Hey guys, we'll get started in a minute here!
On another message board, someone posted a tweet from PSU RB Lynch. The tweet indicated that Lynch had be in contact with USC's back up RB. Is Lynch, or any other players, on USC's shopping list?
I don't know about USC, but you can bet a lot of young players will be contacted after the season. Redshirt freshman Deion Barnes said no one's contacted him yet -- and coaches will probably wait until their seasons are over until reaching out. Allen Robinson, Barnes, Adrian Amos, Donovan Smith -- all "Supa Six" guys -- will be really coveted players.
Who are the skill position players to watch for Northwestern?
Three guys I'll be keeping an eye on: 1) Kain Colter. He can be a WR/RB/QB. He's Northwestern's best player and probably the most athletic in the conference. 2) Chi Chi Ariguzo. He's the top linebacker and has no problem getting in the backfield. 3) Jeff Budzien. He's 11-for-11 on field goals this season and has good range. Could be the deciding factor.
Do you think PSU's defense will be a real shock for NU's offense? NU has not exactly played a tough defense to date.
It's definitely their biggest challenge so far this season. Northwestern's great at running the ball, but Penn State's been pretty solid against the run. They've played a dual-threat quarterback more often than not, and I think you're right -- Northwestern's going to struggle a little more here. Watch for the second-half adjustments.
Should Northwestern be favored tomorrow, and if so by how much?
Right now, PSU is favored by a field goal. Still, I'm picking Northwestern 24-21. This may be the best defense that Northwestern has faced, but I think Penn State's secondary will be exposed again ... Penn State has waited too long to put games away and has to improve in the red zone. I just don't think they'll win right now. But it'll be close.
The defense got shredded by Ohio's spread attack. What changes do you see Roof making to combat Northwestern's spread?
Ted Roof said yesterday they can't stack the box to stop the run because Northwestern spreads you horizontally so much. He can put Adrian Amos at safety a little bit -- he's a good tackler -- and he can have Gerald Hodges drop back in coverage a bit more. Penn State didn't play the nickel at all in Week 1, but they'll be able to use that against Northwestern if it's needed. Roof said tackling will be key this week because Northwestern's good at finding the open space.
So does ZZ have the starting RB spot or do you think they will continue the round robin use of running backs. I think I heard that NU holds teams to ~70yds rushing per game (best in B1G).
Good question -- but it will still be a committee approach. Belton remains the starter, but don't be surprised top see Zwinak consistently get 10-15 carries a game either. You'll probably see Belton, Zwinak and some Day on Saturday. Belton still fits this offense best, but Zwinak is a great change-of-pace back.
Any transfers regretting their decisiosn, ya think? Silas Redd's probably kicking himself
Well, I think Justin Brown and Khairi Fortt probably have reason to regret their decisions most. There's a glut of wideouts at OU, and Brown could be third or fourth in receptions by the end of the year. He would have been the No. 1 or No. 2 in a pro-style offense at PSU. Fortt will likely redshirt, and then he'll start at Cal for two seasons. Fortt could have done the same here. He wouldn't have a bowl at PSU, but he's not going to have a bowl with 1-4 Cal either.
WHO IS THE BEST RUNNING BACK ON PENN STATE RIGHT NOW?
WELL, RYAN ... If we're talking about just carrying the ball, I think at this point it's Zach Zwinak. He carries defenders 3-4 yards every play, and the offensive line can tell he's wearing down the D in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say he's the biggest surprise on the offense this year with the emergence of McGloin and A-Rob, but he's definitely been the unsung hero the last two weeks.
Why is Sam Ficken still in there?!? Is Desanto that bad, what's going on?
Well, he's still practicing the best -- so O'Brien's leaving him in there for now. Kevin DiSanto wouldn't likely do as bad in a game situation, but Ficken's on scholarship, has more potential and is just an underclassman. Still, Ficken is the least-accurate kicker in the country. I don't think O'Brien has much faith in either kicker; even if DiSanto would go in, he still likely wouldn't kick it often.
How do you think PSU finishes the season? I think they could get eight wins, maybe win the division
I'm picking Penn State to lose this weekend, but I still think it will finish 7-5. That's what I picked in the preseason, but it wasn't looking too good after Week 2. Penn State's shown a lot of improvement on offense, but they still have yet to put a complete game together. Still, the Big Ten is definitely down this season, and that gives PSU some room to move on up the standings. They're not going to win the division ... but they'll be in the race.
Was last week just an off-game for ARob or what?
Not an off game -- he's just seeing more attention now. You go from third-string wideout in December to a Billetnikoff candidate, and you're bound to get some more respect. Teams didn't know whom he was earlier this season. They know now, and it's not going to get any easier for Robinson. Still, the way the offense is designed, that'll lead to more targets for other guys. Alex Kenney needs to step up, and another target could have a big game this time -- just like Lehman last week.
There was an impressive kicking video on youtube earlier this week of a PSU soccer player kicking in the football facility. Assuming that was not a doctored video, it seems like this kid is willing to help out the football team...(any news from the coaches regarding walk-on try-outs))
Last I heard O'Brien grabbed about five guys from tryouts. He said they won't play this season; they'll likely just be on the scout team and prepare to play next season. They had to get guys who eligible and whose class schedule matched up with practice times. But, again, that kicking video was impressive -- but it's different when you're on the field. Ficken usually looks good at practice ... but it's another story in games.
