail to the Lion will keep you informed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tarnished Dome

Imagine that. College Football's golden boys have been accused of negative recruiting.

"I'm not going to lie," (Jamie) Cumbie told The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston, S.C., for a story Wednesday. "The coaches at Notre Dame sent some bad letters ripping Clemson after I committed here."

This sparked a media war with the Notre Dame head coach, the media anointed "Guru", Charlie Weis.

"I find it quite amusing that a student-athlete already enrolled at another university has decided to be the team spokesman on Notre Dame recruiting practices," Weis said. "There is an obvious contradiction between how this was handled and what was stated. We do not use negative recruiting tactics."

Oh re-he-he-healy? Well, after Weis shot one over the bow, Clemson quickly made their kid put out the following statement:

"No one from Notre Dame, either in writing or in general conversation, said Clemson had a horrible education," Cumbie's statement said. "Notre Dame made a comparison in different areas between the two schools and the facts made Notre Dame look better."

Oh ok. They were just comparing the two schools. These statistics just made Notre Dame look better, but that wasn't a knock on Clemson or anything. Nooooooo sir. I'm just curious why Clemson had their kid respond this way. If an institution was trying to cut me down with the kids I have already recruited, I would think I would be pretty upset and want to fire back. The fact that Clemson took this response makes me wonder who has dirt on Clemson and what that dirt is.

Negative recruiting goes on all the time. We all know it. People have been recruiting against Joe Paterno's age for years telling kids they will be playing for someone else before their career is over if they go to Penn State. Of course, most of those guys have been fired since then while JoePa remains. You telling me no coach has ever told a quarterback that if he goes to Penn State Joe is either going to turn him into a linebacker or make him run plays that were drawn up in the 60's? Let's get real here. Everyone recruits by putting down their competition. Penn State included I'm sure. That's the way the game is played when the NCAA official isn't watching.

What bugs me about his is the media is shocked, SHOCKED, when someone suggests their Notre Dame choir boys and "The Guru" are capable of such a thing. Give me a break. We've all seen the amount of pressure there is on a head coach of Notre Dame to perform. It's the highest profile job in college football. They called Ty Willingham a genius after his first year. Two years later he was looking for a job. It takes a fierce competitor willing to cut throats to be successful at that job. So spare me the choir boy crap. Notre Dame is not any more morally superior than the next guy. Let's not pretend they are.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

2006 Defensive Preview

The senior led squad from 2005 suffers heavy casualties in 2006. Gone are seven starters including NFL picks Tamba Hali, Alan Zemitis, and Calvin Lowry. Gone are three of four starting linemen and the entire backfield.

Defensive Line

Gone from the defensive line are starters Tamba Hali, Mathew Rice, and Scott Paxon. This group combined for 164 tackles, 19 sacks and 36.5 TFL. That's the bad news. The good news is Jay Alford returns with his 37 tackles and 8.5 sacks.

Like most teams, Penn State rotates several defensive linemen in and out of the game. Five of the top eight linemen from last year return, so this group does have considerable experience. The starting line most likely will be:

DE - Jim Shaw (6 tkl, 1 sack)
DT - Ed Johnson (DNP in 2005 - 21 tkl, 4 TFL in 2004)
DT - Jay Alford (37 tkl, 11.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks)
DE - Josh Gaines (9 tkl, 0.5 TFL)

Coming in this year is what may be the greatest group of defensive linemen to ever come to Penn State in one class. Don't be surprised if uber recruits Maurice Evans, Aaron Maybin, Tom McEowen, Jared Odrick, and Phillip Taylor see significant playing time.

Penn State's success on defense will depend heavily on this group's ability to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback to protect the inexperienced secondary.

Preseason Grade: B-

Linebackers

All three All-Conference linebackers return in 2006. The line is anchored by All-Universe Butkus and Bednarik winner Paul Posluszny with his 116 tkls, 3 sacks, 8 TFL). Poz suffered a slight tear in his knee in the Orange Bowl last season, but reports are his rehab went well and he should be 100% in time for the opener. Rumors from spring practice said Paul was an animal in the weight room since he could not participate on the field and his body fat is now below 5%.

