Chat with Josh Moyer
Welcome to NittanyNation! On Friday, reporter Josh Moyer stops by to chat about the state of Penn State football.
Moyer joined ESPN.com in 2012 after previously working for The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Send your questions now and join Moyer Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (12:59 PM)
Hey guys, we'll get started in a minute here -- send those questions in!
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:00 PM)
All right. Welcome back, everybody! Thanks again for joining us this week. Now, who's got the first question?
Ryan (State College)
What do you do during the bye week? Catch up on sleep?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:02 PM)
For the players, mostly. For the coaches? Nope. PSU practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday -- and most players left for home Thursday. The team emphasized mid-season evaluations, broke down their strengths and weaknesses, and they'll try to heal up this week. The bye comes at an ideal time and should really help Pete Massaro and Donovan Smith. The coaches are all recruiting. Charles London and Bill O'Brien are in Fork Union, Va., to see Tanner Hartman and Christian Hackenberg.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:03 PM)
Wouldn't be surprised if they checked out a few players on Fork Union's PG team either ...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How did you feel about Jerry Sandusky getting 30-60 years in Prison?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:04 PM)
I know some people were a little angry it wasn't a "life" sentence ... but, let's face it, that's basically what this was. The man deserves to rot behind bars, and whether the number was 30 or 300 -- he's going to do exactly that. The number was more symbolic than anything. I think he deserved that sentence.
Golden (Philadelphia, PA)
While watching the Northwestern game, I noticed a lot of tip balls. Was a flaw in McGloin throwing motion exposed? Or was something else going on that a layman like me would not easily pick up watching the game?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:06 PM)
McGloin doesn't have the fastest release, but I think more of it had to do with increased pressure from Northwestern. They sent in a lot of pressure on the outside, and they succeeded because Smith was playing with basically one hand. Farrell is a good RT, too, but the combo of Farrell-Gress has gotten beat on more than a few occasions this season. On two or three plays, McGloin held on to the ball too long -- and I think that's what might have combined for a few more tipped balls than usual.
Ryan (State College)
It was great to have such an amazing crowd (and win) last week with so many recruits there. Any news on the recruiting front?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:07 PM)
There's some. PSU's really trying make one good, final push at some 2013 prospects. Expect them to sign some JUCO and PG guys. They're obviously looking for a juco QB to replace Paul Jones, and they're intent on signing at least one tailback ... maybe two if Dukes leaves.
If you were an opposing offense, how would you gameplan against the Nittany defense?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:09 PM)
Good question. I would go shotgun with four or five wideouts every single time. PSU doesn't have a nickel defense, so you would either have a linebacker (probably Mike Hull) lined up against a wideout -- or you could target the safeties. The safeties are the weak point to this entire defense, and you could really force them to struggle by mixing up some long passes. Curious ... would anyone else do anything differently? Seems like that's the way to go.
How on earth did Mike Mauti not get on that Lombardi list? That makes that whole award a joke!!!
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:11 PM)
I contacted the Rotary Club of Houston, which told me they'd issue a statement ... well, the statement was just rehashing the selection process. So I contacted them again and am awaiting a response. Basically, 500 coaches, former players and media members will vote on the 25 quarter-finalists -- but they'll mostly pick guys off the watch list. Mauti was never placed on that watch list, really hurting his odds, and I'm awaiting an answer to see who compiles that list and why he wasn't added later in the season. My guess? Just an oversight.
J. Lotz (State College)
Someone told me Curtis Dukes wants to leave PEnn St. now. Why? I thought he was really going to play alot for us this year. Is it just playing time?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:13 PM)
I actually just got off the phone with his high school coach right before this chat and will have a story coming afterward. Dukes does plan to finish this season out ... but I'm not so sure he's aware of the transfer rules. The coach told me he (the coach) wasn't aware Dukes could play for another team, thought it was JUST this season, and he wasn't so sure Dukes knew either. He was just about to let Dukes in the school's weight room when he called me, so they'll talk about it. NFL draft is a possibility. But, yes, it's strictly playing time.
Mike W (Manyunk)
How have we not replaced Ficken yet? At some point we need a kicker who's range is outside 25.....
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:16 PM)
I don't think Ficken has a range ... If you check out the NittanyNation page right now, you can see Kevin Kelly's full take on it. But, basically, Kelly told me it's mental with Ficken. Kelly wasn't a good kicker either in his first two seasons, and they're just trying to tap into Ficken's potential. Kid can kick far ... but consistency has been a HUGE issue, obviously. Ficken is the reason O'Brien goes for it so much on fourth down; I know PSU is trying to reel in a few walk-on kickers, so if this problem is corrected, it won't be until next year.
