Spring football that is, because it certainly doesn't feel like spring around here.
If I wake up to one more day of 20 degrees I'm moving to Jamaica
At least we can all rejoice in knowing that the annual meaningless intra-squad spring football game is right around the corner. Dig out the tailgating supplies because we have to practice too, those drinking skills aren't going to stay sharp on their own, pal!
Actually this year there's quite a lot of questions that need answered, maybe more so than any year in recent memory. First off let's look at the depth chart (HT:BSD):
WR: Brett Brackett, JR ; Chaz Powell, SO
LT: DeOn'tae Pannell, SO; Nerraw McCormack, SR
LG: JohnnieTroutman, SO; Quinn Barham, SO
C: Stefen Wisniewski, JR; Doug Klopacz, JR
RG: Lou Eliades, JR; J.B. Walton, SO
RT: Dennis Landolt, SR; Ako Poti, SR
TE: Mickey Shuler, SR; Andrew Quarless, SR
WR: Graham Zug, JR; Derek Moye, SO
QB: Daryll Clark, SR: Kevin Newsome, FR
FB: Joe Suhey, SO; Larry Federoff, SR
TB: Evan Royster, JR; Brandon Beachum, SO
LE: Jack Crawford, SO; x-Jerome Hayes, SR
LT: Jared Odrick, SR; Abe Koroma, JR
RT: Ollie Ogbu, JR; Devon Still, SO
RE: Kevion Latham, SO; Eric Latimore, SO
OLB: Nathan Stupar, SO; Michael Mauti, SO
ILB: x-Sean Lee, SR; Josh Hull, SR
OLB: Navorro Bowman, JR; Bani Gbadyu, JR
LCB: D'Anton Lynn, SO; Knowledge Timmons, SR
RCB: A.J. Wallace, SR; Devin Fentress, SR
FS: Drew Astorino, SO; Cedric Jeffries, JR
SS: Andrew Dailey, SO; Nick Sukay, SO.
PUNTER: Jeremy Boone, SR; Ryan Breen, SO
KICKER: Collin Wagner, JR; Anthony Fera, FR
x-limited action in spring drills
Of course Sean Lee and Jerome Hayes will be held out of contact and the Blue-White game for precautionary reasons so that will open up the competition at Defensive End where Penn State must replace Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans, and Josh Gaines. While the inside guys look tough with Ogbu, Odrick, Koroma, and Still, the outside guys will be new and currently the buzz is around Sophomore Jack Crawford but someone has to step up and fill some big shoes.
Speaking of big shoes, gone is Penn State's most prolific trio of wide receivers in school history and the current roster doesn't hold anyone with substantial game experience or big play capability. While the starting lineup come fall will probably contain some combination of the four listed above we'll probably see a true freshman getting lots of playing time. Incoming wunderkind Justin Brown has the combination of size (6'3") and speed (4.4 in the 40) that the Spread HD needs.
The next area of fear is in the secondary where all four starters are gone. You may remember those four starters from such games as USC where they were methodically burned at the stake by the Trojans offense. Those guys are gone and that makes one wonder, are the guys replacing them going to do a better job or are we going to see more of the same? There is potential and Drew Astorino and A.J. Wallace return with lots of experience but the other two spots will be filled buy some green players. Wallace has never lived up to his huge potential, at least in the secondary, and this is his last year to set his legacy.
With the move of Shipley to center that leaves two holes at both guards and one gigantic hole at left tackle where sophomore DeOn'tae Pannell steps in and must mature quickly because he will have the unenviable task of protecting Daryll Clark's blind side. If Clark goes down there's only incoming freshman Kevin Newsome and not much else. Luckily Newsome enrolled early and will be with the team for spring practice but he will need to be a quick study because Penn State is woefully thin at quarterback.
There are still other positions to consider: who will replace Kevin Kelly and who becomes "the other guy" opposite Lee and death missile Navorro Bowman. With ankle surgery sidelining Stephfon Green Brandon Beachum gets a huge opportunity as Royster's backup for the spring. Will he step up and steal some playing time?
While it is only a glorified scrimmage there are a lot of questions to answer this spring and a lot of holes to fill. The building blocks are there, the combination of lee and Bowman is as good as any in the big ten, but will Penn State be able to fill in around them and quarterback Clark?