I’m not sure what, if anything, we can tell about Penn State’s ability to play football this season based on their first game.  As we all know they squeaked out an overtime win on an end zone interception to best the Appalachian State Mountaineers 45-38.  I’m not letting that close score fool me though.  App State is in the Sun Belt Conference and while it’s a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference it has some pretty good teams in it – and App State is one of the best.

Over the last three years they averaged a 7-1 conference record and a 10-3 overall record so they consistently play good ball.  Last year they lost to Wake Forest by a single point then the year before it took overtime for Tennessee to win against them. So the fact that they almost won against the Nitters doesn’t surprise me all that much.

I guess what I’m saying just as I’m not sure how our Panthers are going to play on Saturday I’m also not sure how the Nitters will either.  The odds have moved a bit in PSU’s favor I believe.  If I remember correctly it was first posted at PSU -7.5 pre-season…then went up to PSU -10.5 right after the opener and now is this:

betting

PSU Odds

So if I read that correctly Pitt is getting between 8.5 to 15 (!) points.  Actually that sounds about right to me but again, who knows?

I do know that I’m concerned very much about our passing defense going into this game. 263 yards is a lot to give up to anyone and to Albany it hurts a little bit more. But as coaches like to say “The biggest jump in quality is between Game One and Game Two!” of course they are talking about their team like they are in a vacuum.  Just as Pitt will be better this Saturday I’m thinking PSU will also – the key will be which team makes the biggest leap.

Something that I did notice about PSU was that their OL played pretty well (as did ours) in their giving up only one sack and two Tackles for Loss.  Our DL is going to have to put real and constant pressure on QB Trace McSorley if we want to contain their passing game.  Against Albany we had five sacks and six TFLs – if we can replicate that we’ll have a good chance on the afternoon.  Because I do think the difference will be which team passes the ball more effectively.

I’m also going to keep an eye on Miles Sanders their premier running back. Last Saturday he did a workman’s like job with 19 carries for 99 yards (4.8 ypc) and 2 TDs.  But on his career he’s averaging 6.2 ypc on 75 carries – he’s a good one and I think our defensive front seven will have their hands full with him.

But overall, as I said above, it is hard for me to get a handle on just what this PSU team is all about. Last season was a good one for them.  They ended up with an 11-2 record and scored an average of 41.4 ppg while only giving up 16.5 ppg.  However going into 2018 they have lost almost their whole LB corps and their starting DBs to graduation or leaving early and are re-building those units.  But I believe they have a lot of talented players waiting in the wings.

This is a “Know Your Enemy” article and there just isn’t enough quality info out there about the Nittany Lions for us to “know” what they really are about.  Will we see the team that almost lost to Appalachian State…or will we see a team that settles down and plays the type of football we have seen from them in the past?

Who knows?  And because it is Pitt vs Penn State there are always things that are unexpected going to happen.  We’ll do a “Game Predictions” article on Friday (tomorrow) and that’s where I’ll put down my winner and score numbers… but at this point and after watching both teams I do think we’ll have to get some bounces going our way to pull this game out… but again, who knows?

Not that these stats matter at this stage of the season but here’s Pitt’s NCAA standings (at least it is something to look at if you can read it):

stats albany

Here is the full listing if you want to see it…

 

35 thoughts on “Know the Enemy: Penn State 2018

  1. Hey everyone, if you are going to the game make sure you DO NOT wear white. Most likely, the Nitters will be trying to white-out our stadium, and we can’t help them out in that endeavor.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I expect PSU to be about the same as last year as far as schemes and talent. Franklin has recruited well so he has talent all over the field.

    Pitt Defense vs PSU Offense – edge to PSU due to QB, RB, WR talent and experienced O line

    Pitt Offense vs PSU Defense – Draw. PSU replaces a few guys in the secondary, but brings back some good DLs and LBs. Pitt’s got a talented QB, a suspect OL, new TEs, and decent RBs

    Coaching – Draw.

    Roster talent and team speed – edge to PSU, I would think.

    It will be fun to see what Pitt can do against a talented but so far unimpressive PSU team. Keys for Pitt will be tackling, and how well the two Pitt coordinators call the O and D. Watson needs to call a solid game like he did with Miami last year to keep PSU off balance. The new D-coordinator needs to keep pressure on McS while giving the CBs some help over the top.

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  3. Rocky — Sounds pretty reasonable to me…

    I think it will come down to can PITT make some plays on defense — some 3rd down stops and some turnovers…

    Go Pitt.

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  4. Major – I agree. We won’t stop them on all 3rd downs, but will need to stop them on a few each half. We’ve got to make some plays… And, open field tackling will be key. I hope they’ve practiced tackling this week…

    My heart tells me that we can overcome PSU’s talent edge. But, if I were a betting man, I’d have a hard time putting my money on Pitt due to PSU’s talent and speed edge.

    Go Pitt!

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  5. The problem is the Pitt secondary when it comes to the long ball. Emotionally I believe Pitt will have the edge in this game. But will it be enough to overcome the deficiencies we put out on the field defensively at safety?

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    1. Regarding the safety position – we need to see Campbell this week if he is healthy. He started the miami game last season and played lights out. D.Hamlin should show improvement from last game – if not, look for P.Ford to play some safety vs the nits.

