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jmjacobs

[2020] Season Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

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2019 Record (incl. playoffs): 16-0 (8-0)

National Champion, B1G Champion

 

Key Losses:

WR Michael Hall 6-3 218 (Sr) Trask (Rocky Point, NC) 4.0 of 4.0 [Target]
TE Robert Kelley 6-4 261 (Sr) Tyler Consolidated (Sistersville, WV) 4.0 of 4.0 [blocking]
C Philip Reed 74 268 (Sr) Penn Cambria (Cresson, PA) 4.0 of 4.0 [Run Blocking]
ILB Raheem Burkett 6-3 240 Sr William Blount (Maryville TN) 4.5 of 4.5 [Will]
OLB Edward Harris 6-0 225 (Sr) Big Piney (Big PineyWY) 4.0 of 4.0 [Coverage]
CB Cameron Marshall 6-1 170 Jr Williamsport (Williamsport, MD) 5.0 of 5.0 [Zone Coverage]
SS Marc Wynn 6-0 193 Sr Iowa Central Community College (Fort Dodge, IA) 4.0 of 4.0 [Zone Coverage]
 

Key Returners:

QB Tanner Bowman 6-2 203 Sr Manistee (Manistee, MI) 5.0 of 5.0 [Pocket]
RB Ricky Vega 5-10 214 Jr DePaul Catholic (Wayne, NJ) 4.0 of 5.0 [Speed]
WR Morgan Patton 6-3 193 Jr Purchase Line (Commodore, PA) 5.0 of 5.0 [Target]
DE Cory Hall 5-10 237 (Jr) Brandywine (Niles, MI) 4.5 of 4.5 [Blitz]
DT Shamar Ware 6-5 278 Jr Southern Guilford (Greensboro, NC) 5.0 of 5.0 [2-Gap]
OLB Shane Easley 6-4 236 Jr Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, PA) 5.0 of 5.0 [Blitz]
ILB Christopher Clayton 6-0 240 (Sr) East (Cheyenne WY) 5.0 of 5.0 [Mike]
CB Austin Sheppard 6-1 188 (Sr) Spring Hill (Columbia TN) 4.5 of 4.5 [Zone Coverage]
 

Strengths:

QB-RB Combo: Penn State holds one of the most deadly QB-RB Combos in the nation with Bowman and Vega. Bowman is coming off a 4500 yard performance, and is considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2021 NFLHC Draft. Vega, who as a 2.5/5.0 ran for almost 1500 yards and 18 TDs returns and is now a 4.0/5.0. I expect Bowman to be more efficient, and Vega to be more deadly, and to be even better than this national champion duo was last season. Beware B1G.

 

Front seven: 

Penn State is trying to live up to it's irl nickname of Linebacker U. With 3 5.0 potential players and arguably the scariest LB and potential top pick Shane Easley leading the defense, teams will be terrified to go up against this LB corps. Adding to that, the defensive line contains a 4.5/4.5, a 5/5, and a 2.5/5 freshman. This is arguably, potential-wise, the strongest front seven in the sim. I expect teams to try and air it out against their secondary in order to compete in games this season.

 

Weaknesses:

 

Secondary:

After the loss of Cameron Marshall to the NFL, the secondary is definitely the weakest part of the Nittany Lions defense. Only one starter over 3/3, in CB Austin Sheppard, teams will look to take advantage of this and be more pass heavy in games against the Nittany Lions. The front seven might be able to handle a passing assault and get pressure, but a team with a strong QB and O-Line play could give Penn State fits this season.

 

Interior OL:

There aren't many weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball, but considering the strength of the roster, it's interior OL could cause some problems in running game, and lead to increased pressure. Starting 2 3.5/3.5 's and a 2.5/4.0 would be great for a lot of teams, and should be serviceable for Penn State, but considering their talent throughout the rest of the roster, this stands out as the next largest issue outside of the secondary.

 

Season Expectations:
I full expect the Nittany Lions to be the favorite in the B1G and only to be contested by potentially Michigan in the East. I would be surprised if they lose more than 1 conference game

 

Season Prediction:
Best case scenario: Penn State is back-to-back National Champions, proving the B1G is the best conference in the sim (although it already is :ph34r:)

 

Worst case scenario: Teams take advantage of their weaker secondary and interior OL leading to a few losses against the tougher teams on the schedule, not winning the East in the process.

 

Realistic prediction: 11-1. They get most of their tough games at home, and I think the secondary could be a problem, so I think Penn State can slip up in 1 game this season, whether that is West Virginia, Pitt, Michigan, or someone else on the schedule remains to be seen.  

 

 

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