Tag Archives: Brandon Beachum

Tuesday Cup of Joe: The Finale

Joe Paterno has wrapped up his weekly teleconfernece for the final time in 2009. Here’s the news you need to know headed into the finale against Michigan State where the Nittany Lions could cap a 10-2 season and possibly wrap up a BCS at-large berth.

THE BIG NEWS: Wide receiver Chaz Powell is unlikely to play this weekend with his sprained AC joint suffered against Indiana.

THE BIG NEWS II: DeOn’Tae Pannell will remain at guard for the finale and also the bowl game.

THE BIG NEWS III: Freshman wide receiver Devon Smith hasn’t been seen much because he’s been cutting classes. Paterno said “He’s decided he’s here to get an education,” and added that “He’s OK, he’s got a long way to go to grow up.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Joe is pleased with tight end Andrew Quarless and they should get him the ball more.
  • The staff has been trying to get Kevin Newsome in more during the season, but it just hasn’t worked out much. “You hate to get out of style, and the Wildcat is the style now,” per Joe. “I just want to be stylish and we stick the Wildcat in there once in a while.”
  • Opposing defenses vs. the PSU wideouts has been good, “it’s a question of what they’re doing and giving us more of a chance to run the football.”
  • Joe likes Cousins running the offense at Michigan State. Said he’s a good quarterback and it’s an interesting question stacking him up against the other QBs.
  • Joe thinks the kicking game will determine how this game shakes out. Says that Michigan State has “excellent” special teams.
  • Rivalry with MSU: “We got an hour and a half of this press conference to answer that,” Joe remarks. Joe says it depends on the year how the rivalry between the two of them is. Joe says that there are other rivalries in the Big Ten that are better, but he thinks this could turn into a good one in due time. He kind of hints here that PSU still isn’t welcome in the Big Ten
  • No changes to punt return team.
  • Joe isn’t sure who will replace Beachum on special teams.
  • Joe did not talk to the team about a possible BCS bowl berth.
  • There have been no discussions between Paterno and linebacker Navorro Bowman about Bowman possibly leaving for the NFL.
  • Royster is a good all around back according to Joe…says he was on Royster for not playing with as much fire as he had before earlier in the season.
  • Joe says now there are more responsibilities for the admin to consider, namely 29 teams they have to find money to take care of expenses for.  “I think the University is doing the best it can. What exactly are specifics, I don’t know. All I’ve ever said to Curley is  “you’re doing one heck of a job.”  Joe says compared to other schools PSU is probably charging less than some of the Big Ten schools ticket wise. He said: “They’ve got to do something, or we’ve got to cut back sports, and we don’t want to do that.”
  • Michigan State is better than its 6-5 record indicates according to Joe and they are on the verge of being a really good football team but he hopes they are 10 days away from becoming such.
  • Joe things the team is playing consistent football but adds he wishes they would have won another game or two.

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Tuesday Cup of Joe: Chi-town edition

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has concluded his weekly chit-chat with beat reporters. Here’s the info you need.

THE BIG NEWS: Running back Stephfon Green is “probably” out again this week against Northwestern.

THE BIG NEWS II: Joe says he is somewhat worried about the leadership of older players because they have had so few “big games”…but Joe says when he sees the interaction at practice and the prep for the week he thinks they can be really good sometimes. He said he felt that way going into Michigan.

THE BIG NEWS PART III: “Each game I am more worried about the kicking game,” says Joe. That coming after another punt was blocked this past weekend.

THE BIG NEWS PART IV: It’s McCormick and Poti for the RT spot, meanwhile DeOn’Tae Pannell has been moved over to LT to back up Dennis Landolt. Joe said Pannell is getting healthier and McCormick will be OK.

JOE-SPEAK: Joe said it’s a question of “IF” they can beat Northwestern, not who they have the week after. OK, sir.

