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Penn State Week: Mailbag Answers!

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You know that old saw that says, “there isn’t a stupid question...”? Well, we tested it in this mailbag.

I’ll let you guess which one.

Here are your best questions for the Penn State writers of Off Tackle Empire. Oh, and we’re hiring. If you want to rep the Blue and White for OTE, drop us a line.

Let’s get started...

Who is going to be the new face of the program? Or should we just stick to making fun of James Franklin? - Batman42

AY: Why would anyone make fun of James Franklin? It’s not like he talks a big game every year and then blows fourth-quarter leads to his biggest rivals in embarrassing fashion. Wait, that’s exactly what he does, and it’s probably going to happen again this year.

Sean Clifford has the chance to be a star based on the big arm and aggressive mentality he showed in a very small sample of action last year. However, he has yet to make a start and could still be lousy. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Micah Parsons is getting some All-American hype, and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos could have a sack a game without much trouble.

Townie: Meh, make fun of Franklin, he’s a man, he’s forty...or something. I’m not sure who the new face of the program will be. I expect it’ll be someone like Micah Parsons. If so, mock him at your own risk.

Why do you think Sean Clifford is underrated going into this season? - 06Lion

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

AY: I don’t think he’s underrated or overrated because we’ve barely seen him play. It’s a good sign that Tommy Stevens transferred, because it means that Clifford probably passed him on the depth chart, which means he has probably looked good in practice. All this is “probably” stuff until we see him start a game, though. I fell in love with the guy for the bombs he threw in garbage time, but that has to be taken with a grain of salt, of course.

Townie: We have no data on him. We’ve seen him in garbage time a handful of times. And his Blue White game stats are of little use. And as I’ve said in the past, I’m shit at guessing how QBs will perform.

So, the proof will be what happens in the first few games.

How crucial is this season for Franklin? 3-12 looms large. - BigRedSimmons

AY: He has some room for error with Trace McSorley graduating. If he wins seven or fewer games in 2019, I think next season is when he feels the hot seat. McSorley was incredible for Franklin, so fans want to see what the coach can do without his star quarterback.

Townie: This is a great question. Imagine Scott Frost wins the B1G in 2020. Then imagine he went 11-2 and 9-4 the next two years. Now, how crucial do you think HIS next season would be?

Who has the best chance of a Heisman invite? - pkloa

AY: Micah Parsons has all the potential. He won’t win the thing because he plays linebacker, but he could grab 80 tackles, 12 sacks, and a couple of picks with one going for a touchdown. If he does all that and the rest of the PSU defense does what it’s supposed to do, the sophomore sensation could be in the running.

Townie: Don’t laugh, but IF the quarterback can throw (and I think he can), I think Hamler could breakout. KJ is a solid receiver, he’s quick, and he’s got experience. He’s the kind of guy a young quarterback will go to, over and over again. He could have a huge season.

When will Mrs. Lamprey’s second grade get their Lion costume back? They are planning a fall version of the Wizard of Oz, you know. Billy’s mom spent a whole three hours throwing that thing together. - GTom

AY: Three whole hours and she couldn’t put a mane on the damn thing? That’s it, we’re keeping it. Wizard of Oz is played out, anyway. Dorothy is an independent woman. She doesn’t need three incompetent men to help her solve her problems.

Townie: Lol. I’m too entertained by Aaron to answer that one.

Why is the bar scene worse now than it was when you were in undergrad? - 06Lion

AY: Because Tony’s closed. High Life cans for a dollar babyyyyyyyy.

Townie: Because the Rathskeller and the old Surf Club are gone. Somebody get me a Sex on the Beach shooter!

On a scale of 1-zOMGPennStateIsTheBestest!!!!! How much hype should we expect from Franklin this season? - Boilerman31

AY: Add one exclamation point to the end of that scale. That’s how much hype, brother.

Townie: Funny, I thought he was less hyped than usual. During the B1G media days, I felt like he spent a lot of time talking about what they achieved in the last few years. Felt like he was hedging his bets a bit.

I’m leaning towards the low end of the scale.

Big Ten Football Media Days

Who, from Pennsylvania State, is worthy of the Heisman Trophy that is awarded in September? - theguyfromy-wega

AY: I can see Ricky Slade getting off to a hot start and exploding for some long touchdown runs. Then in Big Ten season he will start getting hit at the line of scrimmage and fumble a bunch. He’s your guy.

Townie: Ha, I was going to say exactly the same thing about Noah Cain. But the same could be said for Clifford. If he has some success early, folks will jump on that bandwagon hard.

In what amusing fashion will Penn State blow their game against MSU this season? - waw

AY: It’s going to be tough to top Michigan’s 2015 loss, but I’m sure Franklin will cook something up. Maybe they’ll be trying to run the clock out while up by a point deep in their own territory and Clifford will go down for a safety.

Townie: After last year, I’m not sure there are many other stupid ways left. Probably a pick-six.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Transfers. Why were there so many transfers from Penn State. From the outside it looks suspect. Is this a fluke, or a sign of trouble in the program? - NU84

AY: Time will tell. From looking at the list of players leaving, many of them are just depth chart casualties. Tommy Stevens just never developed as a passer. Juwan Johnson was just miserable besides that amazing one-handed catch. I like to think of the player movement coming from James Franklin being honest with his guys about where they stand. I’d be more worried if a cornerstone piece left the program.

Townie: I spent a lot of time turning this around and around. Is it carefrontations? Is it disgruntled players?

The fact is, many of the upperclassmen were passed over by the end of the season. Mark Allen was buried by young talent at running back. Bigger, faster kids came in and took his playing time.

Same with wide recievers. Jahan Dotson, a true freshman last year, took reps away from several older wide receivers. KJ Hammler did too. That pushed guys like Polk and Johnson out.

A couple were also disciplinary - Manny Bowen and Irvin Charles were both off the team for a while.

The lack of depth concerns me, now. If guys get hurt, we’re playing high schoolers. But that’s life in college football right now. McSorley, no Barkley. Penn State’s offense is going to stink this year (at least until they figure out who is actually serviceable), ain’t it? - dlrhawks

AY: It all depends on the new quarterback. Ricky Slade could be explosive at tailback, the offensive line returns plenty of talent, and the wide receivers should be improved from last season’s pathetic showing with Justin Shorter in the mix. The tools are there for a decent showing, but I expect Penn State to lean on its defense in 2019 for sure.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Kentucky vs Penn State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Townie: I don’t think we’ll stink. But we will take a step back. How big a step will be up to CJF and Coach Rahne. Can they fit an offense around what we have? And can they coach these youngsters up quickly enough to minimize mistakes.

If they can, I think the step down is an extra loss from last year. If they can’t, we may be fighting Indiana for fourth/fifth in the Big Ten East.

That’s all we have for the Penn State Week Mailbag. Thanks for playing!

Your Friend,



Penn State’s Offense is going to

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Stink so bad Townie will sound like Thump
    (17 votes)
  • 37%
    Be competitive...with Rutgers and Maryland
    (87 votes)
  • 35%
    Be good enough to test OSU and MSU
    (83 votes)
  • 19%
    Blow the doors off everyone’s expectations
    (44 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now