September 27, 2010

This team sucks! Fire JoePa! We want Morelli! Linebacker U? Yeah right!

Joe PaternoOk, so that Morelli reference wasn't something I actually heard this past Saturday night, but I swear it was there in spirit.

I made the mistake of listening after the Penn State-Temple game to the ESPN radio post game show with Pat Boland, Keith Conlin, and Justin Kurpeikis. The mistake wasn't listening to those three guys, as they're really good and I enjoy them thoroughly. Rather, the mistake was listening to the listener/fan call-ins from the parking lots.

From what about 70 percent of the call-in listeners had to say, you would think this was a Temple team from before 2008. One caller's comment really stuck out in my mind, and is the only one I can remember verbatim:
"When was the last time we've had linebackers this bad?"
Think about that for a minute. The only thing I can think of is that that man had about three or four beers beyond the legal limit, because no sane or halfway-informed fan would pick out the linebackers' performance Saturday and make a comment like that.

There were others just as bad... The defense is absolutely terrible. Joe should seriously think about leaving after this season.

I wish I had a pad and paper (and wasn't driving in traffic) to write down some of the things fans were saying after this game.

My biggest problem with the attitude right now among a good portion of the fan base is the unabashed hypocrisy. How many decades has the Penn State fan base been clamoring--sometimes correctly, sometimes not--for Joe Paterno to play the best personnel, regardless of their youth? It goes much farther back than I have been watching this team, I can assure you.

Struggles inside the red zone? Umm... it comes with the territory of starting a true freshman quarterback.

Defense not shutting out every opponent? That's where the fans have seem to set the bar for Penn State's defense. Not even the 2005 or 2008 defenses could have done that.

Offensive line is taking too long to find cohesion? Let's see, is there any other group of players on the field that have to work in perfect unison on every single play, or risk the entire team failing on that play? I challenge any fan to find me 12 teams in Division-1A college football that doesn't have offensive line problems.

I'm not saying any of that pleases me when watching the Nittany Lions. But I'm not climbing a tall building after every tough game.

But wait, you coached Pop Warner? JV ball? You played for East Bumblef*ck Community College 15 years ago? Well, excuse me, JoePa 2.0. I should bow to your football prowess.

If there is one thing that I do take pride in, it's that I never assume to know more about football than the coaching staff. But with any high profile program like Penn State, there always seems to be a few hundred thousand other people who think they know how to fix the team.

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  1. Hmmm...drinking the Kool-aid are ya? I think people are just sick and tired of the same old average, conservative PSU team that only excels every 4 years or so. We get upset at the domination that Iowa, OSU, and usually Michigan have over us. It's just time for change!

  2. One more note.....Why can't we get have a decent O line once in a while? Is it too much to ask to have O line coaches who can put together a decent line when they don't have 5 returning seniors?

  3. @Shiloh - I just said in the post that I'm not happy about what happens. I don't drink Kool-aid. It's bad for you. But what I do drink is rational thought. If it's so easy to put together good offensive lines, then why don't more teams do it? Penn State had good offensive lines in 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2008. That's four good ones--two of those very good, if not great--in seven seasons. And they weren't always made up of five seniors.

  4. Is it too much to ask to have O line coaches who can put together a decent line when they don't have 5 returning seniors?

    I DO second that, if there is one thing that disappoints me it's watching Wisconsin & Iowa restock their O-lines every year without missing a beat.

  5. @Galen - "I DO second that, if there is one thing that disappoints me it's watching Wisconsin & Iowa restock their O-lines every year without missing a beat."

    Over the last six seasons, Penn State has won more Big Ten titles than those two teams combined, and won more games than each of those teams.

    But you would rather have a good offensive line than all that? Suit yourselves...

  6. @Mike: that's not what I'm saying, I understand that but with the amount of blue chip lineman Penn State signs every year you would think they would have a line that could manhandle a team like Temple. I mean name me the last year than Penn State had a bad defensive line, Larry Johnson just keeps turning out NFL caliber defensive lineman year in and year out, why can't that be expected when you have 3 or 4 starters returning on the o-line?

  7. @Galen - Because the O-line doesn't depend on how many blue-chippers you sign. You could have guys come in ranked as (I hate star ratings) three stars, but work great together as an offensive line.

    On the defensive line, you don't need nearly the whole-unit cohesion as on the offensive side. One bad-ass defensive end can kill an entire offensive line, but one great offensive lineman (let's say, left tackle) can't destroy the entire defensive scheme. Why do you think teams are able to move defensive linemen around from one spot to another during a game, but offensive linemen can't? Because offensive linemen are just one part of a complex machine, and if one part is missing or broken, the entire machine breaks down.

