Welcome to Friday all my Badgers Fans!! Today will see the final 2 breakdowns of the 2011 Spring Football seasons for our wonderful neighbors in the Leaders Division. We'll start with a look at Penn State who is coming off a mediocre 2010 season and constant questions of JoePa's retirement or not. Could 2011 be his last? How are the Nittany Lions looking in the Spring? Let's get some answers shall we?
2010 Record: 7-6(4-4 tie for 4th)
Postseason: Outback Bowl 24-37L to Florida
Head Coach: Joe Paterno(401-135-3 in 45 years at Penn State)
2011 Spring Game: April 23rd
Returning Starters: 15(7 offense, 7 offense, 1 special teams)
Looking at 2011: 2010's season was marred by inconsistent play from the QB and LB positions, typically areas of strength for the Penn State football team. The biggest buzz in the 2011 Spring Football camp is the question marks at QB that still linger. Will Matt McGloin step up his game and wrestle the position away from Rob Bolden? If Bolden doesn't win it in the Spring will he end up transfering? These are just a few of the questions looked at in this nice piece of writing: http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2011/04/penn_state_football_questions_2.html
Luckily the Penn State offense isn't losing a ton of players around the QB, but the biggest help to the QB, which "for now" will be Matt McGloin, is a great running game and that's something that needs to develop after the graduation of Evan Royster(1,014yds and 6TD's). The most likely candidate was 2010 back up Silas Reed who had an impressive showing in limited carries averaging 5.7yds a carry. He would be a great one to watch on Saturday to see what could be in store for the 2011 season this fall. The other weapons of the offense should be fine, having 3 of the top 4 WR's back in the fold and looking for a break out year from Justin Brown shouldn't be too much to ask, as he'll likely step up to the #2 WR position.
The one thing that plagued the Nittany Lions as I've stated before was inconsistent play and that was the case on the defensive side of the ball where the inside LB's from a year ago were less than average and that's not good enough at "Linebacker U." This spring a lot of focus has been put on that position and the front 7 in general and it appears that at the very least the talent level has been upgraded: http://blog.pennlive.com/pennstatefootball/2011/04/the_case_for_hope_a_renewed_de.html
If the 2011 team shows some grit and consistency out of Saturday's Spring game this could be a very dangerous team in the Leaders Division in the Fall. Look for them to be a spoiler at the very least for a few teams with title hopes. Overall Saturday will showcase 4 Spring Games so it will be a packed day of action on the Big Ten gridirons and as always... ON WISCONSIN!!