Found July 29, 2013 on The B1g Time:

The narrative entering the 2012 season went something like this - because of NCAA sanctions, the transfers, and a postseason ban Penn State was in deep trouble. No way they have a winning record, let along challenge for the Leaders Division championship. 

Yet, that's exactly what happened as Penn State fought off a bad start to the season and ended 2012 with an 8-4 overall record that included a 6-2 Big Ten record too. Not bad for a team supposedly in shambles thanks to the distraction of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the subsequent sanctions, huh? 

However, the question remains.... was 2012 an anomaly thanks to a great senior class or is this a sign of what's to come in the Bill O'Brien era? Let's explore what happened in 2012 and see what it says about 2013. 

The Good:

Silas Redd transfers away and this offense is left with NOTHING for a running back. At least this was the narrative. Instead Zach Zwinak steps up and rushes for 1,000 yards. Not too shabby for a former fullback type player. That was a massive help to this team's ability to have a winning record. 

Additionally the fact that this team didn't fold after losses at home to Ohio and on the road at Virginia and instead went on a five game winning streak was nothing but good news as well. Credit O'Brien for having a vision and for the seniors for helping him execute that vision in the face of everything coming down on them. 

Finally, you have to be impressed with a team that was 2nd in scoring defense in the Big Ten last season (19.1ppg). Credit to a group of seniors that really righted the ship and made this defense the backbone of this teams success. 

The Bad:

Those two opening losses were BAAAADDD. Virginia was a weak ACC squad and Ohio, while a good MAC program should never be able to beat a Penn State team. The losses themselves were bad, but the fact that they couldn't score more than 14 or 16 points in either game was what really made it bad. 

Penn State was 9th in the Big Ten in rushing offense - that isn't something that should happen to a Penn State team ever. Sure, they offset it with a 2nd place finish in passing offense and ultimately they played to their strengths, but moving forward this team can't survive with that kind of a disparity because they simply won't have the players in place to make it all work like that thanks to the reduction in scholarships. 

The Ugly:

What was really ugly about this team last season was special teams - strange considering O'Brien's years under Bill Belichek. Anyway, this team finished dead last in kickoff returns (averaging 18.1 yards a return) and 9th in punt returns (averaging 6.1 yards a return). Add in a kicking game that was so bad O'Brien opted to go for it on 4th downs more often than kicking it as the season went on. 

At the end of the day the special teams units ranked 12th (kickoff returns), 11th (punting), 9th (punt returns) and 8th (field goals). That's U-G-L-Y.

What 2012 tells us about 2013:

Well, not much to be honest. That's because gone are the quarterback and center on offense and gone are three of the four starters up front and two linebackers as well. That's a lot to lose and have any continuity from last year to this year. 

However, what we do know from that season is that Bill O'Brien can flat out coach and it appears he can also flat out hire the right recruiters because despite all that this team faces he hit a homerun out of the park in his first season coaching and in his 1st full recruiting class as well. If anything 2012 tells us that O'Brien can be expected to find ways to put his best players in a position to win games for them.

For more on the Nittany Lions make sure to follow us on Twitter @TheB1GTimePSU and for all things Big Ten at @TheB1GTime.


Penn State Defensive Preview 2013

  Penn State's defense enters the season with a lot of front line talent but also with serious depth concerns. John Butler's first season as defensive coordinator could prove to be difficult if injuries begin to mount. But as any coach would tell you, you can't plan for injuries. So along those lines I will give you a group by group break down of the 2013...

The cast of characters in the Penn State scandal

The main players in the Penn State child-sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, including three men facing charges and the key witness in a preliminary hearing underway in Harrisburg to determine whether there is substantial evidence for the case to proceed to trial. GRAHAM SPANIER Role: Penn State's longtime president, he was forced out...

Bill O’Brien: voice of reason within unreasonable Penn State community

Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien is a very reasonable and logical man in a very unreasonable and illogical environment. His immediate predecessor, Tom Bradley, signed a petition trying to redeem O’Brien’s “real” predecessor, Joe Paterno. The method of redemption, in the eyes of this zealous, devoid of reality activist group, is to overturn the NCAA sanctions. Bill O’Brien...

Penn State Doing What it Can to Entice Recruits to Come to Happy Valley

There is nothing like a scandal to kill recruiting efforts and the Penn State program was certainly hit with one of the worst in NCAA history last season. As bad as the sanctions are though, the team still rallied to have an impressive season last year. By the looks of things the team is not planning on sitting idly by as the best recruits in the land go everywhere else. They...

DEVELOPING: 3 Ex-Penn State Officials Held Over For Trial

Penn State ex-president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz have been bound for court on the charges against them in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Dauphin County Judge William Wenner found enough evidence to warrant a trial for three after a two-day preliminary hearing in Harrisburg. Former Penn State assistant...

Three PSU ex-officials to stand trial

Penn State's ex-president and two former top school administrators were ordered Tuesday to stand trial on charges accusing them of a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Prosecutors showed enough evidence during a two-day preliminary hearing to warrant a full criminal court trial for ex-President Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and ex-athletic...

Video: Penn State shows off what it calls the ‘Nation’s Finest Facility’

The Penn State Nittany Lions claim to have the "nation's finest facility" in this video. Do you think potential recruits will be impressed?

3 ex-PSU officials get day in court

It was late at night on Feb. 27, 2001, and Penn State's then-president, Graham Spanier, one of academia's most prominent administrators, typed a brief email to two other top administrators as they debated how to respond to a thorny situation. He was, he wrote, supportive of the athletic director's proposed approach. ''The only downside for us is if the message...

Alleged Sandusky coverup hearing Day 2

Lawyers will regroup for a second day of testimony in a hearing for three former Penn State officials ensnared in the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, a day after a star witness testified that legendary head coach Joe Paterno had been critical of how the university handled it. Tuesday's hearing in a Harrisburg courtroom is expected to be short, with just two witnesses...

Expert testifies about Sandusky emails

A second day of testimony has begun in a hearing to determine if three former Penn State officials will face trial on accusations they covered up molestation accusations against Jerry Sandusky. The head of computer forensics for the state attorney general's office testified Tuesday about unearthing emails that ended up as evidence in the case. Braden Cook discussed the work...

Legal Version of March Madness Coming

Trial for former Penn State administrators Graham Spanier, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley shaping up as a real circus.

McQueary Praises Joe Paterno

Prosecution witness said the late Penn State coach gave him advice when the Sandusky scandal broke in November of 2011. McQueary is testifying against a trio of former PSU administrators.

Protecting the Pigskin

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien explains how 1,000-yard rusher Zach Zwinak can cut down on fumbles.
Nittany Lions News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.