It must be football season because the other day I received an email from Adam over at Black Shoe Diaries. It's Blue White Roundtable time, you guys.
As a refresher, the Blue White Roundtable is a weekly feature on Nittany Lions Den, Black Shoe Diaries and any other Penn State themed website willing to take some time to respond to a handful of questions served up by our friends at Black Shoe Diaries. Be sure to check their website later for a recap and the highlights from around the blogosphere. I'm not sure who else is participating this year, or this week, but I will try to include links to their reactions when I can.
This week's topic is Penn State's match-up with historic rival Syracuse. The two schools will meet in MetLife Stadium this Saturday but neither has showed their hand in the starting quarterback conversation. Let' see what we can say about that and more.
1. Welcome back from the interminable offseason. What are you most excited about from this Penn State season?
The great unknown and how his team follows up the emotional ride of 2012.
I am coming off a bit pessimistic in my outlook of Penn State this season. I have concerns about the depth on the roster this year. I believe the future is bright with quarterback Christian Hackenberg's development I just cannot get on board right now and say he is going to be 1994 Kerry Collins this weekend. I think Penn State has enough talent on the first string to compete with the majority of their opponents, but how healthy will they stay and how far down the line can the "next man up" philosophy pay off?
The success of last season had many reasons for it. Bill O'Brien's new offensive philosophy and toughness certainly was a huge factor, but something has to be said of the maturity of the senior leadership and the unique bond last year's team had. Does the 2013 team have that same sort of leadership? Is that bond still strong enough to carry this year's team to a few wins? It could very well be, but this is one of those things I need to see on game day before just accepting it as fact.
I'm just holding off until I see what this team can do before going overboard one way or another with this team.
2. Syracuse has a quarterback battle of their own. Who starts for the Orange – Terelle Hunt or Drew Allen?
As I suspect we might see with Penn State, I would not be surprised if Syracuse goes with two quarterbacks as well. At least that is what Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer is teasing. I think we will see Shafer go with the fifth year senior, Drew Allen, as the starter but expect to see Terelle Hunt as well.
Whatever the case, Syracuse does not have a Ryan Nassib or a Donovan McNabb on their roster this year.
Glenn Carson appear to be the top candidate in this department from what I can tell. Carson has been a fixture in the middle of the defense the past couple of years now and he seems to have embraced the role of emerging leader. Plus, being right in he middle of the defense puts him in a good position on the field to command his teammates. Her certainly does not come off as the most vocal player off the field, but that does not matter once you put on a uniform and step on the field.
As for impact player, I think it would be wise to stick with Deion Barnes. Syracuse has a question about how well this new offensive line gels. It features some young players at key spots, and a player like Barnes should be able to break through and bring pressure in the backfield, allowing him to do some damage as well.
4. Predictions: Who will start at QB? Who will win the game?
I have long been saying if I had to take a guess then I would say Tyler Ferguson will get the start for Penn State against Syracuse. At the same time, I also want to make note I fully believe we see both quarterback options throughout the game, with Christian Hackenberg getting his fair share of snaps against the Orange while Bill O'Brien continues to evaluate. Does that mean switching quarterbacks each possession or every quarter as we have seen before? That I am uncertain of, but I would be surprised if we do not see both players get some action this weekend.
As for the game itself, I have been struggling to say Penn State confidently. I think the Nittany Lions have the talent edge on offense and defense on the first team, but there is just something funny about this game that I think is unsettling. I saw Syracuse play in MetLife Stadium last year and hold their own against an overrated USC team until late in the game, and I feel we could witness a similar result play out. I certainly don't expect Penn State to suffer the same kind of sluggish season opening performance we saw last year against Ohio, but I can't say it would stun me either. This year I am taking more of a wait-and-see approach on Penn State (some would say I'm being pessimistic), and this is a game I could see getting away from them. To me, it all depends on how much Penn State gets out of the QB position, and while the potential may be there I am reluctant to put so much faith in it right off the bat.
Syracuse 20, Penn State 17