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Member since 01 August 2016 | Blog

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Comment 24 Mar 2017

Few things,

1. The statement regarding players was in the context of a year two bump. Keep that in mind.

2. Yes Mahon and Bates were effective at left tackle. But, for their to be a year two bump, we need more from that position. From what I saw, I think both players have a lower than ideal ceiling at THAT position. Mahon was much better on the right side when given the opportunity. Likewise, I think Bates is better served inside. Both could be 1st team all Big Ten at those positions. That leaves left tackle open. Maybe Fries isn't ready but we won't know without taking a risk.

3. I never advocated for a blocking tight end but rather a tight end that can block. Gesicki has a role and maybe he is the third receiver with another tight end starting as well.

4. We don't challenge the entire field because we can't with the offense as configured. Opposing defenses don't even worry about the middle third in the passing game because we don't attack is by design. Even the deep passing game has significant limitations. Look at the deep throws, they are almost always thrown away from the safety when the DB is face guarding the receiver. If the safety is present or the DB is looking back, they don't throw the ball.

5. Yes, some comes from experience, some comes from getting more talented players on the field regardless of experience. Experience is great, however, at some point, talent outweighs experience.

I for one don't think State is ready to really compete for a title for another year which makes this a transition year. Even if it means benching a returning starter, you get the best players on the field now, not later.

Comment 23 Mar 2017

A few spots to be sure. It wouldn't shock me if we see a shift at all five positions up front. Many returning starters likely to shift to new positions. I like the potential of Fries, Bates, McGovern/Menet, Gonzalez and Mahon/Menet from left to right. Other than Godwin, the receivers continue to disappoint in one way or the other. Blacknall could be a beast with improved consistency but I expect Polk to crack the starting lineup opposite. The question will be a third receiver or second tight end, one that can block. Hoping for the later. State needs an improved run pass option game and a passing game that can challenge the entire field. Last year's offense worked for year one, I don't see it working as is against better defenses in year two. "You're gonna get better or you're gonna get worse, but you're not gonna stay the same." and I don't think they can get better as is.

Comment 23 Mar 2017

1. Who will start at center? - Given that McGovern appears to the first on the move, he is the man, but, Bates and Menet could play a role at some point.

2. How Will the Defense Deal With the Loss of Key Contributors? - I think they will be just fine in the end. Overall, I expect the defense to be improved at all three levels. It just might take a little bit.

3. Should The Offense Be Expected to Take Another Step Forward? - We'll see but I am going with no. I can envision a scenario where the offense takes a step forward but without significant improvement in the passing game, it is hard to see them replicating last year's success much less improving and I don't see it without a change at QB and improved play at receiver.

4. How Will The Freshmen who Enrolled Early Contribute? It wouldn't shock me if Wade steps into the starting lineup at safety, possibly pushing Allen from free to his future NFL position at strong safety. We'll see about Hamler's injury but I have him tagged as an early contributor with Godwin gone.

Comment 14 Mar 2017

Last year's Michigan State team reminded me of the 00/01 teams. They weren't as bad as people think. They gave most teams a game well into fourth and really came on when they settled on Lewerk at QB.

Comment 14 Mar 2017

One of the many things sports writers tend to consistently over-value is number of returning starters. Experience is another. It isn't all that uncommon for new starters to upgrade positions from day one. They have a manageable schedule early ahead of a four game stretches against Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. None of them look particularly daunting this year. The pieces are in place for a bounce back. Don't be shocked if Michigan State is bowl eligible by the time State pays a visit to East Lansing. They very well could be undefeated.

For question two, Purdue is the obvious choice. It is difficult to see Minnesota taking a step forward. The Gophers have regretting firing Glen Mason every day since they let him go and will continue to regret it, at least for a couple of more years. Indiana is going to take a huge step back on offense. It could be as bad as what we saw when Bill O'Brien left and John Donovan took over. Go with Purdue. They won't win a lot this year but certainly could win a few more games.

As for Rutgers and Ohio State, don't over think this, Rutgers will win more than Ohio State loses.

Comment 10 Mar 2017

I for one wasn't surprised with the rise of State. We could have been looking at ten win seasons in 14 and 15 had Franklin not messed up the offensive staff by bringing Donovan with him from Vandy. I don't know if Sparty counts but they are set up for a bounce back with their schedule. If they can get through Notre Dame, Iowa and Michigan back to back to back, they might be undefeated when State shows up in November. 

Speaking of Michigan, I actually do think Michigan is going to fall of the cliff, but mostly because they were the most over-rated team in the country the last two years. However, Harbaugh is too good of a coach for that team to crash and burn like Sparty did last year.  Given their schedule, 7 and 5, maybe 6 and 6 is a reasonable low. And no, the West will not compete with the East. They might do it one year out of five. 

