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UM-PSU pregame stretch...

October 29, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

Under center and off base

Given a chance to rebuild their offensive game plan, we’re still hoping that Mssrs. Paterno, Paterno and Hall won't repeat the biggest mistake they made in building a game plan around Rob Bolden: Leaving Kevin Newsome out of the equation.

Just as there should have been a "Newsome package" when Bolden was running the offense, there should be one with McGloin at QB. Penn State also should have a series of scripted red zone plays that involve both guys being in the game at once.

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Newsome is one of the five best athletes on the team and on a team that lacks athletic plays it makes zero sense to have him on the field for zero plays. No sense. Of course, Joe already has said he hopes to go with just one quarterback Saturday. Also, we’ve heard a lot of people saying they support that plan because they don’t like rotating quarterbacks. We’d just like to note that, of course, you’d like to go with one quarterback and, of course, you’d rather not rotate your quarterbacks BUT, BUT, BUT that requires you have A GOOD QUARTERBACK!!!! When you’re going into a nationally televised game with your second- and third-string quarterbacks (AND your first-string quarterback is a true freshman) you’ve got to get real and get creative.

And what are the chances seeing any creative quarterbacking (or offensive game planning) Saturday evening? As a wise man named Dean Wormer once said: ZERO POINT ZERO.

No, we’ll see PSU come out trying to protect McGloin with the running game. Perhaps, they’ll take a shot down the field on an early first down if the opportunity presents itself, but they won’t truly commit to mixing up the playcalling on first down. Normally, this would fail miserably, but against Michigan’s sketchy defense, it might provide limited success. But with Denard Robinson on the other side, this approach will invariably put PSU in a hold and put McGloin in a position where he’s pressing which will lead to critical turnovers.

They say those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to relive it and we’ll all be reliving some painful history this weekend.

Rob Bolden, International Man of Mystery

Rather than writing that something doesn’t FEEL right to us about the Rob Bolden injury story, we’ll just recount these facts:

> Bolden left the game after a play where there was no obvious helmet-to-helmet or helmet-to-turf contact.

> After he came to the sidelines, he got into a discussion with Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, who then shoved him back onto the playing field where Bolden wandered aimlessly for a few seconds before sitting on the turf.

> A few plays after leaving the game, ESPNU sideline reporter Shelley Smith reporter Bolden had “cuts on his hands” and had been poked in the eye.

> At halftime of the game, Joe Paterno told Smith that Bolden was having memory issues.

> After the game, Assistant Coach Jay Paterno said Bolden might have suffered a concussion but seemed coherent. Running back Evan Royster said he and his teammates expected Bolden would be back for their next game.

> A Penn State news release Monday listed Bolden as “probable” for the Michigan game.

> At Tuesday’s press conference, Joe Paterno said he doubted Bolden would play Saturday, but when asked directly if Bolden suffered a concussion Paterno did not or would not answer “yes.” Later, several media outlets reported Bolden had failed a concussion test Monday afternoon.

> Late Wednesday, it was reported Bolden passed his concussion test and practiced lightly.

> On Thursday, Joe Paterno named Matt McGloin as the starter for Saturday.

When you look at any one of these things on its own, it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. But when you consider that ALL of them happened in regard to the Bolden injury, it just makes you go … hmmmmm.

The pick

We can see Penn State scoring four touchdowns in this game, even with the vanilla offensive game plan that Matt McGloin will surely be given. We cannot in any way, shape, form or state of consciousness see Penn State’s defense holding Michigan’s offense to less than four touchdowns. The Lions lack speed and don’t feature any defensive playmakers. That’s not a good combination to have when you’re trying to stop Denard Robinson. A quick scan of some UM fan and media sites shows a lot of trepidation about this game, but those concerns are based on memories of Penn State’s 2009 defense. If they’d watch the first play from scrimmage of the second half of last week’s PSU-Minnesota game, they’d feel a lot better. On that play, a Nittany Lions linebacker met Gopher RB DeLeon Eskridge in the backfield … and chased him helplessly for 16 yards. Denard Robinson is no DeLeon Eskridge … Michigan (-3) 42, Penn State 28.

Prediction record

Last week: Minnesota +9.5 INCORRECT

Season straight up: 4-3, .571

Against the spread: 3-3, .500

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