Penn State may be on a bye week, but that does not mean the Blue White Round Table takes a week off. Here is this week’s edition, with questions supplied by Adam Collyer of Black Shoe Diaries. Check out Black Shoe Diaries later for a wrap-up.
1. The Nittany Lions now sit at #15 in the polls, having won 7 straight. Think back to the morning of September 3rd. What were your expectations for this team? Are they were you thought they would be today?
Honestly, this is the position I expected Penn State to be in at this point in the season, although I thought they woudl get here in a different way. I think we can all agree that a win against Alabama was going to be unlikely but what games on the schedule did not have Penn State with the edge? I think most of us thought games against Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern could go a couple different ways but they were all certainly winnable games.
We knew they would win games against Indiana, Purdue, Temple, Eastern Michigan and Indiana State. We knew the defense was going to be solid. What we didn’t necessarily know is how the quarterback situation would unfold. At the start of the year I swore Rob Bolden would be breaking out a little bit this season. Obviously that has not happened. But other than that, I think this season has met my expectations entering the bye week.
2.The defense has obviously been spectacular, and several players have made game changing contributions. For much of the year, the defensive MVP has looked like Devon Still, who is playing as well (or maybe even better) than Jared Odrick during his stellar senior campaign. Recently, Gerald Hodges has been virtually unstoppable. Who is the defensive MVP after nine weeks?
As much as Gerald Hodges has been playing on beats mode the past couple weeks, the season’s defensive MVP has to be Devon Still. The man is playing againats boys most weeks and he always seems to be in the backfield as the ball is being handed off to the running back and he is always bringing the pressure. He has developed in to one of the top defensive linemen in the Big Ten, if not the country, and he does remind me of some of the great defensive linemen we have seen at Penn State, including Odrick and Jimmy Kennedy and Courtney Brown.
Still’s performance has been one of the most consistent ones on this team, on both sides of the ball, this season.
3. Is there any appropriate way to get Rob Bolden playing time at this juncture? What do you expect will happen with him by the end of the year?
Unless Matt McGloin gets injured, no. You cannot play Bolden at this point because when he is on the field the offense looks like a mess and the offense can’t seem to move the football. Bolden has had some good moments on the field and receivers dropping the football and an offensive line that looked like Swiss cheese at times did him no favors but with everything on the line right now Penn State needs to have the offense in sync, and that means using one quarterback and one quarterback only. I have come 180degrees on this as the season has progressed, but McGloin gives Penn State’s offense the best chance to do something right now.
My only concern is that McGloin clearly struggles against the better teams and defenses Penn State plays. We all remember the Outback Bowl of course but also remember the Ohio State game last year. The Alabama game this year. The Michigan State game last season started slow and McGloin didn’t put up the big numbers until the Spartans eased off in the fourth quarter. These final three weeks will be huge for McGloin. He has something to prove and Bolden can’t be thrown out there to change things up with a Big Ten championship game appearance on the line.
4. Silas Redd has rushed for over 1000 yards and still has at least four games left on the schedule. What will he finish with for the year?
Don’t forget, it could be five games left on the schedule with three regular season games, the bowl game and a Big Ten championship game possible.
Redd has had a solid string of games for sure but I am not sure the 100-yard streak will continue in the final three regular season games. If Redd finishes the season with 1,400 yards I think that will mean very good things for Penn State, but to get there he is going to have to have big games against Nebraska’s defense, an improved Ohio State defense (and Penn State never plays a good offensive game in Columbus) and Wisconsin.
I would guess Redd finishes the regular season (not including a possible Big Ten championship game) with 1,250 yards, which means an average of about 83 yards over the next three games.
5. Most Penn State fans have embraced this team’s “win ugly” attitude and believe they can finish strong. If this team were to lose 2 of the next 3, how will that change your opinion of them?
While I think that winning ugly and living by a “just win baby” mentality is fine, the gaping holes on this team are going to hold them back and cause Penn State to fall back to earth a bit. I think losing two of the next three is a very real possibility and losing all three may be very likely. My opinion probably will not change much though. I still think their defense will be impressive but I have never been in love with this passing offense. I don’t see much changing regardless of their regular season finish.
6. Predict the team’s record and bowl game.
I think Penn State finishes the seaosn with a 9-3 record, which puts them in a New Year’s Day bowl game. I think the Outback Bowl will again be a possibility but return trips to the same bowl game are a rarity for Penn State. I think the Gator Bowl will come in to play but we’ll see how the rest of the conference plays out as well.