Hey everybody! Thanks for joining us this week. We'll get started in a minute here.
And away we go ... who's got the first question this week?
Hi Josh! Can we now go public with the obvious? That while BIG10 officials aren't smart enough orchestrate a "conspiracy", there is without a doubt a subconscious bias against this team and these poor kids. How else can you explain the calls and missed calls over the past 2 weeks of conference play? It seems obvious that these self righteous people are thinkinga?¦ "hey, I'm against child abuse" (as we ALL are) "I'm going to use whatever power I have to take it out on the Nittany Lions without being blatant enough to lose my job"a?¦. like their making a statement without really making a statement. How crazy am I for thinking this is happening?
Hey TK! Well, that's an interesting point. But let's get some stuff out of the way, though: It's not a conspiracy theory, and the bad calls haven't been intentional or conscious. You'd need so many moving pieces there and balancing risk of losing your job vs. screwing over PSU isn't something an official is going to do. So that leaves us with two other possibilities: One, bad luck (a statistical anomaly making people draw false conclusions) or, two, subconscious bias. Subconscious bias is difficult to isolate and, maybe I'm getting a little off-topic here, but google some stuff off "bias AND Freakonomics." There's so many subtle subconscious biases so that could be an issue -- whether that's 1 percent of the problem or a majority here, I don't know. I could go on about subconscious bias, but I hate to speculate. But I think that's way, way, way more likely than it being intentional ... but, at least if it were intentional, it could be fixed more easily.
I wasn't upset. I was sad. I was sad b/c I knew they were not going to overturn that call.. really sad..
so what is the chance A-rob gets to 1000 yards?
This season? I'd put the odds at around 20 percent. He needs 107 yards in EACH of his last two games, and that's not an easy task -- especially considering PSU will likely run the ball often Saturday. But you've got to think he'll pass 1,000 yards (in a season) at some point in his career -- probably as a senior. Next year might be tough, too, because of the question mark at quarterback.
should we run ZZ 40 times this week?
Haha ... that wouldn't be a terrible idea. I thought I had a good Zwinak feature over at NittanyNation yesterday, and -- just an interesting tidbit -- Zwinak HATED being called a fullback growing up. He loves the ball, and I think he'd relish 40 carries. His HS coach used a "fullback trap" in his two-minute offense. Gotta love that.
But, just to build off that, I think you can expect a heavy dose of Zwinak on Saturday. Absolutely.
I haven't seen Adam Breneman play.. is he good? what is his strengths and weaknessed? is he good pass catcher? good blocker? fast runner?
Well, he hasn't played yet this season so, sadly, I haven't seen him either. But based from his tape and what our scouts tell say, he has great hands, can catch the ball in traffic, displays great route-running and is very versatile. He's already a pretty good blocker. As far as negatives, he's not great running after the catch and needs to add some bulk to his frame. He told me he might play in the Blue-White Game -- that's one of his goals -- and should definitely be exciting to see.
What are the chances that Montae Nicholson commits to Penn State in the future, and why has Omar Truitt not received an offer yet? Nicholson seems intrigued to possibly follow in the footsteps of Justin King and Terry Smith, and Truitt seems ready to commit on the spot if offered.
Montae Nicholson is basically going to have his choice of playing anywhere in the country. He doesn't really have any favorites yet because those offers are still rolling in, but Penn State's going to have to do a lot of battling to reel in Nicholson. He hasn't talked to Justin King yet, but that should go a long way. Plus, I know Gateway's DB coach (Terry Smith's brother) is a lot bigger on PSU now. That should only help.
Along with Waters and Wimberly, any other 2013 or 2014 recruits expected to be at the game?
Parker Cothren texted me last night to let me know he'll be on his official visit there. Also, De'Niro Laster told me he'd try to make it up, and DeAndre Thompkins should be coming next week. Those are the big-name guys to expect. Laster doesn't have an offer, but I hear PSU's staff just wants him to pass the eye test. Could get one soon.
Do you have any insight into how PSU will develop its walk-on program?
