Well, um. That was something. Then again, we should expect to be in a dogfight whenever we play our biggest rival. Fortunately, our Athletic Director has baked up another cupcake for the old man in the booth to feast on. As usual, Adam from Black Shoe Diaries has cooked up his own batch of questions, so be sure to hit up BSD later this week for a “greatest hits” of sorts. In the meantime, check out what else is being said:
Follow the jump to hear some barking…
Question #1 Penn State was 6-17 on third down against Temple on Saturday. What can the team do to fix that? Is it a quarterback derby issue?
The Underdogs: Punt on 3rd, or 2nd, or 1st. Allow the Defense to win the game. Did I say punt? No check that. We should never kick ever again either. Take a knee. Get the offense some practice in the victory formation. They'll never expect it.
Rowlff Dogg: Have more plays in the playbook. If it’s 3rd and short, it’s going to be a fullback dive. If it’s 3rd and 5+, it’s going to be a curl route that might make a 1st down. Of course, the QB derby doesn’t help the matter. But I’m going to try a different approach this week. Since the stubborn old man in the booth always does the opposite of what I want, I’ll offer this- I love the haphazard QB rotation! Please pare down the playbook a little more! Please stay as long as you want!!!!
J Schnauzer: The bigger issue is they were third and long more often than they were third and short against Our Traditional In-State Rival. PSU also was as unsuccessful in short yardage situations as they were in long yardage. After breaking down every meaningful third down I don’t pin the blame on the quarterbacks as much as on the offensive line. The line was wildly inconsistent last Saturday. The run blocking was poor, the fumble in the quarterback-center exchange (on 3rd down no less) could have sealed the loss. In order to advance down the field with a vanilla offensive game plan the blocking needs to be sharp. Maybe another week will sort this out.
Question #2 Last week, I asked whether Bolden's touchdown drive against Alabama in the fourth quarter was his defining moment. That was clearly premature, so I'll ask again. Bolden's big drive at the end of the fourth quarter, particularly the slant to Moye on 4th and 2 - defining moment?
The Underdogs: Not exactly 4th and 15 or MRob scoring the go ahead touchdown vs. Michigan in '05 here. A few scattered displays of excellence isn't Bolden's problem. Most players with exceptional talent can do that, even Tony Pepperoni. We need consistency. A long sustained drive without the drive killing hiccups here and there. An entire quarter versus a semi-competent defense without a sack, fumble, sackfumbleception, would be nice.
Rowlff Dogg: Let’s put this question in perspective. We’re being asked if a touchdown against Temple is a defining moment for a PSU QB. My cohort, the Underdogs, loosely compares it to the 4th and 15 against Northwestern in 2005. I’m sorry, but that right there indicates how far Penn State’s program has fallen. Two “defining” moments in the last decade occur against Northwestern and Temple?!?! Excuse me as I barf. (to answer the question: NO).
J Schnauzer: Along with Mauti’s interception it certainly was the defining moment of the game. I loved the call. Going single-back on 4th and 2 with the game on the line instead of kicking a field goal? That has to increase the confidence of the offense. You can’t consider it a defining moment until you have the benefit of hindsight, and sometimes a football season doesn’t progress poetically.
Question #3 Anyone know anything about Eastern Michigan? Are they a candidate for Big Ten expansion?
The Underdogs: Caught some of the Michigan game last week. EMU put up a fight in the first half until they let the Denard Robinson cat out of the bag. Their biggest problem appeared to be red zone Offense. So we can commiserate. They look to run on 90% of their plays and Michigan's porous defense was gashed quite a bit before tightening on the goalline. The game probably should've been 14-14 at half. After looking back through their previous games, I suspect other than running game they are pretty bad. Their strengths play into our hands and if we can get any points at all, we should win handily. I'm much more optimistic about this game than Temple which quietly tormented me all week prior.
Rowlff Dogg: From a geography standpoint, Eastern Michigan is on the right side of a map, whereas Western Michigan is on the left. Central Michigan is somewhere in between them. Athletically, I know that Brian Bixler went to Eastern Michigan. And he stunk. Therefore, Eastern Michigan stinks. From a gridiron perspective, I’ve learned a simple lesson in life. If it wears green, plays football, and is named the Eagles, it’s gonna be lousy. In short, we have nothing to fear.
J Schnauzer: Of all the directional Michigan schools, I consider them to be the least western of the bunch.
Question #4 How much can we realistically expect to learn about Penn State this weekend?
The Underdogs: An offense has to emerge. So actually quite a bit. One isn't going to magically appear come Big Ten season unless Michigan trades places with every remaining team on our schedule.
Rowlff Dogg: We can see if this team has any focus whatsoever. This game should be over in the 3rd quarter, Bolden should solidify himself as the starter, the OLine should actually do its job, and the special teams should operate without a hiccup.
J Schnauzer: Quite a bit. I think this offense can turn the corner against EMU. PSU will go with a balanced offense and feature two QBs in a final audition for the starting position. This time next week they will have decided on a starter for the beginning of the conference play.
Question #5 Prediction?
The Underdogs: 27-3.
Rowlff Dogg: 38-6. Penn State will notch its first passing touchdown of the year. Beer will be imbibed and dead animals consumed.
J Schnauzer: 35-7. Go big or go home.
Bonus BSD Question: With news Missouri's interest in the SEC and conference expansion dominating the headlines, what is the Big Ten's best next move?
The Underdogs: Stand pat. The only schools worthy of consideration are Notre Dame and Texas. No other potentially available schools bring academic & athletic fit along with households and TV sets. Thinking otherwise is naive and foolish. Texas has proven to be too much of a problem child to even want to deal with and ND is only in play if the 4x16 super conferences starts happening. They will sit by hoping to maintain their independence until the music stops and even then, they'll have a seat at one of the tables because they're Notre Dame. However, that is far too organized for a system with so many moving parts and entirely too self-interested, self-absorbed, selfish parties (see: Texas) to pull off. Not that self-interest is particularly bad, it's the way of the world, but when players in the game forget the inherent interdependence with others is when it is problematic. UT is out of friends and that might point toward their independence as well with a yearly game vs Notre Dame. But the difficulty of scheduling non-revenue sports will put UT and ND in a bind. I could see them trying to create some kind of national conference with the unwanted spare parts. Call it the Island of Misfit Toys where UT and ND get to be king and queen (you figure out which is which). And I guarantee there won't be revenue sharing as part of the deal. UT and ND see that as win-win. Big Ten sits at 12.
Rowlff Dogg: The Underdogs answered this question perfectly. No reason for me to regurgitate his response. So, I’ll go a different route: swallow the MAC. I would love to see the Athletic Directors try to find new out-of-conference opponents.
J Schnauzer: Living in the heart of Missouri Tiger country, I can personally vouch that they are for the most part insufferable, delusional fools. Even so I’ve considered them a “good buy” for the Big Ten. The brand could turn 50,000 BigXII Tiger fans into 80,000 BigTen Tiger fans in ten years. If the SEC gets them it will be a strong addition to their conference. As for the Big Ten, they should sit back, relax, and get some final rounds of golf in before the weather starts turning cold.