It's been a busy week for me and I just got around to reading Paterno's press conference. Two questions pertaining to the secondary really stood out and scared the bejesus out of me. When asked about the corners without A.J. Wallace playing, because you'll remember Paterno said that he would probably be suspended for a couple games, Paterno had this to say.
I'm not sure what we're going to do with A.J. I had put some rules down that he had to get certain grades, which he got in the summertime. I had to put some other rules down. He's abided by them. He may end up playing some on Saturday.
Side Note: I suggested as such earlier this week when I covered the depth chart. I asked the somewhat rhetorical question why Wallace was listed second string. I knew that meant Wallace was going to play or they would have had someone else listed.
Now Paterno usually plays mind games with his players in press conferences and he usually high-balls the suspensions probably to scare the players straight. Seldom does he suspend someone for the length of time he originally states but that's his prerogative, it's not like the ridiculous court system, there are no mandatory minimum sentences in Paterno's world.
The problem is, Wallace is our best corner in a position that has few experienced options and if Paterno is playing him without much of a suspension it probably means he's really worried about the secondary. In Paterno's world skipping class is a cardinal sin and he's come down heavy on violators in the past so if he's coming down a little on the light side it might be time to worry. If that doesn't scare you then this should:
Q. You haven't put the nickel in yet this week. Who are one or two guys we might see there against Akron?
We don't have a nickel back so far. We really don't. Our linebackers have been good. We'll have to see what happens this week…If our linebackers can play the way we think, and they can be outside linebackers that can walk away from the line of scrimmage and help on the pass game, we may not use a nickel. We'll see. A lot will depend on how a couple kids in the secondary come along.
Dear God we've seen this in the past and it's never been good. Playing a linebacker in space on an obvious passing down has turned into disaster in the past for Penn State. It probably means a lot of passive zone defense so the linebacker tasked with covering the wideout doesn't get burned which means a lot of open space for an experienced wide receiver/quarterback combo. If Akron doesn't exploit it you can be sure the good teams on the schedule will. If Paterno thinks the secondary is so thin that he can't find a nickel back with Wallace in the game we could be in deep trouble. Where did I put that USB panic button?