Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/17/14

Camp Opens: March 26
Spring Game: April 21

The dawn of a new era is underway in State College, Pennsylvania. Following a tumultuous and tragic ending to the 2011 season there is no doubt that getting back to business under a new regime is something everyone at Penn State is ready to get rolling with. While there are some new faces on the coaching staff, including new head coach Bill O’Brien, there will be some familiar questions for the team on the field heading in to the spring practice schedule.

Stability Factor (1 = chaos; 5 = rock solid): 3

Having a new coaching staff in line is always a question mark for any program, and Penn State is a program that has not seen so many changes since Rip Engle was named head coach in 1950. So it has been a while since Penn State players have dealt with more than one coaching change in an off-season. Since the coaching staff has been put in place though the focus has remained on the future and the players seem to be responding well for now. Will the chemistry and relationships develop further in the spring? Will the coaches recognize what they have and, more importantly, what they do not? For now, we’ll keep the grade in the middle, because it could surprise us or end up a disaster. We just do not know at this point.

Under the Microscope: Matt McGloin, Rob Bolden, Paul Jones (Quarterbacks)

 

Just as it was a year ago, and a year before that, the quarterback position will be under some heavy scrutiny leading up to the 2012 season. Supposing all three players stay with the program, the question will be whether or not younger players like Rob Bolden (junior) and Paul Jones (redshirt sophomore) will be able to grasp the offensive philosophy of Bill O’Brien and adapt to new quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher. Matt McGloin emerged as the team’s regular quarterback as the 2011 season dragged on, although it was not until Tom Bradley was named interim head coach that it became officially set. Will he keep the starting job or is the pressure on?

Locked and Loaded: Silas Redd, Running Back

Silas Redd continues to develop and work to take on a heavier load, and in 2012 Redd could make a run at the Big Ten’s rushing title, which would be impressive with Wisconsin bringing back Montee Ball and Rex Burkhead at Nebraska finishing second in the Big Ten in rushing last fall.

Jockeying for Position: Secondary

Penn State is being hit hard by graduation in the defensive backfield in 2012, losing Drew Astorino, D’Anton Lynn and Chaz Powell. With three starting jobs figuring to be up for grabs, and a number of young players on the roster, it is expected that this could be a problem area for Penn State. Stephfon Morris should be locked in to a starting job and sophomore Adrian Amos is a strong candidate for the other cornerback position. The safety position could see Stephen Obeng-Agyapong finally get a chance to start, with Malcolm Willis likely to grab the other available spot.

Name to Know: Zach Zwinak, Fullback

Zack Zwinak was a highly rated fullback out of Maryland a couple years back for Penn State, and entering 2012 with sophomore eligibility it is possible we see him start to become more of a factor in the running game, when Silas Redd needs a play or two off, or on short yardage downs. Mike Zordich will likely remain the first alternative to Redd out of the backfield but Zwinak has some good potential. Let’s see if the kid can make a case for some more significant playing time to O’Brien and his staff.

Spring will be a success if...: Key defensive players stay healthy

This goes without saying. Every team needs to stay healthy in the spring. Last season defensive end Pete Massaro was injured in the spring for a second time, ending his season before it ever got started. Penn State has seen defensive players injured in spring more commonly in recent years so naturally the emphasis will be on making sure the players are working and practicing hard but also ensure maximum safety where possible.

The other thing, of course, will be establishing a sense of flow among the coaches and players. This is a unique situation for everyone involved and in order to do anything well in the fall it is absolutely necessary that everyone start getting on the same page now.

 

Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast and managing editor of Nittany Lion's Den. Follow Kevin on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

[follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Arum: Pacquiao would agree to rematch with Mayweather

Report: NFL could punish Brady, ball boys in wake of report

Justin Verlander continues to fire back at social media critics

Bursting the NFL playoff expansion bubble

LeSean McCoy: Chip Kelly got rid of ‘all the good black players’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eric Weddle 'not coming in anytime soon,' seeks new deal

Chris Johnson: I’d be a good fit with Cowboys

Dansby on Manziel: 'He's grown up right before our eyes'

Gregg Popovich reportedly makes $11 million per year

Stephen Strasburg is hurt again

Mayweather has message for Pacquiao about injured shoulder

The six best NBA playoff performances so far

Pierre Garcon says legalized pot could help his pizza business

Pedro Martinez: Manny spiked pregame shot with Viagra

Was keeping Andre Ethier L.A.'s best offseason move?

Nowitzki: Rondo lost to Charlie Villanueva in Connect Four

'The Mike Conley Broken Face Game' (and why he's the man)

Five NFL QBs facing make-it or break-it seasons in 2015

Jim Harbaugh: I'd love to see Judge Judy on Supreme Court

Which game statistically is most important in an NHL series?

Chip Kelly: 'I won't be here' if Eagles have to draft top QB

WATCH: Olympian uses javelin to pull out daughter's tooth

The brewing dispute over Alex Rodriguez’s bonuses

College Football 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Harbaugh: I'd love to see Judge Judy on Supreme Court

Chip Kelly: 'I won't be here' if Eagles have to draft top QB

Brewing dispute over A-Rod’s bonuses

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Projecting the All-Star Game rosters

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

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

Company Info
Help
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.