Friday, September 02, 2005

Week One: South Florida vs Penn State Preview

As a diehard Penn State fan, this game has been a long time coming. After the team stumbled to a 2-7 start last season, the team was energized with a goal line stand victory against Indiana. The next week was a break out affair against a Michigan State team that had defeated previously undefeated Wisconsin the prior week. It has been almost nine months since Penn State last took the field in a meaningful game, the 37-13 beat down of the Spartans. Now the South Florida Bulls, only in their ninth year of football, come to Happy Valley for the first time and as a full member of the Big East conference.

The Nittany Lions look poised to record their third win a row this weekend as South Florida rolls into State College. Despite the losses of star linebacker Dan Connor to his indefinite suspension for making prank phone calls, along with Jim Kanuch and Nolan McCready, to long time Penn State assistant coach Joe Sarra, Lavon Chisley to academics and Mark Rubin, lost for the season, due to injury, the Lions look to begin their assent back to the top of the college football world. The defense remains stacked despite the crucial losses of Connor and Chisely. The only other question mark on defense heading into Saturday is how much time DT Scott Paxson will see against USF. Paxson was part of "Arrowgate" and was held out of spring practice to straighten out his academic situation. Steve Roach is expected to start in his place. The offense will have a bit of a new look this year with Penn State to likely work out of the spread formation. The team has plenty of speed at wideout with Derrick Williams, Justin King, Deon Butler and Lydell Sargeant. Ethan Kilmer, a potential sleeper, will fill in for Rubin as the possession receiver. Rodney Kinlaw will miss the USF and Cincinnati after suffering a knee injury during practice. Tony Hunt and Austin Scott will get the majority of the carries at tailback. Robert Price and Lance Antolick will fill in for Tyler Reed and E.Z. Smith who have botth been demoted following the "Arrowgate" incident. Considering that both were two of the biggest underachievers on last season's abysmal offensive line, neither should be a tragic loss. Expect to also see Greg Harrison and Gerald Cadogan getting some time on the line. The kicking game remains unsettled as of Friday afternoon. Matt Walderon will handle the extra points and short field goals while Kevin Kelly will take care of kick offs and long field goals. Derrick Williams and Justin King should both be involved in the return game tomorrow against USF.

The Bulls are coming off a poor season in Conference USA and things aren't likely to get much better in 2005. The star on offensive is tailback Andre Hall, perhaps the best player in the country that no one has heard of. The QB position is unsettled with Pat Julmiste expected to make the start and Courtney Denson and Carlton Hill expected to see playing time. South Florida is a push over on defense and the Lions offense should have no problem getting the wheels moving on offense.

South Florida looks like a program headed in the right direction and Florida is one of the nation's most fertile recruiting areas. Jim Leavitt can build a decent Big East program at USF and I look for them to be a bowl regular within the next five years. However, they are a ways away and the Nittany Lions shouldn't have any trouble winning this one. If they do, or God forbid lose, it might be another long season in Happy Valley.

Penn State 48, South Florida 10


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