Category Archives: Penn State Football

College Football Rule Changes New To 2013

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College Football Rule Changes New To 2013

Savvy NCAA football fans are well aware of the ins and outs governing every single play, but even the most hard-core can have a difficult time keeping up with the various off-season rule changes before they actually see them implemented in regular season play. We have reviewed every adjustment and modification to the college football rulebook and boiled the list down to a short discussion featuring the most important.

Many off-season rule changes were designed to minimize injuries, especially those that result from a hit to an essentially defenseless player. A handful of acts that occur on the football field have been defined as putting a player in a “defenseless” situation. Unloading on a kicker just after they kick a ball, hitting a kick returner just after they catch a ball, smacking a ballcarrier who has fallen to the ground or hammering one who is clearly out of the field of play will not only be noted with a 15-yard penalty, it will also result in an ejection of the offender.

One distinctly gray area in the collection of situations defining defenseless players is “A receiver whose focus is on catching a pass.” How this ends up being legislated will go a long way toward determining the course of the regular season for many defense-oriented schools. 15-yard penalties and automatic first downs are damaging enough, but the immediate removal of a player who could certainly be an instrumental piece of any school’s stop unit is such a powerful deterrent that it could easily lead to members of the secondary approaching the game entirely differently.

Other rules seem to be aimed at bringing college football up to speed with the professional ranks. Referees will now be allowed to institute an automatic 10 second runoff when the clock stops within the final minute of each half as a result of an injured player. The clock obviously stops in the immediate wake of any first down, but quarterbacks will no longer be given the option to spike the ball to stop the clock if less than four seconds remain on it. This is an interesting new limitation that will likely come into play at some point near the middle of the season in a very important, nationally-televised game.

A handful of cosmetic rules aimed at sorting out jersey numbers are also going into effect at the beginning of the season. Players on the same team simply cannot wear the same number, a practice that had gotten a little out of hand under Head Coach Lane Kiffin at the University of Southern California and on a few other campuses in recent years. Given that each player is presented with 100 different options from 0 through 99, the NCAA decided it was high time to demand that every team gives every player a unique uniform number. Additionally, the school will be penalized substantially if their jersey numbers are too close of a match in color tone with the jersey itself. This rule is seen as a necessary and logical step toward allowing teams to camouflage information that could be important to defensive coaches and players on the defensive unit.

Interestingly, the NCAA Rules Committee did review a proposed rule change that they ultimately rejected. It involved prohibiting teams from wearing the same color jerseys or as close to the same color as they could possibly get to the color of their playing field. The rule is obviously aimed at eliminating the perceived advantage that the Boise State Broncos have on their home field blue turf, but implementing it would have stepped a bit too far into the realm of jurisdiction which comes to teams that happen to wear shades of green that resemble natural grass.

Much Comes into Focus Throughout College Football’s Second Week

The skys brighten after the rain moves out. Photo by Mark Selders

Much Comes into Focus Throughout College Football’s Second Week

After a long off-season in which many fan bases allowed both anticipation and expectations to build, the 2013 NCAA college football season finally began about a week and a half ago. In the 10 days since, a whole lot of truths have been scribbled onto the wall of this year’s campaign, and a few teams are riding high and riding low. Here’s a fast-paced breakdown of the action from Week 2 of what is sure to be a fast-moving college football season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide did not play last weekend, but the #2-ranked Oregon Ducks made the longest journey away from their campus in Eugene since the 70s to play the Virginia Cavaliers on their home turf. The Ducks brought the pain from start to finish, proving to be too fast and too deep at the talent positions for a spirited Virginia team cheered on by sold-out crowd. The final ended up being 59 – 10, and Oregon stopped short of putting their proverbial foot on Virginia’s proverbial throat, it was a clear signal to the entire nation that the Ducks are here to win a National Championship.

The Ohio State Buckeyes had their way with the San Diego State Aztecs at home in Columbus, but they lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller early in the game to what appeared to be a knee injury. The #3-ranked Buckeyes are riding a winning streak that extends back to the 2011 season, but all bets are off if Miller is unable to suit up and get under center throughout the rest of the season.

The 4th-ranked team in the nation is the Clemson Tigers, and they appear intent on not letting go of their top-flight ranking. They took care of the second test on their schedule by dismantling South Carolina State at home, and they will now head into the bulk of a conference schedule that is among the most difficult in the nation.

