I think I just power-charged my Passion Bucket. My good friend, Juleser, just sent me a link to Stewart Mandel's new column where he predictably poo-poos Penn State's chances because the Lions have only eight returning starters from the 2008 Campaign.
The coaches are also high on Penn State, which they voted No. 8 -- the same spot where the 11-2 Nittany Lions finished last season. This, too, seems puzzling considering Penn State returns just eight -- repeat, eight -- starters.
Of course, he then goes an openly admits that this count of only 8 returning starters doesn't include Sean Lee.
Mind you, that number does not include star LB Sean Lee, who missed last season to injury, but still, one would think JoePa's team has some rebuilding to do as well.
Ok, so we are already up to 9 starters. That was quick. On offense it is clear that the returning starters are:
I would think Shuler will start for the Lions this year, however, would anyone be uncomfortable with Quarless winning the starting role? Especially as Quarless is a guy who has played a fair amount but simply has had a hard time getting out of the doghouse?
Maybe Mandel was assuming that Mike Mauti would start this year (before the knee injury) which would mean that Hull would sit so PSU would be down another "Starting" player? Regardless, I count at least 10 players who either started last year or who have been starters in the past. Plus, Brackett and Zug have both gotten playing time in the past and the only reason they didn't start is because they were behind three of the top four WRs to ever play at Penn State.
Mr. Mandel clearly got some of his facts wrong, however, perhaps the true question he hamfistedly-butchered was: Whether Penn State has gotten to the point where they can reload as opposed to rebuild? This is the central theme of this year. Has the recruiting and excitement since 2005 put Penn State back in a position where they can lose 10 starters and still be a legitimate contender for the National Title? Or, has PSU risen to a level where they will become lost in the white noise of 7-9 win seasons and only rise up every three or four years to bid for the title? 2009 will be the answer to that question. If the Lions win the Big Ten for a second straight year (and 3 out of the last 5) and are in the hunt for a national title, we can stop talking about "a resurgent" PSU rising from the dead and start talking about the Lions consistently being on the prowl for National Titles.
GO STATE! BEAT EXPECTATIONS!