Hey guys, thanks for joining us this week! We'll get started in about a minute here ...
OK, and we're off. Who's got the first question this week?
Josh I was very surprised when I heard BoB say that both qb's were going to play this year. I know he said before he wouldn't play 2 qb's, I understand he's not rotating them (at least I think) but what do you think he meant by both of them playing. Will whoever the backup is just see garbage minutes? Or do you think that he'll give them meaningful playing time? Thanks.
Good question, Jim. It's one us reporters have been chatting about with each other this week. That's what we think he means -- garbage minutes. I don't think you're going to see the Bolden-McGloin fiasco of 2010. O'Brien knows how damaging that was; he alluded to why it was important to name McGloin the starter early last season instead of waiting ... so that'd really be out of character for him to do that. If the Syracuse game is 10-10 at halftime, there's no way he changes up quarterbacks if the guy's doing OK. My jaw would hit the floor if that happened. So, yeah, it's not going to be like last year when Bench only throws eight balls. But it's also not going to be a 45-10 game where O'Brien keeps the starter in ... while no one's quite sure why. Bench probably should've gotten more reps last season. BOB gave the media weird reasoning when he kept him in, saying he still thought the game was close ... when it might've been a four-TD game.
How has Wendy Laurent looked in practices so far? I haven't read anything about him this season. Do you think he is good enough to be playing at this level?
He's only 284 pounds, and he was listed on the post-spring depth chart as the third-string center. He's shown a lot of improvement, BUT the interior of this line is a strength of the team and has some good depth. If something happens to one of the starters, Mangiro will step up and not miss a beat. Eric Shrive, too. I don't think Laurent will see any meaningful time until next year, at the earliest.
Who do you think the starting wr's will be mid-season?
Hmmm ... I think Moseby-Felder stays the starter by mid-season. Eugene Lewis is good, no doubt, but he still lacks some polish since he's inexperienced at that position. (Played QB in high school.) Still, Lewis is an incredible athlete. If I had to project this out, I think Moseby-Felder remains No. 2, but Lewis still grabs 25-35 balls. Outside of QB, there really aren't that many big question marks on offense. This is -- but in a good way. Lewis is the future, but I think Moseby-Felder's experience gives him the edge in the early going and by mid-season. Now, by the end of the season ...
Hello Josh, in your opinion who is the next PSU commit? It seems recruiting has slowed down lately for PSU for the 2014 class why do you think? Lastly I'm a little concerned that we do not have a commit or two for the class of 2015. My thinking is the 2015 class is huge for the future success of this football program. Your thoughts?
Kareem Ali Jr. If he goes anywhere else but PSU, I would be greatly surprised. And, of course, if Jake Cooper grabs an offer, he'll probably commit on the spot. And I wouldn't worry at all about the 2015 class yet; PSU didn't have one for the 2014 class until October ... and that class seems to be doing just fine.
Maybe it's too early for this question, but do you have any idea what players in the 2014 class could be run-ons? Nate Stone is a guy I think of right away.
Hmmm ... yeah, it's a bit early for that yet. Most of the walk-on offers last season came late in the season -- only a handful got them that early. That being said, Nate Stone is definitely a guy to watch. There was a 6-7 TE, Alec Bloom, who looked good. Maybe WR Zeccheus Roberson. 2015 long-snapper Tony Roefaro. Those are guys I remember made a good impact at the June camps. That's a good place to find those walk-ons.
Are there any HS seniors that are on PSU's radar but need to have a solid senior year before they get an offer?
2014 LB Jason Cabinda, who's a Syracuse commit right now. He's a guy whom PSU wants to see film of his first few games. LB and (juco) DT are two of the main positions I think PSU will be wanting to watch film this season on. And I know you just said seniors, but there's a lot of juniors and underclassmen PSU's keeping an eye on, too -- namely 2015 LB Jake Cooper, who didn't play every down at LB last season. O'Brien likes a lot of the young QBs, too, but he's not going to offer a Jarrett Guarantano until he sees plenty of film. PSU is kind of becoming QBU ... so he can afford to wait there.
