SMQ first hits on what's changed with PSU and rightly points out the QB spot. Clearly, that is the biggest difference on the team from last year's better-than-mediocre-but-still-not-able-to-beat-Michigan team. No matter how much we want Clark to replicate M-Rob, I have sour news for you --- it ain't gonna happen. Besides some garbage time minutes in a variety of games, JoePa seemed physically disgusted and repulsed by the idea of letting Clark throw a few passes at real-time game speed. Clark is certainly athletic and the receivers are wicked experienced, so hopefully that will help to cancel out Clark's potential jitters as a first time starter this season. Alternatively, Devlin wind up being the starter; however, I feel that comparisons of Devlin to Morelli are inappropriate and unwarranted. Devlin is going to surprise people with his speed and agility. He is quicker than you think, with impressive accuracy. He may not have the sheer athleticism of Clark, but he certainly is not slow. Lord willing, he paid attention to Morelli's countless fumbles last season and has learned to tuck the goddamn ball away.
SMQ correctly analyzes the inherent awesomeness of both our O-Line and D-Line. Our defense is sick, nasty, stifling, etc. I love the stat that "the offenses from Florida International, Notre Dame and Temple combined for three points and one yard rushing last year." That makes me feel good in my heart-space. Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, Mo Evans will still be a monstrous force to reckoned with even though his numbers dropped off a little at the end of the year as opposing coaches realized there was rhinoceros on the other side of the line that needed to be stopped.
Furthermore, SMQ is right that we have the potential for linebacking issues this year. Although our linebackers are great, they have yet to reach that next level of awesomeness that Linebacker U requires. I remember seeing a few games last year where teams were gaining some relatively consistent yardage on the ground against us. Hopefully, our more-experienced d-line will help put an end to that problem this year.
SMQ also provides a tough but fair analysis of our well-tested WRs. For all the hype surrounding these guys, we should be putting up god-like numbers, but instead we just get steady consistency --- which, actually sounds more like the PSU way. He notes that D-Will doesn't have the breakaway speed that we thought he did coming out of high school. I think this is more of a JayPa problem than a D-Will problem. We can see D-Will's speed on punt returns and when he gets the ball on the move. Tossing short bubble screens and making him have to fight through a bunch of traffic to get to open field is not the way to get him moving. A slant pattern? What? Who has heard of such a thing?
As much as I want to LOVE Stephfon Green, I just can't yet. Hearing tales of breakaway speed in a Blue and White Game or a Spring Practice just doesn't get it done. I know he is fast and shifty, but until he goes out there against a real football team that is actively looking to hurt him, we just can't rely on him to be the savior of PSU football during the next 3 years. I want him to be, I truly do but there have been too many players built up to be gods on the B-squad that haven't amounted to much. *Cough* Anthony Morelli *Cough*
What I don't understand, like in the Rivals.com preview, is why there is all the hate on Rolls Royster. My boy has 513 yards on 82 carries, averaging 6.3 yards everytime he touches the ball! What more do you want?!?!? That 6.3 a carry was good enough to be tied for 14th in the nation last year. He saw limited time last year due to a senior tailback and a bum leg and only played one full game against Purdue where he carried 21 times for $1.26 and a TD. Unscientifically extrapolating his overall performance to an entire season (meaning playing all 13 games, getting a conservative 20 touches a game at 6.3 a carry) he would have 1638 yards and 16 TDs. While maybe not Heisman numbers, it certainly isn't "unspectacular" or merely "capable." 1638 yards would have been 8th in the country last year.
Nobody catches the Rolls Royster. ZOOM!!*
Overall, there isn't all that much to complain about with SMQ's assessment of the Lions. It pretty much lines up with mine. If a couple of pieces fall into place, we have the opportunity for a very special season. If not, I already have a place to stay in Tampa for the Outback Bowl.
*Completely sports unrelated note: I love this picture, it is fantastic. Click on it to see the original, so you can see more detail of the stunning colors. The depth of focus is perfect, notice how the left leg of the Hawkeye on the left is slightly out of focus simply because Royster is the one who is in the perfect focal length. I also love the way you get Big Ol' Rich Ohrnberger just crushing a man in the background too. No action blur anywhere, just a perfect picture of a hole a semi could run through.