Friday, May 14, 2010

Opponent Preview: Game 2- Penn State

150px-Penn_State_Nittany_Lions_svgThe Tide’s second week opponent needs no real introduction and will most likely spur conversations of matchups of the past involving desperation field goal blocks and goal line stands. On September 11th, the Tide will welcome Penn. State who will bring their legendary coach Joe Pa down south. With two big name teams, and two traditions that are probably even bigger, the match up will definitely garner some national attention, and again fuel the debate on which conference reigns in college football.

The Nittany Lions however will be missing some key players, including last year’s starting quarterback Daryll Clark. Clark’s 3,003 yards passing and 24 touchdowns lead the Nittany Lions to an 11-2 season, not to mention a Capital Bowl win over the LSU Tigers. The offense does however return 7 starters from last year including their leading rusher Evan Royster, and top two receivers Derek Moye and Graham Zug. The biggest questions left are who will lead the team under center, and who will protect the quarterback.

This spring did not cement any starters at quarterback, in fact it may have opened the debate even more. The two most probable starters in Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin will have to distance themselves this fall from true freshman Paul Jones, who is starting to see himself as the fan favorite. The chances of Joe Paterno starting a true freshman is slim to none, but if the top two can’t separate themselves it is anybody’s job. As for the starting offensive line, the spring saw some big time shuffling. The offensive line did struggle last year protecting their quarterback and failed to consistently open significant running lanes for its running backs.

On defense, we know Penn State will probably be fine. They do only return 5 starters, but much like Alabama, look for them to fill the holes with some quality talent. In fact, even though the defensive line lost a monster in Jared Odrick in the first round of the NFL draft, there is the potential for their defensive lines to be one of the most consistent units. Also, much like Alabama, they will be a fan favorite back at linebacker from an ACL injury suffered last year. In fact, they will be replacing three starters at linebacker.

Overall on offense, the Tide should have some great matchups go in their favor especially when if comes to Julio Jones on the outside and matching up power in the trenches. While Penn States defense is usually sound, the Alabama offense will still be too much for them to handle. Especially as the game goes on, and they begin to wear the defensive line and linebackers down just in time for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to be at their best. As for the matchup for the Tide’s defense, it will be a long day for whoever is calling the plays. With the talent  the Tide has on the defensive and at line linebacker, matched with our secondary’s speed (who looked like they were playing at  mach II the entire A-Day game), Saban will again come up with multiple looks that will force the Nittany Lions offensive line to struggle and create confusion.

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