clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

B1G 2021, Penn State Potluck #1: Something’s missing from the Penn State offense...

New, 59 comments

...and something’s missing from this classic Pennsylvania Dutch dinner.

Illinois v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Whew. Onto Day 2 of Penn State Week.

I want to reiterate our call for folks interested in Penn State—if you have some sort of longing to have dumb Penn State takes online, we’d love to have you join the OTE team.

In the meantime, now that WSR has given us an idea of what happened to the of-two-minds 2020 Nittany Lions, let’s get into what we can expect from the 2021 edition, and start on the offensive side of the ball.

But first, of course, each OTE Potluck promises you a tasty dish. And...uh...maybe we have one? Maybe we don’t. You tell me.

The Food: Corporate needs you to find the difference...

Let’s go to Pennsylvania, where it appears, for one of their regional dishes...something might be missing.

Alright, writers. What would you call this image?

RU in VA: Having grown up as close to PA as you can without living in it, I’m gonna rack my brain.

Hmm... State is known for gross-ass scrapple.... cheesesteaks and Italian food on the East Side, sandwiches stuffed with fries and cole slaw on the west side... it’s basically Kentucky with a longer name...

It looks like scrapple noodle soup.

RockyMtnBlue: My mom used to make what she called Pot Pie that looked like this. She couldn’t cook either.

BrianB2: I would have to call that, “Probably Tastes Better than it Looks”. Perhaps some incredibly Pennsylvania-fied bastardized version of beef stroganoff? Gravy, badly formed homemade pasta and some sort of meat...I’d eat that over a lot of the weird ass shit y’all eat.

Townie: That is the Pennsylvania Dutch version of Chicken and Dumplings. If it’s authentic, those dumplings are made with lard and will sit in your gut for three months. It’s a rural PA staple, particularly among the farm folks. That’s how the yinzers refuel after spending the day bailing hay and stacking it in the barn.

Beez: It looks like very, very bad egg drop/wonton soup from an extremely crappy Chinese restaurant where I live.

BRT: “90s Cafeteria Lunch.” Seriously, it’s in a styrofoam bowl instead of a plastic tray, but you can’t tell me that isn’t something served on the side of instant mashed potatoes on a sad Thursday noon 10:45 am of yore. Not every day was fiestada day, alas.

WSR: My grandmother’s chicken noodle soup? She had problems with the recipe too.

Jesse: Yeah, my first thought is Chicken and Dumplings. Looks like how some of the Mennonites in Central Kansas / Nebraska make.

Stew: That’s chicken noodle soup.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

[this was how we wrote it up for the writers]

DO NOT READ FURTHER UNTIL ANSWERING THE FOOD QUESTION

Poll

What would you call that dish?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Scrapple noodle soup
    (12 votes)
  • 40%
    Chicken and dumplings
    (85 votes)
  • 5%
    Pennsylvania beef stroganoff
    (12 votes)
  • 12%
    RMB’s Mom’s Pot Pie
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    Bad egg drop soup
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    90s Cafeteria Lunch
    (16 votes)
  • 17%
    Chicken noodle soup
    (37 votes)
  • 10%
    Something else
    (23 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.


That, friends, is ACTUALLY what is called a Pennsylvania Dutch pot pie!

Amish Chicken Pot Pie is a staple in the Pennsylvania Dutch community. Brothy and full of flavor, the homemade noodles add texture and body to this stew. Once you try it, you’ll never want gravy-style crusted pot pie again!

I...uh...I still think I’d like the regular pot pie. But maybe I’m wrong, writers:

  1. Give me your thoughts on the Amish Chicken Pot Pie. Wouldja? Only if it’s not actually called a chicken pot pie?
  2. Any similar local Amish or other rural communities that make something odd like this?
  3. What’s one of those foods you make where it’s not actually what the name says it is?

RU in VA: Looks good. Amish are great. Dope buildings, great buffets, and decent TV. Gotta give them props for the commitment to the lifestyle.

2. It’s kinda rural, but I listened to the SYSK podcast the other day about the million dollar Paulsboro, NJ deli. It’s tough to follow, but a good use of your time on how to make a mockery of the modern financial system: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-04-20/hometown-international-new-jersey-deli-is-actually-worth-2-billion

3. Did you know that Chinese Water Torture was ACTUALLY invented by an Italian?

RockyMtnBlue: Well there you go. Dunno where she got a Dutch recipe. Good job, mom! Her pot pie wasn’t amazing or anything, but it wasn’t bad. I’d certainly try it from someone else.

