Tag Archives: Wisconsin

From the Nosebleeds: The Big 12 ain’t got jack on Penn State

Ryan Jacobs

I was very impressed with Penn State’s performance in Madison this past Saturday night; it was the kind of victory that is solidifying PSU as one of the best all-around teams in the country.  Daryll Clark has been the most impressive player during this team’s rise to 2008 football glory.  Against Wisconsin, Clark proved himself as a passer more than he has all season.  Quite simply, Clark is playing lights-out football.

However, Daryll Clark is being outshined by the holier-than-thou Big 12 quarterback club.  I watched the Red River Shootout and was extremely impressed with both Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford…honestly, who wouldn’t be?  Bradford has thrown for 23 TD’s already this season and McCoy has completed 79.4% of his throws.  These huge stats continue through the rest of the conference with quarterbacks like Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell, and Todd Reesing.  How did this conference give birth to so many aerial assaults?

There are many possible answers to that question, but I think maybe poor defense has something to do with it.  Don’t get me wrong – when you have a gifted offense like many Big 12 teams do, you’re going to score some points. But you would figure that inter-conference rivalries would slow high-scoring teams.  Oklahoma State did a good job of forcing turnovers on Saturday night, intercepting Chase Daniel three times, the first time he’s been picked since the season debut against Illinois (showcasing his, well, God-like abilities during that time). But Daniel still threw for 390 yards in a close game.

Oklahoma, who Kirk Herbstreit says is one of the “nastiest defenses in the country”, got gashed for 161 yards on the ground and 277 yards through the air in their close loss to Texas.  Vice versa, Sam Bradford lit up the “best defense he has seen by far this year” for 387 yards and 5 TDs (though he did throw two picks).  These teams have great playmakers, but defense does not seem to be this conference’s strength.

In fact, Kansas, ranked 27th in the nation in scoring defense, has statistically the best defense in the conference, followed next by Oklahoma at 37.  Penn State, on the other hand, is 6th in scoring defense and 8th in total offense allowed.  I realize that Penn State racked up those stats against some pretty poor offenses, but the same goes with Kansas, Oklahoma, and the majority of the other Big 12 teams, with their early season, cream-puff schedules.  The point is simple: if you’re playing poor teams and you have a good defense, you should be able to win these games without surrendering many points or yards.  These Big 12 teams obviously don’t have those kinds of defenses.

And another thing – I keep hearing that the Big 12 is the best offensive conference in DI-A.  While this appears to be valid, many supporters of this theory have (obviously) never checked out the eye-popping stats put up by players in the non-BCS, Conference USA.  Just check last year’s numbers for guys like Tulsa’s Paul Smith (QB, 5065 passing yards, 60 Total TDs) or Central Florida’s Kevin Smith (RB, 2567 rushing yards, 30 Total TDs), or Tulane’s Matt Forte (RB, 2127 rushing yards, 23 Total TDs), or Eastern Carolina’s Chris Johnson (RB, 1423 rushing yards, 23 Total TDs).  All three of those running backs are now in the NFL and are already, or will soon make a difference for their respective teams.  This is, overwhelmingly, the best offensive conference in D-IA college football and possibly the worst defensively.

I am still impressed with the big-play Big 12 offenses, but I think Penn State deserves some serious national respect. (Editor’s note: Um, gotta say, I feel as though a national ranking of three is respect).  Penn State’s offense is extremely efficient and very balanced, which in turn leads to smaller numbers for Daryll Clark.  This may lead to a conclusion that Clark isn’t good enough for consideration in the kissing-the-Big-12-quarterback’s-ass club. (Editor’s note: From what I’ve heard, people leave these club meetings with a bad taste in their mouth). On Saturday night, however, he proved to me that he has the ability to throw with the best of them.  He is smart, makes good decisions, and can make every throw across the entire field, regardless if he is standing upright or running for his life.  His ability to make plays in the passing game, especially after things have broken down, is amazing.  His comparison to Michael Robinson is unfair, because Clark is a true passer who just happens to be able to run (and with some strength).  Dare I say he reminds me of a young Donovan McNabb at Syracuse?

