Mark Dent: Guys, I'll be here to talk about Penn State for the next 35 minutes or so. Fire away with whatever you want....
Bill: Hey mark how do you think the Off will do this week against IL?
Mark Dent: Hey Bill - I think the offense will be fine against Illinois. When you look back to the Ohio State game, it's almost a wonder that they were so bad. Belton ran the ball well, Robinson did his usual thing, etc. If Hackenberg and Zwinak don't turn the ball over, I anticipate 30-plus points
Guest: Is Bill O'Brien still on the NFL's radar? What is the % he is back at Penn State next season?
Mark Dent: I say O'Brien is back at Penn State next year 80 percent sure. I say this from info I know about O'Brien. I can't speak to how interested NFL teams are in him. But I will say that I think he's still a relatively hot commodity. The NFL doesn't just start hating you after you give up 44 to Indiana.
Ed: Is it fair to criticize John Butler for the defense? Clearly there is plenty of blame to go around for that Ohio State game (sanctions starting to take effect) but come on, the defense has looked beyond terrible these past 3 games. What gives?
Bill: And do you think Butler will have the D ready?
Mark Dent: I'll answer both of these together ... Yes, the defense has looked beyond terrible the last three games - BEYOND. Butler deserves some of the blame in my opinion because the problems, according to the players, are communication problems. The players obviously need to execute but it's up to Butler and the staff to put them in the right situation to execute. Butler and O'Brien would agree they need to do that better.
Mark Dent: At least for Ohio State purposes, it's worth noting that the defense never really had a chance. The Buckeyes were averaging about 45 per going into that game. When the offense failed, it put even more of a burden on the defense and that's why 63 happened. Still, I expect Illinois to have success against this defense. There's just not much talent and, as mentioned, Butler can do a better job.
Bill: I really think the Sanctions are starting to play a huge roll in all this. Lots think its an excuse but I dont. What do you think?
Mark Dent: I think it's not that much of an excuse honestly. The sanctions will really bite next year in my opinion. Penn State still has a stacked offense populated by new players since the sanctions and some older ones. I do agree that the defense is probably struggling a little bit because of the sanctions, but I just don't see it yet. I can't imagine this roster being that much of different.
Bill: I'm sure people are hoping that the game against OSU does not affect our Recruits. Think it will have a Neg effect ?
Mark Dent: Probably not. That UM game was such a thrill that I don't think the OSU game will be a killer. But no doubt that OSU and PSU recruit the same guys and they were watching that game. I just wouldn't put too much stock into one loss
Ed: Think that hit Hackenberg took on Saturday will have any effect this weekend?
Mark Dent: I really don't. I think that if the OSU game was close he would have stayed in. He practiced as early as Monday without any extra protection or hurt, so unless something bad has happened the last three days, he's probably OK.
Bill: We also have and are going to be a very young club after all this. So i can see why you think later on its going to be tough going.
Mark Dent: Exactly - especially if Allen Robinson leaves. The wide receiving core is going to be atrocious next season. And what happened to these great tight ends? I thought Carter was maybe going to be good enough to go pro after this season. But he's struggled, as has James. Maybe they rebound next year. If they don't, the offense is low on weapons.
Ed: What do you expect to see out of Illinois/PSU game? Both teams coming in after getting blown out last weekend
Mark Dent: Well the spread, I believe is 7 or 10. I think that's a little low. Penn State is 5-1 after losses under O'Brien (granted four of those are against Kent State, IU, Purdue and Navy) but the Lions generally respond well to adversity. I see the offense coming out strong but the defense still being pretty abysmal. Illinois actually has a pretty good offense when it's not playing Michigan State. I predict a close game til half with Penn State pulling away in the second, winning by 14 to 17.
Bill: One thing BOB has going for him is his way of teams responding to him. He does a gr8 job. The leaders of the team need to pick it up. BTW who are the leaders on this team?
Mark Dent: O'Brien is like Obama, circa 2008 - unreal charisma. Everybody respects him and likes him. As for the leaders? It's a different type of leader this year, and i think it's hurting Penn State. They were defined last year, with Mauti and Zordich and even Mike Farrell and Stephon Morris being particularly outgoing and vocal. They're quiet leaders this year. Those leaders are John Urschel, respectable and studious, but not fiery; Malcolm Willis - also not too fiery; and really that's about it for the seniors. Jordan Lucas is kind of a leader for the younger guys as a sophomore.
Mark Dent: Glenn Carson is also one of the leaders. I'd put him in the same category as those other two, though - kind of a lead by example type. I'm not a huge believer in intangibles, but I do think Penn State could use a player to just scream his face off at the rest of the team after losses like OSU and IU.
Bill: Well that could be a major reason why the team is struggleing too. Wow didnt know that. Dont see it getting better for next year then.
Mark Dent: Yeah. Who knows, though, re: next year. I'd say Akeel Lynch is a vocal guy, as are Bill Belton and Kyle Carter. They'll be upperclassmen and maybe they will start to lead.
Bill: We have season tickets for the games and we missed the game of the year against Mich cause of my car not starting. Ain't that a bunch of crap. Cant wait to go Sat will be good to see them do better.
Mark Dent: Oh no. That really sucks. Granted that I'm only 26 but that Penn State-Michigan game was the best college football game I've seen, and I'm talking about any team. This upcoming will certainly have offense, so I bet it'll be exciting.
Bill: Well tks Mark for the comments. looking for next weeks chat. Take care bud and Go Lions :)
Mark Dent: Yep. Talk to ya later