JOE SPEAK II: “Haven’t got the slightest idea,” about the Northwestern defense.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Joe says Navorro Bowman is fine.
  • The team is getting to where it needs to be for the stretch run (they are getting very, very warm right now. Very warm)
  • Joe noticed Ron Vanderlinden when he was Pat Fitzgerald’s linebacker coach at Northwestern. “I wondered who was coaching the linebackers” Joe said referring to the way Fitz played.
  • Joe doesn’t think that Daryll Clark has gotten as much credit as he deserves, and he says the same for Jared Odrick and Navorro Bowman. (Isn’t it the school’s responsibility to pimp its players? There has been plenty written about all three of those guys the last two years. Put out some promotional work…trust me, everyone on the team understands there are players who are better than they are.)
  • Northwestern is somewhat of a trap game. Joe says they are totally focused on the Wildcats and not thinking of anyone else at this point.
  • About JC transfers, Joe says they look for kids who will go to class and do well there, he said both Poti and McCormick have done that, and he cited Rich Mauti as a good example of how JC transfers work.
  • Quarless was spoiled, but he is turning the corner.
  • Joe says that Zug has gotten more opportunities and has done well. Said that people are “scared to death” of Powell and Moye, leaving Zug open.
  • Mike Kafka “knows what the game is all about,” says Joe, adding he’s been there for a while.
  • Brandon Beachum understands his role and the running game. Joe added he was a great linebacker in HS. Don’t get any wise ideas old man.
  • You’ve got to be careful with back-to-back road trips. Joe said the two previous ones haven’t been as long…note that last week, the flight from State College to Detroit is very easy. Takes maybe an hour and fifteen. From here in Harrisburg its a very short trip. This is a very good point made by Joe.
  • Joe said the weather plays a role in how they assess the team they are playing and what they can do in whatever weather. (I don’t think weather played a role last week, PSU is just better)

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Monday read around; Hoops

Before I get to some thoughts and links to today’s stuff around the web, PSU made the basketball team available last Friday before we talked to coach Paterno.

You can check out my piece on the men’s bball team and its quest for a NIT title in today’s edition.

Now on to football.

In the coming days you can read another one of my takes on PSU quarterback Daryll Clark.  More on that later in the week.

Colleague (and food expert) Frank Bodani wrote a nice piece on some long distance relationships between PSU assistant Kermit Buggs and some players in Southern California.

After doing some thinking over the weekend here’s five players I think we need to pay attention to in the spring, including Saturday’s coaches scrimmage (which I will be heading up to), and the Blue White game on April 25th.

1. Brandon Beachum: With Stephfon Green on the mend for now, and Evan Royster likely to take it easy, Penn State will get a chance to develop a viable third back, possibly a third down back.

2. Nerraw McCormack: He is (for now) penciled in as the starter at left tackle, will he do enough to keep DeOn’Tae Pannell off his back to hold down the job? Everyone feels as though Pannell will eventually be the starter at one of the tackle spots.

3. Knowledge Timmons: Might he finally be out of doghouses and some bad graces to be a starter in the secondary?

4. Brandon Ware: If he cuts  more weight, gets over a back issue and can stay in shape, he is a plug in the middle the likes of a Phil Taylor and if he can do that, Penn State’s d-line only gets deeper.

5. Josh Hull: He played well at times last season, but also heard a lot of criticism. Fans will recall his removal from the Michigan game in favor of Mike Mauti. He fits the mold of a loyal Paterno guy, that means he’s may get the start at the beginning of the season. But he’s got the hardest job to hold down, if you ask me.

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Final Grades for Offense

Tomorrow night is the official end of the college football season, but not the end of who is No. 1. By the way, if I voted in the AP poll, USC would get my nod and if Oklahoma wins the BCS national title game, I’d peg Texas No. 2. Don’t ask for my logic behind that, but USC is the best team in the country, hands down and would beat either of those two teams playing tomorrow night.

Anyway, here’s some final grades for the 2008 Nittany Lions and a small look ahead at  PSU’s offense for 2009.

QUARTERBACK

Daryll Clark was thrust into the spotlight replacing Anthony Morelli and did the best job anyone could possibly ask him to. Some of us have been on the Clark bandwagon for a while, others jump aboard midway through. All agree he was exactly what the Nittany Lions needed. Pat Devlin, though limited in his spot duty, was on when he needed to be.

FINAL GRADE: A- only because Clark did throw the the pick against Iowa. But seriously, what more could he have done for this team in 2008?

’09 EARLY LOOK: Clark is the starter and should be a captain, but Kevin Newsome is going to have to play early, and probably start the Blue White game on one of the teams even if he isn’t 100-percent ready. He has to play. Is Matt McGloin the answer if Newwsome isn’t up to speed? Penn State needs to get another QB in recruiting…and even though Joe Paterno hates the JUCO route, it might be wise to snag a veteran QB from a JUCO school for the time being just to have someone with college experience. Yeah, that’s going to happen.

RUNNING BACK

Evan Royster said during the weeks leading up to the preseason that there didn’t need to be nor would be a 20-25 carry back in the PSU offensive system in 2008, but he could have done it if need be. In fact Royster carried the ball over 20 times just once (26 for 90 vs. Iowa). Stephfon Green was solid at the start of the season but kind of disappeared later on. Losing Brent Carter to injury hurt. Dan Lawlor was one of the most underrated fullbacks in the country.

