Tag Archives: Kevin Newsome

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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What we learned week one

Thoughts on Penn State’s 31-7 win over Akron in a few. First what did we learn from the Big Ten in the opening week of the season. I’ll admit, I tanked on picks, but honestly, who expected Illinois to flatline (outside of Missouri), who expected Michigan to be as focused as they were (besides Michigan)…who figured that Iowa would sweat against UNI (outside of UNI fans).

If one week painted a portrait of a conference, then the Big Ten is a blueprint that is being ripped up and redesigned at the moment.

A very unimpressive weekend all around.

Indiana 19, EKU 13, (Thursday)

What we learned: IU is serious about making offensive changes with that pistol attack, and while it will take some time to work out the kinks, it looks like it will be successful behind QB Ben Chappel.

Verdict: Is EKU good, or is IU just so far down that the rebuilding took a bit of a detour this week? Call it inconclusive, but I think IU will have some success in due time.

Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16

What we learned: If your opponent is kicking a field goal on first down late in the game and you are on defense, and you block it, it doesn’t matter how much time is on the clock, fall on the ball, OK? Should be common sense.

Verdict: No way Iowa should have struggled, so I think that talk they can compete for the Big Ten title is a little premature right now. This was the son of most unimpressive showing from a conference team of the weekend, which leads me to….

Missouri 37, Illinois 9

What we learned: Ron Zook can recruit, but coach in big spots right now? No. and Juice Williams, though he may have taken two steps forward in the

Juice Williams, shown here against Ohio State in 2007, was not loose against Missouri yesterday as Illinois was blown out 37-9/SI Photo

Juice Williams, shown here against Ohio State in 2007, was not loose against Missouri yesterday as Illinois was blown out 37-9/SI Photo

preseason, he just took five backward. Still a work in progress. A big one.

Verdict: Total flatline. And now that Rejus Benn is down with an ankle injury, which may or may not linger, this offense is taking a major hit. If they don’t rebound next week with a huge performance, questions will hang over this team all year.

Purdue 52, Toledo 31

What we learned: Whoever steps into Purdue’s offense can seemingly take the offense that is already in place and pick up right where the previous team left off. Might be the only team in the country you can say that about.

Verdict: Purdue still doesn’t have a defense (31 points to Toledo? Even if they turn out to be good, still…), so if they are content to win games like this all season then it will be a success.

Ohio State 31, Navy 27

What we learned: You never, ever, EVER, schedule Navy for a season opener if you are a top notch team. Ever. Especially when USC is game number two.

Verdict: I am not on the side thinking that this was bad for Ohio State because Navy is a very tricky opponent, always, with that nasty option game. Was Ohio State lucky? Yep. Did this prepare them for USC? Mentally, it might have.

Northwestern 47, Towson 14

What we learned: If you don’t care about RPI and SOS rankings and want an easy win while paying an opponent to take a beatdown, then this was perfect for Northwestern. How much it helps long term, well it doesn’t.

Verdict: Very inconclusive. It’s not even worth trying to gauge how the ‘Cats are after this game.

Wisconsin 28, Northern Illinois 20

What we learned: Wisconsin can’t take anything lightly these days, up 28-6 at one point they nearly lost that lead. Memo to the Badgers, you aren’t Ohio State, or Penn State or maybe even Wisconsin yet.

Verdict: When you have to rebuild it’s never good to let teams like NIU hang around like that. Mentally, where are the Badgers right now? This is a sign that they may let things snowball like they did last year if they get down in a game.

Michigan 31, Western Michigan 7

What we learned: Michigan, finally, was able to avoid distractions, win a home opener and look impressive in doing so. This was supposed to be a test for them with all of the off-field issues, and plus WMU has a good offense. Michigan put that to rest early.

Verdict: If the Wolverines can play as focused every week as they did this one, they will be back near the top of the Big 12. This was valuable as they prepare for rival Notre Dame next week.

Minnesota 23, Syracuse 20, OT

What we learned: Minnesota still has the best QB-WR combo in the conference right now and that they probably underestimated Greg Paulus and a retooled ‘Cuse offense but they rallied.

Verdict: I think the game said more about Syracuse’s improvement (and believe me, any sign of improvement for that team is a major one right now), than it did where Minnesota is at. But the Gophers took some body blows and responded in the later rounds and that is all that matters in the end. Decent, not great comeback.

Michigan State 44, Montana State 3

What we learned: This was as expected and where some conference teams stubbed their toe against similar teams like Montana State this week, Michigan State didn’t mess around and did what it needed to do to win.

