Saturday December 29th, 200712:59am
Alamo Bowl Preview: Penn State
There is no way that thing is a lion
A couple of days after the Oklahoma game, in early November, I was having a discussion with someone about who we thought would be going where for their bowl game. I felt like we would be getting a Texas Bowl birth but he didn't think that the Big 12 would have enough bowls to get us in any.
What a difference a month makes. While I'm realistic in knowing that we didn't have a spectacular season, I am pleased that we improved our standings enough to leapfrog up to the Alamo Bowl.
I'm also pleased that we're getting to play a big name opponent. There is nothing less exciting than pulling TCU or Mississippi State for your bowl game opponent. I love playing big tradition powerhouses. That comes with a bad side though....you've still got to beat'em.
I suppose if you hadn't heard, Penn State is really upset about some comments made by a Yell Leader at the mixed crowd pep-rally (not our Yell Practice). During this pep-rally the Yell Leader said the following:The Yell Leader was sent home and the school has apologized to PSU. Should he have said it? Probably not. Is this completely classless as all of lubbock is yelling at us? No."Joe Paterno's on his death bed! And someone needs to find him a casket!"
My feelings are fairly whoopty doo. In all seriousness, before JoePa ended his 11 year conference title drought every media outlet in the country was saying the same thing. If it was any other school that would have made the comments no one would have made a big deal about it but people are always looking for any sort of blemish in A&M's typical respectful fan base. They like to point their finger and say "See".
JoePa handled the situation about as well as possible. He said he didn't hear the comments, brushed them off, and then made a joke about him maybe being right.
Update: Wow. I just saw the video of the "comment". Talk about getting bent out of shape over nothing. I've read nastier things in the comments section of my own site. I'm sure most of you have been to a Yell Practice and understand what is going on there so I won't even explain it.
Date Opponent OppRec ==================================== 09/01 Florida Int. W 59-0 1-11 09/08 Notre Dame W 31-10 3-9 09/15 Buffalo W 45-24 5-7 09/22 @Michigan L 14-9 8-4 09/29 @Illinios L 27-20 9-3 10/06 Iowa W 27-7 6-6 10/13 Wisconsin W 38-7 9-3 10/20 @Indiana W 36-31 7-5 10/27 Ohio State L 37-17 11-1 11/03 Purdue W 26-19 8-5 11/10 @Temple W 31-0 4-8 11/17 @Michigan St L 35-31 3-5
On the field I'm not sure what to make of this Penn State team. They had an 8-4 record with 3 losses by a TD or less....but they also had two wins by a TD or less. They had to have played one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the country as their opponents had a combined record of 13-35. They won the games they were supposed to win and lost the games they were supposed to lose (exception: MSU). They only beat one Big 10 school that finished with winning conference record (Wisconsin).PSU Offense A&M Defense RushO PassO TotO ScO ============ =========== ================================ 187 (32) Rushing 152 (57) FIU 236 313 549 59 212 (70) Passing 264 (106) Notre Dame 164 131 295 31 399 (56) Total 416 (84) Buffalo 191 202 393 45 36.6 (30.8) Scoring 26.1 (55) Michigan 101 169 370 9 Illinois 129 298 427 20 Iowa 256 233 489 27 Wisconsin 221 233 437 38 Indiana 192 195 387 36 Ohio State 139 124 263 17 Purdue 251 210 461 26 Temple 202 260 462 31 Michigan St 167 188 355 31
PSU's offense is fairly blah. They're led by QB Anthony Morelli....one of those guys that for whatever reason I feel like has been there for a decade. He has taken a lot of heat from the Nittany Lion's tumble this season, particularly in their loss at Illinois (3 INT and a redzone fumble). The former 5* recruit is averaging just over 200 yards per game through the air and has 18 TDs to 9 INTs with a 59% completion percentage.
