Penn State Q & A: Marsh Creek, Part 2

Badger Nation's Q & A with Nittany Lion football expert Marsh Creek continues. In this edition Creek addresses injuries, quarterback Zach Mills and the offensive line.

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Penn State is breaking in four new starters on the offensive line. What do expect to see along the line this season?


Chris McKelvy, will be one of the tackles. E.Z. Smith will start at guard. Tyler Reed will be at the other guard spot. He will manhandle a lot of defensive tackles. Because his balance is so good, people can't get past him. He handled Anthony Adams in practice last season.


I think if they put McKelvy on the same side as Reed, they will probably run a lot of running plays to that side.


Damone Jones may get the other tackle spot, Dave Costlow is a smaller guy at center. That would be my prediction as to what would be the starting line.


The tight end position is going to be the same as last year.


Matt Kranchik is a guy to look at –he is 6-7 and about 265 and in the spring game he looked really good. He is fast. He will probably be number two behind Casey Williams and ahead of Mike Lukac. All three of those guys were walk-ons. Kranchik is the best pro prospect.


You mentioned that Chris McKelvey will likely start at one tackle position, but in a pre-spring game article on LionNews, it was mentioned that coaches were potentially weary of his weight. The article stated he might slide on the depth chart as a result. Does McKelvey have his weight under control? 


Chris is a kid who the coaches get on a bit because in each of the past two off-seasons he gained about ten lbs. Last year he reported at 317lbs to August camp and he said he weighed about 320 pounds this past spring, so I don't believe that will be a concern. You have to know how Joe (Paterno) handles things to appreciate my response, but no, I believe McKelvey will be fine and will start from day one.


You mentioned Austin Scott already, but are there other freshmen that you expect to see step in and contribute?


The only other freshman I can see playing this fall is a wide receiver by the name of Terrell Golden. We have a lot of receivers, but he is a pretty high end prospect. He's all of 6'3" and 195lbs, built like an Adonis, he's very shifty, he's run some electronically timed 10.90 100 meter races, and he's long jumped over 23 feet many times. He's a kid who might play on sheer talent alone. We have some other good freshmen, but they have kids very talented in front of them and I don't see them playing.


In addition to having to overcome the loss of a collection of NFL talent, the Nittany Lions have some important players returning from injury. How is the health of E.Z. Smith, and safeties Yaacov Yisrael and Calvin Lowry? Is Zack Mills at full health?


Smith is 100% after off-season shoulder surgery. Yisrael tore an ACL last August and will play this fall. He might be 100% though. Lowry broke his tibia last September. That's a 12 week recovery and he played at 100% this spring. He's good to go.


Mills is the wild card. He played hurt against your squad last fall and I don't think he was healthy from that point on last year. I'm taking a wait and see approach there.



Mills was overshadowed by Larry Johnson, Bryant Johnson and even by the intrigue of Michael Robinson last season, but he put together quite a solid season. How do you think he stacks up against other Big Ten quarterbacks?


A 100% healthy Zack Mills is probably the best QB in the league. His footwork is flawless and he throws a ball so easily catchable that few passes are ever dropped. His accuracy is uncanny. He has excellent ball fakes, patience and vision. If he's hurting that's another story altogether.


Mills' one downside has been a tendency to want to make plays when they are not there, something many great QBs will do from time to time, but he's a winner.

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