Mark Brennan Chat Archive: Oct. 5

Penn State reporter Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com joined us today for a members-only club chat. Brennan gave us the scoop on what to expect from Penn State this weekend. Read below for a transcript.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:43:42 PM)
Thanks for having me. I hope everyone has fun this week

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:43:44 PM)
Welcome Mark, what is with JoePa changing his special teams to stop Ginn. Have other teams tried this? Has Penn State been struggling in this area?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:44:52 PM)
Penn State really struggled stopping kickoffs vs. Minnesota. The program's specials teams have been generally poor the last few years. I think he wants to get more speed on the punt coverage team to prevent the kind of explosion Ginn had vs. PSU last year

BuckeyeDave (Oct 5, 2005 1:45:10 PM)
Mark, thanks for taking the time today. There has been a lot of "discussion" on the message boards comparing PSU's and Ohio St's LB corps. Your thoughts?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:46:25 PM)
Ohio State's 'backers are bigger and stronger. I think PSU's are generally faster. Both groups are great. As Paul Posluszny said yesterday, this group at PSU hopes to get the same kind of rep the guys at OSU have now

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:46:42 PM)
Is there an area of the Penn State defense that could be exploited by the OSU offense. In other words is there an area that needs to improve asap?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:47:23 PM)
Right corner.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:47:25 PM)
Anwar Phillips has struggled there.

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 1:47:30 PM)
Mark, just how big is this game in your estimation and how does it compare to the hype of recent years' games? Paterno is obviously trying to keep everyone focused, but when there's been people camping out in front of the gates since yesterday, I imagine this is something PSU hasn't seen in a while.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:49:13 PM)
People were camping out since Sunday. Paterno actually went to visit "Paternoville" about an hour ago. This game is huge because it is Penn State's first on a national stage against a Top 10 opponent since 2002. But I was say beating Northwestern and Minnesota were even bigger. A loss in either game would have been devastating.

Pastor Jack (Oct 5, 2005 1:49:20 PM)
Faster?? Carpenter, Schlegel, Hawk. Are you serious?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:49:32 PM)
I am serious

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:49:35 PM)
Is Penn State healthy thus far? Any names in the 2 deep that may be out that we could watch for?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:49:56 PM)
Penn State is healthy, as far as I know

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:50:21 PM)
Not sure I follow the question about names to watch for

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:50:28 PM)
surprise players?

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:51:05 PM)
Somebody who may be a little gimpy in the game, a tweaked ankle pergaps

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:51:55 PM)
OK. No, I think everyone is OK. We can't watch practice here, though

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 1:51:58 PM)
Hi Mark, What's the biggest difference between Penn St. this year v. last year? Is it the addition of the wideouts, better scheme, injuries? Just curious as I haven't had a chance to see you guys this year. Thx.!

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:53:21 PM)
Hi ImBack. THE difference is the spread offense. Williams, King, Butler and Norwood have added some speed to the edge. So far, people have had to respect that. That has opened things up for the running game. PSU has had one receiver drafted in the last seven or either years, Bryant Johnson in the 2003 draft. It really needed speed on the edge

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:53:30 PM)
How does the Penn State O-Line match-p with the OSU D-Line? Are athey big and strong or small and fast or a mixture of the two? Do they rotate a lot in and out of the game?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:54:54 PM)
This will be a great test for the PSU offensive line, which has also struggled of late. It is amazing to think Penn State has not had a first- or second-team All-Big Ten offfensive lineman since 2000. PSU will not be able to outmuscle OSU's defensive front

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:55:02 PM)
Penn State plays six or seven guys on the o-line

Pastor Jack (Oct 5, 2005 1:55:04 PM)
Is it your opinion that Penn State will be able to run or pass or both against the Bucks? Seeing as they will have to move the ball against tOSU to win, I am interested in exactly what you think they will try to exploit?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:56:09 PM)
It will have to be a mixture of both. Right now, Penn State has an amazing balance between the running game (1,100 yards and change) and passing game (1,100 yards and change). That balance must continue against a great defense.

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:56:14 PM)
Is Galen Hall perhaps the heir apparent to Joe Pa? He is getting big props from the national media this year and has a lot of coaching experience.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:56:51 PM)
No. Galen is 64, I think. If their is an heir apparent on the staff, it is defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 1:56:56 PM)
Aside from the recievers are there any young up and comers that are not as well known on the PSU team?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 1:57:41 PM)
Hmmm, Robo. The kicker, Kevin Kelly, has been a real improvement. He's a true freshman.

