ESPN color analyst and former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge is in town to call the TCU-Oregon State game. Just had an interesting five minute conversation with the man, who to my great disappointment has yet to try any Fort Worth eatery for his "Taste of the Town" segments featured on just about every game he calls.
"I'm not doing one this first game because it's not on campus," he said.
He talked about the game, and his thoughts about his former head coach, Joe Paterno.
Mac Engel: Have you hit a Fort Worth place yet?
Todd Blackledge: Not yet. You sound like you're going to recommend one. I don't know where I would go. I've been here several times because I come back for the O'Brien Award but I don't know that I have one (restaurant) picked out.
ME: Do you have any favorite Texas eatery spots, whether it's Austin or College Station, etc.?
TB: I did Austin last year and I did Salt Lick. Loved it.
ME: Thoughts on the TCU/Oregon State game.
TB: I really do think it's a good matchup. After seeing both of them on tape I think it's going to be an exciting game. They know here (at TCU) they know Oregon State is good. Maybe on the outside people don't know how talented they are. They do have a question mark with a new quarterback, but he's really talented. If he plays with poise against a really good defense he'll do well. TCU is loaded on offense, defensively you know they are going to play to a certain standard and they have a lot to play for.
ME: The early betting line had TCU favored by 13.5; you think that's a little high?
TB: That is a little heavy. I don't pay that much attention to that. I think the perspective is, Oregon State has a new quarterback and they are typically a slow starting team. I think that they will come in ready to play.
ME: You said OSU quarterback Ryan Katz is talented, but what else have you seen that gives you an indication he's ready to do this?
TB: All I saw was in practice, which is completely different than a game. In practice he looks very comfortable and very sure of himself getting in and out of the offense. And he has great skill. He can really throw the ball. He's a much better thrower than the kid who played for them last year, who was very productive. But we'll see what he likes when things get a little chaotic.
ME: Pick a winner.
TB: I think TCU is a little stronger right now. For me being a former quarterback in a big game whether it be early season, mid season or bowl game, experience at the quarterback position I think is critical and TCU has that.
ME: Different subject - there is constant talk about your former college head coach Joe Paterno and whether he needs to retire from Penn State. You're biased but what are your thoughts about this?
TB: First of all, he is not as old as his age would indicate in terms of his energy, his wits, enthusiasm for what he’s doing. My opinion and my position has always been he’s earned the right to coach as long as he wants. I say that as a former player, as a Penn Stater and I trust he’ll know when he can’t contribute the way he wants to any more. So far I think he still feels like he can.
The fact he named a true freshman to be his starting quarterback to start the season tomorrow that’s a change for him. People don’t think he’s able to change or adapt that he’s old school and stuck in his ways. He’s not. He’s a lot more flexible than people think. I don’t know that this is his last year or not. I know he’s excited about this team, he’s excited for this season.
I saw him in Chicago at the Big 10 media days and he didn’t look great or sound great then. The thing he had in the summer it took something out of him. I think he’s better now and I think he’s stronger than he was then. I think he’s excited for the year.
- Mac Engel