College football mailbag (cont.)
OK, Stewart -- I've challenged all my friends in the ACC (and SEC) to step up in the Conference Showdown. Here's to us making a comeback on the Big Ten. And as the daughter of an educator, thanks for this -- these teachers and kids need our help!!!
Thanks, Lauree. Your call to action may have worked, because ACC fans have jumped into third place and SEC fans have begun closing the gap on their Big Ten counterparts in our ongoing showdown to see who can raise the most money for public-school classrooms at DonorsChoose.org. Thanks to everybody who's contributed so far -- more than $20,000 raised with four weeks to go.
Perhaps some of the recipients of the SEC's recently announced $2.25 billion mega-deal with ESPN can see fit to spare a few dimes.
Stewart: Isn't it time Penn State's offense delivers on its end to back up what has been a solid defense the past four years? Penn State has been in the top 15 in run defense and scoring defense during that span. Now, the offense returns a solid line, game-breaking speed at receiver and running back and no matter how the QB battle plays out, a solid QB. Is there an offense in the nation that has more to prove than this bunch? People can cry about Paterno all they want, but these players have got to deliver for this team -- NOW!!!
Grr -- that's the spirit! JoePa should let this guy give the locker-room speech.
It's no secret Penn State's offense has dreadfully underachieved the past couple of years, mostly because Joe, as he's been wont to do lately, tried to fit a square peg into a round hole with Anthony Morelli. It's not that Morelli was a bad quarterback, but there was no way he could run anything but a traditional, pro-style offense, which wasted the aforementioned speed of guys like Derrick Williams and Deon Butler. Teams could play a base coverage against the Nittany Lions and still get ample pressure on Morelli because he was no threat to take off running.
That's why I like the idea of moving back to the spread, a la the 2005 Orange Bowl team, assuming expected starter Darryl Clark proves an adept quarterback. Penn State should be able to get more creative and maximize some of that speed on the outside. But here's the rub: Unfortunately, I think this is the year that renowned defense you speak of will take a bit of a step back.
For one thing, the unit wasn't particularly dominant last season, despite what the statistics might show. Their secondary really struggled when it came time to face teams with legit receivers like Ohio State, Illinois and Indiana. But more relevant to this season is the loss of Sean Lee, the guy Penn State was counting on to be that Paul Posluszny/Dan Connor-type leader of the defense, not to mention the Nittany Lions' ever-thinning defensive line depth, what with the dismissals of Chris Baker and Phil Taylor as well as Devon Still's recent broken ankle.
In other words, the offense may finally "deliver" for you, Mike, but with the defense's woes they may cancel each other out.
What do you think about the decision by Frank Beamer to redshirt Tyrod Taylor this year and start Sean Glennon? Since you have called for a Hokie loss to ECU in the first game, do you think his decision may be reversed if Glennon has a bad game?
I think it's a great decision. After struggling earlier in his career, Glennon proved to be a more than capable quarterback last season who spearheaded the Hokies' late-season drive to the ACC title. There's no question Taylor has the makings of a big-time dual-threat guy, but the only reason he was thrown into the fire last season was in hopes that his mobility would help offset an offensive line that was getting manhandled badly early in the year. Now that the line is no longer a weakness, Glennon can relax knowing he's the anointed leader, and Beamer can get an extra year's services out of Taylor.
That being said, Glennon may very well struggle early due to the fact he has no one to throw to. Which brings us to ...
I am amazed that you still have a job. You are by far the most incompetent sports writer of all time. East Carolina will lose to Virginia Tech by at least 10 points. What an embarrassment you are.
Oh, I'm fully prepared for a season full of embarrassment now that SI.com has created a game where the goal is to beat me at picking football games. I'm going to go ahead and concede now that I fully anticipate finishing in 2,000th place in my own College Football Challenge in the hopes maybe you all will spare me some of the inevitable, mocking e-mails in the weeks to come.
But I do think East Carolina will win Saturday.
Speaking of Saturday ... I'm headed to Baton Rouge to take in the first matchup of defending national champions. I'm bringing my camera and hoping to capture some of the pregame atmosphere for you guys via our new blog, The Sweep.
To that end, I'm looking to find a dedicated group of Appalachian State fans that's traveling to the game and will be in town Friday. Contact me with your details.
And to anyone else attending any game this weekend -- be safe and have fun.
Stewart Mandel's book, Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football, is now available in paperback with an update chapter on the wild 2007 season.