Take Your Marks Redux

See how right (and wrong) FightOnState.com staffer Mark Harrington and Mark Brennan were with their summer predictions about the Penn State football team.

If you are wondering if anyone keeps track of the comments FightOnState.com staffers Mark Harrington and Mark Brennan make in the occasional series “Take Your Marks,” the answer is in the affirmative.

In fact, they do it themselves, in this new feature called “TYM Redux.”

In this edition, they rewind to the Aug. 1, 2007 Take Your Marks where — two weeks before Penn State's preseason practice began — they chimed in on the then-recent Lift For Life Challenge and made projections for the 2007 football season.

You can see the entire story, which has not been edited since it was published, at this link: See the original story here.

Meanwhile, let's look back at what they said then and what they think about those comments now.

WHO IMPRESSED YOU MOST AT LIFT FOR LIFE?

HARRINGTON THEN: Said at 235 pounds and with an aggressive attitude, freshman linebacker Chris Colasanti jumped out. He also liked the new trimmed-down version of receiver Derrick Williams, and seemed to be particularly impressed by the 25-pound weight vest Williams was wearing.

BRENNAN THEN: Said tailback Austin Scott appeared to be in great shape. But, given Scott's history, he was taking a wait-and-see attitude on whether it would translate into a strong senior season.

HARRINGTON NOW: Pretty timely that Colasanti made his game debut against Wisconsin last Saturday. He continues to receive rave reviews and is following an early path similar to Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor and Sean Lee, all of whom played as true freshmen. As for Williams, he already has twice as many touchdowns this season (two in 2007 vs. one in 2006) as last but is still on pace to post numbers like he did last season — not spectacular, but solid. He has seen a small boost in his punt-return average (12.0 yards in 2006 vs. 14.2 yards in 2007), but he still has a ways to go to really live up to fan expectations.

BRENNAN NOW: I suppose if we've learned anything about Austin Scott during his forgettable time at Penn State, it's been to couch every positive statement with a disclaimer. Even before being hit with rape charges that are likely to end his career (guilty or not guilty, I'm not sure how things can be resolved before the season ends), he was averaging only 4.4 yards per carry and had fumbled four times, losing all four. Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster are both clearly better backs. I suppose Quintus McDonald is officially off the hook as most over-hyped Nittany Lion recruit ever.

AFTER SEEING LFL, WHICH TRUE FRESHMAN DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO MAKE THE BIGGEST IMPACT IN 2007?

BRENNAN THEN: Said offensive guard Josh Marks had the strength to play in 2007, but he had to work on technique and footwork, and drop 15 pounds if he hoped to see the field. He added a more likely candidate to at least see time was early enrollee safety Nick Sukay, but probably only on special teams.

HARRINGTON THEN: Said though he liked Colasanti, he doubted he'd make an immediate impact because PSU was so deep at linebacker. He predicted Devon Still could be a major factor on either line.

BRENNAN NOW: Extremely tough break on Still blowing out his ACL in the preseason. There is no question he would have made an impact on the D-line. I don't mind being wrong on Sukay. It is good to see a team player and good athlete like Mark Rubin fill the primary backup role at safety and handle so many key spots on special teams. Sukay will get his chance, just not a soon as I thought.

HARRINGTON NOW: Sukay has bee impressive physically, but he needs to maintain his focus off the field, something most true freshmen have to deal with at one time or another. As for Marks, he has shown good fundamentals, but probably could still benefit from shedding some weight as you indicated back in August.

BASED ON WHAT WE SAW AT LIFT FOR LIFE, IS THERE A TRUE FRESHMAN YOU THINK IS A HIDDEN GEM?

HARRINGTON THEN: Said Sukay because he was smart, ambitious, aggressive and strong.

BRENNAN THEN: Said 6-foot-5 receiver Derek Moye, but added that he doubted Moye would play this season while adding muscle to his 185-pound frame.

HARRINGTON NOW: Moye was a good pick here. I guess Stephfon Green would have been a brilliant pick too, huh?

BRENNAN NOW: I'll stick with Moye. He was on the travel roster for Penn State's first two road games. Before he injured his arm in practice a couple of weeks ago, we were getting solid reports on his development. As for Green, I'm not sure the staff knew what they had in the speedy tailback before he began making the starting defense look bad in practice.

