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2012 Penn State Season Preview

In College Football, Penn State Football on August 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm

With the college football season upon us we asked our friends at College Football Coverage to provide Philly Pressbox with an update preview of the upcoming 2012 season. As usual, they have provided in-depth position player analysis and game by game win-loss predictions. With all of the turmoil of the last year, a new coaching staff and the loss of several key players it looks like rough times ahead for Nittany Lions in 2012.

Feel free to leave your comments below. Also, you can follow all of college football, including weekly breakdowns of the top five games of the week, as well as order a nice college football preview at www.collegefootballcoverage.com. The website is free and the preview is available for only $2.99. The preview doesn’t cost much but it’s full of great information for the college football fan.

CollegeFootballCoverage.com

2012 Preview

Penn State Nittany Lions

 2011 Review

 Last season was a very disappointing year for the wonderful fan base, alumni and of course the storied football program of Penn State. Joe Paterno, the legendary coach of 61 years, was caught up in a very difficult situation that eventually led to his dismissal. With everything going on around the program, the team rallied and fought hard, but it was still another subpar season on the football field for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State finished the season at 9-4 and lost 3 of the last 4 games including a blowout loss to Houston in their bowl game. The offense really struggled in 2011 ranking near the bottom of the FBS in total offense averaging 342 yards per game. They also had a hard time scoring points averaging below 20 point per game. In fact, they were ranked 110 in scoring offense. The running game was really mediocre as well ranking 46th in the FBS with only 165 yards a game. Silas Redd is a very good player, but teams really stacked the box with the inability of the QB’s to distribute the football effectively. The passing offense ranked near the bottom at 96th in the FBS and only generated 177 yards a game. It was a very tough year across the board for the offense and the only positive was the offensive line which only allowed 1 sack a game and ranked 18th nationally in this category.

The defense was very strong in 2011, really driving the Nittany Lions to their 9-4 season. They ranked 5th in scoring defense at just over 16 points a game and 20th in total defense in the FBS. The rush defense wasn’t great ranking 42nd and giving up 165 yards a game, but the pass defense was strong ranking in the top 20 at number 17. They were also able to get pressure on the opposing QB’s ranking 26th in sacks for the season with over 2 sacks a game. The defense was the glue that held things together in this very difficult and tumultuous season for PSU.

Longtime assistant coach Tom Bradley filled in admirably when Paterno was let go, and he provided a glimpse into the kind of head coach he could be, but the Nittany Lions were just not talented enough to overcome their deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball.

 2012 Preview

  Penn State is looking for a fresh start as they embark on the first season without Joe Paterno on the sidelines. There were some people out there, including alumni, that didn’t particularly like the direction that the school went when they hired an outsider with no Penn State ties. Bill O’Brien, a first time head coach, and former offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick in New England, was hired to replace the long time legend in Happy Valley. We at CFC actually feel this was a great move by the school and not just a stopgap to something else in the future. This hire has the potential to be a monumental move and one that could save the program and actually propel it into the new age of college football. It will be tough with the hand that they were dealt by the NCAA, but he has handled himself very well and done a great job holding things together. O’Brien will implement more pro-style elements to the offense, he will develop the QB’s and the smartest thing he did upon being hired, was keep assistant coaches Larry Johnson, one of the best recruiters in the country and LB’s coach Ron Vanderlinden.

Before the sanctions came down, things looked positive for this new staff. They were recruiting well, there was a new buzz around the program and there was true optimism about what the future could hold.

Then came the very unique and uncharacteristic ruling by the NCAA, after the Freeh report was released, hitting the university with major sanctions including a 4 year bowl ban and the loss of scholarships over the next 4 years. This matter has been discussed and covered in this very forum, so we won’t get into the particulars of the validity of the report or the sanctions, but the NCAA was very heavy handed with the sanctions and it changed the entire dynamic for the 2012 season.

With ten players transferring including some of the very best on the roster in Silas Redd, Justin Brown and Khairi Fortt, this left PSU with a huge void in terms of depth and the offense will simply not be very dynamic with loss of such playmakers.

Penn State will now return two starters from last year’s offense that really struggled to be consistent. McGloin will be the starting QB and look for him to play better under the tutelage of O’Brien, but he has a very limited skill set.

The running game will look different with Redd at USC, and look for Bill Belton, Derek Day and freshman Akeel Lynch to get the bulk of the carries. This could be a serviceable group for PSU and Lynch is exciting, and could be the future at the position for the Nittany Lions.

The wide receivers will need to step up with the loss of Smith and Brown in the off season. Players like Shawney Kersey, Alex Kenney and Allen Robinson will have to produce. This is an inexperienced group, but they do have some talent.

The offensive line was pretty good last season, but they only return one starter from that group. Now, they do have some players coming back that have played before, so there is some experience. They will need to be the foundation for the Nittany Lions in 2012, and they have recruited well in this area, so we don’t expect a huge drop-off. This could actually be the best position group for PSU in 2012.

The defense will need to replace four of the front seven and two of the back four, but they have been able to recruit very well on this side of the ball, so we don’t expect a major drop-off in terms of production. A lot of the players that will fill-in next season have played for the Nittany Lions in the past. Players like LB’s Mike Hull and Glenn Carson.

Look for DE Deon Barnes and DE Sean Stanley to have a big years and DE Pete Massaro is back from an injury and he will provide depth. At defensive tackle PSU is pretty healthy with the likes of DaQuan Jones and Jordan Hill playing at the Nose and 3-Technique.

The second level will be solid with the above mentioned Carson stepping in. LB Michael Mauti is back and his leadership will be needed and of course the Nittany Lions return a tremendous player in Gerald Hodges at OLB.

If there is one area of concern for Penn State on defense though, it has to be the secondary, as they don’t have much depth. They will have two new starters pairing up with Stephen Morris and Malcolm Willis, who are back in 2012 for PSU. Corner Back Adrian Amos and Safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong will have to step up and fill the void of the departing seniors from last season. Unlike up front on the defensive line, they just don’t have the bodies to feel comfortable if any injuries occur.

Overall we expect the defense to still be very good and they will likely keep PSU in a lot of the games in 2012.

 Prediction Time:

 The schedule will be tough on Penn State in 2012, even with 7 home games. There will be some highs and lows, but with us projecting inconsistent QB play again, the Nittany Lions will once again struggle in some of the bigger games. We expect the offense to really struggle with big plays in the pass game and the run game will be more serviceable than explosive. The defense will keep the Nittany Lions in some ball games, but it won’t be enough.

We believe that the Nittany Lions will play inspired ball early in the season, but once the schedule starts to get difficult, the season will turn for the worse and we expect to see a very tough run through late September all the way through the end of the season. Below is our forecast for the season with game predictions.

  Schedule and Prediction for 2012 Season

 CFC predicts that Penn State will go 4-8 in 2012

 9/1 OHIO AT PEN STATE –- WIN

9/8 PENN STATE AT VIRGINIA – LOSS

9/15 NAVY AT PENN STATE — WIN

9/22 TEMPLE AT PENN STATE — WIN

9/29 PENN STATE AT ILLINOIS – Loss

10/6 NORTHWESTERN AT PENN STATE – Loss

10/13 OPEN DATE

10/20 PENN STATE AT IOWA – Loss

10/27 OHIO STATE AT PENN STATE – LOSS

11/3 PENN STATE AT PURDUE– Loss

11/10 PENN STATE AT NEBRASKA — LOSS

11/17 INDIANA AT PENN STATE – WIN

11/24 WISCONSIN AT PENN STATE — LOSS

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