Posts Tagged ‘Larry Johnson’

“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Penn State Blue-White 2012

In Penn State Football on April 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I have to say watching the 2012 Penn State football Blue-White game without Joe Paterno, Tom Bradley, Jay Paterno, Bill Kenney, Dick Anderson, and Galen Hall on the sidelines, or in the pressbox, was a very unusual site.

The Bill O’Brien era is under way. The crowd of 60,000 had a beautiful, sun drenched, day for football in Happy Valley.

Obviously, O’Brien and his staff have a great deal of work ahead of them. They’re installing new systems on both sides of the ball, as well is in the strength program. They need to learn the returning player’s strengths, weaknesses and personalities. All the while, O’Brien, in his first head coaching position, must learn all of the responsibilities of a head coach, off the field as well as on the field, while getting to know the new staff he has put together.

Once the game started I’m not actually sure what I saw, or think I saw, about the 2012 version of Nittany Lions. With the understanding that the new staff wasn’t planning to show much of their new schemes, we’re trying to filter out what we think we saw. The QB play seemed as erratic as it has been in the past. Matt McGloin, 22 plays, Paul Jones, 22 plays, Rob Bolden, 21 plays and Shane McGregor, 11 plays, saw the action. Combined the group completed 23 of 48 passes for 343 yards, 2 touchdowns and 5 interception, 3 by Bolden. The passing game was very simple and was somewhat successful with short passes. Where they had problems was throwing the ball down the field or in to tight spots. Overall, there seemed to very little difference in the top three guys so the competition will continue.

As far as the running game, Silas Read played only one series in the game. Read is a top notch running back and one of the best in the Big 10. With Read out of action it was tough to determine what you were watching. Overall, the offense rushed for 144 yards. Bill Belton, being converted from wide receiver/shotgun quarterback to running back rushed for a game high 52 yards. Fullback Zach Zwinak added 37 yards and a touchdown.

The receivers played well overall. Allen Robinson and Shawney Kersey led the team with 3 receptions each.

On the other side of the ball the defense collected 8 sacks to go with their 5 interceptions. The starting seven of Jordan Hill, DaQuan Jones, Sean Stanley, Pete Massaro, Mike Hull, Glenn Carson and Gerald Hodges appeared strong as a group. The defensive backs on the other hand were questionable. The DB’s and LB’s allowing 343 yards, mostly underneath, but did have the 5 interceptions and 8 sacks. There were times when it appeared the offense could run the ball at will.

That brings us to the offensive line, with only one returning starter. At times they looked good and at other times, looked adequate at best. They put up yards but they gave up sacks. They are surely a work in progress.

At the end of the day, the biggest concern still has to be the quarterback play. First of all, who will win the job? Secondly will they be better than they were last year? If the QB play isn’t better, the O-Line will need to improve quickly to allow Read and the running game to control the football. On defense, returning coaches Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlindin will do a great job with their groups as they have for years. The DB’s need experience, depth and repetitions. All four starters graduated from the 2011 team. There’s experimenting going on there, with possible position changes to help in that area.

Summer workouts and Fall practice will be very extremely important in the growth of this team that returns 10 total starters. The season opener is September 1st against Ohio University at Beaver Stadium. They follow the opener with a game at Virginia, before returning home to play Navy and Temple before opening the Big 10 schedule.

It’s way too early to make any conclusions, however, our take-away from the Blue-White game is that there’s plenty of work to do.

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My JoePa Story – WE ARE PENN STATE!!!