Could O'Brien win Coach of the Year this year?
No. Listen, I know some analysts threw that out there last week, but no one will crown an 8-4 coach as COY. That's not to take anything away from O'Brien because I think he's done a tremendous job considering the circumstances. I think he'd have to run the table or maybe finish 9-3 to garner any real consideration.
I read earlier this week that the team really seems to trust the coaches. Hows that different from last year
Matt McGloin and Stephon Morris couldn't get a straight answer out of the coaching staff last season when it came to seeing what their roles were. O'Brien and Co. make it a point to tell every player where he stands. Players said sometimes he'll tell them things they don't want to hear, but that's how they know he's honest. When he compliments them, then, they know it's not just empty praise. This team has really rallied around O'Brien. Mauti said before the season he'd run into a burning building for the coach.
An Iowa LB leads the Big 10 in takcles, but Mauti is a beast. Who would you rather have on your team?
Hands down, Michael Mauti. Hitchens, the Iowa LB, is a tackling machine -- but I wouldn't consider him an elite guy. I think Mauti is the best linebacker in the nation. And, even if someone doesn't think so, you have to admit he's making a strong case to in the conversation. He's the leader on this defense, and he seems to come away with a turnover every week. He's been in the backfield -- but he also has more pass deflections than anyone in the secondary. That's just crazy.
what do you think the attendance will be?
It is Homecoming, but it seems as if the attendance will be around the 96K mark. Blame the STEP system for the crazy-high prices -- and maybe a little from the sanctions, too. O'Brien asked on his radio show this week for students to show up at 11:45 a.m. because -- let's face it -- they've been pretty late so far this season. Ohio State will be a capacity crowd, but we'll see about Northwestern. I'd put the over/under at 98,000.
Josh...Offensively over the past few games it seems our boys have been doing a great job of getting ahead by a score or two and then they seem to run out of steam from the mid third qtr. on...... is that a game plan thing, execution thing or conditioning thing in your mind?
Execution-and-bad-luck thing. You're right; Penn State could have put the Temple game away a lot earlier than that. Heck, even the Illinois game was closer for a while than what it should have been. McGloin took a bad sack -- something he said this week was the result of a "brainfart" -- but he said they've practiced and tried to correct that. Why EXACTLY has PSU struggled so much in the third? I'm not entirely sure; neither is O'Brien. It's kind of like asking why a baseball player gets in a slump. It's definitely not conditioning -- but they have to do a better job of executing, in my opinion.
Who has been the biggest surprise on the offense this season? I'm going with McGlion. He looked TERRIBLE last year and looks really sharp onw
Well, if you're taking McGloin, I'm taking Allen Robinson. (Honorable mention: Zwinak) A-Rob was an afterthought last year, while McGloin was still the starter in the second half of the season. Robinson had somewhere around three catches last season; he's now one of the top receivers (statistically) in the nation. That's quite the turnaround; how many people saw A-Rob coming? Heck, we weren't even sure who the No. 1 WR would be back in July.
What's the key to the Northwestern game and what's your guess at the score? I think PSU Wins 35-17
I think this comes down to two things: 1) Performance of the secondaries and 2) Special teams. Northwestern's kicker hasn't missed an attempt yet; he's been automatic under 45 yards. And, well, you know how Ficken's been. Again, sorry here Nittany Nation, but I'm sticking with Northwestern to win 24-21. I think special teams is the deciding factor here
Besides Mauti, who else on the defense is having a good year? I mean, who's the best player besides him, could anyone else win an award?
Before the season, the answer to that question would have been Gerald Hodges and Jordan Hill. I think we can cross Hill off that list now ... I don't think Hodges has really met expectations, but he's still playing well. Deion Barnes probably supplants Hill right now. Hill is seeing double-teams, but so did Devon Still ... and I don't think you can strictly attribute that to having just one tackle-for-loss at this point. Barnes has been the biggest surprise on defense, and I think he's become one of the key players there
What recruits is Penn State trying to get for its last scholarships this year, and who is it targeting for 2014?
It looks as if PSU is intent on signing a running back in this class. It went after Richie Anderson, then Wesley Bullock and now it's keeping in touch with Roman Clay. It looks as if they're also still trying to reel in a DT. As far as next year, it looks like defense will account for about 75 percent of their signees; they're REALLY focusing on rebuilding the defense. They're going after guys who have a reputation for speed.
How much does Paul Jones's transfer hurt Penn State? Who will be the QB nexxt season?
Not as much as you might think. Sure, he was a guy who many thought would compete for the starting job this season -- but he just couldn't grasp the playbook. Honestly, I doubt he would have even been the backup next season if Hackenberg didn't redshirt. At this point, the favorite is obviously Bench. He doesn't have the natural gifts that Hackenberg does, but he might have the better mind at this point -- probably because he's a coach's son. Hackenberg will have some catching up to do; it'll be a battle, to be sure. But I think the safe bet right now is on Bench.
All right, guys. Well, I'm all out of questions! So I guess we'll end a little early today. Thanks everybody for joining us -- I hope to see you all next week!