JimC (Oct 5, 2005 1:59:02 PM)
How have the special teams looked so far? Is this an advantage for PSU?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:00:56 PM)
This is a potential trouble spot for Penn State. The Lions gave up a crazy onside kick vs. Northwestern two weeks ago, as well as a key fake punt. There were two long kickoff returns last week (one was wiped out by a penalty). The punter is terrific. The kicker is good. The punt return guy (Lowry) does not have great speed.

1xbuck (Oct 5, 2005 2:01:00 PM)
Looking to the future, how is Morelli's development progressing. Also, has there been a change in who's in charge of recruiting the past couple years?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:02:01 PM)
Hi 1x. Tough to guage Morelli's improvement as we have not seen him in a tight game this year. He has a GREAT arm. There have been questions about his ability to pick up the offense, though.

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:02:11 PM)
Mark, how confident are you in Michael Robinson? I seen him last year and he personally cost me a little cash. Can't see how he could have improved that much in one year. What numbers do you look for out of him on Saturday? Thx.!

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:02:40 PM)
There was a big change in recruiting. Mike McQueary, a PSU QB in the mid 1990s, is not recruiting coordinator. He engineered last year's strong class

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:04:28 PM)
Im, this is my take on Robinson: He has the athletic abililty, brains (he's super smart) and heart to be a big-time QB. But he has never showed the natural feel for the position. Is that because he has moved around so much? Or is that pretty much just the way he is? Those are the key questions. He has six picks and eight fumbles (four lost) this year. But he is 5-0.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:04:33 PM)
this is a big game for him.

Pastor Jack (Oct 5, 2005 2:04:41 PM)
You mention balance with respect to running and passing. Is the Qb for Penn State as good or better than Vince Young of Texas? tOSU defense did a very good job limiting Young's Running total. tOSU leads the nation is rushing defense. I suppose the question is can your QB be as good as Young? It would seem that this is what must happen for Penn State to get a victory.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:04:56 PM)
I think you will see Robinson in the NFL next year, but not at QB

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:06:20 PM)
Good point, Pastor. An interesting aside, Paterno sent his offensive coaches down to Texas in the offseason to watch how Mac Brown was doing things with Young and that offense. Robinson is not a better overall QB than Young, at this point.

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:06:27 PM)
How is Robinson TD/Int ratio this year? In the past it has been shaky. In what areas has he improved?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:07:31 PM)
9-6 (TD/INT)

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:07:40 PM)
Mark, where do you think the PSU program is right now? Do you think they are moving back up to where they will be finishing in the top half of the league on a regular basis, or are you concerned that there may be another tough season or two before that happens?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:07:53 PM)
He has improved with being more comfortable in the pocket and knowing when to run and when to pass

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:08:58 PM)
Kirk, one of the keys for Penn State this season is to establish some things with the younger players. The defense is loaded with seniors. If PSU hope to get back to where it once was, it will be on the backs of the kids who are sophomores and freshmen now.

BuckO (Oct 5, 2005 2:09:00 PM)
Last week PSU shut down an excellent offense, what problems do the Buckeyes present that Minn. did not?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:09:26 PM)
Better receivers, No. 1.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:09:35 PM)
Better QB, No. 2

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:10:10 PM)
one-dimensional teams will struggle against Penn State

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:11:15 PM)
Ohio State seems very balanced to me. I think that could hurt the PSU defense.

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:11:52 PM)
How is Gerald Cadogan, an OL from Portsmouth, Ohio whom lots of people liked coming out of high school, doing at PSU?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:13:02 PM)
I hear nothing but positive things about him. He is a huge kid. He is one of those young guys who will have to step up next year. They have several O-linemen like that

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:13:06 PM)
Mark, how are things going recruiting wise in Penn.? I see Pittsburgh getting all these kids, were these kids you just weren't interested in, or is there something wrong with the relationship Penn St. has with the high school coaches? Also, will JB Walton be at the game Saturday? Thx.!

