Friday, October 14, 2011

The Upside of Injuries: Derek Moye's broken foot

The Upside of (some) Injuries
The loss of Derek Moye could be beneficial to Penn State. Yes, beneficial.

The mysterious broken foot sustained this week by star Penn State WR Derek Moye - it happened in an apartment mishap? and will require just two weeks to heal? -  actually could have a positive effect on Penn State football.

Could. If the following occurs:
  1. If Moye's absence doesn't harm the team in the short term. The two games he'll miss are vs. Purdue and at Northwestern. PSU should win both regardless.
  2. If Moye returns fully healthy in the two-week time frame PSU has indicated, ready to go.
If those two things occur, then Moye's injury actually will help the team.

How? Because two things are certain to happen in his absence, and both are good:
  1. QB Matt McGloin will be forced to throw the ball to others. (If McGloin drops back this Saturday and still locks on to Moye - standing on the sideline in a hard boot - then Moye may have to be removed from the stadium.)
  2. Other receivers (hopefully Shawney Kersey) will get more playing time and more targets. So they will be more experienced, capable and confident the rest of the season. Live game action is the best thing for player development.
This "injury upside" forecast was not quite the case last season. Sure, when the injury siege struck the defense in 2010, players such as DL DaQuan Jones, DB Malcolm Willis and several LBs earned valuable opportunities. It was great for their personal development, and Willis in particular is an emerging asset (though it cost Jones a redshirt he could use and might never get back).

But the defense incurred an immediate dropoff in performance in 2010. It led to an embarrassing home loss to Illinois. The season teetered on the brink of collapse before the defense stabilized just enough for the Lions to win the games they should have won the rest of the way.

The keys in this situation are Moye's foot healing quickly/completely - he is needed vs. Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin - and PSU winning these next two games. The Lions should grind one out in winning-ugly fashion this week vs. Purdue. More troubling could be next week at Northwestern. Still, PSU should win both.

Then, if the Lions enter the Oct. 29 Illinois game with a healthy Moye and two more wins under their belt, they will be a better team for the experience. WRs Justin Brown, Kersey and Brandon Moseby-Felder presumably will have been the beneficiaries of Moye's absence. The seldom-targeted Kersey and Moseby-Felder should be noticeably better players in two weeks.

McGloin will have more confidence in them. And, importantly, McGloin will have more confidence in himself. (More real, internal confidence; he's mastered the external, for-show displays.) He will have guided PSU to two wins without his vapor-lock security blanket Moye.

And if Penn State needs anything right now, it's an injection of confidence in the offense.

An injury to Derek Moye is a good thing? Could be.

MID-SEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM: The most knowledgeable and productive person in the universe, college football information megastar Phil Steele, released his mid-season all-conference teams. He showed only modest love for PSU, in particular for Drew Astorino and Jack Crawford, and had no love for any PSU LBs, Chaz Powell, Jordan Hill or Sean Stanley, who all could make a case. Then again, it's only mid-season, so who cares? Six more games to go.

PSU players on Phil Steele mid-season All-Big Ten team
First Team:
DT Devon Still

Second Team:
DE Jack Crawford
S Drew Astorino
RB Silas Redd
WR Derek Moye

Third Team:
S Nick Sukay

Of note:

  • Seven Iowa defensive players and six Michigan State defensive players were on one of the three teams. Hard to explain all the love for Iowa defenders.
  • Iowa also had five offensive players and two specialists, giving the two-loss Hawkeyes, who lost head-to-head to one-loss Penn State, a 14-6 edge over PSU in players named. Hmm.
  • Illinois had seven players on first- or second-team defense, and 11 Illini players total made one of the three teams on offense or defense.
  • Electrifying, ultra-productive Michigan QB Denard Robinson is 5th in ESPN's Heisman rankings but is the third-team QB behind Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Illinois' Ntahan Scheelhaase. It's a good year for QBs in the Big Ten, with notable exceptions at PSU and OSU.
  • No Ohio State players made first- or second-team defense, or first-team offense.

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