Category Archives: Penn State’s Prey 2019

Penn State’s Prey 2019: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

If you ever wanted to know how it feels to be a doormat, go ask anyone associated with the Rutgers football program. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers has gone 19-42 overall and 7-36 in conference. There really isn’t much to say about it. It doesn’t take much analysis to understand how bad Rutgers (1-11, 0-9 BIG) has been. Head Coach Chris Ash has promised quite a bit since arriving a few years ago and has very little to show for it. He is undeniably on the hot seat.

The Scarlet Knights host UMASS, Boston College, and Liberty throughout the season. You would hope they could salvage at least one or two wins against those teams. Besides from playing at Iowa and at Michigan, the most brutal part of the season will be the end–by hosting Ohio State and Michigan State and traveling to Penn State.

As the saying goes:

You win some, you lose some, unless you are Rutgers, than you win few and lose most.

It will get better for Rutgers, but if I were a Rutgers fan I wouldn’t be holding my breath.


Offense (13.5 PPG, Returning Starters: 8)

Rutgers brings back three starting offensive linemen. That is going to be important for a team that is going to live and die by the running game. It isn’t a bad idea to stick to the running game when you have an explosive back like Raheem Blackshear (824 yards, 6 TDs) and another tailback in Isaih Pacheco (551 yards, 3 TDs) to spell him. Blackshear showed his versatility with 44 catches out of the backfield as well.

Another reason to keep the ball on the ground is to keep the ball out of the hands of their quarterback, Artur Sitkowski. Sitkowski threw 18 interceptions and had the worst pass efficiency rating at 76.4 in the country. You aren’t going to win very many games when you turn the ball over that much. The good news is Sitkowski can’t get worse in his second year.

Rutgers is still looking for more receiving options, but look for Bo Melton, Eddie Lewis, and Shameen Jones to step up into larger roles. The receivers corps needs to find a way to create more big plays to help their young quarterback out and relieve the running game from stacked boxes.

A realistic goal for this offense? Limit the turnovers and try and score more than 15 points per game.

Defense (31.3 PPG, Returning Starters: 9)

The defense gave up more than 4 touchdowns a game last season. If they want to win more football games they are going to need to bring that number way down, obviously.

When it comes to the secondary, true sophomore Avery Young (67 tackles, 10 pass breakups) played admirably as a freshman. Damon Hayes (63 tackles, 2 INTs) will be moving back to corner this season from the safety spot.

In front of them is Tyreek Maddox-Williams (47 tackles) and Tyshon Fogg (47 tackles) at the linebacker positions. Coach Ash likes his depth with this group, but I don’t see it, they lost two linebackers that led the team in tackles.

Upfront is where Rutgers has been historically bullied. The Scarlet Knights lose Kevin Wilkins and Jon Bateky to graduation. This leaves Elorm Lumor (4 sacks), Julius Turner, and Willington Previlon to lead the way. They do return pass rusher, Mike Tverdov who had 4 sacks last season.

Cory’s Take

When I was in high school, my head coach would put together a “senior package” that would be comprised of just seniors playing in their last game. It was a fun way to play the seniors that have given so much to the program after the game had been decided. Barring bad weather, Coach Franklin can probably assemble his own package of seniors to play the second half of this game. I don’t know the nice way to say this, but I am not sure how much spirit Rutgers will have left after playing Ohio State, Michigan State, and then Penn State to end a season that probably won’t be going Rutgers way. Penn State by a lot.

Too-Early Prediction

Rutgers: 3

Penn State: 42

(Follow me on Twitter @Cory_Lestochi)

This is the twelfth and final installment of Penn State’s Prey 2019. If you have missed any of the pieces you can find them here: Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, MarylandPurdueIowa, MichiganMichigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio State.

One year later, Micah Parsons Proved Me Wrong

The Linebacker U banner in the south end zone is hung up by the students in Nittanyville every game. The banner has been passed down for years. Throughout its tenure it started becoming tradition to have only the most impressive PSU linebackers sign the banner. Sometimes a player is asked to autograph the banner because of their emphatic on-field performance and other times its because of how much they meant to the program. I wasn’t so sure Micah Parsons was ever going to sign this banner.


Embarrassingly, in my close circle of friends I was never a big believer in the true sophomore linebacker.

Early on in his recruiting process I had inside “sources” that led me to believe that the high schooler was often in trouble and it was a possibility it was going to carry over into college. Even before he flipped his commitment to Ohio State, I never voiced it, but always felt Penn State would be better off without the distraction. When he was invited onto the College GameDay set, I was convinced that he would go to the Buckeyes and we would never hear from him again. The means at which he ended up back at Penn State were strange (as is the rest of college football recruiting nowadays) and made me even more skeptical about his future.

Then it was announced that Parsons would be playing linebacker–a position he had never played before. I thought this would limit his productivity and the true freshman would be lost all year long. I knew he had raw athleticism but I figured the immaturity I thought he demonstrated in high school would prevent his growth. I did think he could make it as a linebacker, but I had low expectations for him heading into his freshman year.

More importantly, I assumed that he would be a possible cancer on the team and he could even stint the growth of other players on the team. I expected him to set up shop in  head coach James Franklin’s doghouse for the next three years and even possibly transfer.

It’s safe to say I was wrong about every single part of it. Embarrassingly, flat-out, wrong.

He has been on campus since January of 2018 and has showed no signs of immaturity. In a complete 180 from what I expected, Parsons has quickly taken a leadership role on the defense. Not only has he NOT been a cancer for this football team, I wouldn’t be surprised if he roots out other possible cancers on the team. He is focused on his craft and dedicated to his team. You can sense his hunger for championships and you know that rubs off on his teammates.

Does he sometimes tweet overconfidently? Yes, but that is the type of attitude you want from your linebacker. Especially when he has the ability to back it up. And that is the most remarkable part about Micah Parsons that I grossly misgauged. It is that he is a stud at linebacker and it looks like he has been playing it all his life.

The true freshman had 83 tackles last year, which led the team. To give you an idea how special it was, his 83 tackles is only 27 tackles shy of Marcus Allen’s 110 for fifth in a single season at Penn State. Did I forget to mention he only started one game? Coach Franklin summed it up best, “I think about how much production he had last year and he never played linebacker before in his life.”

I was entirely wrong about Micah Parsons and I am excited for him to keep proving me wrong. The rest of the Big Ten should look out because this guy is the real deal. I am sure he will be signing the Linebacker U banner by the time he graduates.

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