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:14:24 PM)
I honestly don't think Penn State has lost anyone to Pitt that it wanted. Now losing the QB from Downington (Devlin) to Miami was another matter. PSU only has a handful of commits. But I think a lot of these players are taking a wait-and-see approach to see how good the team is.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:14:31 PM)
in that regard, the 5-0 start has been huge

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:14:37 PM)
Are there many recruits that OSU & PSU are going head to head on? I know of Colin McCarthy...any others?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:15:08 PM)
Good question, Robo. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:15:26 PM)
Thaddeus Gibson mentioned PSU again lately but there's some definite question marks now about how much interest OSU still has (grades)

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:15:33 PM)
Mark, not sure if you could or want to answer this, but how do you rate Jay Paterno as a college assistant coach? Will this be another Texas Tech, where the father sets it up for the son? Thx.!

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:15:40 PM)
We'll get Lichtenfels in here to answer that

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:16:20 PM)
I will be stunned of Jay Paterno is named the next coach at PSU. It won't happen.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:16:23 PM)
also...

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:16:56 PM)
I'm on record as saying that he would be smart to move on, get a job somewhere where he is not in the shadow of his dad, and prove himself there

BuckeyeDave (Oct 5, 2005 2:17:01 PM)
First offensive play of the game for PSU. First and 10 from the 20. Ball is in centered between the hashes. What play do you call? What would call in the same situation if Ohio St were on offense?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:18:03 PM)
For Penn State, I would flank Robinson wide and direct snap to Derrick Williams. Let him do his thing. The crowd would freak. PSU has done this a few times this season.

Guest (Oct 5, 2005 2:18:13 PM)
Mark, how impressed have you been with Robinson, and do you see him playing mistake free on Sat.?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:18:39 PM)
For Ohio State, I would go deep quickly, looking to make a quick strike and try to take the crowd out of the game. This will be an insane crowd

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:19:26 PM)
This will be one of the most hostile environments OSU has ever faced. People here are frothing at the mouth for a winner

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:19:46 PM)
and, as Alan Zemaitis said, the late kick will give folks a chance to get "liquored up."

GoldenBearBuck (Oct 5, 2005 2:20:01 PM)
Mark, can Penn State's front 7 stop our running game and do you think Tressel will mix things up by passing more on first down?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:21:22 PM)
Hi Golden. I havn't watched enough of the Buckeyes to know what Tressel will do. I do think Penn State's front seven will provide a challenge to the running game.

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:21:46 PM)
Mark, some of our young bucks in my opinion played real uptight against Texas, do you feel King, Williams and all the other young players you guys have will have similar problems Saturday?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:21:56 PM)
Hali and Paxson are both legit

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:22:46 PM)
Im, they have not been rattled by anything to date. But who knows what will happen this week, because it will be a much different environment.

BuckO (Oct 5, 2005 2:22:49 PM)
Mark, I can't see PSU moving the ball up and down the feild all night, how many points can you afford to give up to us and still win?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:23:09 PM)
I think whichever team scores 20 first wins

canalfultonbuckeye (Oct 5, 2005 2:23:23 PM)
Mark, Robinson is known for making some mistakes in crucial situations, this year he is doing an excellent job, do you see this continuing on Sat or will he get flustered?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:23:30 PM)
they should make it a race to 20. Of course, we could be waiting all night if that happened

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:24:52 PM)
Acutally, so far this year, Robinson has made big mistakes early in games. In clutch situations, like facing fourth-and-15 from his own 15 vs. Northwestern, he's come through bigtime. We'll know much more about Robinson has a QB after he gets a taste of this great defense

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:25:01 PM)
Mark, you mentioned earlier people have had some big plays against you on special teams. When is the last time you guys faked a punt, or field goal?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:25:38 PM)
vs. Iowa last year, PSU tried to run a fake field goal and was stuffed.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:25:40 PM)
the infamous 6-4 game

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:25:59 PM)
I think I would have at least tried to get my money back after that game.

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:26:01 PM)
Is this game definitely viewed as PSU's rivalry game? If Pitt came back on the schedule, would it remain that way?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:26:06 PM)
worst game I ever watched — including peewee, junior high and high school

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:27:43 PM)
Kirk, one of the things that hurt Penn State when it moved to the Big Ten was losing rivalries. Yes, Ohio State is a big game for Penn State. But this game will never be THE game for the Buckeyes. They tried to manufacture a rivalry with MSU -- the Land Grant Trophy — and while there are some great game in that series, it is not magical

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:28:20 PM)
I don't think Pitt will ever be a great rivalry, unless the Panthers land in the Big Ten, which won't happen