Joining Posluszny are All-Big Ten linebackers Tim Shaw and Dan Connor. Shaw recorded 76 tackes and 4.5 sacks last season. Connor recorded 76 tackles and 1.5 sacks in only nine games.

The scary thing about this group is the coaches feel even if all three of these guys got hurt their backups could step in and the defense would not skip a beat. Jerome Hayes, Tyrell Sales, and Sean Lee are that good. You may remember Lee was forced to step in when Poz went down in the Orange Bowl making several key tackles near the goaline.

Preseason Grade: A+

Defensive Backs

This season the Nittany Lions have to replace all four starters in the secondary. Zemitis, Lowry, Harrell and Phillips are all going to be playing on Sundays. This group combined for 248 tkls and 12 INT.

VHT Sophomore Justin King makes the switch to defense full time this year. His speed and athletic ability figure to make him an All-Conference corner someday. Anchoring down the other corner will be sophomore Tony Davis. Senior Donnie Johnson will be starting at strong safety. Johnson made himself known during the MSU game last year pulling in an INT and blocking a kick. The Hero position figures to be a battle between sophomores Spencer Ridenhour and Anthony Scirrotto.

Message board banter says the coaches are very impressed with incoming freshman speedster A.J. Wallace and plan to utilize him right away on offense and defense much like Justin King was used last year. Expect to see him get some playing time as the nickel or dime back.

This group has tons of talent but lacks any significant playing experience. Unfortunately they will be thrown to the wolves early. They will be tested by Notre Dame and Ohio State before the leaves start turning color. Their learning curve will have to be a steep one if Penn State hopes to contend for the Big Ten title and a BCS Bowl.

Preseason Grade: C+

Overall Projection:

There is bound to be a dropoff from last season's experienced squad. You don't lose seven starters and come back the number one unit in the nation. (Of course if you are Ohio State I guess that's another matter in the eyes of the pollsters. But that's another post for another time.) The defense is stacked with tons of talent and has the potential to be a great squad as it gains experience. This group won't shut anyone out, but they will keep it close and give the offense a chance in every game.

Preseason Grade: B

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Number 9


It's not even August yet and Penn State has picked up their ninth commitment from the class of 2007. Stephon Green from John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx has agreed to play football for the Nittany Lions.

A relative unknown as a football prospect (2 stars on both Rivals and Scout), Green was a local track star in his community. At the Bronx PSAL Borough Championship meet, Stephon won both the 100 and 200 meter dashes at times of 10.70 and 22.30 seconds respectively.

Rumor has it that Green attended a Nike camp and performed poorly only running a 4.7 in the 40 yard dash. This may explain why he didn't see much interest from other big name programs. But apparently, message board lore has it that Green ran back to back sub 4.4 40's at another camp which grabbed PSU's attention.

Regardless of his 40 time, his high school rushing stats are mind boggling. On just 64 carries, Green accumulated 767 yards for a whopping 12 ypc. He scored a touchdown on one of every eight carries. He had one kickoff return which he returned 89 yards for a touchdown and recorded one pick on defense.

Green is projected to play defensive back for the Nittany Lions. Welcome aboard, Stephon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Commitment #8

Last night Penn State got it's 8th commitment for the class of 2007 when North Carolina standout DE Kevion Latham gave his verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions.

The 6'3" 233 lb DE is a four star prospect on rivals.com, but unrated by scout.com. According to rivals.com, Latham sports a 4.63 40-yard dash, a 320 lb. bench press, a 455 lb. squat, and a 32 inch vertical leap. It seems they have different data from scout who lists him quite smaller and slower. Perhaps they have old data and the kid sprouted up this year. What impresses me most is his 4.5 GPA and 1700 SAT score. Is that even possible or is that a mistake?

Kevion passed on offers from North Carolina, Stanford, California, Georgia Tech, Oregon and Vanderbilt to play for the Nittany Lions.

