Friday, September 21, 2007

Nine in a row?

Some pre-game thoughts:

-There is no doubt that Penn State will be the toughest defense we have seen all year. CB Justin King and LB Dan Conner are All-Big Ten, maybe even All-American type defenders. LBs Sean Lee and SS Anthony Anthony Scirrotto are not far behind. The DL, although young, features a number of highly recruited players.
-Given this, you would think we would do something to vary up our offensive game plan. But of course, this is not our SOP in the Carr era. We will come up with some small variations off of our standard zone left, a different pulling guard, an addition receiver in motion, etc.
-With a freshman QB (likely) and all-everything Mike Hart, Penn State will put 8 guys in the box and will blitz like crazy in obvious passing situations.
-Accordingly, we should sprinkle in a fair amount of play action to keep the defense honest. We should also put Mallet in the shotgun on passing downs (stop me if you've heard this one). Will we? Probably not as much as most fans would like us to.
-Luckily, Penn State's offense does not appear to be half as explosive as Oregon's. QB Anthony Morelli has shown a tendency to fold under pressure, and their running game has been less than spectacular. Combine that with a coaching staff that matches ours for stubborn play calling, and this could be a very low scoring affair.
-The one thing Penn State does have on offense is a good set of receivers. Expect a lot of quick outs, slants, and other things that will try and exploit out LBs and DBs horrible tackling skills.
-I would be happy with 20-25 pass attempts for 150 yards for Mallet. Combined with a 30 carry, 150+ yard day for Hart, and we probably win.

Thoughts on other games:
-MSU/ND: This game is all gravy for Michigan fans. Of course we have talked all week about watching the ND hand wringing. A loss here, especially if they don't score an offensive TD, will only intensify that. An MSU loss will bring up bad memories of past meltdowns for the Spartans. My guess is that the Irish come out fired up, score a TD or two, maybe lead at half, but fizzle out in the second half to lose 24-14 or so.
-SEC Upstart weekend - Crossover weekend in the SEC with four east teams traveling west. In three of the four games an upstart (South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky) seeks to prove that their early season success is no fluke. The Wildcat / Razorback game should be a wild offensive shootout, the Cock / Tiger a defensive bar brawl, and the Tide / Bulldog game somewhere in between. Luckily all three games are at different times.
-Wisconsin / Iowa: This is the prime time game on ABC? I'm guessing the ABC execs wish Michigan would breakdown and allow a night game at Michigan Stadium. So would I.
-Purdue / Minnesota: Back in 1993, the Gophers hit a field goal with 18 seconds left to beat Purdue 59-56. Two Purdue defensive coaches resigned the next day. While I wouldn't expect a game quite as close, I could easily see Purdue being somewhere north of 500-600 yards of total offense against a Gopher team that couldn't stop Bowling Green, Miami, or Florida Atlantic.