Do you have any idea at this point how many tickets have been sold for the opener against Syracuse? Seems to me like there are still a lot of tickets available.
Yeah, I'll have to check in on that. The fact they organized a teleconference with the two coaches this week and had sales on Groupon leads me to believe the sales aren't exactly where they'd like them. I know it's not a home game, but PSU needs to think up some fresh ideas besides, "Charge more" or "Pay more for more than one game."
What is the likelyhoood of Penn State landing Dravon Henry? Thomas Holley? Qadree Ollison?
I think PSU has a stronger shot at Dravon Henry than Thomas Holley. PSU is near the top of Henry's list, and he's talked to me before about academics being important and WVU ... which just don't seem to go together. (Let's be honest here.) So I think PSU has a really good shot. Thomas Holley? He's harder to pin down. Sure, PSU is on his short list ... but I think OSU and Notre Dame are likely ahead of the Lions right now. And, as far as Ollison, he'd be a Nittany Lion if PSU offered sooner. Right now, I think it's between PSU and Wisconsin. If Ollison doesn't make a decision by Sept. 10, I think that bodes very well for PSU.
Hey Josh, It's Teller. I hope all is well. This QB competition is killing me. I thought he was going to make a decision today. Now it looks like we won't know until the first snap of the Syracuse game. I'm hoping he gives the kid Hackenberg the job. I might be going to the game next week. Will you be at the game?
Haha -- good to hear from you, Andrew. Sorry I didn't get back to your email! I wouldn't say O'Brien will definitely put it off until gametime. Quite frankly, I think he was just irritated at the question. (And, yes, full disclosure: I asked it.) He has a Tuesday press conference, and I wouldn't put it past O'Brien to do it by then. We'll have to see. I think Hack gets the start, but it'll be interesting. Even Stan Hixon admitted -- this is the big storyline. Also, we haven't gotten the assignments yet. So maybe I'll see you there!
Any rumblings on special teams duties: K/P and KR/PR?
Still seems like Ficken's the guy, which I find a little surprising. At punter, that's a little bit more foggy. It's funny because, in talking to Chris Gulla and his coach, both said he wasn't nearly as good a punter as a kicker. Both said he'd need some time to get the mechanics down ... but he's been mainly punting this summer. Seems like Butterworth is in line to lose his job before Ficken, which really surprised me based on what Gulla himself had told me with his own punting. As far as returner, that's still in limbo. O'Brien said before there's about eight guys vying for the job -- including Belton and Kenney.
Ferguson or Hack?
Anything surprise you in the TrainingDays All Access?
That O'Brien is/was on a diet where he only ate five solid meals a week -- and had shakes during all the other meals. That his QBs were only completing 30 percent of their passes at one point. That Spider's wife sewed on the letters on the back of the jersey by hand. That Jesse James turned immediately around after thinking about leaving State College. There was a lot of little insights like that. I'm not just saying this because I work here -- but I really thought the doc was very well done. Enjoyed it.
Also, who wouldn't watch an entire documentary just on Spider? That guy's fascinating. Someone's got to make that happen.
BOB said one of the true freshmen who will play is run-on Von Walker. Moyer, who is Von Walker?
Haha, if you have Insider, I put the link on the bottom of the answer, so you can check it out. But, basically, he was a high school do-it-all RB out of nearby Central Mountain who grew up a PSU fan. He ran a 4.56 at a SPARQ combine, and he's a versatile player whom PSU wants to play slotback. Excellent special teams player. His main weakness is he tends to dance a little bit as a RB instead of hitting the hole. Makes too many cuts. Also, his favorite TV show is "Workaholics." Love that show.http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/colleges/psu/post?id=7314
Is Glenn Carson the long snapper?
We haven't gotten a new depth chart, but I can't see that sticking. Sean Corcoran is a walk-on who was recruited only because of his long-snapping ability. So I think he's got to be between him and some interior OL like Ty Howle. That was one spot on the last depth chart that caught a lot of people off-guard ...
