Friday, October 23, 2009

Blue & White Roundtable: The Stinking Weasel Edition

Its hate the Weasel week and several Roundtablers have fielded questions, as a matter of fact each question is from a different blog. Since it's a collaborated effort, be sure to check out all the other answers.

W. F. Yurasko
Happy Hour Valley
Zombie Nation
Nittany Whiteout
Penn State Clips
2 The Lion

(1) The Penn State offensive line looked awful against a very good Iowa defense. They looked pretty good over the last three games, against the Big Ten's two worst defenses and a I-AA scrimmage. This week they face a decent, but not great, Michigan defense. Is the O-line up to the challenge and can they block Brandon Graham?

I think it's safe to say that at this point the line has officially come together. Against Iowa they had not found cohesion yet and the coaches were still juggling people around. Despite some injuries the line has come along very well and is starting to open up some big holes. Last week was Royster's best game of the season, part of which must be attributed to the line. We can talk about how bad Minnesota's defense is, and they are, but they are a Big Ten defense and they do have athletes, some credit must be given to the line. Having said that, the Michigan line isn't a world beater, the offensive line should have success against them. The Wolverine defense isn't one of the Big Ten's best, if Penn State can't move the ball on them, especially in the second half there's something seriously wrong.

(2) Eric Decker was (for the most part) not a factor in the Minnesota game. Was this due to the weather, his being "over rated" or has PSU's secondary, primarily AJ Wallace, benefitted from the extra practice and challenges from the coaches?

I don't think anyone with half a brain would consider Eric Decker "overrated," he's basically the entire offense for Minnesota and he's done that all year, except last week. Eventually you have to give Penn State's secondary, and particularly A.J. Wallace, some credit. Wallace did a fine job against Decker and Paterno noted that in his press conference this week. But that was one threat that Penn State neutralized, this week is a different problem altogether. Michigan really spreads the ball around so pass coverage will be a team effort. Not only will the defense have to worry about the spread pass but Michigan leads the Big Ten in rushing so they will have to worry about a multi-dimensional offense. It's definitely a bigger challenge this week.

3) Tate Forcier captured the eyes of America with some phenomenal late play in some of Michigan's earlier games, with his last-second touchdown drive against Notre Dame drawing enormous praise to the true freshman. However, he found himself riding the bench in the fourth quarter last week against Iowa, and Penn State has been strong against the pass all year. How will the Penn State defense fair at containing Forcier, who is a true dual-threat quarterback?

Well, Forcier is really a pass first kind of dual-threat quarterback but Penn State will most certainly have to respect his running abilities. Although he's done extremely well for a true freshman he has made his share of mistakes and he didn't look good against Iowa who had the best defense he's faced all year. Penn State will give him problems but I don't expect the kind of performance he had against Iowa. Look, it's Michigan – Penn State, can you remember a game in this series that Michigan didn't play well? Michigan always, always, always brings their A-game against Penn State. Don't ask me why, I have no idea, they'll lay an egg against the team they play the following week but they'll play like national champs against Penn State.

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