September 01, 2011
Posted by Joe Chuba
Nittany Lion play-by-play man Steve Jones on how the offseason went for Penn State, and how the Nittany Lions will begin at each position. Steve also gives his preview of Indiana State.
The opener for the Nittany Lions will be Saturday at Beaver Stadium as Penn State hosts Indiana State.
It was a very good pre-season for Penn State in part because the Nittany Lions stayed healthy.
Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin are light years ahead of where they were a year ago at this time. The competition has been close and virtually nothing seems to separate them. They both lead and handle the position with confidence.
Silas Redd has a chance to be a game-breaker at tailback. Brandon Beachum has had a strong pre-season, and will not only give them a valuable one-two punch, he will also be invaluable in short yardage and around the goal line. Michael Zordich was a leader in the pre-season, and the change up at the fullback spot with Joe Suhey continues to be a strength.
The wideouts are a veteran group lead by Derek Moye who will be one of the top targets in the Big Ten. Justin Brown and Devon Smith both were very good in the pre-season, while Shawney Kersey has been able to work himself into the rotation. Andrew Szczerba has returned at tight end, and Kevin Haplea had a very good pre-season.
Games will obviously be won up front. Joe Paterno challenged the offensive line in the pre-season. Chima Okoli can be one of the top tackles in the Big Ten. Quinn Barham has returned on the left side and will be pushed by Mike Farrell. Johnnie Troutman and D’Oen’tae Pannell are the guards with John Urschel right there in the mix and Matt Stankiewitch anchoring the line at center.
The defense needs to get back to the 2004-2009 level. Last season Penn State was 5-0 when holding opponents to 21 points or less. It starts up front with Jack Crawford, Eric Lattimore, Sean Stanley, C.J. Olanyian, and Kyle Baublitz at the ends. Inside Jordan Hill had a really good pre-season and he is joined by Devon Still, James Terry, and DaQuan Jones. They need to pressure the quarterback, and to set up the linebackers.
The linebackers are deep and talented. Glenn Carson anchors the middle with Khairi Fortt behind him. Michael Mauti stays on the outside with Gerald Hodges. Nate Stupar and Mike Hull will see plenty of time.
The secondary has D’Anton Lynn at one corner. He could be among the better ones in the Big Ten. On the other side it is Chaz Powell and Stephon Morris. Drew Astorino and Nick Sukay had very good pre-seasons while Malcolm Willis will certainly get time.
Alex Butterworth will punt while Evan Lewis and Sam Ficken will handle kicking duties. The return game has a chance to be very good.
Indiana State is a typical FCS program in that they have plenty of FBS transfers players. Quarterback Ronnie Fouch started eight games at Washington when Jake Locker was hurt. Tight end Chris Izbicki left Washington as well, and wide receiver Donald Spencer moved from Michigan State to Terre Haute. In their final scrimmage though the quarterbacks were sacked 14 times. After some lean seasons Indiana State went 6-5 last year.
It is finally upon us… the 2011 season in a revamped Big Ten that now has divisions and a championship game.
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Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV
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