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:28:51 PM)
The conference doesn't need the Pittsburgh market. It already has it

BuckO (Oct 5, 2005 2:29:53 PM)
Mark, might I suggest hating Iowa.....it's very easy.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:30:03 PM)
lol

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:30:50 PM)
Mark, what do you feel is the weakest part of your offense and how strong is your offensive line?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:31:01 PM)
During a lull in the action, I would like to thank Steve Helwagen and everyone else at Bucknuts. We began FightOnState.com last December, and everyone at Bucknuts has been GREAT to us. We try to model a lot of what we do after your site

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:32:34 PM)
That's a tricky question. I'd say if OSU can cover the PSU wideouts man, the line becomes the biggest issue. This is not an overpowering group. But if it can face six- and seven-man fronts, it does well

JimC (Oct 5, 2005 2:32:56 PM)
What, in your opinion is PSU greatest tradition?

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:33:07 PM)
(Please don't say the lion roar) :D

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:33:11 PM)
LBU

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:33:20 PM)
Linebacker U

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:33:44 PM)
the ice cream is pretty good, too

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:33:48 PM)
Is there one thing that Penn State WILL be successful with against the Bucks? Passing, Running, a part of the defense...the final score?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:35:20 PM)
I think the defense will be consistently strong. Coupled with the crowd, I think OSU will have issues on offense.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:35:37 PM)
I say Penn State gets at least one defensive score.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:35:59 PM)
My final: Ohio State 17

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:36:01 PM)
Penn State 20

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:36:10 PM)
booooooo now.

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:36:15 PM)
Mark, how good is your running back at catching passes out of the backfield? Texas hurt us on that a couple times on the final drive. Thx.!

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:36:38 PM)
He is very good. Hunt was PSU's best pass-catcher last season

canalfultonbuckeye (Oct 5, 2005 2:36:51 PM)
Mark, do you think Austin Scott hasn't lived up to his billing coming out of high school?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:38:01 PM)
Canal, that goes without saying. Why? He didn't seem to be tremendously motivated his first couple years. He was having a great off-season this year and broke and ankle. That set him back. Hunt is a good all-around back.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:38:17 PM)
an ankle

ImBack45 (Oct 5, 2005 2:39:28 PM)
Mark, how many OSU games have you seen? Not many I hope seeing you are picking PSU 20-17.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:39:31 PM)
Yeah, hit me with the good stuff

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:40:19 PM)
20-17 in how many OTs?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:40:33 PM)
That's more like it, Im. I think the crowd is going to give PSU the edge here. I really don't think anyone there has any idea what they are walking in to.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:41:13 PM)
Nice Robo. No OT, though. I see both teams getting fluke TDs along the way

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:41:54 PM)
It will be really key for OSU to do well early to take the fans out of the game. I big play -- offense or defense -- would really help there.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:42:09 PM)
A big play, sorry

BuckO (Oct 5, 2005 2:43:15 PM)
Who is your current LB stud @ LBU /

canalfultonbuckeye (Oct 5, 2005 2:43:26 PM)
Dan Conner

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:43:30 PM)
Paul Posluszny

canalfultonbuckeye (Oct 5, 2005 2:43:49 PM)
Mark, is Dan Conner fully out of the dog house yet

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:44:31 PM)
No. He won't be for a while. LBU was obviously dead in the post-Arringtong/Short era. These guys are working to restore it.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:45:51 PM)
Posluszny talks about his respect for OSU 'backers here: http://pennstate.scout.com/2/447873.html

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:46:10 PM)
Hope you don't mind that, Kirk

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:46:24 PM)
What year is Poluzny?

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:46:40 PM)
junior

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:47:04 PM)
I heard the sound bite. Parts are hard to hear though

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:47:07 PM)
FYI: Pronounced: POZ-luz-knee

robochef (Oct 5, 2005 2:48:05 PM)
Thats a mouthful

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:48:22 PM)
Yeah, people here -- even the head coach -- struggle with it

Kirk (Oct 5, 2005 2:48:27 PM)
All right; it looks like we are pretty much out of questions, so we will call it a chat now. Mark, thanks for joining us today, and everyone, Steve H will be here tomorrow about the same time.

Mark Brennan (Oct 5, 2005 2:49:20 PM)
Hey everyone, thank you for having me. I hope a bunch of folks get to make the trip. Whoever wins, I think it will be a great game. Most of them here vs. OSU have been.


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