2. I have no idea. I try to avoid people different from me because it might force me to grow as a person.

3. Hmm. None come to mind. Other than a hot dog, of course, which is really a sausage sandwich.

BrianB2:

  1. Unnecessary? Would eat if handed to me...never would waste the time to make myself...probably way better than a loose meat sandwich.
  2. I used to go to a local farmers market that made the best fucking chipped beef gravy I've ever had. I imagine that isn’t particularly odd to you folks though, as it is sloppy, very unappealing from an esthetic stand point, and egregiously unhealthy. BUT, if there is a better way to start one’s day than a half loaf of bread, a stick of butter, cream, flour and cheap meat...well, I don’t wanna hear about it.
  3. Ummmm, crab cakes aren’t literally cake? Football isn’t something Maryland really does? Maryland crab soup is far inferior to cream of crab soup?!?!

Townie:

  1. That’s not pot pie, it’s dumplings. Fight me.
  2. Whoopie Pies are not my thing. Heavy cake with lard frosting? Hard pass.
  3. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is one of my favorites...but it is not really made of hookers.

BRT:

  1. Of course I’d try it. It’s dumb to call it a pie though - I think a crust is rather key to the whole concept of a pie, and honestly, I’d expect that the Amish, of all people, would understand that.
  2. I’m not sure. There aren’t a lot of Amish around here, but there are some pockets of Mennonites. (“Pockets of Mennonites” might be a good band name.) They probably just eat at Runza like everyone else. You usually will see a booth or two of Mennonites at any given Farmer’s Market, often selling a variety of baked goods, but I’m not sure if there are any products that are unusual or specific.
  3. My dad loved Boston Creme Pie, so we always had that for his birthday. As in the case of the “Amish Pot Pie” it is also not a pie in any sense of the word, though it is delicious.

WSR:

  1. Absolutely. I’m up for most foods, and I’m sure that has plenty of foods I do like and very few I don’t.
  2. I’m not sure. I haven’t been to Lanesboro in decades so I can’t remember much about the Minnesota Amish community.
  3. Even though I’m already salty enough and don’t need any extra help, I’m always a fan of a French Dip.

Jesse

  1. I’ve eaten worse things, so...
  2. Yeah, so back to Central Kansas / Nebraska - my mom’s roots - there is a large Mennonite contingency, and man oh man do they make the best food in the world. I’ve definitely seen this as Chicken and Dumplings - or even just Chicken and Noodles to sell to people like me who need to be hit over the head with the name to know what I’m ordering. In general, everything they made was from scratch and was for preparing you to work the fields. Great stuff.
  3. I often make a knock-off Carbonara? Use a lot of cream and cheese instead of egg yolk.

MNW:

  1. This dish appears to make a perfectly cromulent chicken noodle soup/stew, and I would be neck down a hearty bowl at a tailgate outside Beaver Stadium on a cold November day. I ask this mostly so people who have Big Food Opinions can get mad about it if they so choose. This is the internet, after all, and it’s Penn State Week and we clearly are phoning half this shit in, so...
  2. I’m very excited, at my job this fall, to get out into Texas Hill Country and try out some of those kolaches that BRT is always banging on about. While I know the Texas version is vastly inferior, you gotta start somewhere.
  3. I default to my mother’s Snicker Bar Salad, which neither had Snickers not was a salad.

Stew:

  1. It’s probably good, but I’ve got quite a few peccadillos with food, so I would politely pass on it. Also, that’s not a pot pie. It’s a soup. WORDS HAVE MEANINGS, PEOPLE!!
  2. So the National Czech and Slovak Museum is here in the aptly named Czech Village. Where you can find the Sykora Bakery and get you a Pirohy and Koláče.
  3. Yeah, I’m going to go with WSR here and say my French dip probably doesn’t qualify. I typically make it with smoked and pulled chuck roast.