Whatever happened with that talk about adding a non-bowl game to the end of the season?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:17 PM)
They're still talking about it. Florida and Hawaii have been mentioned as candidates, but Bill O'Brien said scheduling that game at the end of the season could prove problematic because of the Big Ten schedule. If they can't schedule around it, BOB said they'll just have it in the beginning of the year at some point -- but you're right, ideally, they want to have an end-of-the-year game somewhere warm.
RYAN SMITH (PITTSBURGH)
WHAT'S YOUR PREDICTION FOR PENN STATE'S RECORD AT THE END OF THE YEAR?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:19 PM)
I'M STICKING WITH MY original prediction at 7-5. PSU could go 9-3; it could go 6-6. I don't think either would surprise me at this point. They showed a lot against Northwestern, and they match up well with a lot of teams that haven't been airing it out as much and rely on dual-threat QBs. I think that plays into PSU's strength, and that could mean PSU is well on its way to surprising even more ...
What is your opinion of the Ohio University football team this year--do you think they deserve a 25 ranking?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:22 PM)
Absolutely they deserve a top-25 ranking. What's hurt them has been their strength of schedule outside of PSU -- and their margin of victory. In three games (all conference games, I think), Ohio won by either 3 or 7 points. They should be absolutely dominating teams. It's weird to me that PSU received a top-25 vote last week, but Ohio can't seem to get on the list. They'll keep winning, though, and I'm sure they'll be in the top-25 within the next two weeks.
Andy (Seattle )
With reports that some players are unhappy with playing time (Dukes), do you see any players taking advantage of the liberal transfer rules at Penn St after this season?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:24 PM)
I'm sure at least a handful of players will. I'd look at positions that are deep and where playing time is an issue -- like tight end, for example. With Adam Breneman coming in, that could be a difficult position to get a lot of time with. There's a lot of freshman DTs right now, too.
Who's Penn State's best player on offense? Im assuming Muati is the best overall player, right?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:26 PM)
Yup, you're right. Mauti is definitely the best player on this team. But the best player on offense? You could name three different guys, and you wouldn't be wrong. Still, I'm going to have to go with Matt McGloin. Sure, Allen Robinson is playing great -- but McGloin is the one getting him the ball. McGloin has made few mistakes this season (two interceptions, both of which I believe were WR drops), and he sparked the Northwestern comeback. His teammates tell me he has this confidence in the huddle they haven't seen, and he makes them believe. What more could you ask for?
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Is Fran Ganter still associated with the football program? It appears not, but I never saw anything about him leaving. I have found it interesting that his name never came up during the trial, etc since they were coordinators at the same time for so long.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:29 PM)
No, but I did see him on a lawn chair at practice a week or two ago. He'll stop in from time to time, but I think that's more of a I-want-to-watch-some-football type of thing than it is him having anything to do with the team. You'll see visitors there from time to time.
The support Ficken is getting from his teammates is great but it looks like BOB has given up on trying to get anything out of him. Are there any potential replacements available or will PSU fans just have to pray games don't come down to a kick in any form?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:30 PM)
Ha ... I guess the answer to your question is pray, PSU fans, pray. The only possible replacement at this point is Kevin DiSanto, and BOB clearly doesn't have much faith in him either. Ficken's problem isn't that he can't kick -- it's that he can't kick in games. Who's to say DiSanto wouldn't have the same problem? I mean, how many times has Ficken had a kickoff go out of bounds? It seems like a change-of-pace could certainly do wonders here ... but BOB is stickin' with Ficken. At least for this season.
I don't want you to get in trouble by naming names but are you hearing any players that aren't pleased with BOB's new offensive scheme? Personally, I love it.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:32 PM)
Outside of Curtis Dukes ... no. It's funny; I can remember covering the team in years past and guys like Deon Butler hinting how they hated the system. I can give a whole lot of examples of what guys like more with this system ... but I seriously can't tell you one player who aren't pleased with this new scheme. I don't think they are any.
Is Hackenburg going to start next year?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:35 PM)
If I was a sportsbook, right now, I'd list Steven Bench as the favorite only because he's done such a great job picking up on the playbook. When McGloin became injured, we saw just how little he passed it with a guy who, by all accounts, has impressed him with his football knowledge. Well, Hackenberg does not have that same football acumen. He's got more physical tools -- but learning that playbook will take some time. Hackenberg obviously has the higher upside, but I think it would be wise for either the JUCO (Jake Waters would be an incredible pickup) or Bench start, while redshirting Hackenberg.
