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Alabama freshman QB Phillip Sims
There are quiet grumblings among some Penn State fans that the quarterback play and offensive line cohesiveness have become annual issues with the football team. The fans' consternation stems from the belief that long-time assistants Bill Kenney and Dick Anderson are not being held accountable.
But like it or not, Joe Paterno holds to the same belief that of former NFL coach Chuck Knox: "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." In other words, Paterno is surrounded by guys he trusts and sees no reason to change.
Penn State's struggles with the offensive line juxtaposed with Alabama's superior strength and speed on defense spell probable doom for the Nittany Lion offense this Saturday. And a likely loss, even though they're playing at home.
Penn State's one hope would be for a collapse from Alabama's Achilles heel: their quarterbacks. Crimson Tide fans have ratcheted up the kvetching following the 48-7 win over Kent State last Saturday. Sophomore AJ McCarron and freshman Phillip Sims rotated at the position and both produced tepid performances.
If the Alabama running game can establish itself early and often, look for it to be a long day for the Nittany Lions.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Penn State 13
Derek Johnson is the author of three books including his latest, Bow Down to Willingham: How White Guilt Enabled a Secretly Malicious Coach to Destroy the Once-Mighty Washington Huskies. You can read a free excerpt at derekjohnsonbooks.com.