Ahhh, Homecoming. A time to reflect on the memories of Dear Old State. A time to visit with fellow alumni. A time to take in the parade and the fall colors. And a time to beat up on another Indiana patsy while getting your Oktoberfest on!!!!
As always, Adam from Black Shoe Diaries threw down the gauntlet. So be sure to hit up BSD later this week for a “greatest hits” of sorts. In the meantime, check out what these parade floats are saying:
Follow the jump for some Homecoming cheer…
Question #1 How satisfying was that win against the Hawkeyes?
The Underdogs: Quite satisfying. Mostly because (and I say this hesitantly), we may have found our identity; a blueprint for approaching the second half of the season. The offense mostly abandoned the pass and the defense cut loose, began taking a few risks here and there, and largely gave the individual defensive talent free reign to express their abilities. And they responded well. No longer thinking too much, but playing. Less reading/reacting, more acting. And Iowa was placed on the back foot, remaining there for the duration. Never comfortable, never really a threat.
As for the offense, hopefully we've given up the illusion that strict 50/50 run/pass playcalling balance is some sort of ideal. It is only the ideal when you can do both effectively. Our horses to ride are the runningbacks. And if we have to give up some running lanes and make the yardage a bit more difficult to come by for Redd and Dukes by running the ball fifty times, and expectedly, so be it. We will have to run to set up the pass and only do so at the moments least expected. The only problem is that gut intuition for the right play at the right time is usually best by one playcaller in the rhythm of the game, not in dialogue. True artistry isn't democratic. And playcalling is an artform. We're finger painting.
Rowlff Dogg: After some crushing defeats, it was great to get the Iowa monkey off our backs. Our struggles with the Hawkeyes epitomize the dissatisfaction with Penn State’s middling status since joining the Big Ten. Back in 1993, who would have thought that Iowa, IOWA?!?!, would give us fits for an entire decade?
While beating Iowa was fantastic, the 4th quarter in particular was a thing of beauty. Pounding the rock down their throats. Defenders with their hands on their hips. Their white quarterback getting picked off twice. Pinning our ears back and knocking Iowa backwards on their last gasp drive. Awesome. Simply awesome!
J Schnauzer: More surprised than satisfied. Penn State executed a game plan that worked effectively and out-coached Kirk Ferentz. I didn't think I would be writing that sentence this week. It’s funny that I’m more excited by a 13-point offensive effort than the previous week’s 16 point effort, but I’d rather have sustained drives with problems in the red zone than successive three-and-outs. Paterno addressed the need to practice more red zone this week, so hopefully we’ll see more points in the next two weeks. Maybe we can be average?
Question #2 Rob Bolden played two series during the Iowa game. Has the staff actually settled on a QB? Do you expect to see Bolden off the bus first against the Boilermakers?
The Underdogs: It would be awfully tough to not hand the ball over to McGloin at this point. Not that either has won the job outright. Rather, one is losing the job more slowly than the other. Bolden is clearly pressing. Either the pressure he's placing upon himself or the coaches having him think too much has him in a bad place mentally on the field. He's making up his mind too soon, if not pre-snap. Only Pey Pey can do that. Because Pey Pey knows what the defense is doing pre-snap.
I'm beginning to wonder if that buzzer the coaches use to train the QBs to get the ball out of their hands within 2 seconds is partially to blame. The conditioned response shouldn't be to simply get the ball out of your hand by a set time, despite that time being a rough average for when big angry men start converging on your position, but rather to make the best play possible. And sometimes that requires extending the play, improvising. And that is missing from Bolden right now. You can bet bottom dollar this is at the core of his regression as a football player.
Moving forward, I would give up on the set quarters for each QB. Name McGloin the starting pitcher, but be ready with a quick hook if he's showing his Favre-ish tendencies. I'd pin his eyes open and make him watch game tapes of John Shaffer for 24 hours straight until he got the message.
Rowlff Dogg: If they haven’t decided now, they never will. And by “they,” I mean Joe. I have been an ardent Bolden supporter from Day One, but I cannot honestly say he belongs on the field. Had they stuck with him 100%, then I believe he would have progressed further than McGloin at this point. That was my main reason for backing Bolden. The sooner the staff stuck with him, the sooner they’d reap the benefits of his considerable upside.
Unfortunately, what I see now is a kid who’s lost on the field. By default, McGlo…… I can’t type it. Let McGregor be the starter!
J Schnauzer: Apparently the offensive staff has not settled on anything. Although I think McGloin should operate this offense, I’m still a big Bolden fan. Like a big leaguer going to AAA for a few weeks, Bolden needs a few weeks as the designated back-up to McGloin. It would do more good than harm. He needs to have fun, fire up the offense on the sidelines, watch the game, and try to support McGloin on the field. If he gets in for a few drives in the 4th quarter, he should play with as much energy as possible. He's still the best long-term option in my opinion.
Question #3 Curtis Dukes. Discuss.
The Underdogs: The most successful football for this Penn State team will not be pretty. It will be brutal, violent. It will not be jazz, but a relentless and persistent drum beat winning the 11 on 11 game of field positional tug of war. And that's not a man you want sailing in your direction at full speed. Rammingggggggg Speeeeeeeeeeeeed.
Rowlff Dogg: Great combination of size and speed. I love watching Dukes put his head down and take on a defender. It’s just a shame he’s not from Hazzard County.
J Schnauzer: A great part of an emerging running back combination with Silas Redd. The offensive line showed marked improvement in creating holes. With Dukes and Redd a lot of the pressure for BolGloin to pass will be reduced. It may not be pretty, but it can win games.
Question #4 Purdue comes into Beaver Stadium off of a big win against maybe the worst team in major college football. We know they're capable of running the ball. How much trouble do you expect them to give Penn State's vaunted defense?
The Underdogs: Can they run? They've played one (semi-)competent team in Notre Dame and couldn't run the ball. Although, they largely had to abandon the run after falling down 21-0 in the 2nd. Minnesota is very, very bad. Purdue is just bad.
Rowlff Dogg: If Penn State’s defense comes out flat and unenthused by the noon start, then it could find itself in some trouble. Even if that’s the case, I’m not overly concerned. The defense is playing at such a high level right now, I don’t expect a team like Purdue to pose a significant threat.
J Schnauzer: Purdue is a paper tiger. The Makers of Boilers have played against one mediocre defense (Notre Dame) and some of the worst run defenses in the country. Their passing game isn’t highly efficient, and their defense allowed 287 rushing to the Fighting Irish. Can they keep it close? Of course. Can they win? Only if Penn State routinely turns the ball over.
Question #5 Prediction?
The Underdogs: 19-6.
Rowlff Dogg: PSU 29-13. This highlight of the day will be Urban Meyer bursting out of the World’s Largest Drum, sprinting across the field, and kicking Jay Paterno in the nuts. The crowd goes wild!!!!
J Schnauzer: Penn State 23, Purdue 13. PSU has been extremely lucky with turnovers outside the red zone. I think the Lions will rack up a lot of yards and have some success in the red zone, but Purdue can keep it close by capitalizing on some mis-timed throws.