Chat with Josh Moyer
Welcome to NittanyNation! On Friday, reporter Josh Moyer stops by to chat about the state of Penn State football.
Moyer joined ESPN.com in 2012 after previously working for The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Send your questions now and join Moyer Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:00 PM)
Hey everybody! Thanks for joining us for this week's chat. Who's got the first question this week?
Marty (Nazareth Pa.)
Josh four recruitts for 2014 hows it look after the Blue White game for any more.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:02 PM)
Yup, four commits so far. But it's really difficult to gauge when someone might commit, though. I had an inkling Troy Reeder would commit after PSU's junior day, but Troy Apke caught me off-guard. So, with this weekend, it's hard to say. Could be zero; could be up to two. I'm trying to keep a close eye on De'Andre Thompkins, Noah Beh and Marcus Allen. I think, out of the guys I know are attending, they're probably have the highest interest.
Ryan (state college) [via mobile]
Is the format for blue/white the same as last yr? Will blue be the offense and white will be the defense?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:03 PM)
Same format as last year, which means it'll be pretty hard for the average fan to track that scoring system. O'Brien joked when asked about the odd format a week or two ago, said he didn't understand the "controversy" because, well, you play the game ... and PSU's going to win anyway.
Will (Wilkes Barre)
Do you expect the loser of the QB battle to look into transferring?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:06 PM)
No. Bench could actually leave without penalty until August, but we'll actually have a feature on him later today on NittanyNation. I spoke to his father for close to an hour earlier this week, and there's no way he's transferring elsewhere. He wanted to play on the biggest stage he could, so he's not going to give up or go to a FCS school for playing time. And Ferguson would be crazy to transfer since he'd have to burn a year and everything.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the First Penn State College Football Player that will be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:06 PM)
It's between Jordan Hill and Gerald Hodges. Those guys should go around the fourth round, and they're really close when it comes to draft grades. But I think Hill might go before Hodges. Hill improved his 40 at pro day and, while he's a little smaller than the prototypical NFL DT, he at least has speed that kind of makes up for it. Hodges on the other hand ran a 4.78. I could see an argument for either guy. But, if I had to pick one, I'd say Hill.
Dave, Philadelphia [via mobile]
Do you read anything into PSU offering Michael O'Connor a scholarship in regards the Bench/Ferguson? Maybe they are progressing as desired?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:09 PM)
That's a good question, Dave. I can't say for sure because I don't know O'Brien's entire thinking process. But O'Brien's shown he'll go after the best players available, regardless of need. PSU's fluid there. They have two RB commits, but they're still recruiting another one who recently came on their radar -- Qadree Ollison, who'll be at the game -- because he's good. I don't think PSU even counted on offering O'Connor. O'Connor figured they'd wait a while. But he really impressed the staff because he'd call out PSU's plays while watching film. His HS offense is very similar, and he's an incredibly smart QB. Hard not to want that guy on your team.
Sam (Trenton, NJ)
Hey Josh. Do you think the addition of Anthony Midget to the coaching staff will really be able to help garner the interest of southern recruits? It seems like he has limited coaching experience and may not have been able to make many connections.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:12 PM)
Yeah. Well, let's be honest here, Ted Roof is the better recruiter. Midget has good connections in Florida because he coached high school there for quite awhile, but it's going to take time to build those recruiting roads. Roof's an excellent recruiter, and he tried to lay the groundwork for Georgia ... and you saw that a lot of guys there weren't very interested. Midget's the kind of guy who'll get recruits excited, though, and he was an All-American at Virginia Tech. I'm sure that can only help recruits buy into a program. I don't think he'll pull a Roof and leave after a year, so I think -- long-term -- he could really help reel in some Southern recruits. But don't expect instant results
Dave, Philadelphia [via mobile]
With the commitment of Troy Apke, do you see PSU taking another receiver if he is a top prospect (Godwin or Thompkins) or do you see all outstanding offers being pulled? On an semi-related note, do you see Snodgrass's commitment to Kentucky sticking?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:15 PM)
Yeah, I can't see them turning down Godwin or Thompkins. They'd be hard-pressed to take both ... but taking one? Absolutely. Thompkins is here this weekend. He had like a 10+-hour drive and left Thursday, I think. He's leaving Sunday. If PSU wasn't interested anymore, you'd think they'd give him a heads-up before he, his dad and his coach went to all that trouble. If Thompkins tried committing this weekend and PSU was like, "Sorry. All full" ... well, that's a good way to burn some bridges. That's why I'm thinking they'll take one.
