NCAA Football

5 things to look forward to with Penn State football in 2011

5 Things to look forward to with Penn State Football in 2011

For Penn State fans the 2011 season can’t come soon enough. Here is a look at 5 pieces of the puzzle that may make Penn State football special in 2011.

5. Devon Smith – Smith is by far the most electrifying player on Penn State’s roster. He has not had that breakout game yet, but it seems as if he has begun to get closer and closer these last two seasons. Special teams for the Nittany lions have been a sore spot the last few years and they could really help themselves if they move Smith to both KR and PR permanently in 2011 like LSU did with Trindan Holiday. In 2010 Smith returned 12 punts for 155 yards. The next best on the team was Justin Brown who returned 15 punts for 77 yards. Smith only received three kick offs in 2010 for 83 yards. However, thats an average of 27.7 yards per return. That average eclipses Chaz Powell’s average per return of 24 yards. Powell saw the majority of the KR duty. If Smith can get 7-10 touches per game he could become a special player.

4. Michael Zordich – If Michael Zordich does not get you excited for football then you may not have a pulse. He is a combination of former Penn State fullbacks Joe Suhey and Brandon Snow. He can get out of the backfield like Suhey and make plays with his feet as well as pound through the hole like Snow. Zordich is a converted linebacker with shear raw power. His aggressive play clearly motivates the team and I am looking to see Zordich step up as a vocal leader and become a future captain.

3. Penn State Defense – All of the offseason talk of Tom Bradley leaving and taking everything and everyone with him has died down. Bradley will be returning for the 2011 season along with all of the other defensive coaches at Penn State. The Defense went through a bit of a down year in 2010. Many blamed it on execution, injuries, poor tackling, schemes and youth, but all of those aspects can be categorized under one label, inexperience. Penn State fans should be excited to see a Defense which returns 8 key players. There does not seem to be a weakness in the Defense heading into 2011 and a return to being called Linebacker U may ahead.

2. The Linebacker Corp - Penn State has always been notorious for producing top level linebackers. In 2011 the linebackers were plagued with injuries and inexperience. This could be one of the most complete units come 2011. Michael Mauti looks more and more like Paul Posluszny and with Gerald Hodges, Mike Hull, Khairi Fortt, Mike Yancich and of course Nate Stupar beside him, Penn State could be set for a special season. Top level defenses revolve around their linebacking corp and in 2011 Penn State should have the best in the Big Ten.

1. Silas Redd - When Silas Redd chose Penn State as the place for his college career, many Penn Staters didn’t take much notice. The few diehard recruit followers were excited, but the majority of Penn Staters would not even know his name or number until Penn State’s season changing game vs Minnesota. Redd carried the ball 9 times for 73 yards an average of 7.9 yards per carry. He seemed to take over the game offensively and would carry the momentum of his experience forward until he erupted vs Northwestern for 134 yards on 11 carries and his first collegiate TD. Redd is a much different type of runner from what Penn State fans are accustomed to with Evan Roystr, Redd reminds me of Trent Richardson at Alabama who runs with clear determination and an attitude of I’m going to hit you first. This style could bode well for a Penn State offense that will look to feature Redd extensively in 2011.

Check back later today for our “5 Things to be worried about with Penn State football in 2011″