Verdict: Inconclusive. Talk to me in three weeks after they play (BCS bound) Notre Dame.

Penn State 31, Akron 7

What we learned: The talk about PSU’s new receivers was bunk as Daryll Clark didn’t miss a beat. But you can still throw on PSU and the offensive line isn’t where it needs to be right now. Younger players need to learn how to play a full game. There is a lot of depth at receiver and PSU played a lot of young guys who showed promise.

Verdict: They didn’t put together a complete performance, at all, but sometimes when a team doesn’t play its best and they can still win with ease, that’s important.

RISE AND FALL

+  Michigan: I can’t stress how important I think it was that this team dusted aside all of the problems off the field and made short work of a team that should have caused them problems. This was Michgian’s best performance under Rich Rodriguez.

– Illinois: Wow. All that talk and hype about the offense (and I believed it too) was for not. And with Rejus Benn hurt, and Juice Williams back to being Juice Williams circa two years ago, it’s not good right now.

BEST PERFORMANCE NATIONALLY

Alabama, easily. Overrated, no way. Underrated maybe. ‘Bama’s defense is lightning fast, strong, they hawk to the ball, the offense has a game manager at quarterback and depth in the backfield. Plus the receivers are tight. This team is going to stay in the top five as long as it wants to this season.

MORE PSU THOUGHTS

  • If the offensive line believes it’s one or two “small things” away from being really good, then they have to show that next week against Syracuse.
  • Kevin Newsome should have been in the game sooner. They need to understand that he must get snaps these next two weeks just in case.
  • Was anyone really surprised that Devon Smith saw the field? Nope. My question is at 5’7, he will not be that over the middle guy, he’s going to be more gimmick than anything this year, so how do they develop  him. I wonder outloud how he’d look in the Wildcat?
  • I think that the secondary got the message it can’t take anyone lightly and they better learn quickly that desptie 31-0 leads, you can’t let up.
  • I also think that Paulus and Williams will challenge them next week more so than Akron did.
  • How different will the receiving corps be if Clark gets into a flow with one guy (Derek Moye?)…as opposed to spreading the wealth among the Big Three like last year.
  • That said….I also liked how they got several different players the ball.
  • If Daryll Clark keeps playing like this, he will no longer be a Darkhorse with the Heisman talk. ESPN is already pimping him a little bit this morning.
  • Clark just looked more at ease in his second season opening start, he has so much command, pocket presence, he needs to adjust to throwing to taller receivers, but man he just looked poised and ready to be the man from the start. Did you notice how he looked off two-three receivers just about every time yesterday?

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PSU Depth Chart

Penn State has released its depth chart for the season opener against Akron and the biggest questions have been answered for now.

Your starting offensive line is as follows:

LT Dennis Landolt

LG Matt Stankiewitch

C Stefen Wisniewski

RG Lou Eliades

RT DeOn’Tae Pannell

Derek Moye, Graham Zug and Brett Brackett are the listed as the starting receivers, there is not a mention of a freshman receiver on the depth chart right now.

Kevin Newsome is Daryll Clark’s backup, no shocker there.

Tight End is still an “Or” spot, with Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler.

Over on defense, Jerome Hayes and Jack Crawford get the nod at the end spots. They will go with Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman as the outside linebackers and Josh Hull in the middle, as expected with Mike Mauti’s injury.

The corners are Knowledge Timmons and D’Anton Lynn, with Drew Astorino and Nick Sukay as the safeties. Of note, A.J. Wallace is listed as Timmons’ backup, again there are no freshmen listed behind either cornerback. Freshman Gerald Hodges is the third team “Hero.”

Chaz Powell and Stephfon Green are the return men, again no freshmen are listed here either.

As expected Colin Wagner secured the starting kicking spot.

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Blue White day after

Freshman quarterback Kevin Newsome looked sharp in Saturday's scrimmage/Matthew O'Haren Photo

Freshman quarterback Kevin Newsome looked sharp in Saturday's scrimmage/Matthew O'Haren Photo

Here’s today’s story out of yesterday’s Blue White game about the future of the quarterback position at Penn State, specifically Kevin Newsome. 

Also a review of Joe Paterno’s pregame chat. 

Notable about Joe, he was more relaxed, the Navorro Bowman question didn’t come up until the third question of the presser and Joe handled it very well, did not get angry or upset. 

