Optimism time for Penn State fans

Gooooood morning everybody! We’re only two days away now from Penn State football. Although uncertainty on the offensive line and at quarterback has seemingly raised a dark storm cloud over Penn State’s prospects at winning this season, there’s still plenty of hope to go around.

Black Shoe Diaries has a sweet interview with college football expert Phil Steele that is very bullish on State’s chances to make the Big Ten title game. Here’s what Steele had to say when asked about 2011 merely being a warm-up for a successful 2012 campaign:

As far as this year is concerned I think this is a much more veteran unit than last year and the schedule really sets up nicely for them especially in Big Ten play early if they can get a win over Iowa. I think Penn St will surprise many this year and have an outside shot of being in that first Big Ten Title Game and if that happens many PSU would consider this year as “THE” year.

Steele’s best case scenario for Penn State involves the team starting 9-1 (6-0 Big Ten) with only a loss to Alabama before losing one of the two tough road games at the end of the season. Penn State’s last two games are road battles at Ohio State and at division favorite Wisconsin, so this is completely understandable. What’s surprising to me is how many people believe PSU can defeat Nebraska in Happy Valley.

Bob Smith of pennlive.com is another guy who believes State will triumph over the Huskers, and he even claims that Nebraska fans themselves see their team losing at Beaver Stadium. Maybe those fans are still shaken up from 2002, because the way I see it, Penn State’s offense will have to show major improvement on offense in order to make a dent in Big Red’s fearsome defense. It’s possible that the offense makes the jump this season, but I need to see it to believe it.

Also from pennlive.com is Tim Johnson’s nine reasons to get totally pumped for the Penn State football season. I think Johnson is a little paranoid about all the “doom and gloom” haunting the program this year. I know everyone wants to see one definitive starter at quarterback, but ever since Ohio State lost Terrell Pryor, there has been a bit of optimism about 2011. And now that the PSU-over-Nebraska bandwagon has started loading up, it actually looks possible that State could get through the conference gauntlet with just one loss. There’s definitely less doom now than back in the spring when it looked like Rob Bolden might be leaving the program.

Still, I do agree with most of the the rest of Johnson’s article. Tailgating is awesome and who can’t get excited about eight new restrooms?

The Daily Collegian has a nice story about TE Andrew Szczerba’s uphill return from a bulging disc injury. Szczerba will be one guy in particular to keep an eye on this Saturday. I’d love to see him get most of the playing time at tight end this week. Penn State needs him to be healthy and productive, because tight end is one position at which they are not deep at all.

Tags: Andrew Szczerba Nebraska Football Phil Steele Rob Bolden

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