Beez: (1) Yeah of course I’d eat that. Worst case, I just stop when it gets gross/if it is gross
(2) Here in central NC, we have a lot of Moravian influence. I don’t know what exactly goes into making a Moravian cookie, but they’re local and delicious, so I’m counting it!
(3) I like to make red beans and rice, and every time I do I realize what a poor job that phrase does describing the actual dish. There’s a billion spices, delicious broth, ham hocks, andouille, lots of veggies. Why call it that? Also any ____________ salad is horribly misnamed. Adding a bunch of mayo and some crisp veggies to a protein does not a salad make.

Poll

Amish pot pie?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Absolutely.
    (38 votes)
  • 21%
    Would gladly eat that chicken noodle soup.
    (24 votes)
  • 30%
    Would gladly eat that chicken and dumplings.
    (33 votes)
  • 13%
    Bring back the scrapple.
    (15 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now

The Football: There’s something missing...

WSR, in typical fashion, gave you a...skewed...rundown of the Penn State offense in 2020:

James Franklin, smarting from the beating at the hands of Minnesota in 2019, went out and brought in Kirk Ciarrocca.

Without a spring or regular preseason to get everyone on the same page, the offense went out there and finished 3rd in PPG (29.8), 2nd in YPG (430.3), and 7th in YPP (5.46). Unfortunately, the offense also 3rd in most turnovers (17) and couldn’t figure out which QB between Sean Clifford and Will Levis was the right choice. Oh, and Journey Brown missed the season and then retired from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Levis’s gone to Kentucky now, and Sean Clifford has fully locked down the Penn State signal-caller job. Ta’Quan Robinson is in the quarterback stable, but there aren’t any rumblings I’ve seen that he’ll be anything more than a gadget in the short term.

Now that WSR’s ascertained with some certainty that Pat Freiermuth’s not coming back to Penn State for the 2021 season—oops—we still know that the Nittany Lions and Clifford have both the talented WR Jahan Dotson and the well-named TE tandem of Strange/Johnson to find in the passing attack. Add in 2020 star Keyvone Lee, Baylor transfer John Lovett, and 2019 leading rusher Noah Cain—to say nothing of Devyn Ford or, I’m sure, some recruit I’m forgetting or ignoring—and State, as always, has the skill position players to win, plus NFL Draft-ready players in OT Rasheed Walker and C/OG Mike Miranda on the line along with the promising Juice Scruggs on the interior, too.

...that is, assuming Clifford’s the quarterback we think he is.

You can see the defense of Clifford from PSU regular ckmneon in yesterday’s Cocktail Party Preview, and it’s worth noting Sean Clifford isn’t the reason that Penn State lost to Ohio State—or Indiana. He’s a top-half passer in the conference, if he does manage to fly under the radar.

Then again, it’s also likely that Spencer Petras is a top-half passer in the conference, so let’s consider if those words have any meaning.

Keeping Clifford upright has been a challenge—see the 5 sacks allowed to Ohio State or the 7 to Maryland—but the eight interceptions he tossed over the Lions’ five-game losing streak did him no favors, either. [Lest you be prepared to “Well, actually” me by making excuses like “one was a tipped ball and the other was a Hail Mary,” Penn State fan, know that (1) I don’t care, and (2) eight through five ain’t a fluke.]

New OC Mike Yurcich brings with him a reputation as a quarterback guru—see the work he did at Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Texas over the last few years—and one that, BSD notes, promises to “open it up” in a way that might be the spark the Nittany Lions’ offense needs. The last decade of Penn State quarterbacking has given us the dynamic Trace McSorley and Ginger McMoxie...but so too has it seen Christian Hackenberg and the brief tenures of Will Levis and Tommy Stevens. Even Clifford, for the strengths of his 2019 season, managed the Penn State offense as much as he won them any games—nary a TD pass against Pitt, struggles against Iowa and Indiana, and an issue with pass rushes.

He’s not a bad quarterback by any stretch—6th in our 2021 spring rankings—but one that might require playmakers or a better offensive scheme to win games.

So tell me, writers...

  1. Give us your impression of where the Penn State offense stands in 2021—can their playmakers be given enough room to shine, or is there something holding them back—what’s the crust on their pot pie?
  2. What’s the most iconic moment by a Penn State quarterback you can remember? Feel free to dive back into the memory bank, old folks.
  3. Tell us the last time questions at the QB position held back one of YOUR teams that could’ve been great.

