Our Penn State insiders Brian & Darian are back to discuss the Penn State win over Maryland, what’s next and stadium renovations.
Brian: A lot of positive vibes coming out of the last six quarters. I don’t want to spend too much time on the win against Maryland, but it was certainly impressive. I’m not sure if the Terps are a bowl team, but they were unbeaten heading into the game. I think Penn State isn’t as bad as the team we saw at times against Michigan and in the first half against Minnesota, but probably isn’t as good as the team that dominated in almost every aspect last weekend. Especially once Maryland’s QB went down, they were dominant.
Darian: That was the most complete game that I’ve seen them play since James Franklin took over. The only other game that came to mind was that win against SDSU Iast year. They played really solid and I don’t know if Perry Hills was really going to make a difference. Penn State was just the better team, which feels weird to say but they were. And they executed much better than Maryland did.
Brian: I would compare it to games against Illinois and Indiana at Beaver Stadium last season. Penn State was fortunate San Diego State imploded right before halftime in the game you are referencing. Austin Johnson had that long fumble return touchdown in that game.
Darian: I think if that team shows up for every game, there’s a very real chance they could only lose one more game, which is insane to say.
Brian: I think it’s extremely reasonable to be hopeful, but I need to see more. That statement might be more indicative of the current state of the Big Ten. Michigan State and Iowa have really struggled. MSU has lost three straight. Iowa barely beat Rutgers and lost to Minnesota. The road game at Indiana might be the most difficult contest remaining excluding Ohio State.
Darian: I agree. If that game was at home, I’d feel a lot better and say put the money on it, but that’s the one game that worries me about this stretch. But I don’t know. I think if Penn State plays the way it did against Maryland and gets Cabinda and Bell back — I’ve got a great feeling.
Brian: Well, those players will make a big difference for a defense that really is improving. Players have really stepped up on that unit. Brandon Smith, Jordan Smith, Cam Brown, Manny Bowen, Koa Farmer, etc. Brent Pry, the pride of Altoona, deserves a lot of credit. He’s had an extremely difficult job. But, I just don’t feel confident enough to make a similar prediction. Especially with the Andrew Nelson injury. Offensive line play, especially at tackle, will get tested against opponents down the stretch.
Darian: I’m not the pride of Altoona? That’s my hometown!
Brian: No, I’m sorry! Maybe a runner-up?
Darian: I think that these younger guys have done a really good job. They really have. Brandon Smith is developing into a future star. And I think a lot of that goes to show where this team is headed. It’s still so young but it’s got so much room to grow. We are going to look back at these injuries in a few years and maybe see them as a blessing in disguise so they can get some very important reps and step up in important situations.
Brian: It’s extremely encouraging, but would like to see how they compete against teams with more skill, speed and size. That starts with being competitive with Ohio State then having some success against the aforementioned trio of Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State. Penn State’s performance against Maryland should be expected against that type of opponent. I’d like to see them play a similar game on the road at Purdue and at Rutgers. Those teams are not good and this team has not had much road success.
Darian: This Ohio State game is going to be very important — which I feel like we say every year — but it is. It’s going to determine where Penn State stands and it will be a good test. We’re going to learn if they are better and how much better they are since that Michigan game.
Brian: Ohio State is really good. I’m not sure if that’s fair. I’d at least expect Penn State to remain competitive for a portion of the game considering the crowd and environment. Ohio State is a young team. 43% of fans voted Beaver Stadium the most intimidating venue in the Big Ten in a poll this week on BTN. The most important games for me are the games after Ohio State. That said, if they do something unexpected, that will be a huge statement. I, like most people, just don’t anticipate that.
Darian: Yeah I don’t think we are going to see anything crazy happen in a week and a half. I’d like to but I don’t see it happening. Ohio State’s too talented, but again, you’ve got to learn something from these games and I think if they can at least keep it close within a two scores, it’s going to be a positive. It may not seem like it but I think that it could go a long way in the long run.
Brian: College football. Where the unexpected happens. You never know. But, I agree with you. I was surprised to not see you up in State College for Homecoming weekend!
Darian: Dude. I was there. I haven’t missed a game in nearly two years. Why do you think I would have missed that one?
Brian: You must have spent too much time in the basement at the Phyrst! Best bar in State College?
Darian: The Phyrst? No, it’s a dungeon and overrated. Darkhorse. You know that.
Brian: I do like the Darkhorse. Terrific wings. Pazzo sauce plus a Tontos. The Shandygaff is an all-time great though, if you don’t mind a crowd. I like the new Primantis that opened to. But, I’m going to show my age here, the lines are so long at most of these places.
Darian: The most underappreciated bar in State College is the one that no one knows where it is and there’s never a line: The Brewery. I can’t tell you how many nights I spent in that place. Cheap drinks, beer. Hole in the wall and a bit of a dump, but you never have to wait in line.
Brian: Speaking of lines … getting in and out of Beaver Stadium and waiting to use the restroom. I’m really looking forward to seeing the plans for the facilities master plan soon. That should be released shortly. What do you think is the most important change that needs to be made?
Darian: Better food. As you know, I’ve been to all but three of the Big Ten stadiums and the Beaver Stadium food is the worst. Indiana has Chick-Fil-A. OSU has a Panera. Penn State needs better food. May not be the most important but food.
Brian: Obviously there are a lot of much-needed enhancements, but the one that I’d like to see the most is replacing the benches with chair seats everywhere but the student section. I’m not sure that’s the most important, but it’s the most logical.
Darian: You know I could go either way on that. I think that’s kind of a part of college football, bleachers. But I see the other side where you need more space. They are just going to lose so many seats and I don’t want to see that stadium go below 100K. I’d be a lot more okay with it if I knew the stadium was going to be kept at a similar capacity within 1K.
Brian: I’d like to say with the evolution of television and at-home viewing, plus travel costs and distances, it’s just unnecessary to have a stadium any larger than 100k. But, who knows if you start to win a lot of games. Regardless, we could discuss this all night. I just wanted to throw it out there that new information should be due out soon. We can continue this next week and preview Ohio State! Looking forward to the big game already. Talk to you soon.