Thursday, November 13, 2008

Q&A with Zombie Nation.

Penn State blog Zombie Nation and I exchanged some questions and answers about Saturday's scintillating matchup. My answers to his questions are here; his answers to my questions are below.

1. Well, sorry about that one last weekend. At least this time, you guys lost your shot by actually losing a game, not by allowing a couple of garbage time touchdowns to IU as in 1994. And at least the Lions remain favorites to win the conference and head to Pasadena. For so many years, in the pre-BCS days, reaching (and winning, hopefully) the Rose Bowl was the pinnacle of success for any Big Ten school. Especially for those of us who follow schools that rarely get there, it retains huge appeal. I'm wondering, given Penn State's fairly recent relationship with the Big Ten compared to the other members, whether the game has any special significance for Penn State fans. Is making the Rose Bowl a big deal, or is it just another BCS bowl in a year in which you would rather be playing for the title?

ZN: It's always "just another BCS bowl." You have to understand (I know you do, but just saying), that Penn State made itself as a football power as an independent. It was either the National Championship or bust for decades. Also, there is no historical significance to the Rose Bowl for Penn State fans, as the 1994 edition didn't mean squat, and the last time before that was 1923! Yes, we would love to win the conference, but it will be yet another shared title, so really the Rose Bowl is no different than the Orange Bowl was three years ago.

2. The numbers I have seen install Penn State as a more than 30 point favorite. Any particular concerns about IU? And presuming that the answer is no, what do you hope to see from your team as compared to last week? How in the world did Iowa beat Penn State?

ZN: It looked to me like Penn State didn't check the weather until the first snap. Iowa played with the weather, while Penn State played against the weather. I'm not blaming the loss on that, but it definitely played a part. Well, that, and the fact that Iowa had blow heaters on its sidelines, while Penn State did not.

This weekend, I want to see Penn State play like it did the first nine games–confident, poised and clean. I'm not so sure Indiana will roll over, especially since Penn State may very well come out flat. If Penn State can get on the score board before Indiana, things should be fine for PSU.

3. So, Daryll Clark spent two years behind Anthony Morelli? Why? Was his play this year expected, or did he come out of nowhere?

ZN: He did sort of come out of nowhere. Everyone will tell you that they "knew" he was better than Morelli, but really, there's no substance to that argument. Clark never played meaningful downs, until the Alamo Bowl, and then he just ran the ball. I do think the Iowa game proved or disproved nothing at all, as everyone's saying "see, I told you he was overrated." Every quarterback has a bad game, and the Iowa outing was it. Clark could return to form this week, and if he does, Michigan State could be in trouble.

4. I'm sure you enjoy Joe Paterno questions as much as I enjoy Bob Knight questions. But, for those of us who don't follow PSU on a weekly basis, is Joe expected to return as head coach next year? If not, what is the conventional wisdom on a successor–i.e., doe Joe have the clout or desire to install one of his assistants, or will the next coach be an outsider?

ZN: I really do hope, if Penn State finishes 12-1, that Joe Paterno will step down. More so, I hope that if someone is installed as HC, it's Tom Bradley. As you said, I've heard this a thousand times, and have had plenty of practice with the argument. Jay Paterno is no more than a position coach, if that. Bradley should get the nod, giving the defense over to Larry Johnson, Sr. On offense, Galen Hall will leave when Joe does. Joe and Galen already said that much. So, if an outside hire must be made, I would go with a new offensive coordinator, leaving the rest. There are plenty of good Penn Staters out there to bring in, who would understand how PSU works. But then again, some of the inside guys are pretty good picks for OC.

Good luck this weekend, you Hoosiers will need it!

1 comment:

PSUgirl said...

Great "exchange" - how very UN of you all.

I hate to do it, but I have to disagree with my compatriot on a few points.

While, as PSU fans, we don't have a storied history of going to and/or trying to get to the Rose Bowl - that didn't stop us from wishing that we could go. I think that most PSU fans were jealous of the Rose Bowl, because there was absolutely no way we were going to get to play there - and then the one time we did (as a big ten team) - it, basically, ruined our chances at the MNC.

I think that nearly every fan knew that anything(one) would have been "better" than Anthony Morelli - it isn't so much that we knew that Clark or Devlin was better - but that AM just wasn't working. At PSU we've been force fed quarterbacks for, well, forever - and, unless a kid has mad skills and/or is a total maverick - we're going to over coach him as well - Morelli had neither.

Finally - nepotism reigns at PSU - we as fans and our school's admin have no experience with choosing a new coach - or assessing when/how to rate him. I grew up in a house where Joe Paterno's resignation was demanded every season (at some point) - but I honestly don't know what the team, school and fan base will do without him.