The offense this year should be fine. The most important cog in the scheme - Daryll Clark - is back, healthy and one year more familiarized the with spread HD (HD actually stands for highly diverse here, not high definition? I was confused too, whatever.) The receiving trio of Norwood, Butler, and Williams lost is not as big of a deal as people think. The only one of the three that stretched the field was Butler, and Williams' loss will be felt more in the KR game. The guys stepping in: Brent Brackett, Derek Moye, and Chaz Powell, along with about 3 other youngsters will do just fine. Clark has been putting in countless extra hours with these guys all summer and I expect them to be on the same page. The run game remains excellent with Evan Royster (an effortless running style that produces 6.5 yds/ carry) and Stephon Green (4.29). The offensive line is a concern, but pretty much everyone has seen action before besides Matt Stankiewitch (great name) and I expect Clark's reads to be sharper and he should be able to get rid of the ball quicker so they don't have to protect as long. Penn State will run a lot of two TE sets with great pass catchers Mickey Shuler and Andrew Quarless who seems to finally have his act together. This offense will average well over 30 pts/game, the destiny of Penn State this year really comes down to the defense.
The D line is never an issue with coach Larry Johnson consistently bringing in recruits and coaching them to the highest level. 10th round pick Aaron Maybin declared that his replacement Jack Crawford will be an All-American at PSU before all is said and done. Everyone else seems to agree, a former basketball player who picked up football 4 years ago, Crawford has size at 6'5" and speed to provide a lethal pass rush, he just needs to learn how to use his hands and he should terrorize qbs all year. Losing Mike Mauti at LB for the year really hurts, he completed a speedy trio of linebackers that wouldve been capable of stuffing the run and dropping into coverage. Exactly what is necessary when State mysteriously decides to stay in the 4-3 when the offense lines up with 3-4 wideouts. Now we have to start Josh Hull, who started all last year but does not have the speed to cover. My hope is that when a team decides to run our lbs ragged with crossing routes all day that Bradley adjusts and plays some nickel. Our secondary is green, but better than last years, because last year's was green and involved two players that switched position for the start of the season. Mark Rubin was a wideout turned safety at the last minute and Tony Davis was a safety turned corner, neither was a full time starter before then. This year we have a healthy Nick Sukay at free safety, a junior who has had ankle problems but is uber athletic and hits hard. Drew Astorino at SS, who was our nickel back last year and played well. Knowledge Timmons at corner, who hasn't played much in his time at Penn State, but at least he's been at corner his entire career, if he can avoid PI's he should be okay. Timmons should be replaced by AJ Wallace before conference play. Wallace is our most gifted corner but missed some time because of his grades, but he finished the summer with the marks that were required and now he has to work his way back up from the bottom (I expect this to coincidentally happen against Iowa). The other corner spot will be played by D'Anton Lynn, a promising sophomore out of Texas that has had some game experience as well. If the secondary can gel and the coaching staff doesn't get too stubborn against teams that spread them out (Illinois worries me) then expect Penn State to have a top 10 defense again.
Quickly thrown together, but it's a Friday of a three day weekend, I have to go.