  8. Fire Tom Bradley, his Cover 3 zone defense is garbage. We need somebody who's going to blitz and showcase tight man-to-man coverage on every down. While we're at it, let's petition for Steve Jones to be removed from PSU football broadcats. The man is an incredible homer and never offers even a sliver of criticism about the team. He is a total shill for Tim Curley and the fat cats in the Athletic Department who want to jack up the seat prices for their own greedy ambitions.

  9. Come on, Tim. Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

  10. Okay, Mike...We need to clean house on the staff and hire Bill Cowher before he takes the NY Giants job next season.

  11. The only complain I have is the very conservative play calling. It seems that we always have the most conservative play calls of any team that plays every saturday. I never see any slant patterns across the middle. I understand its a young quarterback but we have the most predictible play calling ever. Running the ball on 1st and 2nd down and then asking Bolden to convert on 3rd and 8 is a little absurd. Running Stephfon Green in between the tackles is not a smart idea. I never see us run any sweeps or toss plays to the outside to utilize our speed backs

  12. Bart Simpson9/27/2010 5:53 PM

    Wow, I must have been watching a rerun of the 2006 game on Saturday. What I saw was a Penn State team dominating Temple in almost every facet, the only real problem was finishing off the drives into the end zone. The linebacker play was phenomenal. Mauti and Stupar were flying all around and Pete Massaro was a maniac. If the five field goals ended in touchdowns instead, we're looking at 42-13, with 7 of it coming as the result of a fumble.

    As for this "terrible" defense? They currently rank 8th nationally in FBS. Remove the Bama game and they are 1st in the country, that is FIRST. This defense is pretty good, despite a couple lapses here and there, but I realize other teams never have defensive lapses.

    I also lament what always appears to be only a somewhat better then average O-line every year. The analysts rarely, if ever, talk about how great Penn State's O-line is. On the other hand, they do a pretty fair job, since over the last four or five years, our offense seems to rank at or near the top of the Big Ten every year. That doesn't come with a bad O-line.

  13. Bart Simpson9/27/2010 6:01 PM

    I digress and confess that I was mistaken, the defense only ranks 18th, not 8th. I apologize for any inconvenience or heartburn. For the sake of interest though, they do rank ahead of:

    Florida State @ 21st

    Oregon @ 23rd

    Alabama @ 24th

    Florida @ 26th

    And all the Big Ten teams except Ohio State @ 6th and Wisconsin @ 16th.

    Seems to me to still be a pretty fair showing. I believe this defense will be ok.

  14. Bart Simpson9/27/2010 6:02 PM

    Oops again, and Iowa @ 1st and that is depressing given our upcoming opponent.

  15. The defense will have to come up HUGE this Saturday night if Penn State is going to come close to a win.

  16. MIke -

    @Galen - Because the O-line doesn't depend on how many blue-chippers you sign. You could have guys come in ranked as (I hate star ratings) three stars, but work great together as an offensive line.

    so you are saying the coaching isn't good enough???

  17. @Vincent - Quite the opposite. If coaching were sub-par, then how could three-star OLs like Dennis Landolt, Gerald Cadogan, or two-star like Rich Ohrnberger eventually make up a line as great as the 2008 PSU OL? Ohrnberger and Cadogan were 1st-team All-Big Ten that year.

    What about AQ Shipley? He came to Penn State as a DEFENSIVE lineman, yet won the Rimmington Trophy for best center in 2008!

  18. So they can coach up less talented kids, but the ones that are supposed to be good, they can't get anything out of?

  19. @Vincent - They have, my point is simply that offensive linemen are the most difficult recruits to gauge coming out of high school.

  20. My point is, PSU is supposed to be a big time school, big time program, they should do a better job building the Offensive line. This line is returning 3 starters, and can't open holes up against Youngstown State....

    They are going to be dominated against Iowa and OSU, like they are every year. Don't just blindly stick up for them.

  21. @Vincent - How is it that just because I'm using fact-based reasoning (as are you, too) to support my argument, I'm the one who is "blindly" sticking up for them? What haven't I said that you want me to say, beside that you're right? You're allow to make your points for why this situation is bad. But don't tell me I'm not allowed (or that I'm "blindly") to defend why this situation isn't as black-and-white as everyone is making it out to be.

    Great discussion, by the way. (seriously)

  22. Mike,
    you are right. the blindly comment may have been over the top.

    The outstanding question is this - Have the coaches done enough to develop the O-Line? I say no. I say, that over the years PSU has brought in top talent, and underachieved along the o-line. I will concede that the o-line is the hardest to develop, but it is also the most important, and the PSU coaching hasn't done enough to develop a winning O-Line.

    For example, Eric Shrive, was a highly rated OT, and is now listed as the 3rd LG. And, Chima Okoli (DLine last year) is the starting RT after injury. I blame coaching for the lack of development and depth with highly recruited players.

    Recruiting stars aren't everything, but when every top 25 team in the country wants a kid (Shrive) i am willing to accept that he is talented and should develop into a player.