In his junior season, Kevion recorded 12.5 sacks and 83 tackles. He will have to bulk up to play DE in college. Given Penn States 2006 class which was heavy on defensive linemen, I suspect Kevion will spend his freshman year wearing a red shirt and living in the gym. Alex thinks he may play right away and that this may be the only defensive lineman we will sign this year given the limited number of scholarships we have to offer.

Latham's commitment gives Penn State 8 early verbals with probably only around 18 scholarships to offer. Five of the 8 verbals are rivals.com Four Star prospects. Welcome to the good guys, Kevion.

Don't Be a Cry Baby

Yesterday Nate Bauer went off on an editorial by The Collegian which lambasted the university for not allotting more tickets to the students.

This all started a few weeks ago when the university announced that student tickets had sold out in a record 13 days. Tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis. A university official gave a brief glimmer of hope when they said they may make more student tickets available, but then they backtracked and said no. So many students will be left without tickets this fall.

But the Collegian editorial is childish in their complaint and reasoning. They say "Ticketless students are going to need something to do on game days so they don't spend the entire day drinking in the parking lot. " To avoid this situation, they suggest opening the Bryce Jordan Center to allow students to watch the game on the Jumbo-Tron.

You can't blame the university if a student chooses to drink in the parking lot all day. That is their choice. We're all individuals. We're all responsible for our actions. It's not the responsibility of the university to make sure you have something constructive to do on a saturday afternoon. If you can't get in the game, watch it on television. That's what I'll be doing.

But what makes this argument ring hollow is the fair weather nature of the Penn State student section. During the down years, you could look at the student section and easily the last 20 to 50 rows were empty. They eat their tickets during the down years and then complain when there are no tickets to be had during the good years. You can't have it both ways. The way to get more tickets is to show up even when the team sucks.

The other problem, and I'm not sure how you correct this, is that lots of students that show up for the game could really care less about football. They treat the game as more of a social event. I may get in trouble here, but I'm talking specifically about sororities. I remember when I was a student in the 90's sitting (but usually standing) in the student section surrounded by sorority girls that couldn't tell you the difference between linebacker and a safety. They all get together before the game and go in at the same time so they can go in as a block and sit together. Usually they get there early so they can get good seats. They're all decked out in their hair and makeup and pretty face paint with their sorority T-shirts. Then once the game starts they are wandering around looking for boys (what better place to find boys than at a PSU game?) or talking about the party last night or where they are going to drink tonight. Then when the team loses they are the first ones to get angry and yell "You suck" at the players as they walk off the field as if they have been personally offended. It always made me mad when I saw people like this taking up a seat in place of some deserving fan that couldn't get a ticket. Again, I'm not sure how you weed out these people who go to the games just for the social factor. Perhaps if demand is so high it's time to raise prices and try to weed out these people.

But getting back to the editorial, The Collegian wraps up their column by saying, "Someone in this university needs to grow up and take responsibility for this issue." If anyone has to grow up, it's The Collegian.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pardon Me While I Throw Up My Lunch

Ugh. I'm so sick of The Great Brady Quinn. Is the Heisman even up for grabs this year? Did they have the voting already? Is there any need to even play this season?

This just in: All the "Brady for Heisman" hype ends September 9 around 7 PM.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

2006 Offense Preview

Only 53 days until the Penn State football season kicks off against the Akron Zips. The college football world is starting to awaken from its seven month hibernation. Pundits are putting out their pre-season polls. Message boards are coming to life picking them apart. The blogosphere is starting to buzz. It seems like a fitting time to provide my analysis of this year's Penn State team. Today I will start with the offense.

Quarterbacks

The key word here is "experience", or more specificially lack thereof. After backing up Zack Mills and Michael Robinson the past two years, Anthony Morelli gets the keys to the offense this year. Backing him up will be Paul Cianciolo and Matt Suhey, who have yet to see a snap in Div. I-A.

Last year Morelli got on the field three times in blowout games. Joe had pulled in the reins to prevent running up the score, but Morelli still managed to go 13-20 for 155 yds 1 TD and 0 INT. He didn't light anyone up, but he didn't let them get back in the game either. The times I saw him, including the spring game, I thought he showed good technique. His passes were crisp, on target and on time. He showed good confidence in the pocket and excellent arm strength.

