UNIVERSITY PARK - With Penn State's training camp officially under way Monday, the media weighed in on how it thinks the Nittany Lions will fare this season.
James Franklin's new reign still has yet to begin on the field, but media veterans of the program have found a few themes within the team that could determine if the new coaching staff can garner a winning record in its inaugural season.
The unpromising offensive line, the lack of depth on the roster with reduced scholarships and how impactful a single injury of a key player all seem to be of concern. With the consensus being that the Nittany Lions will barely scrape up a winning season at 7-5, one crucial moment could tilt the season in either direction.
Philip Cmor, Altoona Mirror: 7-5. The question marks are the offensive line, as well as the overall depth and youth of this team. The margin for error is so small. The excitement of this team could be a little better, but one key injury and it might be hard to get a winning record.
Cory Giger, Altoona Mirror: 6-6. The offensive line is a huge concern, and it's hard to be overly confident about any team with such a potentially weak line. This could be the bottoming-out year from the sanctions fallout because of inexperience and depth issues, but the team should at least be able to break even.
Neil Rudel, Altoona Mirror: 7-5. I predicted 8-4 two months ago when a preseason story was due, but that was predicated on winning both at Illinois and at Indiana. It's going to be tough to do both. I'm going to scale it back because I think I was a little bit too optimistic, given the lack of depth.
Mark Brennan, Fight On State: 7-5. They have some issues on the offensive line that I think need to be addressed. If those things could come together, I think it could maybe be a little bit better record. However, if they suffer key injuries, which would be Hackenberg or guys like Hull, I think it could go south in a heartbeat.
Nate Bauer, BlueWhite Illustrated: 7-5. Health. It's all healthy. If they're really healthy, then they could win more games, if they're not healthy then they're going to lose more games.
Ryan Snyder, Blue-White Illustrated. 7-5. The wide receivers are talented, so look for them to surprise. However, teams will still take advantage of PSU's linebackers and secondary.
Derek Levarse, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader: 7-5. There are depth issues the team will have. If they lose anymore offensive lineman, it's going to be a long season for Hackenberg. They have a very small margin of error.
Frank Bodani, York Daily Record: 8-4. With all the uncertainty, I think the schedule lines up pretty well for them. Even if they have a few injuries or bumps in the road, I still think they'll win more than they lose for sure, and we'll see what happens with a bowl game.
Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle: 7-5. Penn State has a lot of talent at the skilled positions, but I just think the depth on the offensive line and at linebacker and the scholarship limitations will be too much to overcome. One key injury could change the whole course of the season.
Mark Wogenrich, Allentown Morning Call: 7-5. I'm expecting pretty much the same business as last year with depth, scholarships, situational circumstances at certain positions. But a favorable schedule should get them seven wins.
Travis Johnson, Centre Daily Time: 7-5. But I think the sky's the limit at 9-3. I think they can be 9-3 if they play perfectly. The offensive line, the most important position grouping in football in any level, is very questionable. It's a very shallow unit, a very inexperienced unit. I think the defense will be marginally better this year. But there's going to be some hiccups.
Walt Moody, Centre Daily Times: 7-5. An inexperienced offensive line will bite PSU once Big Ten play starts. Hackenberg can throw darts, but who besides the tight ends is going to catch them? Mike Hull must stay healthy or the defense could be in trouble.
Joe Juliano, Philadelphia Inquirer: 7-5. I think the schedule is relatively easy, but I'm not sure if the offensive line questions are going to be answered right away. I think seven wins is going to be about as good as they can do.
Bob Flounders, Harrisburg Patriot-News: 6-6. I think the schedule's a little bit tougher. I don't think Central Florida's a pushover, especially in the first week with the problems on the offensive line. They can't afford to have any injuries. I think they were fortunate last year against Michigan and Illinois, but that could easily have been a .500 season. In two years they're going to be a lot better, but I think this year they're going to take their lumps.
Audrey Snyder, Harrisburg Patriot-News: 7-5. I think everything is going to hinge on this offensive line, and if they can get that to come together quicker, then I think they can have an eight-win season. But without that, that's going to cost them.
Donnie Collins, Scranton Times-Tribune: 8-4. I think they could be undefeated going into the Ohio State game, but honestly there's four teams they aren't better than if they're playing. But 8-4 if they can beat Indiana, and I think they could do it. So it's a toss-up. I think 8-4 just to be safe, but it could easily be 7-5.
Jacob Kaucher, WTAJ-TV: 7-5. Christian Hackenberg is the real deal, but just too many question marks around him. This could be the year the sanctions are felt the most because Penn State is so young.
Matt Maisel, WJAC-TV: 8-4. I think James Franklin can coach, and he has a favorable schedule. But the offensive line will have to prove me wrong. There is too much inexperience up front that will make protecting PSU's strengths (QB and RB) a challenge.