RU in VA: Who cares. I’m sure they’ll find 60% completion quarterback play, some 5’8” or shorter bowling ball RB, and a reliable tall white TE.

2. Kerry Collins leading the Giants to the 2001 Super Bowl. What a weird year, only to get pasted by Ray Lewis in his absolute prime.

Dude threw for 3600 yards with Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, and Ike Hilliard. What a stud.

3. HAVE YOU WATCHED RUTGERS GET OWNED BY YOUR TEAM LATELY?

QB IS A BIT OF A NEED OF THE PAST 10 YEARS.

RockyMtnBlue: First, can we just take a moment to respect the awesomeness of a name like Juice Scruggs? No? Ok, fine. Seems like it always comes down to line play for PSU. They always have the skill guys, especially tight ends. I suspect their offense will be one of the best in the big10, though with a new OC it may not be in time for the Wisconsin game.

2. Not so much a ‘moment’, but Hackenberg’s ability to get sacked and McSorely’s general douchebagery were certainly iconic.

3. Let’s see: pretty much every year from 2016 to 2019? 2020 had awful QB play, too, but that team wasn’t going to be ‘great’ with Peyton Manning under center.

BrianB2:

  1. Hopefully they’re bad and awful because they’re mean and I don’t like them.
  2. When Tommy Stevens hit Tom Pancoast on the 4 yard slant to put Penn State up 52-0 late in the 3rd quarter over Maryland in 2017...well, that is certainly a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. You can’t beat a good Tom-Tom connection. After the game they gave me directions back to my mother’s basement...where I sat on the floor and cried.
  3. The 2004 Maryland team had a defense with a significant amount of NFL talent, but they finished 5-6 mostly due to the playing abilities of one Joel Statham. In the final 7 games that season, Maryland scored 56 points, but hey, at least we beat Florida State.

Townie:

  1. I hated our offense in 2020. I know it was tough to install a new offense. I know we didn’t get the reps we needed. I know we lost our two top running backs to injury by the second game of the season...but it looked like we didn’t make any adjustments until the second half of the year. And my suspicion is that Franklin had to intervene.

It’s a bad look when your 2 quarterbacks have 45% of all rushing attempts. They generated about 3.3 yards per carry. I’m sure that’s why the coaches kept doing it. But as a fan, I don’t want to see my QB get crushed on running plays. That’s what got Cliff hurt...

Honestly, it’s no wonder Levis left. They used the guy as a glorified full back. In the first two games, he had one rushing play in each game. One. Clifford got hurt and he came in and played well. His stats looked okay in losing efforts: 27 of 47 for 325 yards passing, no TDs and no INTs.

When Clifford came back, he went back to being a runner. He only logged another nine pass attempts in the next four games, compared to 47 rushing attempts. Everyone knew, when they put Levis in, he was going to run.

For the year, he had 82 rushes and only 55 passing attempts. And he’s gone. He was a good, talented quarterback and I hope he succeeds at his new school. But that leaves the quarterback room mighty bare.

If Cliff gets hurt, PSU will be in deep shit.

We have talent and depth at running back and at receiver. But a whole lot of our offense is a cipher. New OC, new system...I have no idea what to expect.

2. “THE CATCH” Todd Blackledge to Greg Garrity to beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

3. Anthony Morelli killed our hopes and dreams in 2006-2007.

BRT:

  1. I sort of forget about Penn State from year to year (in football—not in volleyball, obviously). So... looks at Townie’s answer... I think they need to install another new system in order to have success. shrug
  2. Ever since the 2009 Conference Championship Game, I forget everything that happened from one season to another. This may be an effect of aging, or perhaps simply wise self-preservation. I see that we beat Penn State last year though, and now I kind of remember them losing the first five games of the season, and that being a beacon of light in a dark year. So whatever quarterback gave us that, thank you.
  3. To hear the post-game call-in shows, it’s every year.

