October 18, 2010
Posted by Joe Chuba
Steve Jones analyses the state of Penn State football and previews the upcoming road-trip to Minnesota…
It was an important bye week for the Nittany Lion football team to heal up and evaluate personnel. Penn State is 3-3 and the Nittany Lions did not play well in the three losses. So Joe Paterno opened up all of the spots on the football team. Certain people are playing well and, let’s face it, through performance their jobs were secured. Everyone had a chance to make the first team. Now it is time to settle down, play with passion and attack the second half of the season.
They will have to go the rest of the way without Nick Sukay at safety. He tore a pectoral muscle in the loss to Illinois and he is done for the year. Sukay had really improved with three interceptions and would have been one of the guys who did not have to fight for his spot. Malcolm Willis and Andrew Dailey will step into that spot.
Now, I want to address the panic among some fans. Some fans have been vocal in their displeasure with the 3-3 season so far and I understand because as I stated earlier Penn State did not play well in the three losses. I am not going to go through the youth and the injuries with this team. There is no need for that here. I want to address the panic among some and how some want change.
If this was 2005 and the team was 3-3 with the losses they suffered I could understand it. The program was 3-9 in 2003 and 4-7 in 2004… thus a 3-3 in 2005 would have indicated things were stagnating. Instead this is a program that has won 51 games in the previous five seasons… they are the only Big Ten team to win four of their last five bowl games… they have won two Big Ten titles in the last five seasons… they have gone to two BCS games in the last five seasons… they have the seventh best record in college football in the last five seasons… there are 112 programs behind them in the last five seasons… only Ohio State has a better Big Ten record in the last five seasons.
In a world of “what have you done for me lately”… ummmm… that IS what they have done for you lately!
Joe Paterno’s career winning percentage is 74.8%... his winning percentage in the last five seasons is 80%.
Now does that ease the pain of a 3-3 start… no… each season is its own entity… but my point is that this staff has repeatedly produced winning teams and not just over a long period time but in the very recent past. The 3-3 start is the recent exception and obviously far from the recent norm.
Minnesota made its change Sunday. Tim Brewster was fired after going 15-30. Offensive coordinator Jeff Horton takes over for the rest of the season.
Adam Weber is an excellent quarterback and they can score. The problem is they have given up 414 yards per game including 201 yards per game rushing. More importantly they give up 32 points per game.
It is an odd mix statistically. Most 1-6 teams are minus 5-10 in giveaway/takeaway. Minnesota is actually a plus four. In fact, Minnesota has not given up a single point after turning the football over this season. Meanwhile they have scored 45 points after takeaways. That is unbelievable for a 1-6 team.
Big games come in all forms… well this is a big game for both teams Saturday. The Nittany Lions need to set the tone for the second half of the regular season.
Penn State leads the series 7-4
They are 3-2 in games at Minnesota
Last season the Nittany Lions won 20-0
This will be the first visit to Minnesota’s new outdoor field - TCF Bank Stadium
Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV
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