It's not really a big secret -- hard work and film. Penn State has been to a majority of Pennsylvania high schools, even some that haven't had a D-IA kid in 30 years. Like Moshannon Valley, for example. Also, the coach at Liberty (Bethlehem, Pa.) told me he's seen PSU's new coaches more in the preseason than he had seen the old staff in the last few years. Bill O'Brien and this staff are making sure they leave no stone unturned. Heck, they just got a long-snapper from Chicago to sign as a walk-on ... I think that says a lot.
I have a feeling Zayd Issah may be leaning more towards PSU, he has always wanted the Oregon offer and now has it and has yet to commit. With rumors of Chip Kelly to the NFL, I believe that helps us. What do you think?
If Chip Kelly leaves, that would certainly help PSU's chances. Maybe even push him in that direction. But I doubt Issah is leaning heavily toward Penn State right now. I see the way you're looking at it but -- like a lot of recruits tell me -- they don't want to commit to a place without seeing it first. I don't think Issah's going to make a decision before his official visit to Oregon, and that should go a long way in determining whether he re-commits to PSU.
Lynch, Lewis, Whartmann, all red-shirted. Do you think they are a safe bet to stay with the program ?
Yes. Wartman got some early playing time before his injury (medical redshirt), and Eugene Lewis should see time next year. Only reason he was redshirted was because he wasn't used to the playbook since he played QB in high school. He was a little raw. And, Lynch, I have to admit I had my doubts -- and he had a speculative tweet earlier this week. But his mom told me on Twitter that he's staying put. And if you can't trust mom, who can you trust?
I've read some stories speculating that Coach BO'B will be an NFL target -- have you heard anything about that, and what are your thoughts?
I've heard LOADS of Bill O'Brien speculation because he didn't make a definitive statement Tuesday when asked about it. But let's make something clear right now: Bill O'Brien will coach the 2013 Nittany Lions. Let me repeat: Bill O'Brien will not take an NFL job this offseason. Between his contract and what he's built here, he's not the Lane Kiffen type to run away from it. I understand the speculation, but PSU fans shouldn't worry.
Do you think Christian Hackenberg has a legitimate shot to start at QB next year over Steven Bench? Is he mobile being a PP?
He's more athletic than he seems, probably on par with McGloin. But if you look at the history of first-year QBs who don't enroll early, they don't have great track records in their rookie campaigns. Even Matt Stafford - who did enroll early - didn't have a good freshman year. BOB's offense is not easy to learn, and it'll be hard for him to overtake Steven Bench, who will basically have a 12-month headstart on the playbook.
What are the chances that Montae Nicholson eventually commits to Penn State, and when do you think Omar Truitt will receive an offer? Nicholson seems intrigued at the fact he could follow in the footsteps of Justin King and Terry Smith, and Truitt seems ready to commit on the spot if offered.
Matt, Matt, Mat. Don't worry, I got ya. Don't have to repost the Truitt question. It's too early to tell with Nicholson, but PSU is definitely an option here. The sanctions don't bother him much, and the prospect for early playing time has to be alluring. As far as Truitt, he'll get an offer soon. I talked to him earlier this week, and he said he plans to basically commit on the spot. We saw one offer go out today to a 2014 quarterback, so I expect we could see some soon. Truitt was told by the staff they want to get the 2013 class in order first ... but I think we can expect one for Truitt sooner rather than later.
who do you think did best job among assistant coaches? Dline? LB? Receivers? TE? QB? RB?
That's an interesting question. If we're talking in terms of recruiting, I'd have to say that Ted Roof has really worked a lot of magic on the recruiting trail. PSU is really going after a lot of Southern recruits. (And, yes, those who talk with Larry Johnson absolutely love him.) But if we're talking about who helps out players the most, I'd have give Bill O'Brien-Charlie Fisher a big nod. It's kind of obvious, but you look at a game last year with Matt McGloin and then this year? It's like it's not even the same quarterback. Same confidence and personality definitely ... so it'll definitely be interesting where Hackenberg might be as a fifth-year senior.
Josh, do you think the B1G will win a bowl game?
Haha ... it's not going to be easy. We all know the Big Ten's penchant for losing a majority of bowl games and, this being a down year, they'll probably be lucky to get two wins. With no Ohio State and no PSU, it's not going to be pretty. This watered-down conference definitely has the potential to embarrass itself in the postseason ...
What is the background regarding the run-on long snapper from Chicago, and have you heard about any other specific run-on prospects?
