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GUEST POST: Black Shoes Diaries on the Purdue-Penn State game

Hey guys, sorry for the late posting here but I've been a bit under the weather today. However Mike from Black Shoe Diaries has come through int he clutch with this week's blog trade. Mike is one of the head guys of the entire Big Ten Bloggers' network and his Penn State blog is very well respected. Welcome to the floor Black Shoe Diaries!

OTT: It has been widely spread that Penn State fans are some of the nicest in the Big Ten both at home and on the road. Last season my wife and I even went to the Purdue game with a Penn State couple. What kind of hospitality should Purdue fans expect in Happy Valley?

BSD: Purdue fans should expect to be treated with hospitality and respect. The overwhelming majority of Penn State fans are very nice people that enjoy socializing with visiting fans. Plus you're Purdue, a very respectable program with courteous fans. For whatever reason, Ohio State brings out the worst in Penn State fans. Maybe it's the frustration with our own program and jealousy for theirs. Maybe it's the 8 PM kickoffs that allow for several hours of consuming alcohol. I go to most games and I can honestly say things are uglier when Ohio State, and to a certain extend Michigan, come to town. Other schools like Purdue, Wisconsin, and any other Big Ten school are highly respected by Penn State fans.

OTT: This seems to have been a year of distractions, from the Austin Scott situation to the constant background thought of the eminent JoePa transistion. How much longer can Penn State expect to go without any kind of succession plan being in place? Is JoePa simply waiting for Bobby Bowden to blink or vice versa?

BSD: It seems that each year we slip further and further from our high horses. Penn State fans have been divided on the issue of when Joe should go. Many people want to win now at all costs and think Joe should be forced to retire. Personally, I see everything the man has done for the University beyond football, like donating nearly $5 million of his own money to build libraries and establish scholarships, and I ask myself how can we possibly throw this man out? He built this football program which now funds the entire athletic department giving many student athletes an opportunity to get an education they otherwise would not be able to get. I think he has earned the right to go out on his own terms. If that means putting up with a few more years with three or four losses and trips to the Outback Bowl, I'm willing to accept that.

Having said that, Paterno's contract runs out at the end of the 2008 season. I think he's getting tired of coaching. He detests talking to the media and the constant scandals are not fun for him. Plus it's becoming dangerous for him to be on a football field, as his injury in Wisconsin last year demonstrated. If he could just coach football I think he would go on forever, but I think he's tired of the circus that surrounds the team. So after the 2008 season I think he will step down. There is talk that behind closed doors a successor has already been named.

OTT: Penn State's offense has been inconsistent at best this year (38 points against Wisconsin, 9 at Michigan). Purdue's defense seems to be coming into its own of late especially against the run (and at least we're not horrid like last year). What do you expect from the Penn State offense Saturday?

No offense to Purdue, but it doesn't matter what you do on defense. We approach each opponent the same way. As Brian would say, we always throw rock. Penn State will try to have a balanced attack. We'll try to establish the run, and we will continue running regardless of the level of success. Our passing game consists of safe throws to the sideline and quick swing passes to the wide receivers. Occassionally we'll throw in a deep throw to keep the defense honest. Our goal is to out execute you. The problem with the offense is they cannot play at a consistently high level. They turn the ball over too much, and while they don't commit many penalties, they always seem to draw a flag at the wrong time. We should move the ball well and get a lot of yards, but a key to the game will be scoring touchdowns. If Penn State keeps shooting itself in the foot and settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns we'll be in trouble.

OTT: Finally, to switch it around, Purdue's offense has been unstoppable against bad teams, and stuck in neutral against the good. Facing Penn State, in Happy Valley, on Senior Day trends toward another bad day, don't you think?

BSD: Well, I thought we had a pretty good defense until the Ohio State game. Lately opponents have had a lot of success throwing the ball against us. Against a team like Purdue this is a major cause for concern. Our problems stem from some questionable personnel moves in the offseason, a kid transferring, and a few injuries. Now we have a converted wide receiver starting at safety and cornerbacks that teams like to pick on. The secondary play calling has been really suspect. Maybe they're compensating for Mark Rubin (the converted WR) by playing soft zone coverage too much. But teams are able to pick them apart with six and seven yard catches all day. With Penn State's defensive line and their ability to get after the quarterback (#2 in the country in sacks) I would expect Purdue to throw a lot of quick three and four yard routes. If the Penn State corners are playing ten yards off the line of scrimmage like they have been all year it's going to be a long day for our defense. You can probably tell I'm not very optimistic about this game.

Thanks Mike!