Alex McKenzie (State College)
PSU's offense is looking INCREDIBLE, but is there anything you think their missing?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:37 PM)
A deep threat. PSU went the whole Northwestern game, I believe, without McGloin completing one ball over 25 yards. And that hasn't been unusual this season. PSU has been more conservative against some teams than others, but they really need someone like a ... Justin Brown ... to add another dimension to this attack. Allen Robinson doesn't have speed; Alex Kenney does. He needs to step up.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
The O-line has really been taking over in the second half of games the last few weeks (a testament to MacWhorter and Fitzgerald), but what is the team doing to get a better run game early? I would think success with that will do wonders for McGloin and the play-action game.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:39 PM)
Part of it just has to do with this offensive line finally gelling, especially on the interior. McWhorter has raved about John Urschel, and we know just how strong Stankiewitch is. You combine that with feeding the ball to a big back like Zwinak, and that's a recipe for success right there. I still think we need to see more consistency from the tackles
Are you a little suprised by how weak the B1G has been this year? Aside from a couple of QB's, there just aren't many playmakers.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:41 PM)
I've been very surprised. Who thought Montee Ball would struggle like he has? Michigan lost to two good teams, but they barely beat Air Force for crying out loud. Some big backs like Iowa's have impressed ... but, you're right, there's not a of playmakers in this conference. And I really don't know if it'll be any better next season.
Alex McKenzie (State College)
I really think Penn St. could sweep the conference awards. What do you think?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:45 PM)
Well, I assume you're talking about the individual awards? If that's the case, Michael Mauti should be a lock to win Defensive POY, Deion Barnes should win ROY ... but offensive MVP will be a little harder to achieve. Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson will be in the conversation, but it'll be difficult to overcome someone like Denard Robinson. PSU should take at least two out of those three.
Who has been you team MVP so far?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:47 PM)
Michael Mauti. There's no question. He's a lead-by-example kind of guy, in the mold of Paul Posluszny. He has had a tremendous impact on every game for Penn State, and even Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said no defensive player in the Big Ten was playing better than him. Bill O'Brien, who's often been honest with player performances (knows Butterworth, Ficken need to improve), called Mauti one of the top-5 linebackers in the nation. I think this season by Mauti could end up being remembered as the best by a PSU LB this decade. Anyone disagree?
What players do you think will have good careers in the NFL?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:49 PM)
Mel Kiper just released his rankings yesterday, actually, and he ranked Stankiewitch, Mauti and Hodges. I think Jordan Hill will also get drafted, and you'll see other guys -- maybe McGloin? -- picked up as FAs. PSU has had a pretty good track record with linebackers, so I've got to think Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges will have bright careers. Mauti's injury history might scare some teams away, but he could be a solid second-round pick. I remember the Bills waited until the second round to snag Posluszny -- and he didn't end up doing too terribly.
Mike R. (Philly)
You said earlier that OBrien wants more runningbacks. Whose he targeting right now?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:52 PM)
Well, there appears to be three guys they're really going after hard -- Richie Anderson, a PSU legacy who's already committed to Maryland (but called PSU his dream school); Wesley Bullock, an incredibly fast and incredibly small (160 pounds) Florida back and Roman Clay, a fairly local kid who has 4.5 speed and can run guys over. Anderson and Bullock have scholarship offers, while Clay talks with Charles London every week. At least one of those three will be on PSU next year. Lock it up.
so happy with how the team is playing, hate to ask this but, do you think all the players who have stepped up this year with stay with the team next year?
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:55 PM)
Like I said before, I think tight ends and freshman DTs will probably be the most tempted to leave. Most of the big-name underclassmen are all part of the "Supa Six," a tight-knit group of starters who said they're all staying together. Carter, Barnes, Belton, Amos, Smith, Robinson -- teams will target them the most in the offseason. I can't tell you whether any will leave; I don't know who might come into the equation. But I think the odds are in PSU's favor right now to keep them; Barnes said he wasn't going anywhere. A-Rob's also said the same.
Can this team be even better next season? Or will we be bad? I don't know what to think.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:57 PM)
I think this team is set up to be better for the 2014 season. Next year will be a rebuilding year. In 2014, Belton and A-Rob will be seniors while Bench or Hackenberg will have more experience. Next season, you won't have Hodges or Mauti or Hill. And those are three big losses. And McGloin's departure can't be understated. There's no way Hack or Bench can step in and have a better season than he's had so far ...
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Wow, another Richie Anderson... I'm getting old. Anyway, any scuttlebutt about whether Lynch is upset he got redshirted? Seems to be better for him - he could go to a bowl game theoretically.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:59 PM)
O'Brien put his redshirt philosophy like this: You're going to contribute more as a fifth-year senior than a first-year freshman. Lynch did want to see some playing time this year, but BOB didn't think it was worth it because he would've received limited carries -- and I don't think Lynch is picking up the playbook as quickly as most would have liked. He may not have wanted to redshirt, but he needed it. It's best for him and best for the team.
Josh Moyer (Nittany Nation) (1:59 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for this week. Thanks again for joining us, and I hope to see you all again next Friday!