Most media see Nittany Lions going 9-3 or 8-4
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State will begin the 2019 college football season on Aug. 31 against Idaho without two offensive stars in quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders.
McSorley broke four Penn State career passing records, including passing yards, and Sanders followed Saquon Barkley by rushing for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns. Sanders was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles after forgoing his final year, and McSorley is attempting to make the Baltimore Ravens’ roster.
Those were among the concerns that 17 media members cited when the Mirror asked them for their season predictions at Saturday’s Penn State media day. They were asked to give a final regular season record and comments.
The popular choices were 9-3 and 8-4. There was a split between those predictions. Seven picked the Nittany Lions to go 9-3, and seven went with 8-4. Two picked the Lions to go 10-2, and one went with 7-5.
The offensive line and a receiving corps that struggled last season were among the other question marks cited by the media. Much more is expected of the defense.
The following is what the media had to say to the Mirror:
Cory Giger, Altoona Mirror: Record: 8-4. Comment: “I just have too many concerns about the offense to think that this could be a great season. The defense should be outstanding, but there are a lot of inexperienced players on offense, and I need to see them prove themselves before I’ll be sold on this being a terrific season.
Todd Irwin, Altoona Mirror: Record: 9-3. Comment: “There are so many questions marks on offense with the losses of Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders and a receiving corps that had a down year last season. I think QB Sean Clifford and RB Ricky Slade can get the job done, but Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State are potential losses again.”
Neil Rudel, Altoona Mirror/NitWits: Record: 8-4. Comment:I’m saying 8-4 — and, since it’s August, I’m trying to be optimistic. The road schedule should play tough, and I just think there are too many questions on offense, starting at quarterback, to predict anything better.”
Frank Bodani, York Daily Record: Record: 9-3. Comment: “(9-3) is the easiest thing to pick for a team that has so much possibility but has so many new faces to try to make it happen. I could see them going to 11 wins, or, if things don’t go right, going to seven.”
Mark Brennan, Lions247/NitWits: Record: 9-3. Comment: “I know there a lot of questions about the offense, but I also think you have to take a look at the schedule. As I look at that schedule, it’s not as difficult as some of the schedules in recent years. They’ve got some good games at home. I look for Sean Clifford to get better and better as the season goes along. I look for the defense to be one of their better defenses that they’ve had in the last 15-20 years.”
Nate Cobler, Centre Daily Times: Record: 10-2. Comment: “They’ll lose to Michigan and Ohio State. I think the reasoning that they’ll lose those games is they’re such a young squad.”
Devin Jackson, WTAJ-TV: Record: 10-2. Comment: “I think their losses will come at Ohio State and at Iowa. I think they’ll beat Michigan at home. I think they’ll surprise people and beat Michigan State. I know that’s a team they’ve struggled with in the last couple seasons.”
Jed Donahue, PASportsNetwork: Record: 7-5. Comment: “They’ll have a tough time on the road this year. I just think they’re road schedule is very underrated and tough. At Minnesota in November is going to be tough.”
Bob Flounders, pennlive.com: Record: 9-3. Comment: “I think the people who are worried about the quarterback position shouldn’t be. The people that think the schedule is easier than last year are mistaken. I think they’re going to beat Michigan State this year. I think they’ll beat Michigan. The part of the schedule they’re going to struggle is the crossover games – the game at Iowa and the game at Minnesota. I think this team is going to be a little bit better than people realize. I’m a big believer in the quarterback. I think it’s going to be Clifford.”
David Jones, pennlive.com: Record: 8-4. Comment:“I think it’s going to be a low-scoring season. I think there are too many questions marks on offense to think it’s going to be a division championship year against that competition again. I’d be really worried about blindside tackle because there’s nobody behind (Rasheed) Walker that we can see. We’ve got to see (receivers coach) Gerad Parker and the receiving crew prove it before we know if they’re going to be able to run good routes and catch the ball.”
Josh Moyer, Centre Daily Times: Record: 8-4. Comment:“I think this is a great defense. I think the offensive line is going to be better. But between Ricky Rahne and a young quarterback, I’m just not convinced that Penn State can get it done against the Big Ten’s best.”
Greg Pickel, pennlive.com: Record: 9-3. Comment:“I think they can beat Michigan at home. I’m a little bit leery of how many games they play on the road at pretty tough places. I think that will trip them up.”
Rich Scarcella, Reading Eagle: Record: 9-3. Comment:“I’m wavering, but I’ll go 9-3 because the schedule is favorable. They should be 5-0. They have three very difficult October games: Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa. Because they’re such a young team, they’re definitely going to have a clunker somewhere. But they’re also talented enough to beat somebody who nobody expects them to beat.”
Paul Schofield, Tribune-Review: Record: 9-3. Comment: “I don’t see them up at the Ohio State and Michigan level yet. Michigan State is going to be tough on the road. They’re young in the backfield. They have to grow up pretty fast. I think the defense will carry them early on.”
Audrey Snyder, The Athletic: Record: 8-4. Comment: “There’s so much youth right now. We just haven’t been able to see a lot of it. I think Sean Clifford is going to be the quarterback – even if they won’t say it right now. It’s really difficult to see an offense with so much transition and say that it’s going to be equal to or better than last year’s team.”
Peter Terpstra, WTAJ-TV/NitWits: Record: 8-4. Comment: “I think they’ll still have trouble with Ohio State. With Michigan State, I think they finally get that win over Sparty. A surprise loss could be to Purdue at home on homecoming. The following year would be their best chance at a Big Ten title.”
Mark Wogenrich, Morning Call (Allentown): Record: 8-4. Comment: “The Big Ten schedule the way it sets up in October and beyond is really tough to handle with the road games and the crossover games. There’s a cluster of five games (Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan), and I can see them going 2-3 in that. I think the offense is probably not going to have enough. With injuries, I don’t think they’re going to have the depth.