In Joe Paterno on January 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

 I’m very saddened by the turn of events in Coach Joe Paterno’s health. This is such a sad day for all Penn State fans and followers. At the time I was living and coaching high school football in Florida. I had the opportunity to meet coach for the first time in 1994 when I took my first player to the Penn State football camp through Tom Bradley, who has become a friend over all these years. A few years later I had the opportunity to take my son, Billy Furman, and his friend Greg Adkins into the football building and have a picture taken with Coach that I later got signed and have cherished. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was going to take the picture of Billy, Greg and Coach when Joe said to me, “Coach, do you want to get in the picture?” Of course I did, so he had a staff member take the picture so that I could be in it too. What a great moment! (I have the photo posted on my Facebook page, Philly Pressbox). I had the opportunity to meet Coach several other times over the years but the most exciting time was actually over the phone. It was 2001 and Penn State was again recruiting one of our players, Wayne Dickens, who ended up going to Auburn. Wayne was being recruited by Bob White and Larry Johnson and Bob had called me at my office to check on Wayne’s recruiting status. At that time Bob said, hang on a second Coach wants to talk to you. I proceeded to talk to Coach Paterno for 15 minutes. During that time we talked about everything except for football for the first 13 minutes. He wanted to know how my family was doing, how it was in Florida and of course how the weather was. We spent the last 2 minutes talking about Wayne and his recruitment to Penn State. It was a great time to be talking to someone who you think you’ll never have an opportunity to actually feel like you’re spending time with other than a handshake. I only met Coach once after that but those memories will never be forgotten.

The two other things I will remember most about the impact Coach Paterno had on me was the people who I met that were directly impacted by Coach. The first year I went to the camp I took one of our players, Keydrick Vincent, to the camp. Keydrick was 6’5” and 340 lbs at the time so obviously you could see him. He ended up going to Ole Miss and playing in the NFL for 10 seasons. When we were on the small plane between State College and Pittsburgh on the way back Matt Suhey was on that plane. When we got to Pittsburgh Matt waiting for us to get off the plane and spoke to us for 10 minutes. He spoke about his PSU experience and about his experience with the Bears and playing in the same backfield with Walter Payton. When Matt walked away I remember Keydrick saying, “Oh my God that was Matt Suhey of the Bears and he’s the coolest guy I ever met”. Talk about impact on an 18-year-old. I know Keydrick never forgot it through his years in the NFL. I also have had a chance to meet John Cappelletti on various occasions. Cappy is always talking about the values he learned from Coach and PSU. I’ve become friends with Adam Taliaferro over the last few years. Most people know Adam’s story but don’t know the person. Adam credits Coach Paterno, his parents and Penn State University for his success as an attorney and involvement in many charitable groups. Adam wants to and is going to make a difference in people’s lives. The list goes on and on but I think the way the PSU football staff handled themselves says all that needs to be said. Anything less than be a first class professional when dealing with high school coaches and players was unacceptable. Coat and tie when visiting high schools was mandatory but the actions and the impression about what to expect academically and in college life was put ahead of what to expect on the football field. The final impact that I feel is the actions of the PSU fans either at home or on the road. There is nothing like a road trip to Beaver Stadium for a football game with all out tailgating. It’s an event like no other. If you’ve never been part of it you have no idea what you’re missing. Visitors can come to Happy Valley, walk College Avenue and go to any local establishment and know they’re going to have a good time and not have to worry about the actions of fans. When the massive Penn State road show heads out everyone knows they’ll be first class fans. It is all a part of the foundation that was laid by Coach Paterno as he built the football program and the university over 45 years as head football coach.

Coach proved that the Grand Experiment can work. Quality athletes can be great people as well as great athletes. Many have become very successful in their personal lives outside of football because they were good students who were held to academic standards like every other student. Coach Paterno led the charge that made 10’s of thousands proud to say “WE ARE PENN STATE”.

Last on this list but surely the reason he was able to build the program he has is his 409 career wins, more than any other major college football coach. Coach really didn’t care about all of records. As far as he was concerned it was important to him how it affected his players and his coaches and fans. Being able to brag that you were a Nittany Lions fan was a special place to be. Whether you were in Gator Country, Seminole Country, Alabama, Tennessee or anywhere else in the country a PSU conversation always led to every fans respect for Joe Paterno as a great coach and a great person who coached college football the right way.

Coach, you will be missed by all of Penn State fans and all fans around the country.



