Penn State athletics/courtesy
Wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, a standout in last year's Big Ten championship game, has yet to register a catch this season.

Pondering Penn State’s possibilities at this early milepost; searching for WR Saeed Blacknall

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Are Lions poised to strike?

Ohio State’s home loss to Oklahoma, and the questions surrounding quarterback J.T. Barrett that have arisen as a result of that game, leave David Jones of Pennlive.com wondering if there is a power vacuum atop the conference, and who might be able to fill it.

His best guess at this early juncture is Wisconsin is the team best-positioned to do so, largely because the Badgers have a more forgiving conference road schedule than either Penn State or Michigan.

At the same time, he is not ruling out the Nittany Lions. As he writes:

Penn State has the chance to take ownership of not only this conference but its seat as a national player if it can negotiate its schedule one at a time beginning with Iowa a week from Saturday. The second and third road trips to Northwestern and Ohio State suddenly look a lot less forbidding after Saturday’s results. And the Lions certainly have the most confidence in their QB of any of the contenders.

Bottom line: There is a lot of football left, and the ball has been known to take some funny bounces.

Saeed Blacknall silenced

Bob Flounders, Jones’ Pennlive.com compatriot, wonders what has become of wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who hasn’t had any catches since making 6 grabs, 2 for touchdowns, in the 2016 Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. Blacknall did not play in the Rose Bowl because of a suspension for a violation of team rules, and has been shut out in the first two games this season, after being relegated to reserve duty. Coach James Franklin did not show any concern during his regular weekly news conference Tuesday, but the situation bears watching.

Closely monitored

Per Andrew Callahan of Lions247, Franklin also said during his news conference that several of his players agreed last spring to wear sleep monitors. And as noted by Mike Gross of LNP Media Group the coach has also resorted to low-tech means in an attempt to improve the Lions’ performance. For instance, he visited with wrestling coach Cael Sanderson, who has coached the Lions to six national championships in the last seven years, and then sat down with the five wrestlers who won NCAA individual titles this past winter. “I’m not sure we always take advantage of the resources we have on this campus and in this community,” Franklin said, according to Gross.

Wanted: More aggression

PSU boasts a big, experienced offensive line, and Franklin thinks highly of the group – as players and people. “If my daughters choose to marry football players, I want them to marry offensive linemen,” he said, per Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record. “They are just big, nice, happy, jolly guys that put the team first. They are the ultimate teammates.” But on the field, at least, Franklin would like to see them become nastier.

Marcus Allen honored

According to the university’s website, safety Marcus Allen was named Lott IMPACT Player of the Week after posting 12 tackles, one of which resulted in a safety, in the 33-14 victory over Pitt last Saturday.

Field hockey team ranked No. 2

Penn State’s field hockey team jumped to No. 2 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, according to the university website. The Lions improved to 6-0 with a 5-1 victory over Bucknell, as Madison Morano scored 2 goals and Gini Bramley added a goal and an assist.

The lens never blinks

Joe Hermitt, Pennlive.com’s excellent photojournalist, provided a gallery of his work from the Pitt game, highlighted by a shot of a none-too-happy Panthers backer sporting a Dan Marino jersey.

Also in the Land of 10

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