Spring Preview: Challenges ahead for Nittany Lions

By just about every measuring stick, the 2012 Penn State season was a success—and that’s saying a lot, considering the tumult and unknowns with which the program began the season. But perhaps the scariest moment occurred after the air had been taken out of the football when rumors swirled that Bill O’Brien may bolt to the NFL. It all proved to be unfounded and O’Brien pledged his allegiance to Penn State, and that’s good because the next few seasons could be very challenging for the program as it begins to deal with the throes of severe NCAA sanctions that have trimmed scholarships from 85 to 65.

BTN provides live coverage of Penn State’s spring game at noon ET Saturday on BTN/BTN2Go only. Tom Werme and former Penn State linebacker Mike Mauti will call the game.

BACK IN 2012 …

Day Date Opponent Time TV Result
Sat. Sep. 1 vs. Ohio 12:00 PM ET  ESPN L 14 – 24
Sat. Sep. 8 at Virginia 12:00 PM ET  ABC L 16 – 17
Sat. Sep. 15 vs. Navy 3:30 PM ET  ABC/ESPN2 W 34 – 7
Sat. Sep. 22 vs. Temple 3:30 PM ET  ABC/ESPN2 W 24 – 13
Sat. Sep. 29 at Illinois 12:00 PM ET  ESPN W 35 – 7
Sat. Oct. 6 vs. 24 Northwestern 12:00 PM ET  ESPN W 39 – 28
Sat. Oct. 20 at Iowa 8:00 PM ET  BTN/BTN2 W 38 – 14
Sat. Oct. 27 vs. 9 Ohio State 5:30 PM ET  ESPN L 23 – 35
Sat. Nov. 3 at Purdue 3:30 PM ET  ESPNU W 34 – 9
Sat. Nov. 10 at 18 Nebraska 3:30 PM ET  ABC/ESPN2 L 23 – 32
Sat. Nov. 17 vs. Indiana 12:00 PM ET  BTN/BTN2 W 45 – 22
Sat. Nov. 24 vs. Wisconsin 3:30 PM ET  ESPN2 W 24 – 21

KEY LOSSES

Offense: T Mike Farrell; QB Matt McGloin; C Matt Stankiewitch

Defense: T Jordan Hill; LB Gerald Hodges; LB Michael Mauti; CB Stephon Morris; E Sean Stanley

OUTLOOK ON OFFENSE

2012 Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 5015 (70)
Passing Yards: 3278 (44)
Rushing Yards: 1737 (90)
Points per game: 29.1 (63)
Yards per game: 417.9 (53)
Touchdowns: 42 (65)
Field Goals: 14 (62)

Matt McGloin leaves big shoes to fill at quarterback. Who will assume command? Steven Bench is the only signal-caller with any experience (two games). JC transfer Tyler Ferguson has been the main competition this spring. Touted incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg will arrive over the summer. What’s it mean? This quarterback derby won’t be decided until fall camp. O’Brien must develop young receivers.

Brandon Moseby-Felder will be a senior who figures to team with Allen Robinson to form a top wideout duo. Alex Kenney also is back. Who else will fill out the unit? There are several youngsters who will have great opportunities to contribute, including Eugene Lewis and Matt Zanellato.

The staff must find a center and tackle. Ty Howle looks good at the pivot. Is Adam Gress the answer at a tackle spot?

OUTLOOK ON DEFENSE

2012 Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 4241 (18)
Passing Yards: 2700 (38)
Rushing Yards: 1541 (18)
Points per game: 19.1 (16)
Yards per game: 353.4 (29)
Touchdowns: 25 (13)
Field Goals: 11 (24)

O’Brien will tell anyone who will listen that he isn’t gonna risk injury in the spring. He just can’t afford any casualties on a razor-thin roster. Still, there is lots of work to do along the defensive line. Penn State must replace All-Big Ten tackle Jordan Hill along with end Sean Stanley and reserves Pete Massaro and James Terry.

Ends Anthony Zettel, C.J. Olaniyan and Brad Bars are players to watch for a unit that can build around stud end Deion Barnes, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012.

DaQuan Jones and Kyle Baublitz are others with promise up front. There are production and leadership voids yawning at linebacker with Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges gone. Glenn Carson, Nyeem Wartman and Mike Hull, come on down! Oh, and secondary coach John Butler was promoted to coordinator after Ted Roof left for Georgia Tech. Don’t expect any radical changes.

2013 SCHEDULE

Day Date Opponent
Sat. Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse
Sat. Sep. 7 vs. Eastern Michigan
Sat. Sep. 14 vs. UCF
Sat. Sep. 21 vs. Kent State
Sat. Oct. 5 at Indiana
Sat. Oct. 12 vs. 24 Michigan
Sat. Oct. 26 at 3 Ohio State
Sat. Nov. 2 vs. Illinois
Sat. Nov. 9 at Minnesota
Sat. Nov. 16 vs. Purdue
Sat. Nov. 23 vs. 25 Nebraska
Sat. Nov. 30 at Wisconsin

***

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about:

0 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (No Comments)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Have a question for BTN Customer Service? Please e-mail us here