Archie (Blue Bell,PA)
Hi Josh. Have you heard any information about other players possibly changing positions before the season starts?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:17 PM)
The most recent changes were Malik Golden and Trevor Williams from wideout to DB. O'Brien said he didn't anticipate anyone changing positions to LB ... and that's a position they're obviously hurting at ... so I can't really any other players right now who would switch positions.
Golden (Philadelphia, PA)
May we learn some more about the recruits from the South? Can Cothren play right away?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:20 PM)
Kasey Gaines and Parker Cothren, I think, are definitely redshirt guys. They wanted Gaines to enroll early, but that would've been hard for him to do on short notice. I really think Cothren is a sleeper pickup, too, but he needs to add some weight before he sees the field. He's kind of small for a DT, but he has so much going for him. Neiko Robinson is the guy I think has the ability to play right away and can make an immediate impact. I'm interested to see what he can do once he gets on campus.
Andrew (Highland Park)
After looking at the new ESPN 150, I wasn't surprised none of the PSU recruits were on it. I am more concerned we get the guys at the top of OUR list. That said, how do these recruits stack up as a group so far?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:23 PM)
PSU has recruits on the ESPN 150 ... but I take it you mean commits. But, yeah, honestly, forget the rankings. PSU absolutely loved Troy Reeder. It doesn't matter that he's not ranked; he's an incredible player. Rankings aren't an exact science; Allen Robinson was a two-star guy; Dakota Royer was widely believed to be one of the best players in the country. So, yeah, I think it means more that PSU gets who they want. Robinson's class wasn't highly ranked, but it gave fans the Supa Six. Can't ask for much more than that.But, to come back to your original question, I'm a little on the fence about Mark Allen because he's a bit small -- but I haven't seen that much of him. I think the other three are definitely solid additions.
Thomas (State College)
At what point do we stop waiting for Bench and Ferguson to step up show they're the man for the job and instead starting looking for Hackenberg to be the guy who can actually get things done
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:25 PM)
He'll compete as soon as he gets on campus. He'll be here June 22, and he'll compete for the starting job in the preseason. It's a Bench-Ferguson race right now to see who's ahead of the other, but O'Brien has repeatedly said he probably won't name a starter this spring and that Hackenberg will have a shot.
What recruits do you think have the highest odds of commiting tomorrow?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:26 PM)
With the guys who have offers now, in order, I'd probably go Noah Beh, Marcus Allen, De'Andre Thompkins. You never know; there's always surprises -- but that's my best guess. DaeSean Hamilton didn't know DaeSean Hamilton was going to commit before his visit, for example. Maybe Thomas Holley just falls in love with PSU; who knows? But, at this point, talking to those three guys -- Beh, Allen, Thompkins -- I feel like they're the highest on PSU right now out of other scholarship guys.
Any more updates on the big JUCO lineman who could transfer for next year?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:29 PM)
I'll actually be able to tell you A LOT more about Jermaine Eluemunor the next time we chat. I'm going to watch him practice next week, and I plan on talking to him for awhile. But, yeah, he's pretty high on PSU. It was the first four-year college he ever visited, so he was pretty blown away. He actually wasn't allowed to visit PSU the first time because he actually has to finish one year of juco before visiting ... so PSU had to self-report a minor violation. Weird rule. But that's why he's not up to B-W this weekend and why he can't head to other schools right now.
Are we the leader for Thomas Holley right now?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:31 PM)
I wouldn't say PSU is the leader. He only received his first offer this year, so his recruitment has been going on for less than four months. I don't know if he has a leader yet. It's still pretty early for him, and I think it might be a little while before he commits somewhere.
