Randy Edsall, Terps roll into State College

Penn State and Maryland are coming off of difficult losses, Frank Bodani and Jim Seip talk about some things to look for as the Lions and Terps renew their rivalry at noon Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

Posted in Akeel Lynch, Big Ten, Bill Belton, Christian Hackenberg, Football, Frank Bodani, Jim Seip, Maryland, Mike Hull, Ohio State, Penn State, Podcast, Randy Edsall, Zach Zwinak | Leave a comment

What does it mean losing seniors Zach Zwinak, Ryan Keiser?

The season-ending injuries to Zach Zwinak and Ryan Keiser are brutal shots to players who surprisingly elevated the depth chart after sticking with the program in the toughest times.

Both are seniors. Both college careers are finished now.

Zach Zwinak was a surprising non-factor in the running game before his season-ending injury.

Zach Zwinak was a surprising non-factor in the running game before his season-ending injury.

And here’s the strange twist: Though the Nittany Lions will miss their on-field presence to a point, their absence will open up more playing time for two of the most talented young players on the roster.

Who would have thought back in August that a serious injury to Zwinak wouldn’t be a big production loss? He was the team’s leading rusher in back-to-back seasons. He was the kid who went from fourth-teamer to starter as a sophomore (fifth-teamer if Silas Redd would have stuck around). He was the fullback playing tailback.

But then Zwinak suddenly became a non-factor in the running game this fall, especially after the trip to Ireland. Part or even most of that is related to the team’s struggles blocking on the offensive line. And yet you also got the vibe that things just never clicked with Zwinak and the new coaching staff, especially in terms of opportunities.

So when he left the field on a cart after suffering some type of serious left leg injury, you figured he might be done. You felt bad for him. But, oddly, you also knew it really wasn’t going to hurt the Penn State offense much. He had gained only 112 yards in six games with no role change in sight.

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Posted in Akeel Lynch, Depth chart, Fans, Football, Injuries, James Franklin, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Recruiting, Silas Redd, Zach Zwinak | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Oct. 27

Penn State nearly pulled the upset of the season in the Big Ten … nearly earned its signature victory of probably the toughest “sanction year.”

What's next for DaeSean Hamilton, who just set the school single-game reception record?

What’s next for DaeSean Hamilton, who just set the school single-game reception record?

Of course, the Nittany Lions still lost to Ohio State in double overtime. But what do you think they can gain from such an elevated performance?

Let’s chat about that and more from 8 to 9 on Monday night.

We’ll hit on the still-improving defense led by Mike Hull and Anthony Zettel. Plus, I want your take on Christian Hackenberg and the offense moving into the second half of the season.

We can also discuss the renewed rivalry with Maryland, featuring head coach and York County native Randy Edsall leading his Terps into Beaver Stadium Saturday at noon.

Posted in Beaver Stadium, Big Ten, Chat, Christian Hackenberg, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, Maryland, Mike Hull, Ohio State, Penn State, Randy Edsall | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big stage for PSU, big problems expected against OSU

Frank Bodani and Jim Seip discuss some of the problems Penn State expects to have against Ohio State during Saturday night’s game at Beaver Stadium.

Posted in Adam Breneman, Allen Robinson, Beaver Stadium, Big Ten, Bill Belton, Bill O'Brien, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Jim Seip, John Urschel, NCAA, Podcast | Leave a comment

Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Oct. 20

The Nittany Lions are preparing for the big prime time White Out game against Ohio State on Saturday.

Will Christian Hackenberg be running for his life more than ever against surging Ohio State?

Will Christian Hackenberg be running for his life more than ever against surging Ohio State?

This sure had a different feel to it, say, three or four weeks ago, didn’t it?

Penn State is a two-touchdown underdog and it seems that many fans are preparing for a possibly much worse outcome in Beaver Stadium. So let’s chat about it all tonight at 8.

What hope does James Franklin and the Lions have of keeping this close into the fourth quarter? How can Penn State’s impressive defense halt the high-scoring Buckeyes?

We can also hit on the rest of the Big Ten, recruiting and whatever else you like related to Penn State football.

Posted in Beaver Stadium, Big Ten, Christian Hackenberg, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Ohio State, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn State bye week chat, 8 p.m., Oct. 13

Sure enough, this latest loss almost had to be given away.

How much can James Franklin and his staff do to improve the Lions with another week off?

How much can James Franklin and his staff do to improve the Lions with another week off?

And Penn State certainly found ways to do that in the second half at Michigan. Suddenly, the Nittany Lions are staring down the barrel at three-straight defeats with surging Ohio State coming to town in two weeks.

Let’s chat tonight about what went wrong against the Wolverines and how it might be fixed — or at least look improved after a bye week. Join me from 8 to 9 p.m.

