Spring practice is almost here, and while the season won't be decided over the span of those few short weeks, it's a good time to start thinking about what lies ahead in 2015.
It's also a good time to answer some fan questions and get to the bottom of some of the big concerns facing Penn State's football team.
@ThadMadden: Sandy Barbour want's a stronger non-conference schedule?
As StateCollege.com's Mike Poorman points out, strength of schedule is on Barbour's mind. That being said Penn State is sitting at a point where winning is an important part of the formula. Playing Alabama is exciting but it could also be an expensive loss. On the other hand, selling tickets and getting people in seats is equally important. That in theory is what makes the Pitt series so positive for Penn State. It's a reason to show up and its a chance to win. Best of both worlds.
That being said, Barbour doesn't seem like the type to avoid marquee games.
@leisterbrau: Any facility upgrades to Beaver Stadium coming this fall? More Concessions and bathrooms? Something else?
Beaver Stadium usually goes through a facelift here or there every spring and summer. Right now the only project out in the public is a minor renovation to the press box. Nothing that you'll notice, but I assure you I'm looking forward to nice carpets and an elevator that doesn't remind everyone of their families whenever they step on it.
@jlgj6358: What do we know about Ficken's successor?
For one, he'll have big shoes to fill. Penn State has a lot of kickers on the roster. A lot with all capital letters. Joey Jullius is a name to watch, partially because it's a fantastic name and largely because he has the leg to replace what had become one of the most reliable assets Penn State had last year.
As Ficken's career showed though, it's hard to tell from Day 1 how a kicker is going to turn out. If nothing else, Penn State has options which wasn't always the case and perhaps the only reason Ficken ever got the chance to ride out the ups and downs.
@mpopek: Does Penn State's football roster have an individual national award winner on the roster right now? How about conference award?
Conference awards are easy to guess. DaeSean Hamilton, Geno Lewis and that guy named Christian Hackenberg all have a chance on offense not mention Kyle Carter in what could be a bounce back season. Defensively, Marcus Allen, Nyeem Wartman and Jordan Lucas are all in the mix.
National awards depend on a lot of things that are hard to predict, but Hackenberg is the kind of player who can pull in top honors if he has the kind of season it appears he might put together In terms of All-Americans it would seem likely that Penn State gets a nod with Hamilton, Wartman, and maybe even Allen.
@TylerB_1: How long do you think until they make a legit run? Does Hack staying play biggest role?
Penn State isn't going to be as good this year as people hope. That's not to say that an 8,9 or even 10 win season isn't in the cards, but it is going to be another year or two before Penn State is back on a level playing field. Penn State's biggest issues will be the same this year as they were last year. How those problems are dealt with is an unknown, it's just unlikely that anything changes drastically overnight. The schedule will help the cause, but like the 4-0 start last year, looks can be deceiving.
If Franklin can recruit like he did this past year, it won't take many more impressive classes to makes things interesting for Penn State's Big Ten title aspirations.
Until then everyone is going to take it one day at a time.
@FitchHolly: Do you think the Rutgers game will be a night game?
Contrary to what a lot of fans want to believe, Rutgers is a marquee game right now. That always ups the ante when it comes to night games. The Big Ten always schedules weirdly, but night games are always a part of Beaver Stadium, so I'll just say yes.
Have a question? Send one over at @Ben_Jones88 or shoot me an email at the author link below.
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