The States of College Football: Pennysylvania
Posted By:Jason Cooper - Charleston, SC Tags:
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Pitt Panthers: Coming off of an impressive 9-4 season, Coach Dave Wannstedt (pronounced wan-stat) hopes that his Panthers can continue to build on their momentum from last year. However, they’ll have to do it without their star running back, LeShan McCoy, who left to enter the NFL draft. McCoy amassed close to 1500 yards last season, averaging 114.5 yards/game. McCoy’s back-ups were both seniors last year, and so was their 3-year starter at fullback. That leaves a huge hole for Pitt’s running game.
Under center will be senior Bill Stull. He’ll be looking to seriously improve his wishy-washy 2008 season, as he and the other Pitt QBs threw 8 picks and only 6 TDs in the final 6 games of the year. Frank Cignetti, son of the former West Virginia coach (blasphemy!!), has been hired as the new offensive coordinator to ride in on his white horse and rescue the damsel in distress that is the Pitt offense.
Things don’t look much better for Pitt at the linebacker position as they’ve lost All-American, Scott McKillop (senior). He’s projected to be a top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft as an inside linebacker.
But wait, it gets worse. Pitt also has to find a replacement for their kicker, punter, and their star wide receiver T.J. Porter who was susepended indefinitely after being arrested for a second DUI while driving on a suspended license.
On the schedule include home games with Notre Dame, Navy, Louisville, and UConn, but the Panthers have to travel to NC State, Buffalo, and Morgantown, West Virginia for the 102nd Backyard Brawl. If Pitt can’t adequately replace their vacant positons, it might be a long year for the Panthers.
Personally Depressing Bonus Trivia: The Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia is named for the proximity of the two schools. WVU's campus in Morgantown, WV is about 70 miles south of Pittsburgh (via I-79). Pitt leads the series by a 61-37-3 margin. On Saturday, December 1, 2007, the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl took place at WVU. The then 4-7 Panthers upset the second-ranked Mountaineers 13–9, knocking West Virginia out of a potential BCS National Championship Game. In addition to being one of the greatest upsets for the Pitt Panthers, it was also voted as the "Game of the Year" by ESPNU fans.
Penn State Nittany Lions: After the beating that Penn State took from Southern California in last year’s Rose Bowl (38-24), Penn State and their 82-year-old coach, Joe Paterno (pronounced jo-pa), are looking to continue what was otherwise a winning season (11-2). Joe Pa also looks to be back on the sidelines in 2009 after some complications from hip surgery which made him cranky(ier) and put him in the booth for most of last season.
Quarterback Daryll Clark returns to champion Big Ten’s best offense in 2008; however, he’ll have to do it with 3 new offensive linemen and group of all-new wide receivers. Tailbacks Evan Royster and Stephfon Green will be in the backfield, thankfully, to give Clark some experienced help. Royster and Green combined for 1,814 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Senior linebacker Sean Lee will return for the 2009 season. He missed all of last year with a torn ACL. Outside linebacker Navorro Bowman and defensive tackle Jared Odrick, both first-team all-conference selections last year, will lead the Nittany Lion defense. However, they have to replace 3 defensive ends, as well as all four starters in a defensive backfield that had a solid season until Sanchez went all Tom Brady on ‘em in the Rose Bowl (413 total yards, 4 TDs).
This year’s notable home games include Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana; road games are Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, and Michigan State on November 21. Brrrr!!! Makes me cold just thinking about it. Hopefully, Joe Pa will have his offense well warmed up by then to blaze their way to another Big Ten title.
Double-trouble trivia: What the hell is a nittany lion, you might ask? A nittany lion is a mountain lion that was native to the area. They used to roam (pre 19th century) close to the school itself (Penn State University Park, PA), as well as near Mount Nittany, a local landmark. The school’s fight song is also called “The Nittany Lion” inspired by the creation of the mascot in 1907.
Oh, and the Nittany Lions play in Beaver Stadium. [insert Beavis/Butthead laughter here]
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