Comment 05 Mar 2017

The QB position is the biggest question mark on offense going into spring camp. Who will win this year's competition is anyone's guess, however we really need improved play at that position (among others) to legitimately challenge for a national championship. Beyond Trace, we have a lot of unknowns. We have seen glimpses of what Stevens can do but I am concerned about why he didn't win the job last year. Zembiec was coming off of an injury last year preventing a three way competition. Clifford is coming off of an injury this year but is expected to be good to go by summer hopefully allowing a four way competition because improvement is critical at that position with Chris Godwin having departed, Gesicki and Blacknall entering their final year and more importantly, the likelihood departure of Moorhead and Barkley, last year's offensive MVPs.  

Comment 27 Feb 2017

You are mistaken, I love Trace. He was exactly what this team needed in 2016. That was 2016 however. If the team is to take the next step and compete for a title in 2017 or 18 I think we need a higher ceiling.

Comment 27 Feb 2017

McGovern, Cothran and Bowen will probably win starting jobs but I don't think they are locks by any stretch and if they have an open competition for the QB position, and I think they will, I don't think Trace will be the starter.

Comment 26 Feb 2017

This of course assumes every returning starter remains in that role. I don't think that will be the case. Furthermore, I see some players shuffling positions on both sides of the ball. All in all, I could see as few as 4 returning starters on offense and 6 on defense. Maybe less when you account for shifting positions. However, even those that do not win starting jobs will play key roles on the team which means better depth, and that is the exact scenario I see playing out. Barkley, Gesicki, Bates, Allen, Ried, Haley, Cabinda, Gilliken and maybe Blacknall are the only players that likely can't be beaten out by another player on the roster. They won't be the only returning starters, some of them may not start in the same spot, and some that lose starting jobs will regain them due to performance or injury but it is safe to say there will be multiple competitions during spring and summer. As Joe said, "You're gonna get better or you're gonna get worse, but you're not gonna stay the same." 

Comment 08 Feb 2017

I am sorry if you disagree. We'll see come September. If you think they are content with Trace, you are the one who is crazy.

Comment 06 Feb 2017

Here are some fearless predictions regarding the recruiting class and elsewhere.

Get ready we will see an open competition for QB this spring and a true four way QB competition this summer between Stevens, Clifford, Zembiec and McSorley, assuming Clifford is healthy. Don't be shocked if Clifford, Stevens or Zembiec is the starter come day one.

I think Wade will slide into a starting role in the secondary pushing Marcus Allen to strong safety which gives the Lions the best secondary in the country.

Look for KJ Hamler to push DaeShawn Hamilton for a starting job during the spring and into summer while Irvin Charles or Juwan Johnson replace Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall returns to form starting 12 games.

Comment 03 Jan 2017

If you focus on Butler's early season work, he was a poor DC at Penn State. However, there were signs he was getting it throughout the season and the light turned on at Wisconsin. That game wasn't as close as the score. The D was a huge part of it. Hack was the rest.

Comment 03 Jan 2017

That is a very good point on Brent Pry. I don't know. But Tom Bradley didn't have any prior to the 2006 season when they used an odd front for a good portion of the season with 31, 20, 40 and 45 at linebacker. Tim Shaw was a quasi end on a lot of plays. But, I do think we have recruited for a base 3-4 the last few years. Honestly, a 3-4 with a 1 Technique nose isn't that much different from some 4-3 alignments.

Comment 03 Jan 2017

I think your understanding of a 3-4 is limited. Other than Sickels (assuming he returns) and Buckholz, who both project to pas rushing 3-4 ends the current crop of ends project rather nicely to outside linebacker including several redshirt and incoming freshmen. You don't need a space eating 0 technique to effectively run a 3-4. There are plenty of teams that successfully use a 1 technique nose in an odd front and State has several of them with another coming in and he could be a 0 if they wanted him to be. The other tackles easily project to ends. Look at the roster. If they were to switch to a 3-4 with 1 technique nose tackle, they go four deep across the entire front seven and like most teams that use that type of alignment, the nickle and dime packages use more or less even fronts.

Comment 03 Jan 2017

Sorry but yest it does. If you don't see it, I really don't know what to say that wouldn't come off as insulting so I won't respond. And no, I do not think the line is set. We could see big changes on the horizon. Other than Bates, I don't think anyone has a starting job locked down, and Bates could move to center. 

Comment 02 Jan 2017

I am ready for spring ball. I fully expect a few changes in the pipe. Possibly a shift in defensive schemes to a flexible 3-4 similar to the one Alabama uses. The types of players they are recruiting and the current roster screams 3-4.  Should be interesting to see how the QB competition goes, and yeah, I do expect the position to be up for grabs. It has to be if this team is to compete for a title next year. The O-line might be in a state of flux heading into summer.