It's time once again for the Blue & White Roundtable with your host Jeff from insightful and impressively formatted Nittany Lounge blog. As always the B&W posse is along for the ride.
1. Coach Paterno says the biggest improvement in a team happens between week one and week two of the season. What area needs most improvement? What facet of play needs the least improvement?
Allow me to start by answering the last question first, the least of our worries is obviously the defensive line and linebackers. Even with the real possibility of Navorro Bowman sitting out due to a groin injury the emergence of Nate Stupar leaves us with three linebackers that can handle anything thrown their way. The defensive tackles are going to take a lot of attention from the linebackers from here on out and it will only be a matter of time before Latimore or Crawford emerge as serious pass rush threats.
The area of immediate need is, yet again obviously, the run blocking. The offensive line did an admirable job pass blocking but they really need to work on the run. If I were the offensive line coaches I would be hammering that all week long but then again I'm not, I'm just some loudmouth blogger who doesn't know what he's talking about.
2. Syracuse is running what it calls the Stallion, a form of the Wildcat offense. It appeared to be effective against Minnesota. At one point during the Minnesota game, Syracuse had run the Stallion seven times, averaging over six yards per play. What does the PSU rush defense need to do break the Stallion?
The Wildcat or Stallion or whatever you want to call it was new for Syracuse and I'm sure Minnesota wasn't ready for it. Now that they have a game under their belts you can bet that Bradley and Co. were studying the Minnesota game film Sunday, they'll be ready. As for the guys on the field, as with any misdirection offense the key is containment and assignments. The ends must not go for the fake reverses and keep the ball carrier contained inside where help is. The linebackers must keep their assignments and not go chasing the ball around. Minnesota figured it out in the second half as Syracuse failed to convert any third downs. A disciplined defense can shut offenses like the Stallion down pretty quick. Oh they'll still get a couple big plays out of it but if you can minimize the damage you can create some serious negative plays with gimmicky offenses.
3. Minnesota squeaked out a win against the Orange(men). What expectation does this create for Penn State when playing Syracuse? And perhaps more importantly since it is a conference game, Minnesota?
The knee jerk reaction is to say that the Orange are better than we thought and Minnesota is worse but I'm not going to go there it was the first game and the Orange had a new coaching staff. The Orange came out and stunned Minnesota scoring all 20 of their points in the first half. The Gophers adjusted at halftime and shut the Syracuse offense down in the second half not allowing a single point. Gophers QB Adam Weber had a good game throwing for almost 250 yards and wideout Eric Decker torched the Orange for 183 yards, so Minnesota has the horses they just weren't ready for Syracuse. I doubt you'll see a repeat of that this week.
4. This week next year Penn State will be playing Alabama on the road. What do you think about State playing Bama instead of the Cuse? Would you rather be tailgating in Happy Valley and attending another FCS beat down? Or sitting at home watching the game on the big screen? Should the Big Ten play at least one OOC game per year with the SEC or Big 12?
My feelings about this are pretty clear, I would rather lose to a ranked Alabama than beat a rebuilding Syracuse. These games do little to help a team get ready for their real opponents and they do little for national respect. Not to mention there is no way I'm shelling out 55 bucks for a ticket and 15 bucks for a parking pass to see Akron, Syracuse, and Directional U.
1. The current line is -28. Cover or Not?
Don't think that is going to happen.
2. Does Penn State show up for the second half?
I think they will have to, I doubt they will get the large lead like they did against Akron
3. True/False: Syracuse is a better opponent than Akron.
At this point you have to say true, they played a Big Ten opponent into overtime and we know nothing about Akron yet.
4. Fact or Fiction: Sue Paterno once painted the Nittany Lion statue orange.
Oh so true, it was one of the great psychological tricks of all time.