Many college football fans in the South had their attention fixed firmly on the South Carolina versus Georgia game that unfolded between the hedges in Athens late Saturday afternoon. The offensive juggernauts exchanged blows throughout the first half and went into halftime tied at 24, but Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and stud running back Todd Gurley were clearly not going to let this team lose two in a row to start the season, and they prevailed with an 11-point victory. The loss will certainly mean a slip in the rankings for South Carolina, who came into the game at the nation’s sixth-ranked team.

Many SEC fans expected the Florida Gators to do big things this year and perhaps even make some noise in the BCS Bowl picture. The possibility for that was dealt a major setback in Miami on Saturday afternoon as the Gators were unable to establish a consistency on offense and were seemingly outcoached for the first time in the Will Muschamp era.

Other top-ranked teams such as LSU, Stanford and Texas A&M all took care of business at home. The other game featuring two teams in the top-25 pitted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the Michigan Wolverines in a raucous and jam-packed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Michigan set the pace in this game and controlled the tempo throughout, although Notre Dame fought back in the second half to make the final score a respectable one at 30 – 41. Interestingly, it was the exact same final score as the only other game that featured two ranked teams.

2013 Penn State Christian Hackenberg Hype

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 2013 Penn State Christian Hackenberg Hype

 Many Penn State Nittany Lions fans were excited by the arrival of head coach Bill O’Brien, but only the most savvy and well-informed could have imagined how quickly he would put together quality recruiting classes and return the Penn State Nittany Lions into a National Championship contender.

The signing of high school blue-chip quarterback and #1 recruit Christian Hackenberg was the highlight of the 2013 recruiting class, and the arrival of the strong-armed young man to campus has created a buzz throughout Happy Valley. Speculation is running rampant during a time where fans have yet to see the 2013 team take the field in competitive fashion, and the fact that Hackenberg is the only incoming freshmen that is currently included on widely-distributed Penn State football depth chart is a clear indication that O’Brien at least wants the freshmen to get the attention of the college football world. At most, it is a hint that the fact that Hackenberg will be running the show when the season begins late this summer. If he does get the reins to the Nittany Lion offense, it will be the initial stone laid in a path toward him a very successful college career and hopefully, a job at the professional level. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Hackenberg dominated defenses who had the misfortune of having to matchup against Fork Union Military Academy over the course of his high school career, operating a pro-style offense in which he essentially played the role of a young Peyton Manning. He grew into a full 6’5″ by the time he walked the stage with his graduating class, and he put together impressive statistical numbers when asked to compete in combine-like workouts. His large and powerful frame and his natural throwing motion excited scouts all over the nation, but it was coach O’Brien who was able to lure the talented passer to campus, and the fact that O’Brien once tutored the young Tom Brady probably helped his cause. Many Penn State fans agree that there is little reason to sit around and wait on a legend in the making if he is indeed ready to take the big stage. It has been rumored that Hackenberg’s jersey number will 14, and the moment that is officially confirmed, you can be sure that Hackenberg Penn State jerseys will be available to the general public.

Additionally, Penn State fans can look forward to a new style of jersey that emphasizes the bold, sleek and powerful Lion’s head, contrasting it against a solid navy colored shirt while maintaining the classic simplicity of the Penn State style. Whatever happens in the next few months, the arrival of Hackenberg on campus has certainly excited the Penn State nation, and rejuvenated a large, passionate and deserving fan base after a few years in the doldrums due to off-field scandals. Penn State fans all over the nation are now counting down the days until the 2013 season opener.

2013 Penn State Football Team Preview

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2013 Penn State Football Team Preview

The Penn State Nittany Lions are hoping to dominate their nonconference schedule and be highly competitive throughout their Big 10 schedule in 2013. The roster is filled with a mixture of seasoned and experienced players and newly recruited talent with sky-high potential. Here’s a breakdown of the 2013 Penn State football team.

Going into the summer, starters at many of the skill positions have yet to be determined. This means that there are a number of competitions that will unfold over the next few months, and fans can be sure that only the best players on the team will have the right to take the field and represent the proud and perennially successful Nittany Lions.

Perhaps the most intriguing addition is freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The highly touted five-star recruit was offered full ride scholarships to Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the University of Miami, but he officially committed to Penn State in late February, and coaches are toying with the idea of structuring the offense around the 6’4″ pocket passer with a huge arm. They may ask him to compete with Tyler Ferguson and the two other walk-on quarterbacks for the role, or they could use this year to redshirt him in hopes of letting him grow into a college-level quarterback before even throws his first pass at University Park Stadium.

