In what I imagine was a vicious and hard fought battle, Adam Collyer over at Black Shoe Diaries has wrestled control of the roundtable back from the guys at JoePa’s Doghouse. Somehow, despite a PSU game this weekend, Adam found 4 questions for all of us. Make sure you check out The 50 Yard Lion Blog and The Nittany Lions Den too. I can’t imagine what we’re going to talk about…
The biggest news of the week has been the amending of the sanctions. What are your thoughts?
Matt: Quite simply, shocked. I think anyone who has been around the program knew that there was a chance something like this was coming, but I don’t think anyone expected it to happen when it did, nor to the degree it did. By allowing OB and the rest of the staff to take, potentially, up to 23 players in this recruiting class, and a full 25 next year, the light at the end of the tunnel is so much closer. We saw what this staff could do on the recruiting trail for a few months last year, but starting now, they’re virtually unchained.
Eric: I was extremely happy when I heard about the amending of the sanctions. In my opinion, the scholarships were the part of the sanctions that hurt the most and it’s huge that Penn State will get a lot of them back. Now O’Brien and his staff need to get on the recruiting trail and make those additional scholarships count.
Does that make this bye week the first unequivocal bye week victory of the last several years?
Matt: I don’t remember the 2012 bye week all that much, but after the blow out win it had in 2011, this one felt good.
Eric: Without a doubt, yes. Last year was calm but this is the first one in a while where you can say Penn State “won.” If certain results come from certain games this weekend that favor Penn State, then that will only make this bye week better.
What issues do you believe Bill O’Brien still must resolve before the Nittany Lions enter league play?
Matt: On the offensive side of the ball, I feel like they’re still trying to figure out who they are, and a lot of that will depend on just how quickly Hackenberg progresses. They’ve got this big time prospect at QB, and an All American at receiver, so the motivation to rely on the passing attack is there. But on Saturday, it felt like for the first time they really had a good feel for what they want to do with Zwinak, Belton, and Lynch. On the other side, it’s pretty simple. Find a way to get more production from the front 7. Part of that is getting Deion Barnes on track, part of that is finding guys besides Barnes and DaQuan Jones on the line, and a huge part is getting Mike Hull healthy.
Eric: This will sound odd, but I think O’Brien needs to get the tight end issue figured out before the Nittany Lions enter league play. Hackenberg is targeting Allen Robinson a lot (which he should be), but so far tight ends have zero touchdown catches and not a lot of production in general. Third down defense and the punting game are other areas that the team must improve on.
Predictions the rest of the way?
Matt: This has felt like an 8-4 team to me for awhile, and nothing to this point changes my mind. Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, and Minnesota should all be wins, and Ohio State is likely a loss. Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all toss-ups, but the timing of the last two makes them though. I think they find 1 win in those 3, matching last season.
Eric: Before the season began I had Penn State going 7-5. I’m still sticking with that. I think the four games that Penn State loses will be Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Indiana could be a potential upset because of their high-powered offense, but I think Penn State will get by the Hoosiers in their next game.