Penn State Football: Nittany Lions in for Long Season

Penn State was able to finish the 2011 season with a 9-4 overall record, despite all the drama going on with the Jerry Sandusky scandal and firing of head coach Joe Paterno.

Bill O’Brien has the difficult task of taking over this team in 2012. Making matters worst, he will have jsut eight starters coming back.

O’Brien was given free rein to build the program as he sees fit and he wasted no time putting his stamp on all facets of it. He overhauled the strength and conditioning program and retained just two coaches from the previous staff.


O’Brien had the good fortune to call plays for Tom Brady in New England. Now he’s about to learn if he can continue that success with Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden as his quarterbacks. The two would lead the team to a disappointing 11th (110th nationally) in the Big Ten in scoring with just 19.3 points/game last season.

Bolden has the stronger arm, but McGloin is the more accurate passer. He completed 54.1% of his passes to Bolden’s 39.3%. McGloin also had eight touchdowns and five interceptions while Bolden had only two touchdowns to seven picks.

The Nittany Lions are set at running back with Silas Redd, who had 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground last season. 2012 could be tougher for him as he will be running behind a line that returns only one starter.

Justin Brown, the senior wide receiver, is the team’s biggest returning pass-catching threat. Last year, he hauled in 35 passes for 517 yards and two scores.


Last year the Nittany Lions defense ranked 1st in the Big Ten allowing just 16.8 ppg. With only four starters returning in 2012, it seems that the Nittany Lions will be unable to duplicate such impressive numbers.

The loss of Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Devon Still, will especially be missed. With him gone, all the pressure is now on Jordan Hill to hold down the fort on the interior.

The returns of end Pete Massaro and outside linebacker Michael Mauti might is timely as both endured ACL injuries last season. Mauti looks to pair up with Gerald Hodges and Glenn Carson to form a formidable linebacker unit. Hodges returns as the team’s top returning tackler.

With all four starters departing in the secondary, Penn State will likely have a very difficult time stopping the pass in 2012.

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Big Ten Leaders Prediction: 4th Place

Penn State could endure a transitional period of bad games before they get better.

They still have enough talent on the defensive end to be competitive, but their offense is problematic and their main area of concern.

Penn State also faces a tough schedule where they face Ohio State and Wisconsin at home, and face tough road contests against Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. They may win just four games in conference play, perhaps only three.

Penn State has enjoyed seven straight seasons with at least seven wins, and they can still do enough to keep that streak alive in the new season.

Expert college football handicapper Jack Jones will be posting his picks this season at Betfirms. If you are looking for a closer look at Penn State football, be sure to visit our site today.