FINAL GRADE: B+ Again it’s tough to imagine Royster giving this team anymore than he did…but in the grand scheme of things, Green came in with a lot of hype and wasn’t given the chance to do a whole lot unless PSU was up big (first month), or Royster was down (Rose Bowl). At times when Penn State should have relied on the run even more than they were (Iowa) they didn’t.

EARLY ’09 LOOK: Finding a replacement for Lawlor won’t be hard, Joe Suhey is ready…It’s hard to imagine Royster, with four other guys who need carries, doing more than he did in 2008…speaking of, Green needs to develop his home run threat ability against more than just Coastal Carolina or Temple….and Brandon Beachum is going to need carries in 2009 too. How will they balance out everything?

WIDE RECEIVERS

Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams leave the squad as the best trio in school history. Norwood showed a lot of toughness, as been the case, for his size. It’s hard to believe that only six times during the season did a receiver post 100 yards….though that speaks to the depth of the position. This group did a good job of breaking in Clark and making his job easier, which might be the most valuable thing anyone on the offense did in 2008.

FINAL GRADE: A. Really, what else can you say about these guys? The questions are more in what happens in 2009, which leads me to….

’09 EARLY LOOK: So what happens here? Brett Brackett, Derek Moye, Chaz Powell and Graham Zug all saw decent reps in 2008. Kevin Cousins and James McDonald should get a chance in ’09 as well. But are any of these guys ready to become what the departing three were? Powell appears to be the closest thing to a Williams type, and the staff will have to break in A.J. Price as well. Speaking of A.J.’s, why not A.J. Wallace finding a home on the offensive side of the ball for 2009? He could be the home run/slash threat the offense needs?

TIGHT END

Both Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler battled injuries during the season, Shuler was the more dependable but Quarless is the more matchup nightmare when he wants to play. This is becoming a lost position in any offense, unless you have an athletic type like Quarless, who again, wants to play.

FINAL GRADE: C. Quarless falling down and playing poorly in the Rose Bowl didn’t help this grade. There’s a lot of potential at this position and because of injuries or in some case laziness, it’s not being met.What happened to Andrew Szcerba, who had a solid spring, summer and appeared to be on the fast track to unseat both?

’09 EARLY LOOK: Both Shuler and Quarless return, but how dedicated is Quarless to becoming what he “can” become? It’s a serious question that needs asked. Can he survive an offseason without being named in some kind of incident? Shuler should be able to bulk up some more and polish  his game too. What will happen to Szcerba? If Quarless comes in ready to play, he can be the most dominant tight end in the conference…again, if he wants to be.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Paterno always points to the offensive line as the most important piece of a football team, it is. This unit was among the best in the conference and even agaisnt USC kept Clark fairly safe. There were a couple of bad snaps, but penalties and mistakes were down, a big plus.

FINAL GRADE: A. For nine weeks no one swapped positions. If you get that kind of consistency along the offensive front, the most piece of a football team, then you are going to win 11 games and go to the Rose Bowl. The unit also gets a high mark because of some depth and also the interchangable parts like Mike Lucian, Stef Wisniewski, etc.

’09 EARLY LOOK: The ability of coaches Bill Kenny and Dick Anderson to develop replacement is the first and formost important offensive issue going into the offseason. Gerald Cadogan, A.Q. Shipley, Rich Ohrnberger and Mike Lucian are all gone. There are plenty of key pieces returning including tackle Dennis Landolt and guard Stefen Wisniewski…might Landolt move to the left tackle spot and Stef over to center?

Doug Klopacz is coming off a torn ACL and we’ve seen little of DeON’Tae Pannell and Quinn Barham but both might be able to step up, especially Pannell who appears set to assume either the left or right tackle role. Could be a case of when the season starts, Landolt is at left, but we see Pannell there once he is comfortable.

Outside of that, Lou Eliades, Matt Stankiewitch, Johnnie Troutman, J.B. Walton will be fighting for jobs too. Where will incoming freshman Eric Shrive fit in? Are we seeing a shift in how PSU recruits offensive linemen? Three of the incoming freshman, Nate Cadogan, Shrive and Adam Gress are 6-6 or 6-7.

OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: A-…..I float between an A- and B+ because the ‘Spread HD’ worked but it got a little flat towards the end of the year and it seemed to evolve too soon, if that’s possible. I could see some coaches dumbing things down for newer players at the beginning of the season. The element of surprise is what helps teams win games….Clark often talked that he was frustrated during prep work if he entered a game and the other team had run a defense he didn’t see. I think at some points people knew what to expect with Penn State later in the season.

And there was still that element of getting tight in games, against Ohio State and Iowa. With a year under his belt, Clark should be more freelance and trust in 2009 and this offense can stay on track.

Back tomorrow with a look at the defense and special teams.

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