Is Richy Anderson ahead of Kenney at wr at this point?
Not yet. Both will see time. But looks as if Kenney is the guy starting in the slot. But, something A-Rob and Zanellato stressed, is that a lot of wideouts can play a lot of positions. So you might not see many targets going to either two of those guys.
If PSU shocks the world again and earns 10+ wins do you think that would greatly increase the likelihood that O'Brien leaves for the NFL next off-season? Related- if the sanctions on the football program are reduced or eliminated early, would that increase or decrease BOB's incentive to leave early?I think the second question is more intriguing because I am of the opinion that BOB will stay at PSU through the sanctions. He knows leaving now would be another crippling blow to the program.
Yeah, it's kind of the Catch-22 to having such a good coach -- he might not stay. He's told the 2013 class -- and quite a few members of the 2014 class -- that he'll stay until the end of their high school careers regardless of what happens. That being said, his contract basically makes it pretty easy for him to leave in 2015. His buyout would be around $3.3M at that time. So I don't think he jumps after a 10-win season in 2013 and I don't think he'd leave just to leave. If the right situation comes along in 2015, I could see him taking it But I think there's a pretty good chance he stays until the end. No matter how long he stays, can't really be mad with him. Have to think, if it wasn't for him, we'd be talking about three-win seasons instead.
hey Josh, I am 100% confident that Wartman will be a BEAST AND 4 year starter at LB. he will be next LaVar Arrington! you agree?
Woah, woah woah ... four-year starter? Yes. Haha -- next LaVar Arrington? No, no, no. I don't think if there'll ever be another Arrington. I remember, briefly, when there was talk about letting high school player jumps to the NFL. And the argument was that none of them were ready and none would be drafted. I remember one coach or player remarking, years ago, that the only guy who ever seemed ready out of HS was LaVar. That's not Wartman. Wartman is a hard-hitting guy, and he'll put together quite the highlight reel while he's here at Penn State. But he needs to improve his coverage ability. This will be a learning season from him. I expect big things from him, but he just needs to get his feet wet this year.
Hi Josh, thoughts on Md and Rutgers joining conference and becoming Nittany Lion rivals (dad is Coughlin high grad)
I think it might kind of be like the OSU-PSU situation. PSU fans like to look upon OSU as a rival, but OSU fans are a bit "meh" about the whole thing (at least compared to Michigan). Rutgers and Maryland fans might be excited about it, but I don't think any PSU fan is jacked about playing Maryland. I mean, it's cool. But it's a bit like playing Temple, isn't it? PSU fans, feel free to chime in here. Maybe I got you all wrong. Rutgers is a good team and, with some close games, that could develop into something nice. But until Maryland gets better, I just don't see that game generating much excitement. Beats playing a MAC cupcake, though.
Great teams have great defenses. Do you believe the great defenses that PSU has long been associated with are a thing of the past?
No. I think we might see a stretch of a few years with LB, but just look at the history of this defensive line. It's constantly in the top 25 nationally when it comes to sacks. Larry Johnson's a great coach who's turned in some good ones. Austin Johnson will be a beast and, although Parker Cothren likely won't make an impact until later in his career (I'm thinking third year; needs to bulk up), guy's got a high ceiling. So, yeah, the LBs might be a bit down because of depth and all that. But the secondary should be greatly improved from the past. Seriously, how many great PSU corners can you name? Well, PSU's getting some good ones now -- and using them in the right way. Maybe it won't be the same kind of defense, but it'll still be a good defense. I don't think that's going away; I just think we're seeing a transition here.
This QB situation isn't sitting well with me. First O'Brien claims the importance of naming a starter 2 weeks before the Syracuse game, now he says it might be at the game when one runs out onto the field. What caused the dramatic change in his stance?
