Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/7/11

Penn State is at the center of the college, and entire, sporting world right now and unfortunately for the Nittany Lion faithful it is not because they are preparing for a big game against Nebraska this weekend. As much as it may be an afterthought right now in light of recent headlines out of State College, the games will go on so we are happy to have long-time Penn State broadcaster and College of Communications instructor Steve Jones for our latest Five Burning Questions.

1. Penn State has used two quarterbacks this season, alternating between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden for most of the year, but McGloin's playing time has increased to the point where it appears he will be the main guy under center for the remainder of the season. Do you think that will be the case for Penn State the final three weeks, and is a one quarterback system the best option for this year's team?

I don't see any changes there.  Matt McGloin has probably taken 75% of the snaps for the past six games with the exception of Northwestern when he played the entire game. Joe has been a one quarterback guy his entire career.  They have decided to go this route and so far they are 8-1.  The stretch run is very tough so it will be interesting to see how it plays out because the offense will have to generate more to make it successful.

2. The defense has been the biggest asset for Penn State this season despite dealing with a number of injuries to guys like Pete Massaro and Michael Mauti. Despite the injury causalities we have seen guys like Devon Still and, more recently, Gerald Hodges put on a show on a weekly basis. How good is this Penn State defense and where do they rank among Penn State defenses you have seen. Can they compete with anybody in the country at this point?

The defense has been outstanding.  Devon Still has been outstanding as has Jordan Hill.  Bruce Clark and Matt Millen were a very, very special duo at the tackles.  Im not saying they are Millen and Clark but they are playing great competition and making big plays.   Hodges is the case of a guy finally settling into a position and understanding it.  He now believes what he sees.  He is also attacking plays that are not near him and finding that he can make those as well.  Astorino and Sukay have been very strong at safety.  I think how they handle this stretch run will give us a better perspective on where this defense truly ranks in Penn State's history.

3. Heading in to the season Penn State was widely considered to be a dark horse candidate in the Big Ten. As the weeks went by Penn State racked up wins while others in the conference dropped some key match-ups. As it stands, Penn State is in an excellent mathematical position to play for the Big Ten championship game in early December. Much has been made about how Penn State has not really played anybody and many are suggesting they will get a dose of reality in the final three weeks. Is that fair to say or not?

Well, everyone felt from day one the schedule was back loaded.  I think many get too tied up in this have not played anybody yet syndrome.  There are excellent teams, good one and mediocre ones.  There is too much a tendancy that if you are not in the top 8 focus schools on the ESPN radar in a given season that you are not playing anyone.  As I said there are excellent, good and mediocre teams.  They played an excellent Alabama team, they played a good Temple team, they played a good Iowa team, they played a good Illinois team and Northwestern just won at Nebraska, so they can't be all that bad.  The stretch run was always going to tell the entire story anyway...all of us knew it...now the time has arrived.

4. One player that has started to become a recognizable force in the Big Ten is sophomore running back Silas Redd, but there is concern about his workload this season. Is he built to carry the offense right now or is that too much pressure to place on him at this stage of his collegiate career?

Well Silas Redd got one vote in the pre-season players of influence poll. I know where he got it. Everyone knows from day one I have been a big booster of Redd. Redd needs to be a critical part because he can help out the pass game. Penn State is far more effective on play action passes...especially on first down. He has had a heavy workload but the week off probably has done him a world of good. I do not expect him to carry the offense but he needs to be a critical cog to balance this offense and make the passing game more effective.

5. Finally we must touch on the looming question that everyone has been talking about all season long, and given the recent developments at Penn State over the past week with off-field issues, it has become an even hotter topic. Joe Paterno's contract ends at the end of this season but as we all know, Paterno has never indicated he will step aside. You probably know Joe a little better than many of us. What does the future have in store for Paterno, and when all is said and done, what will be his legacy at Penn State and in college football?

Well it has been a shocking and explosive weekend here.  Obviously there is nothing I can add.  I am watching and reading like everyone else. Many are expressing opinions which they are absolutely entitled to.  I think for Joe it comes down to how he feels physically.  He loves the job and he thinks very highly of this football team. He has really enjoyed coaching this group.  His personal practice plan that included all of that conditioning I think has paid dividends.  So for Joe I think it comes down to how does he feel when he hits the off-season...I personally think he still loves his job.  As for his legacy...he is going to remembered for winning and for believing that there is "college" in college football.  I think he will be remembered in the same sentence with Bear Bryant as a coach...and stand alone as an educator while still being a coach.  The domino effect of his success stories are not just in the NFL but in business, every day life and in communities.

 

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