2004 Penn State Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Joe Paterno (339-109-3)<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 3-9 (1-7, T-9th place in Big Ten)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> Jan. 1st, 2003 Capital One Bowl (13-9 loss to <A HREF=http://auburn.TheInsiders.com>Auburn</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 11, @<A HREF=http://bostoncollege.TheInsiders.com>Boston College</A> (ABC); Oct. 9, <A HREF=http://purdue.TheInsiders.com>Purdue</A> (ESPN); Nov. 20, <A HREF=http://michiganstate.TheInsiders.com>Michigan State</A>

Star Power: Alan Zemaitis, CB, 6-2, 194; Zach Mills, QB, Sr., 6-3, 214; Paul Posluszny, LB, 6-2, 228.

Notable Additions: Dan Connor, LB, Strath Haven High School (Wallingford, Pa.), 6-3, 220; Anthony Morelli, QB, Penn Hills High (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 6-4, 216.

Notable Subtractions: Rich Gardner, CB, graduated.

Notable Returnees: Jay Alford, DT, So., 6-3, 283; Levi Brown, T, So., 6-5, 315; Paul Jefferson, FB, Sr., 6-1, 258; Paul Posluszny, LB, So., 6-2, 230; Tyler Reed, G, Jr., 6-4, 302; Michael Robinson, QB, Jr., 6-2, 227; E.Z. Smith, C, Jr., 6-1, 275

09/11/04@Boston College
10/30/04@Ohio State
11/20/04Michigan State
Offensive Overview: The addition of Galen Hall as Offensive Coordinator should jumpstart a Penn State offense that last season lacked any real sense of direction. Hall, the Nittany Lion's starting QB in 1960 and 1961, boasts an impressive resume which includes positions as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 1966-83, head coach at Florida from 1984-89, and head coach of the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe from 1995-2000 where he was honored as Coach of the Year three times. Fifth year senior Zack Mills will have the chance to excel behind a starting offensive line consisting of five players with previous starting experience. Sophomore running backs Austin Scott and Tony Hunt, who both made solid contributions last season as true freshmen, return, but could face competition from redshirt freshman Rodney Kinlaw. Kinlaw has reportedly fully recovered from an ACL injury he suffered in practice last year after having greatly impressed the coaching staff in the early going. Since the top five leaders in pass receptions from last season are gone, the Nittany Lions will look to senior wide-receiver Gerald Smith, juniors Terrance Phillips and Kinta Palmer, and redshirt freshman Terrell Golden to fill the void. That shouldn't be to daunting a task in light of the consistent problems Penn State receivers had catching the ball in 2003.

Defensive Overview: The defense, which returns 14 players with at least one game of starting experience, is being conditioned for a more aggressive style of play this season. The defensive line proves to be the position with the most returning experience. Although junior Tamba Hali has moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, the Nittany Lions still have three other returning tackles with starting experience, namely Jay Alford, Ed Johnson and Scott Paxson. Senior OLB Derek Wake returns alongside sophomore Paul Posluszny, one of only four true freshman to see playing time last season, and redshirt sophomore Tim Shaw. Penn State, ranked third nationally last season in pass defense, returns five letterman in the secondary with starting experience. Anwar Phillips looks to replace departing cornerback Richard Gardner and should get tested often as opponents look to avoid outstanding junior cornerback Alan Zemaitis. Seniors Andy Guman and Chris Harrell, in addition to junior Calvin Lowry, will man the safety positions.

Special Teams Overview: Penn State special teams were abysmal last season, with the Nittany Lions finishing at the bottom of the Big 10 in kickoff returns, kickoff coverage, field goal percentage, PAT percentage and net punting. Kickoff specialist David Kimball will be missed. Sophomore punter Jeremy Kapinos was one of only a few bright spots last season. He returns as does senior place kicker Robbie Gould who will be entering his fourth season as the Lion's placekicker.

The Nittany Lions should return to their winning ways and earn a meaningful bowl bid this season if... the experienced offensive and defensive lines perform to their potential, the young running backs learn from last year's experience and make marked improvements, Zack Mills returns to his sophomore form and the young linebackers take it upon themselves to restore the tradition of Linebacker U.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
ACCBig 12Big EastBig TenPac-10SECIndependent
IllinoisIndianaIowaMichiganMichigan State
MinnesotaNorthwesternOhio StatePenn StatePurdueWisconsin

Fight On State Top Stories