Hey guys! It's been a few weeks, but I hope everybody's doing well. We'll get started up here in a minute or two.
And we're off. Who's got the first question this week?
Hi Josh,What can you tell us about Tyler Ferguson? If he wins the QB competition in camp do you think Bench transfers?
Hey TK! Well, I think he was just as surprised as any of us that he landed at PSU. Thought he was heading to Houston. But he's a good QB who was on a not-so-good team. According to our scouts, he's a guy who displays great accuracy on the short routes but doesn't have a great arm and needs to improve his mechanics. If Waters came in, I think it'd be 50/50 between him and Bench starting ... as it is, I think Bench is the favorite now. Ferguson's not as ready to play, and he'll need to tweak some aspects of his game before he sees meaningful playing time.
Has PSU had any luck getting a end of year reward game for the players? Like a Hawaii game? Can they get something done for the next 3 seasons?
That's still the goal, Mike. Bill O'Brien has specifically mentioned Hawaii before, but an end-of-the-season reward isn't all that easy because of the Big Ten scheduling. O'Brien said that a game like that would likely have to come early in the season, as a result. But I think that's something fans could probably look forward to in 2014. It's something that's definitely being worked on ...
how is recruiting going for coach O'Brien?
Well, he's done pretty darn well this season. PSU has ESPN's No. 24 recruiting class in the nation. If you're talking about how he's done recently, in the last few weeks, he's obviously got to be happy. He grabbed four commits on the Dec. 7 weekend. But his staff is having some trouble convincing the top players on his wish list -- Tyler Boyd, Trey Johnson, David Williams -- to seriously consider Penn State. Overall, though, it'd be hard to give him a grade other than an A
Who do you think is most likely to transfer out of Penn State?
O'Brien said a week or two ago that no one's yet left, but I think a lot of eyes have to be on RB Curtis Dukes and what he might do. He came out and publicly said last season that he wasn't happy with his playing time. His HS coach told me he might declare early for the NFL draft ... which is kind of ridiculous ... but one can definitely see that it'd make sense for Dukes to head elsewhere. O'Brien's scheme isn't easy to understand, and Dukes just can't grasp the playbook so he's not going to see more time -- especially with Zwinak in the backfield.
Who's going to be our slot receiver next season? We didn't really have anybody this year
That's a good question. Alex Kenney was not effective at all there, but there are few guys with top-end speed. Brandon Moseby-Felder would be my best guess simply because he's the second-fastest, but Eugene Lewis wouldn't surprise me either. Lewis isn't a burner and is probably more geared to the outside, but they need somebody there -- and Kenney isn't cutting it. I'll be interested to see if maybe they decide to move Kenney to defense or not. They have plenty of wideouts after all.
Do you think Penn State will have a top 25 recruiting class next year, and how long do you think Bill O'Brien will be at PSU if you had to guess?
Will PSU have a top-25 recruiting class next year? I don't think so -- but I think that'll be more because of the number of recruits than anything. PSU doesn't have that many scholarships available with the 65-scholarship limitations kicking in come 2014. And you're probably not going to see a recruiting class crack the top-25 when it only has, say, 10 commits or so. As far as how long O'Brien stays, I think he'll at least be here until the 2013 class graduates. That's my best guess at this point.
Will we go after more jcuo players next year or was that a 1 time thing??
I don't think you'll see them target as many juco players next year, no. PSU needed some early enrollees in the secondary, so it went after Anthony Smith ... which was a head-scratcher in some respects but made sense due to need. Ditto for QB. PSU needed someone who could come in early and was more polished than a 17- or 18-year-old kid. O'Brien will go after juco players if they help the team, but I think PSU will be in a position next season that they'll only have to target maybe one.
I live in PSU country and have heard nothing but negative comments anout Notre Dame. Why all the hate towards Notre Dame from Nittany Nation Josh?
Jacob, my uncle is a Notre Dame fan and lives in State College ... and I have no idea what you're talking about. Plenty of people hate Notre Dame -- I don't think that's unique to PSU fans. Probably just feels like that because you live in-state. Just my guess.
Do you think Penn State will do good next year? Like they did this year , after all the termoil they had?
Well, I don't think they'll equal this year's record. I'm guessing 6-6 or 7-5 is more reasonable. They'll play Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Nebraska next season -- and they'd have to win one of those and the rest of their games just to equal this season's record. But I think the main reason they won't be able to repeat is because of Matt McGloin's graduation. He was invaluable to this offense and was incredibly efficient; he impressed BOB with his knowledge of the playbook and how to read a defense. Bench and Ferguson might be talented, but they don't have the experience, leadership or knowledge of McGloin.
Correction: They'd have to win one of those four difficult conference games and the rest of their slate to improve upon this season's record.
Is there any chance the NCAA could take a year off the bowl ban or increase the amount of scholarships?
Well, I imagine PSU will be pursuing and asking the NCAA to lighten the sanctions. They would be foolish not to. What does it say when a former USC coach has to sue the NCAA for it to hear his case? And what about the UNC scandal? That helps put into perspective this case, especially because PSU at least launched its own investigation and is following those recommendations. Nothing's guaranteed, obviously, but there is absolutely a chance. Not something that's going to happen in the next month or two, but we should have a better idea by the time next season rolls around.
