2010 CFBZ Prediction: 4th Place in Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 4th Place in Big Ten (7-6, 4-4)
2008 and 2009 saw Penn State post back-to-back 11-2 seasons. Many thought Penn State was back but after posting a 7-6 record this year many of those same people are wondering how long Joe Paterno will stick around. Starting a freshman at QB, Rob Bolden, the Nittany Lions managed only 3 points in each of their first two major tests against Alabama and Iowa. Bolden went down with an injury and former walk-on Matthew McGloin took over at the end of the Minnesota game and Penn State the regular season winning 4 of their final 6 (losing to the only two ranked teams they played during that stretch). To get a closer look inside Penn State we talked to Devon Edwards of the Nittany White Out to find out his thoughts for the 2010 season and the future of the program.
1. In our Pre-Season Preview you said you thought the team would finish 10-2 or 9-3. Unfortunately, 7-6 was Penn State's final record. Do you see this season as a success, a failure or something in the middle?
In the preseason, I overestimated Penn State's ability to reload along the offensive line, and underestimated the depth of the Big Ten. Throwing out the bowl game, because I didn't include that in my prediction, Penn State lost two games that I didn't see coming--to Illinois and Michigan State. Obviously, the Spartans were one of the biggest surprises if not in the country than certainly in the Big Ten, and if I thought they were going to be a top 10 team, I'd have predicted a loss to them, too. The one real turd in the punch bowl was the Illinois game, and it was one of the weaker performances of the last five years at Penn State. All considered, 2010 obviously wasn't a successful year, but neither was it an unmitigated failure.
2. What are your feelings on Joe Paterno remaining the coach of Penn State and when do you think he should finally give it up?
I don't think Joe Paterno is really holding this program back, though bringing in a big name coach after he finally does hang 'em up could provide a shot in the arm for a school that really has the capacity to be more than a distant second to Ohio State in the Big Ten. That said, he's earned the right to coach at least one more year, until his contract runs up following the 2011 season. But after next season, if Joe won't graciously step aside, we'll have a problem.
3. What were your favorite moments of the season?
There was a great two-and-a-half game stretch right in the middle of the season--starting with a primetime win over Michigan, and culminating in the first half against Ohio State, with the Lions taking a 14-10 lead into the break. Sandwiched between those two games was the high point of the year, a stirring comeback from a 21-0 deficit to beat the Wildcats of Northwestern en route to a 35-21 win that not just injected some sanity back into the program, but was Joe Paterno's 400th career win, all at Penn State.
4. Which players surprised you the most with their performance in 2010?
Matt McGloin is the obvious answer--the former walk-on QB led Penn State to some of its biggest wins on the season--but I'm really not a fan. In fact, his emergence has led, directly, to the possible transfer of Rob Bolden, a true freshman who was Penn State's starting quarterback before suffering a concussion. I was, however, incredibly impressed by the continued development of Derek Moye, who progressed, over the course of the season, into an absolute stud at wide receiver, and by the emergence of true freshman running back Silas Redd, who looks like a star in the making.
5. Who are you most looking forward to watching in 2011?
With Bolden's possible transfer, this might be Paul Jones' chance to get the nod at quarterback. Jones took a redshirt year, rather than play as a true freshman, but drew rave reviews in the recruiting game and looked the part in Penn State's spring game. Joe Paterno even spoke highly of Jones, and if there's a legitimate competition between him and McGloin, I firmly expect PJ to win it.