He also said it's important to put the team first and everything. So either he feels neither guy has earned enough of the respect of the team yet or maybe, just maybe, the team's aware already. I'm not totally sure -- because everyone is incredibly tight-lipped about the whole situation. Even the NSA doesn't know what's going on here. Syracuse isn't saying who the QB is because it hurts PSU game plan a bit ... so why shouldn't O'Brien do the same? One reporter on Tuesday asked him about that. To paraphrase, he asked: "You know, you don't have to tell us. Syracuse isn't, so why are you?" O'Brien just basically told us he would. I mean his exact words were, "I'll tell you guys." So, maybe we'll find out soon ...
SI predicts that PSU wins 6 games and finish BEHIND Indiana..........this is the same guy who predicted 4 wins last year. do you agree?
I'm predicting 7-5 ... which I know is a little lower than most guys are predicting. Eight wins seems to be about the average. I'm just really concerned about the QB situation and just how much turnovers will play a big role this year. Zwinak had some trouble and, again, McGloin threw only five picks. That number's at least going to double this year. At least.
You think Gilliem plays at all this year? I love the guys story but doesnt look good.
Adam Gress is nursing an injury right now, and O'Brien mentioned Gilliam as a guy who could fill in for him. Apparently, he needs to be a little more aggressive ... but he's coming along pretty well here. He's gained a bunch of weight. I can't look it up now -- but it's more than 40 pounds. And it's weird to type this, but he's a "skinny" 300+ pounds. He'll see time this year. I think you'll see him as part of the rotation.
Have any of the reserve linebackers stood out in practice? I still cannot believe the lack of depth. I worry about fatigue late in games.
Let's talk run-ons. Adam Cole is one guy O'Brien recently mentioned as having a good camp. Charles Idemudia impressed in the spring and looked to be the next man up. So I would think those two guys are poised for some time if needed. As far as new run-ons, O'Brien mentioned Brandon Smith by name at one point. And, of course, perhaps tops on the list of guys I mentioned, is true freshman Brandon Bell.
Is Brent Wilkerson's back injury season ending? Does it even matter considering the TE depth that PSU has?
O'Brien wouldn't remark on just how long Wilkerson would be out, but it's a serious back injury. That being said, no, it really doesn't matter to Penn State. Tight end is the deepest and, probably, strongest position that Penn State has. You still have four guys who will see time: Carter, James, Lehman and Breneman. Carter might have the best hands on the team, James has made huge strides and is a great end-zone target, Lehman is great when needed, and Breneman has huge upside. What's not to like? Having Wilkerson would be great, but it's not a huge loss because of the depth that's here already.
O'Brien didn't mention any defensive players when asked about freshmen who may see time. What about Brandon Bell? With Ben Kline still fighting shoulder issues shouldn't he be on the short list? Has he not done well in camp?
I can't immediately call to mind all the freshmen that O'Brien mentioned. But Brandon Bell definitely can't be ruled out. I haven't really heard great things about Wooten, and Kline's still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Linebacker's really a question mark right now. If someone gets injured, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd just plug in Stephen Obeng-Agyapong for the short term. That being said, at this juncture, I think guys like Adam Cole are probably ahead of Bell on the depth chart right now. We should have a better idea by Tuesday where things have shaken out.
Hi Josh, do you think that it is possible for Penn State to land both Drayvon Henry and Thomas Holley, one, or neither?
I think PSU has a good chance at landing one of them -- moreso Henry -- but I think landing both of them is asking a bit much. PSU will have to turn in quite the season to persuade both of them. Obviously a better chance they sign zero than two.
Any reason why Hackenberg wouldn't be named starter if the QB competition is really that close?
That's part of my thinking in why Hackenberg will be named the starter. If it's close, that means he just caught up to a junior college QB who's had since January to pick up on everything. If Hack's progressing that fast, why slow him up? Obviously, I'll defer to O'Brien here because the guy knows much more than me. But that's part of my reasoning for thinking he'll be the starter. If the race isn't clear to O'Brien, I think Hack's got to be the guy. Just my opinion.
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for this week. And, I recently discovered, this will be the final Penn State chat we do. We'll have Big Ten weekly chats, so you can get your PSU questions into that. I'll see if I can have some free weekly mailbags to offset this. So, thanks to everyone for joining us for these the last year -- and have a good weekend!