Penn State Football: 5 Reasons to Believe Nittany Lions Will Bounce Back
It seems kind of funny to talk about the Penn State Nittany Lions "bouncing back" from a 9-4 (6-2) season. In fact, not only did they win nine games, but also they were one win shy of playing for the conference championship.
However, the end of the season was much worse for Penn State than the beginning of the season, as scandal rocked the campus and the Nittany Lions got stomped by Houston in their bowl game.
Here are five reasons to believe in the Nittany Lions this coming fall.
Bill O'Brien with Quarterbacks
Will Bill O'Brien's arrival at Penn State possibly end the old "grind-it-out" style that seems to be all the Nittany Lions know?
I doubt it will be that drastic, but with Urban Meyer at Ohio State, it does seem like the Big Ten is getting a new look.
O'Brien has been Tom Brady's quarterback coach for the last three years, and during this last year was even the offensive coordinator. Of course it can't be too difficult to coach someone as good as Brady, but if the Patriots' Super Bowl appearance and Brady's numbers are any indication, this guy does his job well.
So, whether it is Rob Bolden, Matt McGloin or (hopefully) Paul Jones, it should be exciting to see what O'Brien does with this position.
Bill O'Brien and Tight Ends
Sure, this comes from seeing what Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have done in New England, but why not give it a try in Happy Valley?
Bill O'Brien turned the Patriots offense into some kind of magic machine in which tight ends were crucial to its inner-workings. Could he possibly have something similar in mind for PSU?
The Nittany Lions are losing Derek Moye, but they do have other options as receiving targets. Justin Brown and Devon Smith are certainly capable of picking up the slack, but it would be nice to have something new in the red zone.
Linebackers and Defensive Ends
Penn State should never move away from its mojo, which is its fierce linebacker corps.
In 2012-13, the entire starting group is back and should lead to a successful season on the defensive side of the ball. Glenn Carson, Gerald Hodges and (if he's healthy) Michael Mauti will lead the way.
Mike Hall, Khairi Fortt and Ben Kline could all figure into the picture as well.
Pete Massaro should be back from an ACL injury and could start at defensive end opposite Sean Stanley, who had 4.5 sacks this past season.
I am excited to see what the Penn State defense can do to take some pressure off of its young and insecure offense.
The Focus Will Be on the Field
Penn State will hopefully continue investigations regarding the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but this year could be markedly different from last year in that the focus of the team will be on the field.
After Joe Paterno's death, players don't have the option of visiting his house or interacting with him. This was a sad event for many Penn State fans and players, but it could lead to more attention given to the actual game on the field.
Opponents at Home
The biggest threats to Penn State getting into the Big Ten title game are obviously Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Thankfully, the Nittany Lions get both of these teams to come to Happy Valley this coming season.
Along with that, Penn State's bigger non-Big Ten opponent is the University of Virginia instead of the University of Alabama, which is a bit of an easier test.