Penn State All Time Football Team – Part 3

In Penn State All Time Team, Penn State Football on January 12, 2012 at 5:56 am

PART 3 – Now that the Joe Paterno era of Penn State football has officially ended I wanted to have some fun and come up with my All Time Joe Paterno Penn State football team. There was actually a lot of thought that went in to this. I did a good bit of statistical research, used my long memory of Penn State football games and seasons gone bye and of course a lot of my opinion. I also tried to base my picks on their Penn State career and not their NFL career which leaves a few NFL Hall of Famers off the 1st Team. Please feel free to leave your comments. All positions can easily be disputed since there have been many great players to come through Happy Valley. I’ve even taken the liberty to add a few extra players because I couldn’t split the hair on who to pick. It was tough enough as it was. Part 1, I will pick the Offensive Line (5) and TE (1). Part 2, I will pick the WR (3) and QB (1). Part 3 I will pick the RB (3) and it was tough. Part 4 the DL (4), and DB’s (4) and Part 5 I will pick the LB’s (4), it was impossible and I may still change my mind at the last second, the kicker (1) and punter (1).  I’ve added a 2nd Team and an Honorable Mention list.


I selected 3 RUNNING BACKS for my 1st Team and here they are:

Curt Warner – 2 Time All American (81 & 82) Curt was inducted in to the College Football Hall of Fame. Warner was the leading rusher on the 1982 National Championship team that beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. He is #2 All Time in career rushing yardage to Evan Royster – 3398. Most career 100 yard rushing games with 18; Warner rushed for 922 yards as a sophomore, 1044 as a junior and 1041 as a senior. He scored 24 career touchdowns. Curt was a 1st round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks. He played in the NFL from 1983-1990 and played in 3 Pro Bowls.

Ki-Jana Carter – 1st Team All American (94). Played only 3 seasons before becoming the #1 pick in the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He is #9 on the all time leading rusher list with 2829 yards. #3 in rushing yards in a season with 1539. #1 in 100 yard games in a season with 9. #3 in career TD’s scored with 34. #2 to Warner in career 100 yard games with 17. The statistic that put Carter on the 1st team was that he averaged 7.2 yards per carry for his career. He led the ground game for the 1994 undefeated team that is considered the greatest offense in Penn State history finishing 12-0 and beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Carter played through years of injuries but played off and on in the NFL from 1995-2004.

John Cappelletti – 1st Team All American (73).  Cappy was inducted in to the College Football Hall of Fame. He won the 1973 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and UPI Player of the Year leading the Nittany Lions to an undefeated season.  Cappy rushed for 1117 yards and 12 TD’s as a junior and 1522 yards and 17 TD’s as a senior. His 1524 yards is #4 on the single season rushing list. Cappy also holds the record for 3 consecutive 200 yard games and career and single season carries. Winning the Heisman is a free pass to the 1st Team. John was a 1st round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams. He played in the NFL from 1974-1983.

2nd Team:

Lydell Mitchell –1st Team All American (73). Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Ranks #8 on the all time career rushing yardage list with 2934 yards but only played 3 seasons  because freshman were not eligible to play. Lydell ranks #1 in career TD’s with 38. His 1567 yards his senior season rank #2 on the all time list for yardage in a season. Mitchell had 15 career 100 yard games. He teamed with Franco Harris in the PSU backfield. Lydell was a 2nd round draft choice of the Baltimore Colts. He played in the NFL from 1972-1980 and played in 2 Pro Bowls.  

Curtis Enis – 1st Team All American (97) Curtis is #5 on the PSU career rushing list with 3256 yards. He is second to Lydell Mitchell with 36 TD’s scored. Enis led the team in rushing for three straight seasons (95-97). He holds the PSU record for 8 consecutive 100 yard games. Enis is tied with Carter for 2nd on the all time list with 17 – 100 yard rushing games. Curtis was drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft by the Chicago Bears. He played in the NFL from 1998-2000.

Honorable Mention:

Larry Johnson, DJ Dozier, Blair Thomas, Evan Royster, Tony Hunt, Matt Suhey, Eric McCoo, Franco Harris, Charlie Pittman

It should be noted that Larry Johnson had the greatest single season for a running back in PSU history. LJ rushed for 2087 yards in 2002. He also has the top 4 single game rushing yards in history with 327, 279, 279 and 257 yards. LJ scored 26 career TD’s. He earned 1st Team All American honors in ’02. He also won the Maxwell, Doak Walker and Walter Camp Awards. The problem with putting Johnson higher than Honorable Mention is that he did it all in one season.

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