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PSU mailbag: Optimism runs high in the spring

Cleaning out the spring mailbag while peeking ahead to a season where expectations are back to where they used to be:

Neil:

I’m looking forward to the 2017 season more so than any for the past 10 years. I won’t go into the recruits, or the Xs and Os.

Rather, does this season perhaps represent painfully high expectations that may not be met? Might, when everything is said and done, this season even if successful feels like a letdown?

Several of my friends talk about competing for the national championship. Perhaps that’s possible, but when you’re dealing with 19- and 20-year-olds … Need I say more?

Greg Guise

Falls Church, Va.

Greg:

You present an intriguing, and real, scenario. From this view, the schedule is going to play tough.

Dear Neil:

I would imagine that, like everyone else, I’m concerned about complacency, but I have to say that from what I’ve read I don’t think that will come into play.

These kids seem to have a real chip on their shoulders.

For me, my biggest concern is injuries. The loss of John Reid is big. He’s a very strong, capable CB who plays the pass and run equally well.

While they are deep, there are still places with unproven depth. A rash of injuries would be a big obstacle to overcome.

Can’t wait for the new season.

Steve Abrams

Los Angeles

Dear Steve:

For Penn State’s sake, they won’t see a quarterback like USC’s Sam Darnold anytime soon.

Neil:

What new wrinkles do you think Coach Moorhead introduces this year?

Who do you see emerging at TE other than Gesicki?

Who do see leading the pack as kick and punt returner?

Finally, I’m looking forward to the NitWits again this season.

Kirk Gadebusch

Atlanta

Kirk:

1) I can see a package for Tommy Stevens.

2) Jonathan Holland

3) I think Miles Sanders, after some shaky moments, will be a better kick returner this year.

4) Thank you. Me, too.

Neil:

My biggest concern is the shift in mentality for this team.

For several years they have been free of any major expectations. Now, they are a major factor, both in the conference and nationally, and should be highly ranked.

How that dynamic plays out will test the leadership of this team.

Christian Andros

Fredericksburg, Va.

Christian:

They’ve gone from the hunter to the hunted.

Neil:

My main concern is twofold. I’m not sure the O-line is quite there yet and the D-line.

I think the great skills of Barkley and Trace masked the O-line shortcomings last year. And the lack of success in short yardage cannot continue.

The D-line needs to find players that can put constant pressure on opponent QBs — from the edges and up the middle. The loss of our two defensive ends does not help unless some of the youngsters can step up.

Tim Muri

Naperville, Ill.

Tim:

I see the secondary and linebacking play as bigger concerns.

Neil:

What are the chances of tying up offensive coordinator Moorhead to a long-term deal?

Jeff Licht

Southampton

Jeff:

I don’t see JoeMo tying himself down like that or Penn State standing in his way.

Neil:

Why won’t Beaver Stadium renovation start for five years?

Paul McConnaughey

State College

Paul:

Renovation is tied to fundraising, but I, too, was surprised the master plan didn’t include something with the flagship sooner.

Neil:

What are the key positions we should keep an eye on during the Blue-White Game?

Randy Sibert

Harrisburg

Randy:

Cornerback — specifically the replacement candidates for John Reid.

Hi, Neil:

The biggest concern to me are both lines. It seemed like Saquan did a lot of the heavy lifting on his own, making a mediocre O-line look better than they were.

Defensively, it was pretty easy to see that Marcus Allen, Malik Golden and Jason Cabinda and the other linebackers picked the slack for the line all year.

Jack Nill

Gaithersburg, Md.

Hi, Jack (something no one should say to you on an airplane):

I should hook you up with Tim Muri for a soda.

Neil:

My biggest concern is whether Neil Rudel’s readers will continue to appreciate his sense of humor in answering their questions and complaints.

Lou Prato

State College

Lou:

When that’s no longer the case, well, ya know.

Rudel, who has been covering Penn State football since 1977, can be reached at nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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