He shares the ball fairly well with his receiving corps. #1 Derrick Williams leads the team with 50 catches for 490 yards (with 3 TDs) but the former #1 overall national recruit has been outshined this season by teammate #3 Deon Butler who has 84 more yards on 7 less receptions. #24 Jordan Norwood is third on the team in receptions and yards but leads the team with 5 receiving TDs.
The running game is PSU's offensive strength. I would have thought that the mid-season loss of starter Austin Scott (off the field trouble) would have hurt but senior #20 Rodney Kinlaw stepped in and had a great season rushing for 1186 yards on 222 carries (5.3 ypc) and 10 TDs. He can also make a catch or two out of the backfield.
In victory the Lions are averaging 214 ypg on the ground while only averaging 134 ypg in defeat. We need to stuff the run game and make Morelli beat us through the air.
A&M Offense PSU Defense =========== ============ 216 (12) Rushing 88 (6) 187 (98) Passing 219 (46) 403 (54) Total 307 (9) 28.8 (53) Scoring 17.6 (8) PENN STATE OPP. AVG RushD PassD TotD ScD RushO ScO ================================= ========= FIU -3 117 114 0 98 115 Notre Dame 0 144 144 10 116 72 Buffalo 56 339 395 24 88 62 Michigan 166 170 336 14 45 24 Illinois 216 120 336 27 5 20 Iowa 48 146 194 7 91 13 Wisconsin 87 244 331 7 20 35 Indiana 68 318 386 31 54 13 Ohio State 200 253 453 37 21 58 Purdue 68 255 323 19 77 47 Temple 4 238 242 0 108 56 Michigan St 145 280 425 35 23 59
First of all, PSU hasn't faced a rushing attack like ours. Even the teams they played in the Big 10 didn't have very stout rush offenses. The best rushing team that they defeated was Wisconsin (#20 in the nation) but the second best rushing team they defeated was Indiana (#54 in the nation).
Second of all, their rushing and scoring defenses are a little inflated as a result of their non-conference opponents.RushD ScorD ======================== Non-Conf 14 8.5 Big 10 125 22.1 ------------------------ TOTAL 88.0 17.6
They have a really good defense but the numbers are certainly skewed. We've faced as good, if not better, defenses already this season so this isn't going to be a big shocking change for us. Putting up results will be a different story. The thing I like is that they lost 4 games against the 5 best rushing teams they faced. In victories they gave up 41 ypg on the ground but in their losses they gave up 182 yards on the ground.
From what I've read, we're going to be utilizing the offense that we saw against texas and I don't really have any problems with the un-Fran filtered Les Koenig offense, particularly if we put up results like we did on T+1.
Penn State is known as Linebacker U and they've continued that tradition recently with two-time Bednarik winner Paul Posluszny (in 2005 & 2006) and this year's Bednarik winner, Dan Connor (#45; 136 tackles & 6.5 sacks). Connor is joined by LB Sean Lee (#40; 124 tackles, 3.5 sacks, & 3 FF) and DE Maurice Evans (#48; 48 tackles, 12.5 sacks, & 3 FF) as the disruptive forces on defense.
We're going to be playing a few men short. Obviously we won't have Yemi Balboa but we'll also be missing Mike Bennett and Jordie Richardson who are academically ineligible. Losing Bennett is going to hurt. We're also going to be playing without some injured guys who underwent season ending surgeries...Kirk Elder (leg), Jordan Peterson (shoulder), & DL Chris Smith (wrist). With Elder's injury that puts us without two of our starting OLmen.
Just a couple more random notes:
That's all I've got. Gametime is 7pm and it's on ESPN.
- Gary Darnell will be the interim HC. He has filled that role before at Florida in '89 for Galen Hill. Hill is now PSU's OC.
- Who woulda thunk....Nebraska, Notre Dame, & Miami are all sitting at home this bowl season?
Gig'em & BEAT THE HELL OUTTA Penn State! WHOOP!
| Where are you?
