Beat Writer Breakdown: Breaking down the Penn State-Michigan football game with David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News
A year ago, 13th-ranked Penn State came to Ann Arbor to play a Michigan football team sitting one win from bowl eligibility. The Nittany Lions, led by senior quarterback Daryll Clark, handily beat Michigan that day, 35-10.
Michigan didn't win a game the rest of the season.
Now, Michigan travels to Penn State on Saturday for an 8 p.m. game with the Nittany Lions, again one win away from going to a bowl. This time, though, Penn State is starting an inexperienced quarterback and has troubles of its own.
To figure out what's going on with Penn State, AnnArbor.com caught up with David Jones of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News. His work can be found on PennLive.com.
Q: Penn State has struggled this season. What would you say has been the Nittany Lions’ biggest issue?
Q: Will the night-time/Halloween atmosphere help Penn State? Why or why not?
DJ: "No. This team is slow on D. I don't see how drunken 19-year-olds in masks are going to affect that."
Q: When it comes to the Penn State offense, what has been the biggest issue for its inefficiency and how did it start?
DJ: "It really started when Pat Devlin and his parents chafed at not getting a start at Iowa in '08, after Daryll Clark suffered a concussion at Ohio State the preceding game. Devlin made up his mind then to transfer to Delaware (Joe Flacco U.), where he's currently tearing it up against FCS competition. That left PSU in the breach at QB. Kevin Newsome was never the answer. When Clark used up his eligibility after '09, they had no one to step in. Bolden is very poised and has a great release, but he has a substandard offensive line in front of him with a pair of converted guards trying to play tackle. He can't learn when he has no time. And now he's suffered a concussion at Minnesota. Further, Evan Royster has been listless and is STILL a handful of yards from the school career rushing record he was expected to break three weeks ago."
Q: Could this actually be Joe Paterno’s last year? And, if it is, would that serve as a motivational factor with this group?
DJ: "Yes ('Could.' Not 'is,' necessarily). And no, at least not until the Michigan State game."
Q: What’s the best-case/worst-case scenario for Penn State? In other words, what needs to happen for the Nittany Lions to win? How do they end up losing?
DJ: "They have to score more than 40 points on that horrible Michigan defense. I could actually see an over-under of about 75 in this game. Both defenses are tissue."
Q: How does Penn State deal with a supposedly-healthy Denard Robinson?
DJ: "Not elegantly. He could have another 503-yard game."