What is your biggest concern for Penn State as it prepares for the second half of the season? How many victories to you see to be had?

We’ll talk about that, recruiting, the Big Ten and more.

To get started, check out my column from today on who needs to hold this Penn State football season together.

Posted in Big Ten, Chat, coaching staff, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the most out of Michigan … Penn State football-style

We can overlook the inconveniences of a football trip to Michigan.

A $50 parking fee for reporters at the stadium?

The best hotel breakfast buffet in the Big Ten vanquished because a certain Marriott doubled its weekend room rates?

A dump truck fire knocked out power around Detroit for hours before this weekend's game.

A dump truck fire knocked out power around Detroit for hours before this weekend’s game.

And a dump truck fire that knocked out our hotel power for hours?

Rather, we like to be positive-thinkers and doers. So, traveling to Ann Arbor to write about Penn State playing Michigan over the past 20 years has provided more memorable moments than sketchy ones.

Like how I met one of my best buddies in the business wondering around the Michigan press box hours before the 1994 game, a legendary affair for Penn State fans. Kerry Collins to Bobby Engram to win it on a clinic pass play? My unheralded key to the day, rather, was the hard blocking and even receiving of York County fullback Jon Witman.

There was another Nittany Lion victory in the Big House two years later, keyed by a punt block of all things.

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Posted in Big Ten, Football, Frank Bodani, Life on the road, Michigan, Penn State | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How can Penn State take down the Wolverines?

It’s difficult to really know what to expect tonight in Michigan Stadium.

We know Penn State’s strengths and weaknesses. And how the Nittany Lions’ largest problems must be worked on over the longer haul.

But the Michigan Wolverines? They have all of their scholarships, a tenured head coach, high-power assistants, lots of talent on both sides of the ball and a senior quarterback.

And yet they are the ones on a three-game losing streak. They have appeared sloppy, disinterested, mistake-prone and out-of-place — sometimes all on the same afternoon.

The Lions must get more out of versatile Bill Belton.

The Lions must get more out of versatile Bill Belton.

Still, they are a threat to fire out angry and meaningful at any time. Could that be tonight on national TV in their first Big Ten night game in the Big House?

Here are five Penn State pressure points … the areas that could very well determine victory or defeat:

1. Keep Hack clean. Judge most of the night by how comfortable quarterback Christian Hackenberg looks in the pocket … and how much space and time he’s getting to work free from those Wolverine rushers. The Penn State staff needed to tweak the play design, the pocket location, the blocking — something — to help its star quarterback do his thing.

Michigan can bring the heat with anyone. Keep an eye on Frank Clark, a big-time disruptor, and blitzing linebacker Jake Ryan.

2. Three is better than one. The Lions have a unique combination of tailback talents. But they’re not getting the most from them, not even close. We like Bill Belton catching passes (The traditional screen play, anyone?). If Zach Zwinak isn’t your choice to work behind this line, let him block. And if Akeel Lynch can’t handle blocking assignments, find more ways to use his slashing running style. Use them in tandem. Make them your advantage.

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Posted in Big Ten, Bill Belton, Christian Hackenberg, coaching staff, Fans, Football, James Franklin, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Podcast: Offenses will be in spotlight Saturday night

Michigan and Penn State have both had their issues moving the ball with consistency. Can PSU take advantage of last week’s time off? Will Michigan struggle after a loss at Rutgers. Jim Seip and Frank Bodani talk about Penn State’s 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday in Ann Arbor.

Posted in Adam Breneman, Big Ten, Bill Belton, Christian Hackenberg, Depth chart, Football, Frank Bodani, James Franklin, Jim Seip, Joe Paterno, NCAA, Ohio State, Penn State | Leave a comment

Penn State football chat, 8 p.m., Oct. 6

The Nittany Lions had a week to rest and try to fix their problems.

Will the Lions try to get more from Jesse James and the tight ends in the  pass game?

Will the Lions try to get more from Jesse James and the tight ends in the pass game?

Let’s take some time tonight to chat about what good the bye week did for Penn State and how the players and coaches will respond to a prime time road game Saturday at desperate Michigan.

Are you concerned about recruiting at all with Pittsburgh-area cornerback Jordan Whitehead electing to stay close to home with the Panthers and star quarterback commit Brandon Wimbush suddenly visiting Notre Dame?

We’ll talk about all of that and more from 8 to 9 p.m., including a recap of the Big Ten’s big weekend.

For starters, check out my column today on two intriguing Penn State leaders for the second half of the season.

And what do you think of the Lions slipping to No. 10 in the Big Ten power rankings this week?

Posted in Big Ten, Chat, coaching staff, Fans, Football, Frank Bodani, Jesse James, Penn State, Recruiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment