I recently chatted with a Penn State University blogger about Saturday's game. His name is Mike and prefers to keep his last name private so Notre Dame fans don't hunt him down.
Mike graduated from PSU in 1997 with a degree in chemical engineering and now lives in Philadelphia. He recently started Black Shoe Diaries as a hobby. From the looks of it, he already has a strong readership base.
Rasor: How worried are fans about this game?
Blogger: My impression from the Penn State community is that we're not too worried. But we're taking this game seriously and nobody is looking ahead to Notre Dame. We remember when Toledo came into Happy Valley in 2000 and beat us.
Rasor: What kind of game will we see from first-time starting quarterback Anthony Morelli?
Blogger: Well, you know this is his first game. So I expect to see some rust. You may see mixed up calls and timeouts wasted to make sure he is on the same page with the coaches. But as far as physical ability, I think you're going to see a big change from Michael Robinson. Robinson was the type of player that could strap an offense on his back and carry them down the field through his sheer determination to compete and win. Morelli is a very different style quarterback. He is a pocket passer. He will try to utilize the weapons around him better than Robinson did. I saw Morelli play in a few games last year and the spring game. His release is crisp and he has a strong arm. I think the offense will be fine with Morelli.
Rasor: What are the most favorable matchups for Penn State against Akron?
Blogger: I think the 3-3-5 defense is going to allow Penn State to be physical with the Zips and run the ball well. I think Tony Hunt will have a big day. His backups are banged up a bit so coaches may try to rest them. That means a lot of carries for Hunt. I think our wide receivers match up well against your corners, but the fact that you have five defensive backs may clog things up a bit.
Rasor: What, if any, matchups favor the Zips?
Blogger: Penn State's biggest weakness, in my opinion, is the offensive line. We return All-American Levi Brown at left tackle, but the other guys are all new starters. A.Q. Shipley will be playing center. He's a sophomore but he played in eight games last year. I'm not too worried about him. The other positions have very little experience. Akron may have success in getting pressure on Morelli, and that bothers me a bit.
Rasor: Under what circumstances will Akron win?
Blogger: They have to force turnovers and play with a short field. The Penn State defense is going to be strong despite the fact they have four new starters in the secondary and three new starters on the defensive line. Their best bet is to keep the Penn State offense on the sideline as much as possible. They also have to have success early in the game to take the crowd out of it. Penn State fans get quiet when they go down by 10 points. If Akron can score early, they can take the 12th man factor out of the game.