Fansided.com Penn State blogger Tim Tolley from VictoryBellRings.com gives us an inside look at Penn State, and the up and down season the Nittany Lions have had, and what to expect out of Bill O’Brien’s team on Saturday.
What has been the key to Penn State turning this season around?
I think a lot of it has been the staff and players learning their roles. The team’s leading rusher(Zach Zwinak) didn’t have a carry in the opener against Ohio. The guy who started in week two against Virginia (Derek Day) has carried the ball a total of seven times in the seven games since then. Between schematic adjustments and personnel changes, the team seemed to really settle in by the time Big Ten play began. I think the team has a better feel for the coaches and the staff now knows what their players are comfortable with.
Who is the one player Nebraska fans need to worry about keeping in control on Saturday?
Keep an eye on TE Kyle Carter. He didn’t make the trip to Purdue last week but is “probable” this week for Nebraska. O’Brien will line him up wide, tight and in the backfield to find favorable matchups. He has six games with at least four catches and Penn State could use him a lot on Saturday to avoid throwing deep into the Nebraska secondary.
What is the one thing that has Penn State fans scared about this game?
I can’t speak for everyone, but the Nebraska pass defense worries me. Matt McGloin is having a strong season but he still reverts back to “old McGloin” as I call it. He’s only thrown three interceptions this year but they haven’t played a passing defense quite as strong as Nebraska’s. Also, Taylor Martinez. He scares me.
How has this team dealt with the NCAA sanctions so well?
Leadership. From head coach Bill O’Brien to the seniors on both sides of the ball, Penn State is loaded with guys who have played a ton and aren’t going to accept lying down. Every player on that roster had offers to leave over the summer, so you have a group of guys left who truly want to be Nittany Lions. I think that situation actually helped them grow, as a team. The situation over the summer could have easily went in a different direction.
Can Matt McGloin be drafted?
My gut says no. He is undersized and doesn’t have the greatest arm strength. One thing in his favor is how well he has responded to coaching. He is a different player this year than he was in the past. You can see that the game has slowed down for him and he has matured into a leader. I wouldn’t count on it, but a team taking a late-round flyer on him as a backup is a possibility at this point. Especially a team that runs a similar offense with similar terminology who could use Ryan Mallett as trade bait…
What has surprised you the most about first year head coach Bill O’Brian?
I don’t know where to start. I’ll go outside of the box and say his ability to form a tremendous college coaching staff after being away from the college game for so long. He kept two of the best position coaches in the country in DL coach Larry Johnson and LB coach Ron Vanderlinden. He then went out and got a group of guys who have all bought in and you can see improvement literally at every position. A head coach is only as good as his assistants and I think guys like Stan Hixon, Mac McWhorter and Charlie Fisher deserve a ton of praise for the job they’ve done.
By Jimmie Allen
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