A wise man once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” so forgive the apprehension as we slowly adjust to the new normal around here. As it stands today and as you all well know by now, we have another Penn State football season knocking on the door! One of the strangest, most mentally taxing off-seasons is slowly coming to a halt and the expectation meter is once again beginning to rise as the first phase of College Football 2020 is already ramping up.
Two Saturdays ago, Oklahoma took one on the chin, and the defending champs, LSU, came roaring in hungover as they totally stumbled out of the gate. Who is waiting in the wings, you ask? WE ARE of course, jumping into the AP poll and this week sitting at No. 9. Hear our ROAR, finally! Meanwhile, Ohio State sits at No. 6 and for all that was lost in 2020, I’m eyeballing the prospect of those darned Buckeyes, as cocky as they’ve always been, rolling into Beaver Stadium on Halloween night under the rarity of a Nittany-blue moon with a slightly evil grin. With or without a Whiteout in the stands, I can already feel the energy in our newfound socially distant, virtual world.
On Wednesday, September 30th, James Franklin and the Nittany Lions begin their seventh preseason camp together, again. “Officially” this time, although the last time on August 5th it was official too. Technically. Sheesh. Either way, it’s real this time and now we are only 19 days away from Penn State venturing to Indiana on the first leg of a nine-game journey that has playoffs or bust written all over it. No easy task mind you, as the Hoosiers tend to give us challenges lately, but I like our chances, nonetheless. I’ve heard Franklin tell us enough over the past seven years how much he values the extra spring practices and bowl practices to know he maximized any opportunity he could with his players as scattered practices continued over the past two-months.
If there’s a silver lining in any of this, it’s the two extra months to install, tweak, and perfect the new offense OC Kirk Ciarrocca brought with him from Minnesota and two extra months for Brent Pry to tinker on a Defense that suddenly seems to be so deep none of us climbed the ledge when Micah Parsons opted out. Over the next few weeks we will reacquaint ourselves with the likes of Sean Clifford, Journey Brown and The Lawn Boyz, seniors Lamont Wade, Pat Freiermuth, Shane Simmons, Will Fries, and Boom Shaka-laka Toney, among all the rest we last saw tame a Memphis Tiger in the Cotton Bowl.
I’m not quite where I’d normally be this close to a new season (empty stadiums, no tailgates, and zero Happy Valley road trips tend to do that as we’re all finding out the hard way) but as the days quickly tick by and college football goes about its usual business of separating the haves from the have nots, this time it feels like it’s turning into reality. We finally have a season upon us folks, and all things considered it’s time they hear our roar, even if it’s socially distanced.