Much of the country is expecting a drop off going from MRob to Morelli. While MRob was the type of guy that could strap an offense on his back and carry them down the field, Morelli, being a pocket passer, prefers to use the players around him. I look for him to spread the ball around and let his speedy wide receivers turn his 5 yard passes into 50 yard plays. The offense will look much different. The fact is that last year defenses did not respect Michael Robinson as a passer. The book him was take away the deep ball and try to force him into 3rd and long to take away his scrambling ability. Teams that were able to do that had success. This year teams will have to cover the entire field.

If Morelli gets hurt, the season may be in trouble. Cianciolo looked horrible in the spring game and Suhey has no experience. Fans may whisper in Paterno's ear to play true freshman Pat Devlin, but this is supposed to be a rebuilding year. I don't look for Pat to see the field until 2007.

Preseason Grade: B

Running Backs

Tony Hunt returns as the team's leading rusher from last year. Backing him up will be Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw.

While there is no bonafide star in this group, they are all capable backs. Tony is a steady runner that will churn out four and five yard runs all day. He is a tough back that will lower his head and get the extra yard every time. His pass blocking and catching abilities push him to the #1 spot on the depth chart. But he has yet to show the explosive speed to break the long run.

Austin Scott enters his senior year having yet to live up to the hype. He stepped in admirably in the Orange Bowl and turned out a fine 100 yard performance, but most on those yards came on one long run and he was mostly ineffective in the second half. He tends to run like he did in high school where he tried to run around guys. He has yet to make the adjustment to the speed of the college game which requires moving forward at all times and fighting for the extra yard. His ability to pick up the blitz is suspect. This was evident in the Orange Bowl when Florida State blitzed on almost every play and Michael Robinson took a beating. But Scott does show signs of brilliance at times when the O-Line can block for him. He is probably the most explosive back on the roster.

Also returning is stud senior fullback BranDon Snow. Joe Paterno loves this kid. He doesn't run the ball much, but he may be the best blocker on the team. If the tight ends struggle he may see lots of playing time as Penn State returns to more Power-I sets. But Galen Hall is going to try to use the wide receivers to spread the ball, so don't look for him much outside of the red zone.

Bottom line there is no Larry Johnson or Ki-Jana Carter in the group, but these guys will hold their own against any team in the Big Ten.

Preseason Grade: B

Wide Receivers

The star of the group is Derrick Williams who returns from a season ending broken arm last year. Before getting injured Williams had 22 catches for 289 yds and 1 TD. The one TD came in the last minute of the Northwestern game to seal Penn State's win and set up their national title run. Michigan had the looks of his official coming out party before it was cut short. He racked up a season high 6 catches before getting hurt.

Deon Butler led the Lions in receiving last year with 37 catches for 691 yds and 9 TD. He may have the best hands on the team and proved himself to be a formidable deep threat. In the spring game, Jordan Norwood was Anthony Morelli's favorite target pulling in 8 catches for 154 yards.

With tons of talent and now a year of experience under their belt, this group will spread the field and cause matchup problems for defenses to ponder. Look for 3 receiver sets to be a common formation in the 2007 offense.

In my opinion, the biggest reason for Penn State's return to the Top 10 last year was the wide receivers. When you look back on the great Penn State teams of the 80's and 90's, they were all blessed with good receivers: O.J. McDuffie, Bobby Engram, Joe Jurevicius, Bryant and Tony Johnson. When you look at the down years, lack of skill at WR is a common trend. If this is any indication, 2006 should be a good year.

Preseason Grade: A

Offensive Line

The biggest question mark this year on offense is the offensive line. They return All-American stud and probable future first round draft pick Levi Brown at left tackle. But other than that they will be adding four new starters.

A.Q. Shipley switches back to offense and figures to anchor down the center position. Whispers out of spring practice suggest he has returned this year with a new attitude and work ethic. But the other three positions are not nailed down and we may see some different rotations until the coaches settle on a final depth chart before the start of Big Ten play.

