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Know Thy Enemy: A Q&A With Black Shoe Diaries

One of the oldest and finest blogs in the SBNation universe is Penn State's Black Shoes Diaries. These good people helped me get settled in when I moved over, and their hospitality continues with some answers to my questions about the Nittany Lions:

T-Mill: Rob Bolden or Matt McGloin. If you had to pick one guy at QB who do you go with and why?

Chris Grovich: It has to be McGloin at this point, although the official depth chart continues to list the quarterback as "Rob Bolden OR Matt McGloin". Bolden's the more naturally talented athlete, but his confidence is completely gone at this point.  It's hard to say if his regression is a product of the chronic uncertainty around the position for the past twelve months, or if Bolden's simply getting worse on his own.  Either way, he's a mess and doesn't trust himself.  He didn't throw one decent pass against Iowa, and Penn State's coaches weren't exactly asking him to do anything complicated.

McGloin has been rather effective this year with the exceptions of one horrible decision against Iowa (a red zone interception that never had a prayer) and, well, the entire Alabama game.  He's not great, but he's the best choice right now.

T-Mill: When I see Penn State I see a mediocre offense and a solid defense getting better and better. Is a classic 10-7 game in order this weekend? Also, can you find relavant tickets at places like these:

Kentucky Derby Tickets

The Masters Tickets

Ryder Cup Tickets

BCS National football Championship Tickets

SEC Football Championship tickets?

Chris: You know, it might not be too far from that.  Penn State certainly is capable of moving the ball at times, but they really bog down in the red zone.  The defense is great, which is kind of amazing because Penn State doesn't have the usual outside pass rush that they've relied upon for the last 10-15 years.  Against Iowa, Penn State blitzed more often and more effectively than I can ever remember, usually with LB Gerald Hodges.

T-Mill: What about Purdue worries you coming into this game?

Chris: The mystery, really.  Who is Purdue?  And I don't mean that in the EDSBS "LOL PURDUE WUT?" sense, either.  Games against Minnesota and Southeast Missouri don't mean anything.  Close games against Rice and Middle Tennessee aren't going to scare anybody.  What's left is the 38-10 loss to a Notre Dame team that finally looked to be rounding into shape.  This is a long way of saying that I have little to no idea what Purdue is capable of at this point.  Of those five opponents, Penn State has to be most similar to Notre Dame, and they ran for 7.2 yards per carry against the Boilermakers.  Considering that Penn State's offensive line was finally able to push around a
decent opponent last week, this is encouraging.

However, I worry that Penn State's offense continues to struggle scoring points and this turns into a battle of special teams, which is the one area that Purdue seems to enjoy a clear advantage.  Ricardo Allen also scares me because our quarterbacks can get a little loose with the football.

T-Mill: What is Penn State's plan if Purdue can slow down Silas Redd?

Chris: Derek Moye, mostly.  He's the automatic first read on practically every passing play for Penn State, and for good reason.  McGloin also has a good relationship with our #2 receiver, Justin Brown.  Still, Purdue would be 100% correct in selling out to stop Penn State's running game.  Also look for Curtis Dukes, who is much more of a power running back.  Penn State fans have been infatuated with his speed/size combination since he was recruiting, and he's just now starting to put things together.

T-Mill: Finally, Are you encouraged by Purdue's early season struggles coming into this game or worried that we might have figured a thing or two out offensively against an awful Minnesota team?

Chris: Frankly, I don't put any stock in anything that happens against Minnesota, which may be the worst Big Ten team since Penn State joined the conference in 1993.  They are beyond terrible.  "Dumpster fire" doesn't even begin to do them justice.  That doesn't mean Purdue hasn't improved since losing to Rice -- confidence goes a long way in this game, right?

Thanks Chris. We certainly hope confidence is something we can build on, at least in West Lafayette.