Junior running back Zach Zwinak is expected to get the bulk of the carries, and the offensive attack and general game plan will be very run oriented if Hackenberg is indeed redshirted. Alan Robinson was the top receiver throughout the 2013 season, and opposing defenses are going have their hands full in 2013 after he has an off-season to mature and add to his frame. After Robinson, the competition for the rest of the team’s receptions is wide open, with four freshman and two sophomores hungry to get out on the field.

Second-year coach Bill O’Brien brought in John Butler to be his new defensive coordinator in the off-season, and a new defensive head coach always means the reopening of competitions for starting roles. The effectiveness of the large and athletic defensive line will go a long way toward determining how successful the Nittany Lions are the season, so the coaches need to makes sure to put the right pieces in the right place.

DaQuan Jones is a large and athletic senior who anchors the line and will likely put up the best stats. As far as the other positions go, a huge collection of freshmen and sophomores will be competing with a couple of juniors for playing time. Abundance of youth is a theme with defensive lineman and wide receivers in Happy Valley, a telltale sign of team that is going to be strong for many years to come.

Penn State will have to hit the ground running once the Big 10 schedule begins, and back-to-back midseason showdowns against Michigan and Ohio State will be the most important matchups. If O’Brien is able to play the right cards along his defensive line and figure out his quarterback situation as quickly as possible, there is an outside chance that the Nittany Lions can win both of these football games. Doing so would certainly thrill large and passionate fan base, and be quite an accomplishment for a coach who took the program over less than two years ago.

Penn State Football Schedule Analysis

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Penn State Football 2013 Schedule Analysis

In the wake of a scandal that exposed corruption and brought embarrassment to the esteemed Pennsylvania State University, the Nittany Lions football team is anxious to turn the page and continue their tradition of success. Unfortunately for the players on the 2013 squad, the team is still on probation and are ineligible to play in a bowl. Nonetheless, this is a talented and hungry group that is expected to compete on a very high level in a deeply talented Big Ten Conference, and millions of passionate fans of the team are sure to be watching while decked out in their favorite Penn State sweatshirt or jacket. Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming season.

The Syracuse Orangemen lost their starting quarterback to the NFL Draft, but they have established themselves as a consistently formidable team out East, and they will be the Nittany Lions first opponent on Saturday, August 31. The game will be played at the newly-minted MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, and Syracuse fans are known for coming out in droves to support their team. Simply put, this will be a very challenging first game, and likely the toughest test out of the first five games of the season.

Penn State plays a relatively soft out of conference schedule this year, including winnable games against Eastern Michigan, University of Central Florida, and Kent State. The team will have an open date on Saturday, September 28, allowing them up brief break to prepare for a very challenging conference schedule stacked with teams who are likely to be in the top 25.

Penn State will begin the tough plow through the Big Ten with a road game at Indiana against the rebuilding Hoosiers and a very important rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines in University Park on Saturday, October 12. Beaver Stadium is always a difficult environment for teams to play in, and this matchup has been declared an official “white out” game. This means that every fan in attendance will be asked to wear a white Penn State T-shirt or sweatshirt, creating an unspoken sense of unity and an impressive visual display that will be broadcast on national television. Expect this game to be a low-scoring battle that is won in the trenches and ultimately decided by a turnover late in the game.

After another open date, Penn State faces what could be its toughest matchup of the year against the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Head coach Urban Meyer has put Ohio State on a direct path to the top since his arrival last year, and the Nittany Lions are likely to go into this game as heavy underdogs. Games in the following weeks against Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue could result in anything from three consecutive victories to three consecutive losses, and how this Penn State team performs in the big games against Michigan and Ohio State will go a long way toward forming their identity.

Penn State will not be invited to a bowl game no matter what happens, so coaches and players just might treat the final two games of the regular season as their own personal bowl battles. The Nebraska Cornhuskers will come to town in late November for a showdown that could unfold underneath gentle snowflakes, and the Nittany Lions will touch down in the heart of Wisconsin a handful of days after that to prepare for a showdown against the Wisconsin Badgers.

There are a lot of tough games on this slate, but if stud running back Zach Zwinak is able to churn out another 1,000 yard season while adding to his total of six rushing TDs in 2012, this Nittany Lions team should finish well above the .500 mark.