The success or failure of the 2006 squad may hinge on this group. Unquestionably this is the biggest concern on the team. In the spring game the two squads combined only rushed for 44 yards. But then going into the 2005 season we were saying the offensive line was a question mark. That group did not have any stars outside of Brown and they did an adequate job. I expect this group will do the same after they get some experience.

Preseason Grade: C+ (Any line with Levi Brown is above average, but this group is just barely)

Tight Ends

Gone are the days of Kyle Brady, Troy Drayton, Tony Stewart, and John Gilmore. It has been several years since Penn State has had a tight end that can pull down that clutch 8 yard pass over the middle. Isaac Smolko managed to come out of nowhere to make the game saving catch on 4th and 15 against Northwestern, but that proved to be a fluke as the year went on. With Smolko's departure Jordan Lyons, Patrick Hall, and Kevin Darling step in. This group will not force any defensive coordinators to adjust their game plan. One more reason why the offense will be sporting a lot of three wide receiver sets. Perhaps highly touted recruit Andrew Quarless will see some action midway through the season. I'm anxious to see what this kid has to offer.

Preseason Grade: D

Overall Projection:

The skill positions return everyone except for Michael Robinson. The Dynamic Duo (Hunt and Scott) and the Three Amigos (Williams, Butler, and Norwood) are going to be a blast to watch light up the scoreboard.

The key is the offensive line. At times this group is going to look brilliant when the O-Line can protect Morelli and block for Hunt and Scott. But if the O-Line struggles, and they will at times, the offense is going to sputter and look bad. Our success will depend on how fast this group can get up to speed. Look for Galen Hall and Jay Paterno to go for a lot of quick deep strikes early in the season. Long methodical drives require offensive lines that dominate the run and protect the quarterback play after play. This O-line is not capable of that yet.

Preseason Grade: B

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mai Non!



I guess now that the World Cup is over I can finally comment on it. I tried to watch the final. Some of it anyway. I just can't force myself to watch an entire game without flipping the channel. Yesterday I watched it until the NASCAR race came on. It was 1-1 when I turned it. I would come back 20 minutes later...still 1-1. Whew...didn't miss anything I guess. Later I came back it was 1-1 in the first overtime. Then 1-1 in the second overtime. I'm sensing a pattern here.

About the only thing interesting was when the French guy head-butted the Italian guy. This morning the talk shows were a buzz with the fake outrage only they can muster up. Here in America we are shocked when violence breaks out at a sporting event...unless you're talking about hockey of course. But in the rest of the world violence is part of the games. I mean, these people kill each other over soccer. Remember the guy from south America that scored in his own goal in the Olympics a few years ago? They killed him...over a soccer game.

And what is with all these soccer players faking their injuries? Yesterday I watched a guy go down and hold his ankle as play continued. Judging by his reaction it looked like a career ending injury. They finally stopped the game and the medical trainers came out. They put the guy on a stretcher and carried him off the field and play continued. After it became apparent they were not going to call a foul, he miraculously got up and ran back into the game. Give me a break. Part of the problem why soccer does not catch on in the United States is that the players are perceived to be pretty boys. All this flopping around and faking injury doesn't help.

So the game finally ended in a 5-3 shootout. This is the dumbest way to crown a world champion I have ever seen. Given the fact the World Cup only comes around every four years makes it even more retarded. The goalie stands in front of a huge net he cannot possibly defend. He is forced to guess which way the shooter is going to go. Many times he falls down before the shooter even kicks the ball. None of the shots were blocked yesterday. France lost when one of their guys missed the net hitting the crossbar.

I cannot stress how dumb this is. Let them play until they drop dead or someone scores. This is like the world series being decided by a game of dodge ball after both teams run out of pitchers in Game 7. It's like deciding the NBA championship with a free throw contest. Or deciding the Superbowl on a coin flip. It's crazy. Don't waste three hours of my life to watch something so stupid. I will never understand soccer or why the world loves it so much.