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Northwestern-PSU pregame stretch...

November 5, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
BETWEEN THE LIONS

A QB question, not controversy

We’ll see how it goes when the team steps on the field, but for our money, the Penn State coaching staff so far this week has handled its quarterback question just about perfectly.

We agree with the premise that a starter shouldn’t lose his job because of injury. And it sounds like Rob Bolden will be back under center when the Nittany Lions take the field Saturday afternoon. But he had to earn that job back in practice after Matt McGloin unquestionably sparked PSU in Bolden’s stead against Michigan last Saturday. We say “sounds like” because the final piece of the puzzle here is the way Joe Paterno has played this one close to the vest, not naming a starter publicly and requiring Northwestern to prepare for two quarterbacks.

What would make this a real slam dunk for Penn State is if we saw Kevin Newsome for one scripted series of plays in each half against the Wildcats. We know, we know, don’t push our luck.

A rush to judgment

Someone once said that there are lies, damned lies and statistics and here’s a good example of that: Penn State averaged four yards per carry rushing against Michigan, matching its season average. Evan Royster averaged 5.2 yards per carry, just a notch below his season average of 5.1. Those statistics would seem to indicate the Lions had a “business as usual” rushing performance against the Wolverines, but, of course, the naked eye saw PSU rushing the ball much more successfully than they had all year.

The stat you have to look at to find the difference is rushing attempts with Penn State running the ball 46 times against Michigan compared to a season average of 34 times per game. That indicates early success and an early lead that allows a team to continue running the ball into the fourth quarter. If Penn State is to win today’s game, Royster and Silas Redd need to be in the 15 carry, 75 yard range at the half.

Hidden stat from last week’s game (courtesy of the Michigan radio broadcast on Sirius): Penn State is now 14-0 in games where Royster rushes for 100 yards.

Not older than dirt, but…

Joe Paterno is older than:

Kool-Aid (1927)

Penicillin (1928)

The yo-yo (1929)

FM radio (1933)

Monopoly (1934)

Radar (1935)

Ballpoint pen (1938)

The pick

No one expected what happened last week and don’t let them tell you they did. Obviously, we expected a shootout, but we never expected Matt McGloin to perform the way he did nor did we expect Penn State’s defense to stop Denard Robinson the handful of times it did. That said, the Lions’ defense can’t give up four touchdowns this week and win – and there will be a real tendency for the D to let down now that Robinson has left town, which would be a fatal mistake against Dan Persa. Our head tells us the Wildcats will win here. (And speaking of heads, if Persa passed a concussion test Sunday then he did NOT suffer a concussion on Saturday. As you know, we’re not a doctor, but we play one in this blog and we’d match that diagnosis against anyone with a real M.D. after their name.) But our guts tell us there’s a little magic left over from Saturday night (but not so much that PSU will cover the crazy 6-point spread) … Penn State (-6) 24, Northwestern 23.

Prediction record

Last week: Michigan (-3) INCORRECT

Season straight up: 4-4, .500

Season vs. spread: 3-4, .428

 
 

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