The dust has settled on the 2008 college football season which gives us a great opportunity to take a look back at the past year. This is particularly critical as rumors are swirling about LJSR going to Illinois (a rumor which now has LJSR in Champagne yesterday).
The offense had a great year, some might even say a break-out year. The Lions had the 14th ranked team in total offense and averaged nearly 449 yds/game in 2008. Compare that to 2007 where the Lions averaged 400 yds/game and were the 55th ranked offense. In 2006, PSU had the 53d best offense in the country (really completely mediocre) and averaged just under 350 yds/game.
If you go all the way back to 2005, a team which everyone remembers with particular fondness, that offense averaged 421 yds/game and was the 33d ranked offense in the country. While the 2005 squad was extremely special to us all, the 2008 Lions squad was a more potent offensive force. What is also very interesting, is that I remember the 2005 defense as being a great squad, however, that team was the 12th best defense in the country and surrendered over 300 yds per game. The 2008 squad might be a little underrated as they were the 8th best defense in the country and surrendered just over 280 yds/game.
It is interesting to think that this Lion squad is easily the best statistical team the Lions have fielded in some time, however, I think of 2005 as being a better team. How odd. I'm sure it has something to do with how the season ended; a drubbing at the hands USC as opposed to a dramatic victory of FSU.
It is clear a lot of the credit for the Lions success over the last 4 years needs to be given to the architect of the Spread HD offense, Jay Paterno. When the Lions have truly run the spread (2005 & 2008) the Lions have been a truly potent offensive force. The Defense played well over the last several years leading us to desperately want to retain LJSR and the rest of the defensive staff, however, it is clear that we need to hang on to Jay Paterno. This is something nobody was saying over the last two years. Jay Paterno certainly seems to know what he is doing when it comes to the spread offense.
At the end of the day, the 2008 Nittany Lions should be remembered as one of the best Lion teams of the last decade.