Clark is enjoying extreme success in a spread offense that has weapons everywhere (7th in Scoring Offense with 45.3 pts./game), and a team that really doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses (9th in Total Offense, 8th in Total Defense, excellent special teams).  Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated (probably SI’s best known college football writer) stated, quite frankly, that he hasn’t seen an offense as dynamic and dangerous as Penn State’s since that of the 2004 Utah Utes, led by coach Urban Meyer, who broke into the BCS that year with an undefeated season.  Anybody else think Urban Meyer knows how to run a really good spread?  Now what about Penn State?

Penn State’s offense is ranked statistically with the best in the nation, but I still don’t think that many analysts realize the stats they’ve compiled.  In the first quarter of this Saturday’s Red River Shootout, a stat flashed onto the screen: Oklahoma has outscored their opponents 103-3 in the first quarter this season.  Kirk Herbstreit promptly stated, “I don’t know if we’ve seen a stat like that in college football”.  Oklahoma improved upon that stat, making it 110-6 by the end of the first quarter in that game, a very impressive stat with a 104 point difference.

Now look at Penn State.  Coming into Madison, Penn State had outscored its opponents 110-20 in the second quarter, then improved that stat to 131-27 by halftime; a very impressive stat with the same 104 point difference as Oklahoma in the first quarter. So in a word, Kirk Herbstreit is wrong.  I won’t give him that much flack, as Herbstreit seems to be a Penn State supporter himself.  In the end though, he played quarterback at Ohio State, which forever leaves a part of him in the realms of douche-bagginess. (Editor’s note: Dot that eye, bitch!).

Coming into this Saturday, I thought Oklahoma had the best all around team in the country.  But after seeing them lose and seeing Penn State’s complete dominance, I think the Nittany Lions need to be considered as the nation’s most solid team from top to bottom.  I still have much respect for Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, USC, Florida and the likes (and I realize that Penn State has a ways to go), but PSU is a force to be reckoned with.

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Previewing Penn State…and The Official 2008 Rally Post

(Editor’s note: The Pundit started writing this post at approximately the same time as the Phillies scored their first run in the 4th inning of their game against the Mets. Why is this being mentioned in a preview for Penn State football? Read on, Punditeers.)

With my NFL preview starting on Thursday night, I realized I had failed to preview another sport I hold dear to my heart: College Football (Editor’s note: Plus, the Phillies are down 7-1 right now; methinks The Pundit needs distraction). I’m not going to do a full college football preview, but I am going to highlight a few points about my favorite team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Now, I know what you’re saying: Why Pun, didn’t you go to Temple? Well, um, yes, I did, and I grew up following their basketball team very closely, still do. But football? Let me give the Andy Reid response here: “I’m happy to see that Al Golden has the team moving in the right direction, and I’ll continue to keep my eyes on them.” For now, though, I’m with Penn State, the team I’ve been watching intently since I was a wee little tike (Editor’s note: Now he’s just a wee little Pundit).

The Spread HD

Wait, did the word “spread” just appear in an article about Penn State? The same ground-and-pound, bruise-and-cruise, crush-and-rush Penn State of Joe Paterno lure? (Editor’s note: This writing is bore-and-snore). That’s right, folks, the new Penn State offense will apparently be a marriage of the new-school spread and the old-school wishbone. Expect to see receivers motioning to the backfield before the snap, both quarterback-halfback and quarterback-receiver options, and a passing attack more akin to an NFL style scheme. The idea, essentially, is to get Penn State’s playmakers, such as Derrick Williams, into mismatches against the opposing team’s defense. They certainly have skill position talent; it will be interesting to see if this new scheme can create opportunities for their ballers to excel.

(Editor’s note: The Phillies just cut a 7-1 deficit to 7-5 after 2-run HR’s by Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Apparently, this article is good luck. Could be a long article.)

