Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Appreciating the 2008 Lions AND Jay Paterno!

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 offenseIn 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 gameThe 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.



Anonymous said...

Going unit by unit (in my humble opinion):
QB: 2008 (Clark) vs 2005 (Robinson) - push
RB: 2008 (Royster, Greene) vs 2005 (Hunt, Scott) - push
WR: 2008 (seniors Williams, Butler, Norwood) vs 2008 (freshmen Williams, Butler, Norwood) - 2008
OL: 2008 (Shipley, Ohrnberger, etc.) vs 2005 (Brown, etc)- 2008

The 2008 offense was better

DL: 2008 (Maybin, Odrick, etc) vs 2005 (Hali, Rice, etc)- push
LB: 2008 (Bowman, Sales, Hull) vs 2005 (Posluszny, Connor, Shaw)- 2005
DBs: 2008 (Scirrotto, Sargeant, Rubin, Davis) vs 2005 (Zemaitis, Lowry, King, Phillips) - 2005

The 2005 defense was better

K- 2008 (senior Kelly) vs 2005 (freshman Kelly) - 2008
P- 2008 (Boone) vs 2005 (Kapinos) - push
KR/PR- 2008 (Williams/Powell) vs 2005 (Lowry/Williams) - 2008

The 2008 special teams were better

Coach- 2008 (Joe Pa in the box) vs 2005 (Joe Pa on the field) - 2005

2005 coaching was better

In essence, both teams were pretty much even. However, I think the 2005 team dealt with the Big Ten being a better conference overall in 2005 compared to 2008. In 2005 we faced teams like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Purdue that were simply more talented than their current incarnations (especially Michigan). Ohio State was a bit more potent that year, with a defense that included AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, and Vernon Gholston and an offense that included Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

JB said...


You make some excellent points. I'm just going with a pure statistical comparison. However, not only did the 2008 Lions give up 20 fewer yds/game and gain 20 more yds per game thand the 2005 squad but they were also ranked more highly nationally. The 2008 squad may have played slightly lesser opponnents, however, the statistics give us reason to believe the 2008 squad was better.

WFY said...

2005 Robinson > 2008 Clark

Clark was great this year, but
Robinson willed that team to victory.

JeremyInDC said...

And MRob had swagger without being overly emotional and was able to rebound from mistakes.

Clark seemed to be a better passer, but he also had a better team around him.

If MRob was on this team, we would have won the championship, IMO.

PSUgirl said...

I think Clark is a better quarterback - but no question that Robinson was a better leader, motivator, play maker, winner, etc. I'm not saying that Clark doesn't have some of MRob's fire - it's just not as stoked.

It's really not difficult to name this past team as one of the best in the last decade - look at the past decade - not much competition there.

I, personally, think that the 2005 defense was better - but they're very similar. In fact these two teams are remarkably similar - both had players with off the field issues - both had first year starting qbs - both had Butler, Norwood and Williams...

Penn State secondaries, in my football watching career, have always had weak points - the 2005 boys were effective - but Zemaitis often went for the ball, not the play; Lowry and Phillips seemed adverse to tackling - lots of pushing and diving - but not much tackling.

I also don't recall being too pleased with PSU's win over fsu - I was relieved - but we should have crushed them - they'd had a horrible year - the fact that they won their division and the acc that year shows how down that conference was.

Special teams' play was very good this past season and the dearth of penalties was amazing (sure the bowl game was a little disappointing - but overall it was a penalty free season).

For me the big difference is emotional - I really "heart" many of the players on the 2008 squad - and, as a whole I like the team - but I love the 2005 team.

What I can't (will not) stomach is giving jp too much credit for the team(s). I just can't do it.

JB said...

It is terribly easy to hate Jay Paterno. However, he has been the architect of two top 15 offenses during the last 4 years. It seems pretty clear that he and Galen know what they are doing when it comes to running a college offense.

PSUgirl said...

we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.