Aware of a few guys who might pull the trigger, but nobody else really yet. Corcoran was a waterboy for the Chicago Bears because his dad is on the medical staff. He was getting recruited by other schools as a LS, and his dad knows PSU's Tim Bream, so that's how they got in touch. It's really kind of a cool story. Corcoran loved football and just hoped to be an equipment manager ONE year ago. But, long story short, he started practicing long-snapping all the time -- and he'll now compete for the starting job at PSU. Here's a link to an earlier feature about him, if you have Insider: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/psu/post/_/id/2143/2013-walk-on-to-compete-for-starting-job
Just got to the chat, don't know if anyone has asked yet. But whats the 411 on the 2014 QB Kizer that just got an offer?
BuckeyeNation's Brad Bournival tells me he's a really good kid, nice guy. He's on the ESPN Watch List, so he's one of the top QBs that ESPN's keeping an eye on. I was a little caught off-guard because we have him labeled as a dual-threat, but our scouting guys tell me he's very mobile but he plays like a pocket-passer. So he's still a fit to this Penn State offense.
who is the strongest player pound-for-pound?
I've asked a few players that, and the response I've gotten is Mike Hull. He's probably not the guy you'd expect, but that's probably why he's been so great this season. He's the fastest linebacker and one of the strongest players so -- even if he did lack some experience and he is a little short or underweight, he's still got a lot going for him. He's not a Mauti or a Hodges; he's a different kind of player. But he could be the next big thing at Linebacker U.
Any way I can get a Dan Earl-like medical exception to come back for a sixth year???
Haha ... PSU fans can still dream.
It seems like PSU is making offers to a lot of kids with mainly with offers from MAC schools or lower teir schools. Is this because PSU just can't expect to get more than a couple blue chip athletes?
That's honestly part of the reason. On offense, signing top guys doesn't seem to be an issue because of O'Brien's pedigree. Look at Hackenberg and Breneman; any school would be happy to have either of them. I think we're seeing more of that on the defensive side of the ball. Some high-profile guys have spurned PSU for bowl games ... but I think it's still a little too early to judge. Sure, PSU would love to have Jaleel Hytche (spelling?), but is someone like Laster really that much worse? Let me put it this way: Everyone questioned Brian Kelly's recruiting his first season with Notre Dame. He was signing all these low-key guys ... but I don't hear anybody questioning him anymore.
What's the latest on Jake Waters? Is the fact the QB from KSU is now the front runner for the Heisman hurting out chances to land the kid?
He'll be at Penn State some point today on his first-ever official visit. I talk to Jake a fair amount, and he likes to say he's still open to both schools -- and he might schedule another official visit to N.C. State. He wants to go to a place he feels comfortable, so these visits are incredibly important. He's going to Kansas State on Dec. 7, when they don't have a game, so PSU's atmosphere Saturday could be a difference-maker, too. He hasn't told me one way or the other, but I have to think he's leaning toward Kansas State right now. He loves O'Brien, but it would be hard to turn down a top-10 team and replacing a possible Heisman-winning QB ...
we have DPOY (Mauti), Receiver of the year (ARob), freshmen of the year (Kyle Carter or Deion Barnes).. I think our coaches have done great job.... agree?
I don't know how anyone could disagree. I didn't buy into the Bill O'Brien as COY even when PSU was on a winning streak ... but, let's face it, no one could've done a better job than he has. He's reeled in the country's top QB and TE -- and neither of those guys were coming here without BOB. They've told me as much. Look how far McGloin has come, and look how last year's third-string wideout in A-Rob is going to break a record that's been on PSU's books for -- what? -- 16 years. This staff has NFL experience, national-title experience and, if PSU had these guys four years ago, it's scary to think how good PSU might be.
which redshirt or true frosh LB have a best chance to play next year? Im assuming starters are Hull-Carson-Kline
I'm assuming the same starters. I've heard a lot of good things about Gary Wooten. He could be a big-time player, and it's difficult to imagine he'll just be a RS freshman next year. He'll be a starter at some point on this defense. You're also bound to see Wartman play some LB next season. But those two are the main guys who'll battle for the No.4 spot. As far as true freshmen, someone had a good question last week and asked me who I thought would have the best PSU career outside of Hack and Breneman. And I really think that could be Brandon Bell. Kid hits really hard, and I think he'll be an exciting player to watch.