OK, ON TO OTHER STUFF. WHO WOULD YOU NAME AS TEAM CAPTAIN(S)?

HARRINGTON THEN: Said senior receiver Terrell Golden because although he does not have the on-field resume some of the other players do, he has been compared to Tim Shaw, who was a consummate leader and nearly voted a captain in 2006.

BRENNAN THEN: Said he didn't think any of the seniors had the combination of talent, charisma and natural leadership ability redshirt junior center A.Q. Shipley brought to the table.

HARRINGTON NOW: Nice call there Brennan. Penn State simply lacks the vocal leadership needed to help deal with adversity (like losing back-to-back Big Ten games). This is why the coaches have asked guys like Lee and Shipley to step up. Toss Williams into the mix and this team should be set for leadership in 2008.

BRENNAN NOW: It's not that I have anything against Anthony Morelli and Dan Connor. Both have their significant strengths. I just don't think either guy is the total package from a leadership perspective that Shipley is. As you mention, Lee can be thrown into Shipley's league, too. Penn State will have very strong captains next year.

NAME A VETERAN PLAYER WHO WILL HAVE HIS HANDS FULL HOLDING OFF AN UNDERCLASSMAN.

BRENNAN THEN: Said senior linebacker Tyrell Sales would have a difficult time holding off redshirt freshman Navorro Bowman because Bowman was a better athlete.

HARRINGTON THEN: Said if starting guard Rich Ohrnberger made mistakes, true freshman Lou Eliades could rise to the first team.

BRENNAN NOW: The good news for Penn State fans is Ohrnberger has been a much more precise player this year. I'd poke fun at you over Eliades, who has yet to log meaningful snaps, but he sustained a concussion early in the season that set him back. As for Sales/Bowman, when the latter has been healthy, they've shared the position, though Bowman never did grab the starting job.

HARRINGTON NOW: Boy, seems like a good number of my picks sustained injuries. I am still scratching my head of the disappearance of Eliades based on the rave reviews he was getting. Who would have thought Mike Lucian would have grabbed one of the guard starting positions?

HAVE YOU HEARD OF ANY NEW WRINKLES IN THE OFFENSE?

HARRINGTON THEN: Talked about the passing game working on more middle-of-the-field patterns — slants, underneath passes, crossing routes — and doing more in the intermediate range of 15 to 20 yards.

BRENNAN THEN: Said the red-zone offense would be improved because the Lions had more size at the receiver positions, with Golden, Chris Bell, Brett Brackett and tight end Andrew Quarless.

HARRINGTON NOW: Penn State has used the middle of the field more than last year this season (see our passing chart). Unfortunately, the completion rate of those passes between the hashes has been a less-than-stellar 47 percent (15 for 32). Actually, 15 percent of your passes going between the hash marks ain't that impressive.

BRENNAN NOW: Kudos to Penn State for using its big receivers to take pressure off the little guys and running backs down in the red zone. Golden and Quarless both have a pair of TDs. Bell has dropped what should have been a couple of scores. And Brackett drew a key pass interference penalty in the end zone against Wisconsin. As a result, PSU ranks third in the Big Ten in red-zone offense.

WHO DO YOU PREDICT AS THE UNSUNG HERO OF 2007?

BRENNAN THEN: Said place-kicker Kevin Kelly, because he was healthy again.

HARRINGTON THEN: Said freshman punter Ryan Breen, who would step in for the departed Jeremy Kapinos. Mentioned that walk-on Jeremy Boone had been inconsistent in practice.

BRENNAN NOW: Boy, you nailed that one. ;) Talk about saving the worst for last. In fairness, I don't think anyone projected Boone as the team's slam-dunk unsung hero this year, but he has emerged as exactly that. Kelly is still too inconsistent for my taste. But he ought to have a chance to prove himself in some close games down the stretch.

HARRINGTON NOW: Breen? I thought I said Boone ;) Yeah, I shanked that one. As for Kelly, his kickoffs have been solid and field goals inside the 40 have been consistent. Outside the 40 is another story.

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