Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Penn State spring wrap
2010 overall record: 7-6
2010 conference record: 4-4 (T-4th)
Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1
LB Michael Mauti, DT Devon Still, S Nick Sukay, CB D'Anton Lynn, LB Nathan Stupar, QB Matt McGloin, QB Rob Bolden, WR Derek Moye, LT Quinn Barham
DT Ollie Ogbu, LB Chris Colasanti, RB Evan Royster, G Stefen Wisniewski, C Doug Klopacz, K Collin Wagner
2010 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Evan Royster (1,014 yards)
Passing: Matt McGloin* (1,548 yards)
Receiving: Derek Moye* (885 yards)
Tackles: Chris Colasanti (112)
Sacks: Devon Still* (4)
Interceptions: D'Anton Lynn* and Nick Sukay* (3)
1. Still solidifies middle: Penn State needs its defensive line to rebound in 2010, and it has a good piece to build around in tackle Devon Still. After a huge performance in the Outback Bowl (3.5 tackles for loss), Still continued to make strides this spring and drew praise from the coaching staff. The potential always has been there with Still, and after overcoming injuries early in his career, he looks like he's ready for a breakout season.
2. Quarterbacks make progress: The starter remains a mystery, but whoever calls signals for Penn State this fall will have a better grasp of the system. Both Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin drew high marks this spring, not only showing a greater understanding of the offense but greater willingness to lead the unit. When the often pessimistic Joe Paterno says "I think we're in good shape" at quarterback, it's typically a good sign.
3. Linebacker U. returns: Although Penn State brings back a lot of experience in the secondary, the defense should be linebacker-driven in 2011. That's the way it should be at Linebacker U. Veterans Michael Mauti and Nathan Stupar are poised to lead the way, and Gerald Hodges made strides this spring and has star potential for the Nittany Lions. Sophomore Khairi Fortt also impressed this spring and could push Stupar for playing time.
1. The starting quarterback: McGloin and Bolden are clearly the top two candidates, but neither enters the summer as the appointed starter. Bolden's future is the subplot here, as the rising sophomore hasn't closed the door to a potential departure from the program. Bolden felt the competition was fair this spring, and it could heat up again when the team resumes practice in August. The coaches probably don't want to let things drag on too long without naming a No. 1 QB.
2. Defensive end: Penn State has lacked a dynamic pass-rusher since Aaron Maybin in 2008, and there's serious concern about the defensive end spot coming out of the spring. Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore remained sidelined this spring with injuries, and projected starter Pete Massaro suffered a season-ending torn ACL early in the spring session. The Lions really need both Crawford and Latimore to get healthy and elevate their play this fall.
3. Offensive line: Although receiver Curtis Drake's injury this spring is a setback for the offense, Penn State should have enough playmakers to sustain the offense if the line can do its job. Line play is the biggest key to Penn State reclaiming its 2008 form, and the pressure is on a group that boasts experience (Quinn Barham, Chima Okoli, Johnnie Troutman) but must prove it can consistently generate push against top Big Ten competition. Tight end also is a major question mark, making the line's performance even more important.