Lead us to the promised land, Daryll Clark

Joe Paterno has announced that Daryll Clark will be the starter against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Editor’s note: What in God’s green earth is a Chanticleer? Who the hell fears a Chanticleer?). Doesn’t mean we won’t see Pat Devlin at some point this season, or even that both won’t occasionally share the field; remember, Clark is a good runner. It seems, though, that Clark’s ability to threaten the defense with both his arm and his legs is a slightly better fit for the new “Spread HD.”

We know the receivers got game, but who are the RB’s?

They would be Evan Royster and Stephfon Green. Royster had a solid campaign his freshman year, and just might be the surprise star of Penn State’s season. All indications are that he is a very solid starter and should be productive. Then, there’s Mr. Green, he of the 4.25 forty. Call him High Times, ’cause he’s blazin’ (Editor’s note: Yo homie, The Pundit be working maaaaad street cred right there). He looks as though he’ll be threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Just watch the video here (click on the video to the right of the page), and try not to giggle too loud (Editor’s note: Lucy, could you get the Pundit some new drawers? Yeah, he’s watching Stephfon Green highlights again…)

Now don’t get defensive, but…

…the Penn State defense may not be quite as solid as in year’s past. The suspensions to Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor at DT will hurt a unit that wasn’t really stellar last year to begin with, and recently lost Devon Still. Obviously, losing Justin King, Dan Connor and Sean Lee will hurt. Especially Connor and Lee, tackling machines who set an aggressive tone for the defense. Will A.J. Wallace step up and blanket the other team’s number one wideout? Can the defensive ends, namely stud Maurice Evans, get enough of a rush to take some of the pressure off of a secondary with question marks? The Penn State offense, in a serious role reversal, may have to carry the defense this year. (Editor’s note: The Pun loves role reversals – he’s a real 21st century guy).

Should I stay or should I go now?

The Pundit highly doubts Joe Paterno is all that concerned with this question (Editor’s note: Or The Clash, for that matter). But if Penn State falters, is it time for Joe to step down? Many question whether or not he’s lost a bit of control over the program, especially given Penn State’s recent player transgressions. And he has certainly loosened his reins on game planning; one has to wonder if he’s become a figurehead, much like Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. The Pundit, for one, thinks that Joe Paterno, the most important figure Penn State football has ever had, should be carted to the field each week on a golden throne. And I also think that Paterno should delegate – extensively – from that throne.

(Editor’s note: Jimmy Rollins just hit an RBI single to close the gap to 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth. Keep up the rally writing, Pun.)

Oh, right. There are other teams to consider.

So, apparently Ohio State is good this year. Really good. The October 25th game, in Columbus, could be a match-up that determines the Big East champion. If, that is, Penn State can survive a late September / early October juggernaut of a schedule, that includes games against Illinois, Purdue (away), Wisconsin (away), and Michigan, the mystery of the Big Ten this year. Illinois still has QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn, and a better defense then some might think. Their running game, last year’s strength, is this year’s mystery, and may determine their fate. Wisconsin brings back 19 starters, and should run the ball effectively with P.J. Hill and solid RB depth. Oh, and Travis Beckum, their ridiculous All-American tight end, should only improve. Ohio State has my preseason pick for the Heisman, Beanie Wells, and enough talent to make Pete Carroll jealous. I firmly believe that these three teams should be the only three that threatens PSU this year, unless they underachieve, which they are fully capable of doing.

(Editor’s note: Eric Bruntlett just tied the game with a two-out, bottom of the 9th double. Carlos Ruiz steps to the plate, with the chance of making this, as The Pundit is calling it, The Official Rally Post. Ohhhhh baby, this is getting good).

So what’s gonna happen, Pundit?