I think there is a feeling of being somewhat sympathetic toward Bowman in this situation, some view that as wrong, some understand it. I get it that there are people who have gone through the same types of things, coming from the same types of tough inner city streets, but keep this in mind, Bowman was honest and admitted the drug use, for a kid with that much talent something has to be said for him accepting responsibility. 

That said, Paterno is right, Bowman must clean up his problem. And I tend to agree with the judge in his probation case last week that maybe some type of counseling to help  him through some of the tough times is a good way to go. 

Bowman is a fantastic talent, he is an NFL linebacker without question, he has been good in interviews, he is honest, he is up front. His story is something of a spectacular one if he is able to keep it between the lines and avoid the temptations that draw people in. 

I think when all is said and done, he is definitely facing some type of suspension, that is speculation, but something like what happened to Abe Koroma and Mo Evans last season is in order. 

Paterno danced around what to do with Sean Lee whether he goes into the middle or stays outside depending on what happens with Bowman. I see Lee being on the outside to start, Hull in the middle and then someone is the odd man out when Bowman returns and Lee goes to the middle. 

Linebacker at Penn State in 2009 is a good problem to have. There are schools that don’t have three starters let alone seven guys that can step into any role. Penn State’s front seven has potential to be lethal this season there is that much depth. 

Other thoughts…

  • Brandon Ware said he is down to 335, I had a talk with him afterward and that is coming out tomorrow. He made a nice freakishly athletic move to swat a pass down in the second half. 
  • As I said in the story for today, Kevin Newsome is most definitely physically ready for this level, he made a couple of nice moves and has a cannon for an arm. 
  • The receiving corps, I think they are going ot be fine, Daryll Clark wants to use the tight end more and I think this is going to be a big year for anyone of the three tight ends, but specifically Andrew Quarless and Micky Shuler. 
  • Ako Poti was hurt, but returned to action. The offensive line, the best in the Big Ten last season, is a work in progress. Outside of Stefen Wisniewski and Dennis Landolt, there is no idea who else is going to start come the season opener. 
  • You could tell yesterday that the secondary is getting better, but there is a long way to go yet. I think that this unit can gel quickly, it’s just a matter of playing time with one another, getting reps together. Once that happens, once the communication is down between all four guys, they can be solid. Besides, what quarterback in the Big Ten, right now, in April, outside of Terrelle Pyror (who does more with his run-pass balance than just the pass right now), scares you? 

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Practice Update

STATE COLLEGE – There’s plenty of questions but Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has had limited time to answer really any of them. Three days into spring practice, the veteran Nittany Lions head coach met with the media assembled in the Lasch Football Building this afternoon and was honest in his assessments of the team to this point.

He sees a better leader in quarterback Daryll Clark, compared to last spring, but isn’t sure how much different he is as a player because it’s too early.

Paterno talked about players swapping positions, namely Stefen Wisniewski to center, the loss of Aaron Maybin, Mo Evans and others, the need to rebuild a beleagured secondary (at least by Rose Bowl standards) and how his health is doing these days.

Paterno said he is fine, he is as close to 100-percent as he’s been. There was a golf cart present at the practice session, but Paterno in his typical khakis, gray sweatshirt and white collared shirt walked between offensive and defensive drills for the 20 minutes or so we were allowed in.

Both Paterno and Clark spoke today about how hard they took the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.

  • One of the main areas of concern was the secondary which Paterno said they are looking at right now and determining through “agility drills” and said he watches the players do a variety of different things.
  • A total of 10 players are being held out of drills during the spring, five of them key players, linebacker Sean Lee, LB/DE Jerome Hayes, running backs Stephfon Green and Brent Carter and back up center Doug Klopacz.
  • Defensive tackle Brandon Ware has shed some weight, but it’s still not where Paterno would like him.
  • Though Kevin Newsome is taking No. 2 reps in practice, Paterno still said he needs to beat out walk-on Matt McGloin. The irony is also that Paterno said he doesn’t favor the early enrollment idea, but said he has to be a little selfish this year because they needed Newsome in there ASAP to back up Clark.
  • Colin Wagner appears to be the starter right now at kicker, Paterno didn’t mention anyone like Anthony Fera or David Soldner by name, but said everyone right now has to beat out Wagner.
  • If the season started today, Lee would move to the MLB spot.
  • Paterno said he knew Maybin would be leaving early but was surprised Evans left, adding that he talked to Evans’ mom and she gave good reasons as to why he should leave.
  • Clark has a lot more confidence than compared to last season.
  • As far as the wide receivers go Paterno spoke highly of Graham Zug and Brett Brackett, also mentioned Derek Moye, but spoke of a lack of experience for the most part. Clark earlier in the day mentioned that the receivers will not suffer a drop aoff from the “big three” that left.
  • Paterno said that defensive tackle Jared Odrick called him the day after he got into a minor incident in downtown State College, and that Odrick is “OK, right now, but you only get so many chances.”