      B.Garner seemed a step too slow on almost every play last week, but has shown he can play the position in the past. BTW, nit fans said the same (step too slow) about 2nd stringer Lamont Wade last week vs App State.

      Pitt’s D will look slightly different than last week in that you will see 5 DB’s on the field most of the time with 3 down lineman and 1 LB standing at the line of scrimmage (Wirginis or Pine). McKee and Brightwell played the OLB positions the best last week and were on the field a lot, even though Idowu and Zeise started.

      I would love to be in the locker room for the pre-game speech with Mike Ditka. Emotion? You want emotion – Ditka and Duzz will surely be bringing it on Saturday night.

      Buckle up buddies and babes, because we’ve got a barn burner brewing in the burgh. Beware!

      H2P!

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  6. I care about 2 things..

    -Pitt wins
    -The band lets us sing “PENN STATE SUCKS, PENN STATE SUCKS, P-E-N-N-S-T SUCKS!

    I’ve already headed to the game and am on day 1 of the 3-day Pitt Victory Bender. H2P

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  7. I see PSU throwing some deep balls early. They would be crazy not to do so. If they complete them it is going to be a long day. Pitt’s safties suck until they prove otherwise.

    We will see the real Pitt offense this week. I predict more TE catches, more Ashton. Pitt MUST be able to run the ball successfully. Let’s hope Bookser, Millan, Herndon and Dintino play their greatest game as seniors.
    Pitt has to keep their offense off the field. PSU lost a lot of guys on D, will their talent level overcome their lack of experience?

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  8. Just found the ACC networks on Sirius.

    Pat Narduzzi show was broadcast last night.

    The announcers last night and this AM were ripping on Penn State for being afraid of playing an in state rival every year.

    Love it.

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    1. NRS – on line streaming or a radio channel number. If a real channel, what is the number. Always listen to channel 84 college football station (espnu) when driving. Looking forward to an Sirius ACC channel almost as much as the tv channel.

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  9. Watson is going to have to open the playbook with, and Pickett is going to have to complete, some passes over the middle this week. That means Pickett can’t be having balls batted by D lineman like against Albany. Albany very effectively ran play action passes that freezed our LBs and Testaverde dropped the ball right over their heads but in front of our safeties … I think there is opportunity for us to do that to PSU’s young/inexperienced LBs.

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    1. Wouldn’t you want someone quicker than Brightwell getting that assignment?

      But I doubt they shadow McNugget, too many others to worry about… Up to the DL to contain the QB, for better or worse, in sickness and in health…

      Go Pitt.

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  10. Weather forecast looking like complete crap (unless we win).

    80% to 95% chance of rain during game time.

    “So you’re tellin’ me there is a chance.”

    Go Pitt!

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  11. Games like this often are decided by turnovers or splash plays like punt or kick off returns. The special teams MUST be on their game with no kick off run backs and good coverage on punts. The first score of this game will be really important, maybe decisive.

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    1. LOL, 4 games out of 78 that they do not pick the same winner between 3 experts. Later in the season this may mean more, not at this point, IMO.

      Last week many of their unanimous choices went down too…

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  12. Earlier forecast was for a 50% chance of rain so maybe there will be more rain then that. PSU probably loads box to stop our runs so maybe first down passes by Pickett would loosen them up. We need to get to McSorley and upset him. He is their leader.

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  13. I’m to the realization that the weather can and probably will be a factor tomorrow night. Remember Benny? there is nothing we can do.

    So now we have another X factor in this game. Is McSorely a mudder or is Pickett a mudder and never mind their Mothers. It’s a shame that the weather may suck but it could add to it’s historic memories I’m predicting it will be. I have to say though, I also feel really good that psu will jog onto the field tomorrow night with the same intensity as they would if they were playing Akron, cause I sure know that’s not what PITT will run out onto the field thinking.

    Jimmie “one finger” is a complete ass who I do not think is a good game day coach and so I think he will mess this game up somehow. 8:00 PM start with rain and a zillion fans will rattle that bean head of his..

    PITT wins 28-27

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  14. Hate to rub it in but Heather sure didn’t turn out to be a yes girl/man. I’m leaning toward the Ax-lady as her new nickname. or maybe Lizzie? (as in Bourdon) as Van Benko has been let go… Chop chop. getting rid of the fat…………

    She did exactly what she should have been doing. Wait with ears, eyes and mind wide open while she took it all in and figured it all out, then strike like a cat, I’m impressed. ike

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  15. How about “Know thyself?”

    From today’s Trib…

    “Composure is important. Composure is something I’ll talk to them (Players) about on game day. We don’t want to be one of those guys getting one of those flags. That helps you lose a game.”

    Pat Narduzzi

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  16. I will miss the game.

    I am taking my wife and some friends to a concert tomorrow night for her birthday. I have the game taping, but there is no way I won’t check the scores throughout the night. It is killing me already.

    Hopefully, I will be racing home to replay the win! Otherwise I will just delete it.

    “Their killing me Whitie, their killng me!” (anyone watch the old NFL films, Lou Saban maybe)

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