These Lions Aren't Going To Roar

By Adam Caparell - August 25, 2006

If there’s one thing I don’t understand right now, it’s how people feel Penn State is going to be one of the top teams in the nation this season.

Yes, the Nittany Lions had a great year in 2005, bouncing back in a big way as Joe Paterno shutup plenty of pundits around the country, winning a thrilling Orange Bowl over Florida State. Yes, they’ll have Paul Posluszny and the best linebacking unit in the Big Ten to corral opposing offenses. Yes, they should have a pretty solid wide receiving corps and Tony Hunt will be at running back.

But the reasons why Penn State isn’t going to come close to matching the success of last year and won’t get a sniff of the national championship are just too numerous to ignore.

1. They have to replace four starters from last year’s offensive line. If there’s one thing you need in college football - or any level of football for that matter - to be successful it’s stable and sturdy offensive line. Only Levi Brown is back for the Nittany Lions. That spells trouble. The better teams always have the better offensive lines. Penn State clearly had one of the best offensive lines in the country last season - the team averaged 212 yards rushing per game, good for 14th in the nation. Paterno said his newly revamped line may be more athletic than last year’s. It better be.

2. Michael Robinson is long gone and in steps Anthony Morelli. He may have a big arm, but what he doesn’t have is experience. Generally, you see teams with experienced quarterbacks winning more games than those teams who don’t have them.

3. There are question marks on the defense with seven new starters stepping in, most prominently in the secondary. How Penn State is going to fair against the pass will bear watching. They’re going to have a whole new secondary and only Jay Alford is back on the defensive line.

4. The schedule. Its’ not daunting – Penn State actually has a pretty easy non-conference slate – but September’s going to be brutal. At Notre Dame and at Ohio State are two of their first four games and Penn State is not going to win with the defense they're going to put out on the field. Those two teams should be able to rack up the passing yards against the Nittany Lions. Michigan looms in October and there’s a late season trip to Wisconsin. Penn State’s lucky they miss Iowa this year.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:22 PM on August 25, 2006

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