Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not So Happey Valley: Penn State Football Preview

It's true. This offseason, you were likely to find as many stories about Penn State football players in the blotter as in the sports section. Thankfully for Nittany Lion fans, football season is here and players once again have an outlet for all their rage (hitting each other with pads on, rather than pulling knives and making terrorist threats at each other). The product that the fighting JoePa's put on the field this year will surely get Penn State some good press too.

Led by possibly the most dynamic receiving core in the Big Ten and a group of electrifying running backs, Penn State is rolling out their offense with their self-titled "Spread HD" in 2008. RS Junior Daryll Clark's long wait is finally over as he is the annointed starting Quarterback. Considered a throwback to the Michael Robinson days of three years ago, Clark carries the burden of trying to live up to the massive expectations of Lion faithful. Don't be disappointed when he doesn't folks. Anthony Morelli didn't exactly light up the scoreboard the past two years, and Clark couldn't beat him out. Also, Robinson didn't exactly excel his first year on the job. It was his second year as a starter when he led PSU to the Orange Bowl.

Clark will have an arsenal of weapons at his disposal though. Evan Royster and Stephon Green, 4.2 speed and all, will provide a fierce 1-2 punch out of the backfield. And as I said before, the receivers may be the best group in all of the Big Ten. Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood combine the speed and big play ability that will ignite the famously rowdy student section in Happy Valley.

However, the fans won't have nearly as much to cheer for on the defensive side of the football this year. With the loss of Sean Lee to a season ending ACL injury, the string of dominant linebackers at "Linebacker U" could be in trouble. The D-line will be thin after Paterno kicked two linemen off the team this summer due to the aforementioned legal troubles, but DE Maurice Evans is a certifiable beast. Expect him to throw around O-lineman like rag dolls and draw double-teams all year. The secondary is experienced and will be the strength of the defense. Lead by Anthony "Did you say something to my woman? Get 'em boys!" Scirrotto, the Nittany Lion secondary should feature two senior safeties and three potential corners with at least 3 years in the program.

So where do the fighting (literally) Nittany Lions figure into the Big Ten race? Well, while I think the Nittany Lions may be good, when you actually name your own offense, as Jay Paterno did with the "Spread HD", you're asking for trouble. Several things come to mind when I hear about the "Spread HD"...
(Receivers)"Hung (out to) Dry"
"Huge Dud"
"Horribly Deficient"
"(I was) High...Definitely (when thinking of this)"

Yep, Jay Paterno just jinxed the shit out of his offense. Look for Clark to struggle, the defense to take a step back from 2007, and Joe Paterno to make approximately 6,427 sarcastic responses to questions about his retirement. He didn't become the best quote in the Big Ten without practice folks. Penn State will lose 2 games they aren't supposed to, win 1 that they shouldn't, and finish 4th in the Big Ten. Joe Pa will not retire, and Happy Valley won't be so happy during another loooong, long off-season.

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