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Blue White Roundtable: JELL-O pudding pops for all!

The Blue White Roundtable is back for week three as Penn State makes the trip to Philadelphia (my neck of the woods) to play the Temple Owls. Adam Collyer at Black Shoe Diaries once again has served up some questions for the Penn State blogosphere to respond to.

1. The game was out of reach, but Rob Bolden played through the final whistle.  Was that drive his “coming of age moment?”  Do you expect that to pay some dividends this week?

There were some bright spots to take out of that Alabama game if you care to do so. Bolden converting for first downs after each timeout on the opening drive was good news (timeout usage aside), and driving the team down field for a touchdown latte in the game can be a positive, even if Alabama was letting up on defense. At that point it is all about confidence, and Bolden can say he drove the offense down field against Alabama for the team’s only touchdown.

I don’t know how much momentum that can have carrying over to this week against Temple, but it was certainly better than going three-and-out against a defense that knew the game was already won, right?

By now we know that Joe Paterno is preparing this week to use two quarterbacks. Here’s hoping that game plan doesn’t make it out of halftime. The time is now to settle on one guy to lead this offense.

2. How effective will the defense be against Bernard Pierce (30, right) this week?

Effective enough.

Bernard Pierce may be the best running back in the state right now, including Silas Redd and Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham. Pierce, if he stays healthy, has what it takes to cause problems for Penn State’s defense. We saw that last year in State College. Having seen Pierce in person a number of times I continue to be impressed with how good he is at turning a corner and getting down the sideline. I have not watched much of the Akron game but against Villanova it was clear that Pierce knew exactly where the open room on the field was and watching him beat defenders going down field was impressive.

That said, Penn State is not Akron or Villanova. They will do a better job of plugging the holes and cutting off the corners in the open field, but if they make a mistake, Pierce will make them pay in the form of first downs or touchdowns.

3. Grade the offensive line three weeks into the season.  Are they better than you expected them to be?

I expected them to be better than given credit for in the off-season by many. I liked the veteran mix coming back this season and thought they had the potential to be a solid unit. I think for the most part they have met those expectations, but they have plenty of room for improvement.

I think the run blocking has been their strength by far, although against Alabama it showed that it had some weaknesses to cure. Honestly, against Alabama most teams will find it tough to run. They clearly showed that against inferior opponents, like Indiana State, they’ll be able to run the football. As far as run blocking, I’d give the offensive line a B for now.

But the pass protection needs to get better in a hurry. The quarterbacks have combined for zero touchdown passes and the offensive line plays a factor in to that statistic (so does game planning though). Bolden has already taken some good hits and McGloin has been forced to throw the ball away without thinking on a number of occasions. Right now the pass protection gets a D, only because the quarterbacks have not been sacked 10 times.

4. Bottom line – are we looking at a ‘Bama hangover against Temple, or do the Lions pull an Illinois ’05-type performance and come out swinging against an over-matched Temple squad?

I think Temple is going to give Penn State a good fight in this game, but I don’t see how Penn State comes out slow against the Owls. Temple probably comes up with a couple big plays out of the gate on offense and defense but with the way the team lost last week I think Penn State comes out firing with some big plays of their own. this will truly be a test of the leadership on this team too. Last year we saw little from the leadership on the roster form start to finish, so this week presents a good challenge to see what the captains and team is made of.

5. Prediction?

I have Penn State winning this one, and the game should be closer than my score may indicate. Penn State 31, Temple 17. Rob Bolden throws the first touchdown pass of the season. In fact, put me down for two touchdown passes from Bolden.