Rob P. (Morristown, NJ)
The comment from Thomas from SC is what concerns me about the current start of Nittany Nation, I think a lot of people are expecting one of the QBs (Bench, Ferguson, Hack, other) to be able to take the reins and immediately lead the offense effeciently and effectively, I don't think this is the case until we get much much closer to the season and maybe not even until we are a few games in, will we know who the starter might be. We do not have a McGloin who had lots of tangible game experience to draw from this year, I think the QB position expectations need to be tempered drastically and look more so at having a dominant defense and a solid O-Line and Run game
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:33 PM)
I think that's a fair point. But one thing I would like to add: O'Brien was adamant he would not have a two-QB system like Jay Paterno tried with Bolden and McGloin. He's not going to have Hackenberg play one quarter and then try out Bench the next. He's going to name a starter. Now, how short a leash that starter has I'm not sure ...
John V (Springfield, Va.)
Hey Josh, How does our kicking situation look? I have a feeling special teams is going to play a big role. Last year, we were terrible at the Punting game, but it was nice to see Ficken turn it around late in the season and redeem himself against Wisconsin. Is his job safe?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:35 PM)
Ficken's job is not safe at all. He's taken some steps to correcting his accuracy by shortening his steps from 2.5 to 2 -- but I really haven't seen him attempt anything but extra points in the practices I've seen. O'Brien didn't trust him over 40 yards last season despite his improvement, and incoming run-on Chris Gulla will compete for the starting job once he gets on campus. I think Gulla could very well beat out Ficken. He's probably the better option if PSU's facing a 45-yard attempt. PSU's probably stuck with Butterworth, who needs to improve his consistency.
How could an NFL team not want to take a chance on Stephon Morris? Has talent (especially speed), and more importantly, seems like a really good kid with a good head on shoulders. What am I missing here?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:37 PM)
Actually have a good Q&A with Stephon Morris today over at NittanyNation. He said he thinks his draft grade now is between the 4th and 7th rounds. Some scouts came up to him after pro day and said they wish they just would've seen more of him playing man coverage. Morris thought he would've been taken a lot higher if he would've played for this staff for four seasons ... He's definitely a sleeper. And I do think a team will take a chance on him, especially after that 40.
I had high expectations for recruiting this year, bring there's one less year of sanctions. I know there's a limit on how many kids they can bring in. But I thought the ones we would bring in would be studs and it seems like it's not going to play out that way. Why's that?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:39 PM)
Step away from that ledge, Jim. It's still early, and I don't think PSU is in a bad position right now. Troy Reeder's a great linebacker. Even though ESPN's scouts didn't put him the 150, they still called him a "program-building player." Nick Scott's a versatile guy, and Troy Apke has kind of been a well-kept secret. He had about 9 catches his sophomore season, so he wasn't on a lot of team's radars until just this past year. He's a fast guy. Watch Apke's highlights; trust me, you'll feel better about the class afterward.
Thomas (State College)
Its hard to guess right now, but what do you expect the carries split between Zwinak and Lynch to be, and how much involvement do you think Eugene Lewis gets this year
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:41 PM)
Yeah, it's hard to say because I don't think O'Brien knows yet. I did the math before and, if last year's philosophy carries over to this season, Lynch and Belton should split about 15 carries a game. I think you'll see all three guys involved in the running game.
Do you think Thompkins is hesitant to commit because of the logjam of WR in front of him?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:44 PM)
No, I think the main reason he hasn't committed is because he's quickly evolving into one of the top athletes in the country -- and he knows he can pretty much go anywhere. ESPN has him in the top 60, and he's hearing from the cream of the crop. Notre Dame offered him, Florida's in his ear right now, and I'm sure it's just getting started. He AVERAGED 50 YARDS A KICK RETURN. That's just insane. I called up his coach to make sure they didn't just forget to move over a decimal place. I saw the kickoff returns; I think about half of the 11 went for touchdowns. He'd be the headliner of PSU's class if he'd choose to commit.
