Three questions in Happy Valley

Questions surround this year’s version of the Nittany Lions more so than in year’s past.

Here’s a breakdown of the three burning questions for Penn State going into this years college football season:

Who will step up and win the quarterback job?

Head coach Joe Paterno looks on as Kevin Newsome throws a pass in summer practice. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

This is the first year I can remember where there is a true quarterback competition taking place under Joe Paterno. The two main candidates to win the job are sophomore Kevin Newsome and redshirt sophomore Matt McGloin. Newsome was a highly recruited high school player out of the Virginia Beach area and served as the backup to Daryll Clark last season while McGloin came to Penn State two years ago as a preferred walk-on from Scranton, PA and eventually was put on scholarship before last season.

Newsome is much better suited as an athlete than a quarterback with his legs being as viable of a weapon as his arm. He looks to be more comfortable scrambling out of the pocket and being able to manage the play when it breaks down. McGloin is the more traditional quarterback as his athleticism won’t wow anyone, but he is savvy nature and understanding of the playbook may make him the safer choice, but will his skills translate to running offensive coordinator Jay Paterno’s Spread HD offense?

*Also in the running are two highly touted incoming freshmen Paul Jones and Robert Bolden. Jones looked surprisingly poised for a true freshman in Penn State’s annual Blue and White game, however early word from summer camp is that Bolden has been very impressive and has even taken reps with the first team offense.

The real question here is will Joe Paterno have the patience to trust a freshman with running the offense?

Will the Nittany Lions be able to replace their linebacking corps?

We’ll see how well Penn State lives up to it’s moniker Linebacker-U because the Nittany Lions have the daunting task of replacing all three of their starting linebackers last season who were all taken in April’s NFL draft.

To open the season the linebacking positions should go as follows:

SLB: Nate Stupar

MLB: Chris Colsanti

WLB: Bani Gbadyu

*Stupar and Gbadyu should be solid and from all reports Colsanti has made strides after being pretty much a non-factor in his first three years. Expect competition at middle linebacker from junior Mike Yancich who is fully healthy and up to around 235 pounds.

*Competition at both outside spots will come from sophomores Mike Mauti who is fully recovered from tearing his ACL during last year’s training camp and Gerald Hodges who is a physical specimen. It will be tough to keep these guys off the field so expect to see a rotation develop at all three of the linebacker spots.

Will the schedule be too much to overcome?

For as much flack as the Nittany Lions have gotten for their scheduling in the past, this years schedule should more than make up for it. Three games immediately jump out when looking at the schedule:

9/11 @ #1 Alabama

10/2 @ #10 Iowa

11/13 @ #2 Ohio State

As you can see State’s three most difficult games come on the road. Factor in it will be breaking in a young, inexperienced quarterback and it will be difficult to be able to win any of those three games you’d think.

So you’re already behind the 8-ball so to speak and take into consideration other tough conference games against Michigan, Michigan State and an improved Northwestern team, this season should tell a lot about the young players and the future of the Nittany Lions.

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