Now some observations from the few minutes we got to watch:

Kevin Newsome looks good in pads (No. 12)…Jared Odrick, Devon Still and Jack Crawford are just monsters when working on the sled…among the notables inside at the practice, former wide receiver Deon Butler was there, as were several recruits, however the media was not permitted to shoot video, talk to or take pictures of any of them.

We did not get to see who was lining up where in terms of drills, however the coaches’ clinic scrimmage is next Saturday and while players and coaches are off limits to the media, the pressbox will be open for us.

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Spring primer

Penn State opens up spring practice on Wednesday and we will have some updates and comments from the first day of spring ball on Wednesday after the practice session.

First the obvious going in.

  • Stefen Wisniewski is sliding over to center to repalce A.Q. Shipley, so that means Penn State is breaking in two new guards.
  • Dennis Landolt is stick at RT for now, so that means going in, Penn State needs a new LT.
  • Kevin Newsome is Daryll Clark’s backup.
  • Joe Paterno is back. OK, not that that needs a mention, but hey, if I am able to do my job in my 80’s, I’d expect someone to make mention of me too. As it stands, 60 would be nice to live to these days.

Anywho, if you read my piece today on Sean Lee and his return to the field you caught a few notes at the bottom and five positions to keep an eye on this spring on both sides of the ball.

Here’s five players I’m interesting in following this spring and through the Blue White game on April 25.

1. Daryll Clark: Why you ask? Because a year ago Clark was in a position he could be eased into the starting quarterback role with a veteran receiving corps. Now it’s Clark’s turn to make his new group of starting receivers feel at ease. All indications are so far that things are going well.

2. DeOn’Tae Pannell: Penn State needs a franchise left tackle to replace Gerald Cadogan, who replaced Levi Brown.

3. Chaz Powell: Switched numbers from 12 to 2, and he may be expected to dosoem of the same things the former No. 2 (Derrick Williams) did. I see someone more along the lines of a Graham Zug stepping up as a main receiver, maybe Brett Brackett or A.J. Price, but Powell could be the slash type guy.

4. Stephfon Green: Evan Royster proved he could be a 20 carry guy, something he said last offseason wasn’t necessary. Here’s the issue, Green, who has that blazing speed, sometimes tried too hard last season, he was inches away from breaking the big one…this season he needs to complete those runs.

5. Andrew Quarless: Has an NFL body, NFL potential, but hasn’t completed a full season without some issue of some kind. It’s a make or break year for him, Clark needs a security blanket at tight end and someone to ease the transition to a new receiving corps. Is this the year Quarless puts it together?

DEFENSE

1. Sean Lee: Obvious choice, he is back from his torn ACL, how will be be once live contact in the regular season starts. He likely will not play in the Blue White game later this month.

2. Jack Crawford: Someone needs to step up and give Penn State pass rush, Crawford has potential to play both inside and outside, does he find a role and secure it? Does he step up?

3. Gerald Hodges: He may be the phyiscal presence Penn State needs at safety to get after bigger, pro-style receivers. Can he crack the depth chart immediately? Might be part of a revolution of sorts in the secondary.

4. A.J. Wallace: I’m of the belief he should swap sides and play offense, but he needs to stay healthy and give Penn State experience at the corner spot. If Wallace is going to stay on defense, with the possible emergence of Devon Smith as a return man, plus a guy like Powell able to return, Wallace should then concentrate fully on D.

5. Jared Odrick: How will he fair without Maybin, Evans and Gaines around him? More double teams?

Other battles to watch:

Who steps into Kevin Kelly’s spot? You know at some point a game will be decided by a field goal. Colin Wagner has the leg, Anthony Fera comes in with some hype and David Soldner, by all accounts was solid in high school. So who steps up?

I’m curious how Penn State plays it with the receivers in general. Gone is the burner type, at least right now. It seems more like Zug, Brackett and Moye are more possession type guys. So what does that mean for the offense in general? More conventional, is it a slower paced spread attack? Is Royster the showcase guy on offense in 2009?

Defensively, what, if anything does Penn State get out of Jerome Hayes?

To me there is some added pressure on Odrick, Abe Koroma and the defensive tackles until a pass rush emerges.

Just some things to think about as we draw closer to spring ball.

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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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