Penn State is already well in to their spring practice schedule but there are still a number of things that need to be worked out between now and the Blue-White spring game, scheduled for April 16. Here is a look at three pressing issues this spring.
1. Who is the starting quarterback?
By now this is certainly no secret. The 2010 story of the quarterbacks is still fresh in everyone's head and the sting of seeing five interceptions thrown in the Outback Bowl loss to the Florida Gators serves as fodder for the debate heading in to the 2011 season.
If Rob Bolden puts on a strong performance this spring and excels in the spring game then he should be considered for the starting job behind center. Bolden has more physical talent than Matt McGloin, who finished the season as the starting quarterback last year.
If he is informed that he is being considered for the starting job at Penn State than he may also be more likely to remain in State College, rather than transfer as he has been rumored and reported to be interested in doing since the end of last season. Bolden is still weighing his options, but the spring may factor in to the decision.
Looking to make a statement for himself is redshirt freshman Paul Jones.
Recruited at the same time as Bolden and a part of the same recruiting class, Jones arrived on campus before Bolden but was red-shirted last season so he could save a year of eligibility. Many seem to think Jones will be the long term solution for Penn State and he performed well in last year's Blue-White game. Could a duplicate performance elevate him to the top of the totem pole in Happy Valley?
And until he decides otherwise, let's not be so quick to forget about Kevin Newsome. Newsome was thought to be the front runner to be the starting quarterback in 2011 after Daryl Clark graduated but he either was overestimated or he performed so poorly the rest of the competition caught up, and passed, him.
Newsome was reported to be seeking a transfer but is still practicing with the team this spring, so the future remains unclear for Newsome as well.
2. Silas Redd time?
Evan Royster is gone and Silas Redd seems like the next in line after a good freshman debut, although limited. The time to decide if the offense will trust the ball in Redd's hands is now. Stephfon Green could be in store for a rebound season after a disappointing 2010 but Redd has the makings of a truly great Penn State running back.
Penn State needs to decide if they are ready to fly with Redd lining up on the field or if they are going to continue to groom him before giving him a full workload. If Penn State thinks they can compete now, then why not roll the dice with the young running back?
3. Defensive leader
With the torn ACL injury to Pete Massaro the defense has a big hole to fill. For the second time in three seasons Massaro will miss the full season before it ever gets started. Massaro aside, the defense still lacks leadership on the field and this season the defense will need to step it up if Penn State is going to make a legitimate run at the Big Ten Leaders division.
Jack Crawford is just one of the defensive line players that failed to meet expectations last season and it remains to be seen if it was over-hype or lack of ability that was his down fall last season. Some are still awaiting the arrival of Brandon Ware, although Joe Paterno has never seemed to fond of him. Might this be the year something changes?
If you are going to find a leader on the defense it will be more likely to come out of the linebacker position, where Nate Stupar, Miachel Mauti and Mike Hull will provide the veteran leadership the defense desperately needs to take charge.
This is just the tipping point for sure. What other questions do you have about this Penn State team this spring? What area needs the most improvement before the season gets underway in a few months?
Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com. Follow his college football discussion on Twitter @CFBExaminer.