State should coast against Coastal Carolina (Editor’s note: Ugggghhhh). Don’t give a dam about Oregon State, we’ve got a few more bullets in our holster. Syracuse? Oh brother. Temple? Well, um, you know they’ll come out swinging. (Editor’s note: Paging Mr. Reid). Then its Illinois, a game that I am scared of. Juice Williams is the type of player who can beat a team all on his lonesome; he did it last year to Ohio State. And if Illinois beats Missouri in their opener, they will have a lot of confidence coming into their meeting with Penn State. That being said, Beaver Stadium can quickly shake any team’s confidence. Plus, I don’t believe Illinois will beat Missouri – they have a lot to prove this year. Penn State in a scorefest. (Editor’s note: I could use more “scorefests” in my life) Purdue won’t be easy, but they should survive them. Wisconsin is a tough call. I think they’ll run the ball on Penn State, control the clock, and keep the ball out of the hands of the Penn State offense. Much as it pains me to say it, I think they’ll beat State in a hard-fought redemption game. (Editor’s note: Blasphemy!) Then, a huge test against Michigan. Wait, Michigan? That’s right, for a slew of reasons. For one, how will Penn State respond to their first loss? Will they be looking ahead to Ohio State? Not to mention that Michigan still has talent, and won’t roll over. This will be the character game of Penn State’s season, and I think they will respond, winning with a strong defensive performance after their disappointing showing against Wisconsin. Then, to Ohio State. I don’t think PSU can beat them in their house, unless something crazy happens. Too much talent for the damn Buckeyes, and just enough questions for Penn State. I’m afraid that, with the conference championship out of reach after losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State, they’ll lose focus and drop their game against Iowa. I don’t think, in any other circumstance, that this team could lose to Iowa, but in this case, with the Chip basically out of reach, they come out flat in a heart breaker for Penn State fans. They’ll regain their focus and win their last two, getting into a bowl, but their season will end with the bittersweet aftertaste of “what might have been”. Fact is, I feel as though this team is just a few key components away from claiming the Big Ten, and if they avoid Michigan and Iowa letdowns, could deliver a stellar showing. Should be an exciting and intriguing season in Happy Valley.

(Editor’s note: So, despite the fact that The Pundit is devoid of new content, and wanted this post to be finished hours ago, he refuses to finish it until the Phillies game is over for fear of ending its previous luck. He is steadfastly holding to the notion that if the Phillies win, this will become their Official 2008 Rally Post. Despite the fact that it is about Penn State Football. So, he continues to edit and add links and slightly modify filler sentences. Aaargghhh. Top of the 12th. Let’s go, boys!)

(Editor’s note: Top of the 13th. The Pundit refueses to end the post and watch the game. He hasn’t eaten in about 9 hours. He just exclaimed his love for swivel chairs. He’ll only turn around after hearing what is happening – he refuses to simply watch the game. He’s friggin’ batty, if you ask me. This is the classic case of a ridiculous fan thinking that they can somehow influence the result of a game by performing a rite of superstition. Holy shit, T-Mac just made a Penn State reference on the broadcast – something about Wheels’ notebook. It’s a sign, people. Go Phils!)

(Editor’s note: THE PHILLIES WIN!!! WHAT A GAME!!! They finally cap their magical comeback on a one out, bases load hit to center field by Chris Coste. A strange finish to the game. Shane Victorino started the inning with a triple. The Mets proceeded to intentionally walk the next two Phillies because the Phillies were out of bench players and had to send Brett Myers up to the plate. Charlie Manuel specifically instructed Myers not to swing so that he wouldn’t potentially hit into a double play. Myers was rung up, and the Coste shot would have likely been caught had Myers hit into a double play. As it was, Beltran was playing in and wouldn’t have had a play at the plate even had he been able to catch it. A crazy game with multiple moments of strange baseball strategy. Plus, hoping to avoid watching the game, The Pundit stumbled upon this article. Look where this schmuck predicts Penn State to finish! So, The Pundit can finally end his Penn State Preview. And, apparently, the Official 2008 Rally Post. He’s mumbling something about how this better be a great omen for PSU this year. Lucy, peel him out of the swivel chair, its time to go home.)

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