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100 Days Until Kick, 10 Thoughts On Penn State Football

by on May 24, 2017 2:20 PM

Thursday marks 100 days until Penn State football takes the field against Akron, a long time and also a very short amount of time. In that span the Nittany Lions will come back from summer break to start training camp, media day will take place, and the pressure will slowly ramp up as the anticipation does as well.

So 100 days, it's a long time, but it will go by in the blink of an eye.

In the meantime, here are 10 things to think about heading into the summer.

1. Better team but fewer points?

While this wasn't always the case, Penn State scored a good number of points on big explosive plays that ate up tons of yardage and very little time on the clock. That isn't a bad thing, but what if Penn State's offense maintains an explosive identity while also becoming a better team at those methodical clocking eating drives. That team may just have won the Rose Bowl. Not to mention it keeps the defense off the field just a bit longer. To be certain Penn State will be more than happy to score more than 30 points a game again, but whose to say that's the best equation for achieving big time goals.

2. Does Barkley really have a Heisman shot?

Nobody doubts that Saquon Barkley has the talent and the skill to win the Heisman trophy, but will Penn State ride him enough to pick up the numbers he needs to do it? There isn't much indication that a Joe Moorhead offense will rely on one player exclusively, but if Penn State's offensive line takes the strides it seems poised to, then maybe Barkley's average goes up against the better teams. Because that's the often overlooked fact, Barkley is a fantastic talent, but for a host of reasons he hasn't been outstanding against some of the better teams Penn State has faced. If he's going to win the Heisman, he'll have to be.

3. More Stevens isn't an automatic positive

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Tommy Stevens by all accounts and best anyone can tell is a talented quarterback. In turn there is a growing belief that Penn State will need or is obligated to use him more this season than the offense did last year. But does that really help any? McSorley has proven to be plenty capable of running and passing, considering that Penn State's offense was as explosive as it was last season, putting Stevens in to do the same exact thing seems like more risk than reward. Unless he can do something McSorley can't, there doesn't seem to be compelling football reason to play him beyond the fact he's talented.

4. What does success look like?

Simply because it's kind of dumb to assume any team will go undefeated, it makes one wonder what Penn State fans will accept as a successful season to follow up a Big Ten title year. Certainly the Nittany Lions deserve to be in the thick of the conversation, but if they miss out on a return trip to Indy, what does success look like? That might depend on who the losses come against and what they look like, but it will be interesting to see how any bumps in the road are received by fans.

5. What if Joey doesn't come back?

There isn't any reason to think Joey Julius won't be embraced by the team and the program when he returns from the treatment facility, but what if he doesn't play? James Franklin has long wanted his specialists to focus on one task, Davis field goals and Julius kickoffs. It's not an insurmountable obstacle for the unit, but does it equate to Alex Barbir making an appearance? The highly touted redshirt freshman has been waiting in the wings. Julius is an inspirational, likable fan favorite, but he hasn't been overwhelmingly great at kickoffs, which is to say in spite of all the human aspects that make you root for him, there is no guarantee he keeps his job.

6. Does Franklin get extended before the season starts?

Best anyone can tell Penn State and James Franklin are on the same page when it comes to contact negotiations, and yet an extension hasn't been announced or even finalized. Given that Franklin doesn't actually have to enter the season with an extension in place, it makes you wonder if it will even happen before Week 1 hits. If anything the potential squabbles are over small details and anything to the extent of convincing Franklin to stay, so that's likely the reason for the lack of panic from Barbour and Co.

7. Courting Moorhead.

Chances are some coach somewhere is going to get fired before the season ends and one of those schools is going to want to talk to Joe Moorhead. The prevailing theory is that Moorhead isn't long for Penn State, but what if he really does just want to stay in State College for a few more years? Does he nip it in the bud right off the bat, or does he default to the fact that saying nothing is saying something? It might be safe to assume that Moorhead has already signed a new contract as well, but equally true the same could be said for Bob Shoop, who left Penn State in spite of that fact.

8. The new 2005

Anyone who was within 200 miles of Penn State's clash with Ohio State remembers something about that 2005 game. And ever since then it has been long talked about what it would take to create that kind of organic atmosphere again. Well what happens if Penn State and Michigan are both Top 10 teams when the Wolverines come to State College. That game comes after the bye week, so that's nearly 14 days of nothing but waiting. If that doesn't scream hype nothing will. Hold on to your butts.

9. Not important, but I'm wondering

Penn State is going to honor the Big Ten title team with the year 2016 going up on the suites per tradition. But Penn State is running out of room up there, what happens when Penn State has a historic season or two in the next few years before the stadium is renovated? Speaking of which, Penn State retired the No. 22 a few years ago, most places hang a jersey, how (or is) Penn State ever going to do something symbolic or is that just a bit of trivia now?

10. Maryland

Maryland has been in the Big Ten for a few years now but Penn State has yet to play in College Park for an actual honest to goodness home game. What will that be like? The Terps have somewhat cooled in their enthusiasm for disliking Penn State on the field but that might change a bit when they're finally playing in front of a home crowd. Then again hardly anyone showed up to Maryland's spring game, so maybe I'm overthinking this.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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