The Blue White Roundtable is back in the Penn State blogosphere for 2011 and Nittany Lion's Den is honored to be a part of it.
For those of you relatively new to the scene, the BWR is a way of checking in with the blogosphere to see what everyone is saying about Penn State every week of the college football season. Our friends over at Black Shoe Diaries have taken n the responsibility of getting this started and hosting the write-up this season and we'll be posting our thoughts here every week. You can see Devon's responses over on Nittany White Out and be on the look out for Will's take on William World News later. We'll add more links if and when they become available as well.
With game one on the weekend schedule, let's dive in and get this party started, eh? Adam Collyer from Black Shoe Diaries was kind enough to send along the following questions, highlighted in blue. My thoughts are in plain text.
1. Let's get this out of the way right now - how does everyone feel about Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin being even on the depth chart? How do you feel about the proposed time sharing plan for Saturday's game against Indiana State?
My feeling is that this was the expected move for a while, and there is little risk in doing so for week one against Indiana State. We now know that Bolden and McGloin will be splitting play time as the coaching staff will be keeping an eye on each to see what they bring to the table, as if they really don't know what to expect at this point.
If nothing else, it makes week one worth tuning in to watch, and that's not somehting you generally say about a week one match-up against an FCS opponent, so kudos to you Penn State coaching staff.
All eyes will be closely monitoring just how Bolden and McGloin handle different situations and the comparisons will be flowing all afternoon, evening and well in to Sunday from both sides of the argument. Unless one of them bombs in the game, but I don't see that happening.
2. What are you looking for out of the offense this week? Will the offense we see on Saturday set the tone for the rest of the year?
Converting on red-zone opportunities.
Too many times last season Penn State sturggled in the red-zone, most notably under Bolden (one touchdown pass n red-zone compared to nine for McGloin). I think if Bolden is going to make a statement and win this starting job, he needs to thrive when Penn State gets down close to the end zone with him behind center. To me, that will be the difference maker in the competition.
I also want to see how the tight end position holds up. Andrew Szczerba being named the starter after an injury prone 2010 is a nice story, but let's see if he can hold on to the football and give whoever the quarterback is another option to depend on in short yardage situations.
3. Do you expect the defense to be significantly upgraded from last year?
It all hinges on the defensive line if you ask me (which you sorta did). I think the linebackers will be more than adequate and although I think the secondary may be a tad overhyped by some national pundits, I do believe they have the goods to be pretty solid from start to finish. If Jack Crawford can come back and live up to some of the hype he had entering 2010, then the defensive line has a chance to be pretty good with Devon Still and Jordan Hill emerging.
4. Outside of the money earned, these games are no-win situations for major powers. A win is expected and anything less than complete dominance is a cause for concern. How do you define success for Penn State this week?
I think success will be defined by scoring touchdowns on three of the first four possessions, regardless of the quarterback situation, and going in to halftime with a lead of at least three touchdowns. Penn State is not going to intentionally run wild or show off any fancy plays this week, especially with Alabama up next week. Even if Penn State scores between 30 and 40 points, there will be some who want to criticize the coaching or level of play, but I'm not going to worry about that.
Just get out of this week without being injured, and maybe settle on a starting quarterback and I think that will be enough to be a success in week one.
Penn State 42, Indiana State 6
I think McGloin will put together the better day in the stat sheet, but I'm looking more at how Bolden manages the offense. I predict Bolden will show more poise in the backfield and an ability to find an open receiver faster than he may have in 2010. I'm looking for Bolden to finish the day with a higher completion percentage and to pick up a few extra first downs than McGloin, and I think that leads to him being named the starter for week two against Alabama.
Brandon Beachum also finishes the day with the most rushing yards, but there is no competition for the starting job as long as Silas Redd is healthy.