It this were any of the past 45 seasons for Penn State, a game against Ohio to start the year would be met with little attention and few concerns.
But it is painfully obvious that regardless of wins and losses, this season will different for the Nittany Lions. In the wake of one of the most horrifying scandals in the history of college athletics, the Penn State players must band together and show remarkable resiliency.
Here is what the Nittany Lions must do to beat Ohio and start the season off on a positive note.
Move On from the Sandusky Scandal
Moving on from an event does not equate to forgetting it. Simply pretending that Jerry Sandusky did not commit heinous crimes and that the administration ignored his actions would be impossible, and it would not be of any benefit to the team.
The Penn State players cannot wallow in the fact that the effect of NCAA’s punishment put them at a serious disadvantage, when they had absolutely nothing to do with Sandusky's actions.
The crimes, the cover up and the sanctions are all in the past and cannot be changed. What the Nittany Lions can do now is prove on the field this season why they chose to stay, and highlight the loyalty, courage and character that defined Penn State football for so many years.
While the program may have wrongly been put on a pedestal due to Joe Paterno’s status as a legend of the sport, there were still many positive aspects about Penn State football that have been pushed aside with all the ugly details of the Sandusky trial. It is now up to Penn State’s players to move on from what happened and start to repair their school’s reputation one win at a time.
Stop Tyler Tettleton
While the main storylines will have little to do with football and less to do with the Nittany Lions’ opponent, Penn State must figure out a way to slow down Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
Tettleton completed 64.2 percent of his 413 passes last season for 3,306 yards and 28 touchdowns. He is also a threat on the ground, racking up 658 yards on 166 attempts and scoring 10 touchdowns.
Tettleton led the Bobcats to a 6-2 record in the Mid-American Conference and a victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As Associate Press writer Jim Litke notes via Newsok.com, Tettleton’s statistics last season were better than any QB in Bobcats’ history.
For Penn State, only three of the 10 players who transferred were on the defensive side of the ball, and two of them were freshman. The Nittany Lions are capable of containing Tettleton, but it will not be an easy task.
Execute Bill O’Brien’s Scheme
How many games will Penn State win this season?
Without star running back Silas Redd, Penn State’s offense faces a significant amount of questions. O’Brien will certainly struggle to get points on the board more than he did at his last job with the New England Patriots.
O’Brien has brought his vast knowledge of offensive schemes to Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions will need quality coaching on this side of the ball to overcome a lack of talent.
As Associate Press writer Genaro C. Armas noted via the Denver Post, “The new playbook Penn State tight end Garry Gilliam studied this summer could have doubled as a dumbbell.” Armas went on to quote Gilliam saying, “Every day, we install new routes and new schemes, now that we've gotten used to the speed and learning process. We know the language of what he wants us to do and how these schemes come together."
For the Nittany Lions to start their season off with a win, they will need to prove that they have a full comprehension of O’Brien’s offense. If they can execute his schemes, they will score plenty of points, and that will drastically improve their chances get a victory in the face of an incredible amount of pressure.