Roar Lions Roundtable: Hypothetical Over/Unders for 2019 - Part One

By Matthew Filipovits on April 2, 2019 at 8:10 am
Oct 13, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver KJ Hamler (1) warms up prior to the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Nittany Lions are still months away from taking the field, but that doesn't mean we can't speculate on what might happen this fall. Our staff took a look at some hypothetical over/under lines whose outcomes could shape the 2019 season.

O/U 9.5 Starts for Tommy Stevens

Michael Stanley: Under. If Stevens can't stay healthy with a backup's worth of snaps, the safe bet is another injury. #CliffordForHeisman

Craig Fritz: Under. I'm going under just due to Stevens' injury history. It would not at all surprise me if he missed multiple games. 

Matt de Bear: Over. This comes with the caveat that his foot injury continues to heal, but it's tough to imagine Stevens opted to stick around and not be the guy.

Bill DiFilippo: Over. I anticipate Tommy Stevens winning the job and I have an awfully hard time imagining, barring disaster, Sean Clifford taking over.

Nick Polak: Over. I think the common assumption among Penn State fans is that we'll see Sean Clifford regardless of who starts on day one due to the fact that Stevens is injury-prone. However, that is discounting the fact that Stevens will finally be playing the most protected position on the field. I think Stevens starts day one and never looks back.

Matt Filipovits: Over. I think Stevens will be able to stay healthy now that he'll be out of harms way more often than not. 

O/U 1.5 Return Touchdowns

Michael Stanley: Over. Hamler is as electric as any playmaker in the country and plenty capable of taking a few to the house.

Craig Fritz: Under. If Hamler handled all of the return duties, I'd probably go over, but with an increased role on offense, his special teams chances will fall. 

Matt de Bear: Over. New special teams coordinator Joe Lorig has to be drooling at the prospect of getting to work with KJ Hamler.

Bill DiFilippo: Under. It's just so hard to predict something as random as return touchdowns, plus with a new special teams coach in tow (even though he is considered a pretty good one), who knows.

Nick Polak: Under. For as disappointing as DeAndre Thompkins was as a receiver as a senior, he was an excellent punt returner. While it sounds like KJ Hamler will be given every chance to win both returner jobs, I don't see that happening with the need for him to be playing consistently on offense. HOWEVER, if Micah Parsons returns kicks I change my vote to Over because he'll have 15 return touchdowns.

Matt Filipovits: Over. Penn State has the right guys to make these kinds of plays and based on Joe Lorig's track record, he'll put them in position to do so.

O/U 750 Receiving Yards for Justin Shorter

Michael Stanley: Over. Everyone in the program praised Shorter's progress late last season and a fully healthy Shorter is capable of dominating the Big 10.

Craig Fritz: Under. Since 2015, PSU has had just one player per season top the 750 receiving yard mark. I think Shorter will have an excellent year, but something like 600 yards seems more likely.

Matt de Bear: Under. Shorter is the heir apparent out wide for the Lions, but I have a hard time seeing him being that prolific in his first full season of college action.

Bill DiFilippo: Under. That's quite the number to put on someone who barely played last season. Plus with three of the team's top-five receivers from last season back (K.J. Hamler, Pat Friermuth, Jahan Dotson), Shorter putting up those numbers would require leaping over some really talented dudes.

Nick Polak: Under. I think Shorter has a breakout season of sorts, but there are plenty of weapons on the Penn State offense, and most of them are inexperienced. That combination likely means the production will be mostly evenly split.

Matt Filipovits: Over. It's very possible that Shorter could have two huge games against Idaho and Buffalo and then need only about 500 yards in Big Ten play to reach this number.

O/U 110 tackles for Micah Parsons

Michael Stanley: Over. If Parsons can rack up 83 tackles as a backup with zero experience at linebacker, a more seasoned Parsons with starter-level snaps can absolutely explode.

Craig Fritz: Under. I again went with under here just because 110 is a huge number, there is a ton of talent on this team, and Penn State rotates a lot at LB.

Matt de Bear: Over. In part-time duty last year he got credit for 83. If he's healthy, he will blow that number away in 2019.

Bill DiFilippo: Under. The last Penn State player to have at least 110 tackles was Mike Hull in 2014. Parsons is wonderful, but that's ... a lot.

Nick Polak: Over. Micah Parsons is a freak of nature. Barring garbage time, I have a hard time seeing him taking many snaps off in 2019.

Matt Filipovits: Over. Parsons had 80+ tackles while playing less than half of all defensive snaps last season. This one seems like a lock to me.

O/U 70 carries for the No. 2 Running Back

Michael Stanley: Over. The staff has raved about both Slade and Brown so it'll be tough to keep either one on the bench for too long.

Craig Fritz: Over. Ricky Slade is the clear No. 1, but he's a totally different type of back than Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders who each had 200+ carries as starters. Look for Slade to be more in the 150 carry range with 50-ish receptions. The next back will have about 80 carries.

Matt de Bear: Over. For the first time since 2014, there is no true No. 1 on the depth chart. Ricky Slade and Journey Brown are duking it out for the top spot, and both figure to get plenty of action this season.

Bill DiFilippo: Over. Looking at the last two years, the RB2 hasn't picked up a ton of carries, as the RB1 and QB usually do the lion's share of toting the rock. However, with no clear-cut RB1, why not spread the love?

Nick Polak: Over. By all indications, the battle for top dog in the backfield is a very close race between Ricky Slade and Journey Brown. Even if Slade wins the job as expected, the staff knows they have a ton of talent at the position, so Brown, Noah Cain, or whoever else takes the No. 2 role should get plenty of carries.

Matt Filipovits: Under. I think the Nittany Lions will spread it around too much for one guy to get that many. I expect Slade to get the bulk of the snaps and Brown, Holmes, Cain, and even Ford to split the snaps too often for one guy to hit 70.

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow!

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