Your comment about the long-snapper walk-on got me thinking: are there any pockets of 3-star-level players in affluent areas that might come from families with some money that might be able to afford not having a scholarship that can be targeted? Or is that too much of a narrow grouping?
I like where your head's at Lou ... but I think that's too much narrowing. The parents would have to be PSU die-hards to pay for their kid to go to college when he could have a free education elsewhere. Don't think that'd happen too often.
Any way PSU can get Foster to commit or lure Dorian Johnson back to a commit? Any "big time" RB commit looking at PSU?
No, I don't think you'll see Foster or Johnson in a blue-and-white uniform. As far as RB commits, you have Wesley Bullock, Tim Longmire, Aaron Wimberly. And non-scholarship players: LeShun Daniels and Roman Clay. Longmire told me this week he's working on getting up to PSU, and Wimberly is on his official visit ... possibly right now. It starts today. So as far as four-star guys? No, not really. But there are definitely some solid players here.
hi Josh, I came from South Korea and have been PSU fan for 2 years now..so need your help here.. I am looking at the map while studying our school's history and I have to ask.....why on earth is PSU in B1G not in ACC?? what are/were top 3 reasons we joined this conference?
I don't know if there are three main reasons. I count two: financial security and academics. I think PSU started looking around in the late 1980s after a down year. They wanted to shore up finances -- and joining the Big Ten seemed like the answer. Joe Paterno often said, throughout his career, the move was best for the school but probably not for the football team. He said it helped out big from an academic standpoint. And, even if you look at it today, I don't think moving to the ACC makes any sense. Sure, PSU would probably have a better chance at winning. But you lose visibility (BTN), you lose prestige, and it hurts academics. It would be an athletics-only move, and I just can't see that happening.
I know there is speculation over BoB leaving for an NFL head coaching job, and that you do not think he will. My question is do you think any of the assistants will leave for "greener pastures" after this successful season?
That's definitely a good question. It sounds like Mac McWhorter, Ron Vanderlinden and Larry Johnson are definitely happy where they are. Charles London said he would like to earn a head coaching job in the future, and Stan Hixon said it's his desire to remain in college coaching -- but I think the door's open for a future promotion with him. If anyone gets looks, I would think it would be Hixon -- or Charlie Fisher -- but I think there's a good chance they'll be back next season. Long-term? That's another story ...
Do you think Roman Clay would run-on at PSU?
I don't. He's got offers at other schools, and I don't think he's going to pass up those opportunities -- and playing time -- for a school that doesn't offer. Everyone in Central Pa. seems to love the kid, and I definitely enjoy talking to him, but I think some things need to happen for him to earn a scholarship now. It's not out of the question, but it doesn't seem likely.
Of the old coaches, we knew that LJ Sr. was a great recruiter. Who amongst the new staff is regarded as a great recruiter?
Well, I already mentioned Ted Roof being pretty good on the recruiting trail. But I also hear from a lot of recruits just how much they love talking to Mac McWhorter. Tanner Hartman told me last night that, the first time they met, the coach came over and gave him a big hug. He's got that deep Southern accent, that Southern hospitality, and he's very personable. Kind of like having a Larry Johnson on the offensive side of things ...
What is the main problem Indiana presents to us this weekend?
There shouldn't be many ... but I would look for two things. One, on offense, Indiana runs at a very fast-pace. PSU players said it was the most up-tempo team they've faced all season. That means fatigue could be a factor in the second half, and the secondary will have to communicate well if Malcolm Willis can't go. (Players have called Willis the "quarterback of the defense.") On defense, I'd probably say the secondary. No, it's not the greatest PSU has faced. But they have a good safety and they sure as heck aren't going to stop the run. So that's what I'd look at.
PSU 38 - Indy 17 sounds about right?
That sounds about right to me. I wouldn't be surprised if the victory were more lop-sided, though. I'm going to say PSU wins 38-13.
All right, guys, lots of good questions this week -- but that's all the time we have! We'll be starting up a mailbag soon, too, since I can't get all of the questions here. So stay tuned on NittanyNation. Have a good weekend!