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Q&A with Nittany White Out

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The folks over at Nittany White Out hit us up a couple of days ago to do a Q&A for the Alabama v. Penn State game. I answered quite a few questions from them, and you can read my responses by clicking here. The following is what the PSU bloggers wrote back in response the questions I fielded:

With talk of Evan Royster putting on too much weight this summer, is there legitimate concern over his effectiveness, or was his rather pedestrian performance against Youngstown State meaningless?

The weight issue was first brought up by Joe Paterno in August when he claimed Royster had added 15 or so pounds since last season. A change many thought was indicative of Royster looking ahead to bulking up in anticipation for the NFL. All that was put to rest however when Royster confronted the issue on twitter stating that he actually weighed in at 218 lbs, just 4 pounds heavier than a year ago. With that weightgate was put to rest.

His struggles last weekend against Youngstown State was mainly the result of a still shaky offensive line than Royster. Even Joe Paterno said as much when he was still unhappy with the performance of the offensive line against an overmatched opponent. Against Youngstown State, Royster was held to 40 total yards on 11 carries. Not good news if you are about to face the defending national champions in an away game the following week.

But a look at the other options at tailback and you see Stephfon Green with 32 yards on 6 carries, Kevin Newsome 21 yards on 3 carries and Silas Redd with 20 yards on 3 carries. Not too shabby either.
By all accounts it seems to me that Robert Bolden is the clear starter for Penn State moving forward. Do you expect that to be the case, and how do you look for the Penn State coaching staff to use him against Alabama?

Yes, Rob Bolden's performance against Youngstown state 20 of 29 for 239 yards guaranteed his starting spot for Alabama. That doesn't mean you will see the next coming of the Air Raid when he plays under center in Tuscaloosa though. Joe Paterno has always commended Rob Bolden's ability to manage the game and expect to see alot of that against the Tide. Basically, DO NOT turn the ball over or commit stupid penalties. This game plan albeit conservative has been the trademark of Joe Paternos' squads on the road against quality opponent. Sometimes it works to perfection (@ Ohio State 2008, 1 total penalty), sometimes it doesn't (@ Notre Dame 2006). But look for Kevin Newsome to be utilized in a dual QB, wildcat type role in key downs similar to the Chris Leak / Tim Tebow package.

Do you see the aforementioned Bolden being able to vertically attack the Alabama secondary, and do you see Royster being able to effectively run the football between the tackles against the Tide's front seven?

I can see Rob Bolden having far more success attacking the young cornerbacks than Royster pounding the ball down the middle. That doesn't mean the coaching staff will air it out though. The roadmap to any form of success against the Tide is to keep the ball away from the Bama O, that would require a heavy dose of clock chewing runs and first downs. Expect the big runs to come from speeders Silas Redd and Stephfon Green instead, both capable of bouncing the ball to the outside.

The Penn State special teams looked very strong against Youngstown State. Is that expected moving forward, or was that more of a one-game aberration against a cupcake opponent?

Special teams was absolutely horrid last season. It was partially responsible for losses against Ohio State and Iowa at home. But don't make the mistake of thinking the special teams play may be just an aberration against Youngstown State. Actually turn the clock back to New Years Day and that's when it all turned around for Penn State's special teams unit. Against SEC foe LSU, Penn State converted 4 of 4 field goals and outpunted the Tigers on a field fit for mud wrestling. Both categories Penn State struggled mightily with all season. So the Youngstown State game, despite the cupcake opponent, seems to be an extension of the improvement on the special teams front for the Nittany Lions since New Years Day.

Do you see the Penn State defense stopping the Alabama offense, and if so how do you think the Penn State coaching staff will go about doing that?

No. A victory on defense for Penn State saturday will be if we limit Greg McElroy, Julio Jones and Trent Richardson to field goals instead of touchdowns. This will be our only shot at an upset.

Aside from the relatively known commodities, what Nittany Lion should Alabama most keep their eye on come Saturday night?

Before the night is over, Alabama fans will come to know Brett Brackett. At 6-6 he will probably be Penn State's go to receiver when attacking the young secondary. Just last week he accounted for 8 receptions for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Penn State has any success in the passing game this Saturday, Brett Brackett will be a big reason why.

Alabama player that scares you the most coming into Saturday night?

Easy. Greg McElroy and to a lesser extent Julio Jones. Let's just put it this way. I will be holding my breath every single time McElroy pedals back and launches the football into the air. I will only exhale when the ball is batted down, drops to the turf or is picked off.

Final score prediction?

Alabama 34-10.