Thursday December 27th, 200712:01am
Alamo Bowl Preview: JoePa Edition
2006 Orange Bowl v. Bobby Bowden
Joe Paterno is easily the most famous aspect of Penn State football. He graduated from Brown University in 1950 and joined Rip Engle (who coached him at Brown) on Penn State's football staff. He was an assistant coach for 16 seasons before taking over the program as the head coach in 1966, replacing his former coach. 42 years as head coach and 58 years at the university.
The guy has coached at Penn State during 11 different United States Presidential administrations. When he started it was back when the United States had only 48 states.
He has the second most career victories in college history trailing only Bobby Bowden (although that is highly contested because of Bowden's victories at non-DI Howard). He has more bowl victories than any other collegiate coach, has put over 200 players in the NFL, was elected into the college football Hall of Fame earlier this month, and this weekend's game will be his 500th career game at Penn State.
I'm in the middle of reading Paterno By the Book which is Paterno's autobiography. It is really interesting to read his thoughts on different things. The biggest thing I've come away with so far is his desire to give his athletes more than a place to play football, but give them an education which will help them more than the game will."Get involved," I hound my players. "Don't let the world pass you by. Go after life. Attack it. Ten years from now I want you to look back on college as a wonderful time of expanding yourself -- not just four year of playing football." All the more so if the kid's here on a football scholarship. I tell him, USE it -- for more than just football. It's a ticket to the world.
I also discovered why PSU has continued to wear nameless jerseys and unmarked helmets. Paterno loves Virgil's Aeneid. He talked about how Aeneas, while still similar, is different from any of Homer's characters because everything he did was for others while Homer's characters are glorified and created through personal exploits.That's about all the literature lesson I can handle for the month but there it is for you.A hero of Aeneas' kind does not wear his name on the back of his uniform. He doesn't wear Nittany Lions on his helmet to claim star credit for touchdowns and tackles that were enabled by everybody doing his job. For Virgil's kind of hero, the score belongs to the team.
Celebrating the 1982 National Championship
During his time at PSU he has coached 5 undefeated teams and won the National Championship twice (1982 11-1, 1986 12-0). How mad would you be if you went undefeated 5 times and only once won the NC? Two words: Play-offs. Ok, maybe thatís one hyphenated word.
As great as Paterno has been there have been rumblings recently (over the last few years) that it is time for PSU to move into their next era.Recent Big 10 Finishes ====================== 2000 6th 2004 9th 2001 4th 2005 1st 2002 4th 2006 4th 2003 9th 2007 5th
To be honest that is eerily similar to our last 8 seasons. Hey, they only have one Heisman winner too (John Cappelletti 1973).
Some said that recruiting had passed him by. They finished ranked 93rd by Rivals in 2003. He had always felt that freshman needed to redshirt but then in 2005 he landed the #1 recruit in the land and the #1 DB in the land. They both started as freshmen and PSU won the Big 10. He followed up in '06 with a Top 10 recruiting class.
His contract ends following the 2008 season and, personally, I think that is why Rutger's HC, Greg Schiano, turned down the Miami job last year and held himself out of the running for the Michigan job last month. I just can't see Paterno getting an extension.
Roll up your pants and put on your black shoes. We've got a game to play this weekend.
B.T.H.O. Penn State! WHOOP!
ps. Happy birthday JoePa! 81 years old on the 21st.
I've got a preview of this year's team on it's way so stay tuned.
| Where are you?
Tuesday December 25th, 20075:50pm
Done Deal with Hogs
Apparently Bill Byrne has finalized the deal with Arkansas. The official announcement isn't coming until January but the DMN is reporting that each school is going to be getting $5M annually for the duration of the 6-8 season contract. The game will be played at the Cowboy's new stadium in Dallas starting in 2009 and is scheduled as a late September meeting.
I think this is great and I know I'll be making that trip each year.
In the next day or so I'll be getting my Alamo Bowl preview up. It's under construction as we speak.
Gig'em & BTHO Penn State! WHOOP!
| Where are you?