Josh. I'm a PSU grad living in Atlanta. Would love if Georgia Tech was added to the B1G. I feel like GT, UVA, UNC, and Notre Dame are the most likely targets. Who do you think it will end up being and do you think it will happen within the next few months?
Well, the B1G has wanted Notre Dame for a long time ... but that's just not going to happen. After UNC's academic scandal, I think that would just harm the conference's reputation too much. Delany would probably skip that. So, in my opinion, we're left with Virginia and Georgia Tech -- and I think those are the more likely candidates. Georgia Tech's addition would probably help PSU more than anything because the BTN would then start showing in some places in the south, increasing Penn State's visibility there -- something important when a bunch of their prospects are coming from Georgia. Heck, PSU's offered three 2014 guys already who go to the same Georgia high school (Norcross).
Do you feel the Big 10 is watered down now due to Rutgers and Maryland joining?
I do. I didn't like those moves because I feel like, yes, it adds money to the conference teams' coffers ... but at the cost of prestige. Rutgers isn't a bad team; they're just not a big name. Maryland's a trainwreck. I don't know if anybody's brought up this point yet -- and maybe I'm going off the deep end -- but what is this deal going to mean 20 years down the road? Comcast subscribers aren't exactly increasing every year; I know plenty of people who just use Netflix. I guess what I'm saying is this: TV revenues can't stay like this. And when TV revenues start dipping down, what happens to the Big Ten? It's inextricably tied to that now ... and I don't think those additions are great long-term. Again, that's just me thinking out loud, but I don't like it.
I hear a lot of people talk about losing McGloin being the toughest pill to swallow because he knew the playbook so well.... Won't Bench have 12 more months than McGloin did to learn it (and Ferguson roughly the same amount)? I know red was a leader but I hear Bench is a fiery guy as well... true?
I'm definitely among them who think McGloin's the toughest pill to swallow. Over the summer, O'Brien would call a play and ask McGloin to diagram different things. Because he played college football for four seasons already, he could say where all the receivers were going to be and what this linemen were doing -- he could do everything. That takes time. And, as far as reading defenses, McGloin already had that experience. That might be even more valuable than grasping the playbook. You could understand 100 percent of the playbook but if you can't read disguised coverages, it doesn't matter how perfect you throw the ball. Those two go hand-in-hand -- learning the playbook/reading defenses -- and McGloin caught on quickly how to read a defense. I just think he was a special player; I don't think a second-year player could read a defense like a fifth-year senior.
Who will be the Zwinak of 2013? By that I mean who's gonna surprise us most and kinda come out of nowhere? Anybody? I think Bench will surprise
Well, I think Donovan Smith is going to have a monster year. He was hindered with a slew of injuries -- hamstring, broken hand, etc. -- but I think he might just become the best player on the offensive line. Outside of Smith, I think it's also worth keeping an eye on Mike Hull and Eugene Lewis. Those are all guys who should start and will be in position to surprise.
what bowl would we have played in if we were eligible? Any movement on adding a 13th game against Hawaii?
Hmmm ... that's a good question. I'm guessing PSU probably would've gotten a Gator Bowl berth. Northwestern's in that right now; it probably wouldn't have knocked Michigan out of the Outback Bowl. And no movement that I'm aware of about Hawaii, but that is something that's still being ironed out. Has taken awhile.
I saw Hackenberg tweeting he had a phone call with Thadeus Snodgrass a 2014 WR. Do you see PSU being a primary target for Snodgrass to land? What about Greg Mclisse too?
Honestly, I'm really surprised Snodgrass hasn't committed to Ohio State already. If I remember correctly, he was set to announce at least a month ago ... so, the longer he waits, the more it probably helps out Penn State. PSU isn't the favorite here, by any means, but then again PSU wasn't the favorite in DaeSean Hamilton's commitment either ... Greg Miclisse is big on PSU; I think PSU would be a finalist when and if it decides to offer Miclisse.
How much time will it take for the new strength and conditioning program to impact overall performance??? And what kind of impact will it have??
I think it already has had an impact. I first covered Penn State back in 2006, and the philosophy was always how offensive linemen needed "chemistry," that everything took time. Well, that went out the window this season. They moved linemen around, had constant substitutions, and three linemen were named to the All-Big Ten team (Stank, Urschel, Farrell). I think we've seen stronger linemen as a result, and I think that's just going to make this team better overall. I think it's going to help turn guys like Donovan Smith into can't-miss NFL prospects.
I remember the outrage when O'Brien was hired with no PSU ties and now we are all scared he will leave us. Do you think O'Brien stays through all 4 sanction years?
Yeah, I'll be totally honest. When O'Brien was first hired, I thought that was a head-scratcher ... but I've obviously changed my mind since then. I think he'll stick around until at least the sanctions are over, but I'm sure we'll all have to deal with "he's leaving" rumors just about every year until he does leave.
All right, guys. Well, I need to take off a little early this week. But thanks again for joining us for the chat! Have a happy New Year!