jeff (fort walton beach, fl)
Sir, former resident of Tunkhannock, PA now in the military in FL. How have the quarterbacks looked at practice, in your opinion? I've heard they're even. Is that because they've both looked good or both looked bad.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:47 PM)
They've both been inconsistent. I remember one practice Bench had this great end zone pass, but the pass before was a dropped interception that should've never been thrown in the first place. Both are speedy guys, and I hope we get to see them take off running Saturday -- because I'd really like to get a better look at that. Stephon Morris said Bench is a Tim Tebow-type player, and Bench played in the option before he transferred to Cairo (Ga.) his senior season. But, yeah, from players and observers I've talked to, they're pretty even. Good things I've heard is they're both not afraid to take command of the huddle; they're not acting like they're new to the job.
Keith (Boston )
Good chance at landing both Anthony Davis and Montae Nicholson
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:47 PM)
Better chance at landing Anthony Davis. PSU's already in his top three. I don't think PSU will land them both.
Ryan (state college) [via mobile]
I'm guessing your answer will be quarterback play but I'll ask anyways: what area will you be paying the most attention to during the game?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:50 PM)
Yeah, QB play is the obvious one ... so I'm going to go with the defensive tackles. PSU's really lucked out with the strength in the middle of the D-line the last few years, and I'm sure that's helped out the MLB quite a bit. A lot's going to be expected out of Austin Johnson, and DaQuan Jones needs to step up his game. When double-teams slowed down against Jordan Hill, not freeing Jones up as much, his numbers really took a hit. I can't recall them off the top of my head, but check out the game-by-game stats in Jones' first three games compared to the last nine. This could be a weakness of the defense -- or maybe it's a pleasant surprise. I'll be watching the DTs because I think it's kind of a mystery right now.
Rob P. (Morristown, NJ)
With all the talk regarding LB depth, other than hearing he might have some potential, we haven't heard much about Gary Wooten, can you tell us what his status might be? Also, there has been mention of a couple of other guys that haven't had much coverage, Adam Cole and another kid I can't think of off the top of my head, what can you tell us about them...walk-ons? transfers?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:52 PM)
I've heard Wooten needs to get his head around the playbook a little more; just kind of inexperience. But, yeah, you're right about Adam Cole -- and the other guy I've heard about is Baney. Both of those guys are walk-ons. Incoming freshman Brandon Bell could obviously make a case for some playing time now, and incoming run-ons Brandon Smith, Carter Henderson and Garth Lakitsky (still waiting to be accepted ... but should be) will add some nice depth.
Whatever happened to Jake Plonski?
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:54 PM)
He decided to commit to Mercyhurst to play football ...
I believe you said the transfer of Brennan Franklin was no big loss, but it sure seems like he could have at least added some depth.
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:56 PM)
At the time, it really was no big loss. But between Ben Kline's recovery and Zayd Issah's McDonald's fiasco, it's gotten a little worse. Still, Wooten would've been ahead of him on the depth chart. And I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Bell surpass him once he got on campus. So, really, Franklin would've been the No. 6 or No. 7 LB once Kline's back on the field. He would've been nice for depth reasons, but I still doubt he would've seen much time on the field.
Will BoB utilize the TE position a little diferently this season with the lack of experience at QB? Lean on it more with shorter routes? I imagine we should see some more running plays also too
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (1:59 PM)
Tight end is definitely an offensive strength, and I'm sure O'Brien's going to have a few tricks up his sleeve with that corps this season. Four TE sets? Sure, why not? Seriously, it's been absolutely incredible how this position has turned around in just 15 months. Glenn Carson said that Jesse James is an athletic freak, and I've seen him make some great catches in practice. Really can't say enough about this corps. I'd definitely expect them to have more of a role in this offense
Josh Moyer (NittanyNation) (2:01 PM)
OK, guys, that's all I have time for this week. But I get soooo many more questions on here than on the Friday mailbag. So, if your question didn't get answered or you have another one, email me at email@example.com -- and I'll answer a couple in-depth in next Friday's mailbag. Anyway, hope everybody has fun at the Blue-White Game -- have a good weekend!