Penn State Football Has Holes to Fill
With Blue-White weekend just a month away, Penn State is gearing up for its first season with Bill O’Brien at the helm. Unfortunately, he’ll be missing a few key playmakers from last season. Here’s a breakdown of players Penn State lost to graduation or the draft:
QB: Fortunately, Penn State didn’t lose any QBs from last year. But that means the starting job will go to either Matt McGloin or Rob Bolden–or maybe Paul Jones if he stays eligible (and don’t even get me started on Danny O’Brien).
TB/FB: The Nittany Lions will lose Stephfon Green, who really came on strong the end of last year to help an often banged up Silas Redd. Despite missing a significant portion of the season, Green finished with 266 yards and six rushing touchdowns, just one less than Redd. PSU will certainly miss Green’s quickness, and will look to Curtis Dukes to fill the no. 2 RB spot this year. The Nittany Lions also lost FB Joe Suhey, who constantly cleared the way for Redd and Green. Suhey also notched one receiving touchdown and one rushing touchdown last year. Michael Zordich, who received plenty of playing time last year, will fill the FB role for the Nittany Lions this year.
WR/TE: The most notable loss in the receiving core is Derek Moye, who hauled in 40 catches for 654 yards to go along with three touchdowns last year. Although Moye was plagued with injuries–like a broken foot–during the season, he consistently came up with clutch catches, and his return helped guide Penn State to a final-minutes win over Illinois. Justin Brown will likely take the no. 1 receiving spot after a productive junior year, but Penn State will certainly suffer without having Derek Moye as a constant big play threat.
OL: Penn State lost four out of its five starting offensive lineman in Quinn Barham, Johnnie Troutman, De’Ontate Pannell, and Chima Okoli. The only remaining starter on the line is center Matt Stankiewitch. While the line wasn’t spectacular, the group of seniors certainly held their own in pass protection, allowing just 14 sacks all of last year. The chemistry of an offensive line is critical to any squad, so expect struggles early in the season as a myriad of contenders, such as Donavan Smith, Eric Shrive, and John Urschel, try to fill the vacant positions, and then as they gel together as a unit.
DL: The major loss on the defensive line is 2011 Big Ten defensive player of the year Devon Still. Still, a sure-fire first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, had 4.5 sacks and 55 tackles last season, with 17 tackles for loss. His ability to disrupt plays behind the line of scrimmage will be missed by a defense that lacks experience up front. The defensive line will also lose both starting defensive ends, Jack Crawford and Eric Latimore, who combined for 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last year.
LB: The Nittany Lions only lose Nate Stupar to graduation, but Stupar was third on the team in tackles with 80. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions return both Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, who’s trying to battle back from a second ACL tear, as well as Glenn Carson and Khairi Fortt.
DB: Penn State suffers heavy losses in the secondary–all four 2011 starters either have or are set to graduate in May–as they no longer have Nick Sukay, Chaz Powell, D’Anton Lynn, or Drew Astorino, The four combined for seven interceptions last year, half of the team’s interception total. Penn State will have to count on DBs like Stephon Morris, Malcolm Willis, and Adrian Amos–who have at-best scant starting experience–to step up this year in order to keep the secondary afloat.
All in all, Penn State loses a lot of talent and 2012 has signs of a rebuilding year. However, with the recruiting class that Coach O’Brien and staff have been building for 2013, Penn State won’t be rebuilding for long.