WSR

  1. Man, I really knocked that PSU preview out of the park with all the research I did, didn’t I? That was awesome! **chugs hemlock** Anywho...I’m sure the offense will be fine. I’m actually concerned that it’ll be a little bit too fine, because the first thing I think of when Yurcich is mentioned is all the Okie State offenses he had that put up points by the bushel and then ended up making their defense suck wind by the end of the 3rd quarter. Maybe...maybe score a little slower? PSU has plenty of talent available, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.
  2. It’s Kerry Collins, but I can never think about him without Ki-Jana Carter, Kyle Brady, and Bobby Engram. Good grief that team was loaded.
  3. So whenever Minnesota is pretty good, there’s some decent QB play to go along with it. Asad Abdul-Khaliq may have cost us the Michigan game in 2003, but he also made a ton of insane plays throughout the season and was just fine for the job. Tanner Morgan was the perfect trigger man in 2019. I guess the obvious answer here is 2014, which relied on defense and handing the ball off to David Cobb every chance possible. I can only imagine how much better that 8-5 team could have been if it had a QB that wasn’t Mitch Leidner and his 51.5% completion rate and 11 TD/8 INT results.

Jesse

  1. Uh... I mean, I don’t have nearly the context / research here to say something definitive—though I often do that anyways—but my memory is of Clifford being pretty miserable against Nebraska which like... yikes. That said, I’m uh, sure he’ll be fine? If they keep him upright, everything else gets better. Kinda funny how that works.
  2. Yeah, I’m with the group here. Kerry Collins was the best to watch. Hated him, but he was that good. I just remember wanting him to suck every week in 94 and he didn’t.
  3. Shouldn’t the question for Nebraska fans be “when was the last time the QB position DIDN’T hold the team back?” For real though, 2009 Nebraska was good. That defense was literally the best in the nation, Suh had the best college season on defense I’ve ever witnessed, and Zac Lee + Cody Green were a disaster. If they were a smidge better, we’re not losing 9-7 to Iowa State in the dumbest game ever, and we probably win against Texas and Virginia Tech too. So yeah, that year.

MNW: Generally, I’d say a good strategy is “don’t ask Clifford to be McSorley” and “put him in an offense that suits his skillset,” so, y’know, maybe just worry about getting the ball to those playmakers a little more.

Look, the Penn State offense is fine. This is some half-contrived shit, though I don’t think Clifford is just a natural “plug and play” QB or something because he’s got a high QB efficiency rating.

Since alcohol stopped my memory from taking on new information around 2011, it’s Matt McGloin for me and his damn celebration after scoring a touchdown against Northwestern. Or McSorley punting the ball into the stands at Kinnick and Iowa fans filling their diapers over it, then praising True Sportsman Keith Duncan for his heroic field goal antics.

If the QB’s been bad, the whole team’s been bad, but the 2014 Trevor Siemian season was not kind to Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier.

Stew:

  1. They’ll be ok. I mean, the offensive bar in the conference is pretty low. So I think they should easily be in the top 3-4, and with their talent advantage over most every other team, that should be a given. Their WRs are good, Dotson, in particular, is a beast. Just playing huck and duck should work well enough to score some points. Gotta just be able to keep the QB on his feet long enough.
  2. Alright, so everyone has mentioned Kerry Collins, and that’s good, cuz it’s the right answer. So I’ll go ahead and throw in Trace McSorely marching down for a game winning TD as time expired at Kinnick a few years back. But seeing as McSorely is an incredible douche, he then punted the ball into the stands.
  3. The last time? Probably last year. Petras wasn’t good. But then also sticking with Rudock in 2014 after he got hurt and it was obvious that Beathard was better. And the time before that when it took half of 2008 and a lose to Illinois to replace Jake Christensen with Ricky Stanzi. So, uh....yeah.

Beez: (1) I have heard/made up that PSU’s offense will be a huge question mark this year. I just assumed they have always had a decent to good offense. Is that not the case? Do they not have a bunch of highly rated passing game recruits?
(2) This is the correct answer:

(3) Uhhhh the last time Wisconsin wasn’t held back by questions at the QB position was Russell Wilson. Sure, there are times that the questions are less pressing or more easily answered, but there are always questions.

Poll

Penn State’s offense in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    A top-tier squad, with playmakers and improved quarterback play driving the bus.
    (54 votes)
  • 27%
    Held back from the top by QB uncertainty and lack of depth.
    (35 votes)
  • 12%
    Slumps in 2021 with a new OC and struggles at QB.
    (16 votes)
  • 17%
    I dunno...Rutgers-level bad? It’s not likely, I’m just rooting for it.
    (23 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now