We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Monday, Jan. 2. Let’s get started.
All eyes on the QBs
With game day now here, it is best not to overthink the Rose Bowl matchup between Penn State and USC. It is best to remember something Trojans coach Clay Helton told reporters in the run-up to the game, as relayed by Mike Gross of LNP Media Group:
“I’ve always said that if you’ve got a great quarterback, you’ve got a great team.”
Both teams do in the Nittany Lions’ Trace McSorley and USC’s Sam Darnold. Both are first-year starters: McSorley as a redshirt sophomore and Darnold as a callow freshman, taking over in the Trojans’ fourth game for Max Browne.
USC lost that week but has reeled off eight straight victories since, one of them over Pac-12 champion Washington.
PSU has won its last nine with McSorley, including a defeat of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.
Helton is duly impressed by both:
“You’re talking about two kids that just have — it’s hard to explain — I always call it the It Factor. They just have it. They’re winners. They find a way to make their teams successful. If I’m a fan, I’m getting a big box of popcorn and a Coke and enjoying it.”
Both also have numbers. McSorley has thrown for 3,630 yards and 25 touchdowns, each a school single-season record, and has been intercepted just five times. He is averaging 16.31 yards per completion, best in the FBS.
Darnold has completed 68.1 percent of his attempts, for 2,633 yards and 26 TDs. He has been picked off eight times.
Never mind that McSorley was ranked 568th in the 2014 recruiting class, according to 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings. Never mind Darnold’s age.
None of that matters now with game day upon us.
Julius’ tale continues to inspire
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote about Penn State kickoff specialist Joey Julius, who in October elected to go public about the binge-eating disorder that landed him in McCallum Place Eating Disorder Center in St. Louis for three months beginning last May.
The disorder so bedeviled him, Plaschke writes, that Julius had thoughts of suicide. As his mom, Patty, told Plaschke:
“I used to fear that with him all the time. A very legitimate fear.”
But his time at McCallum helped. So, too, did the warm embrace of the team. And in announcing his affliction via Facebook, he offered to help anyone who might be fighting the same sort of disorder. It struck a chord with more people than he could have imagined, he told Plaschke:
“I’ve heard from parents who said their kids were struggling, and kids who couldn’t tell their parents about their struggles. The Facebook post was very scary. It took me a while to do it, but my path to recovery has to do with me being honest about who I am, and this is who I am.’’
In helping others, he helped himself. Patty saw him smiling on the sideline as never before, and special teams coordinator Charles Huff said Julius’ tale had a far-reaching impact within the locker room as well:
“His story has really brought our team together.”
A word about grills
As a public service, Mark Brennan of Fight on State revealed what’s going on when PSU players are seen putting a finger in the corner of their own mouths, as if fish-hooking themselves – something they do after big victories or big plays.
Turns out, Brennan writes, they are imitating the practice of rappers who “show their grills.” And grills – or “grillz” – are jewelry covers for teeth.
There is some dispute as to whether this practice originated with wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton or safety Marcus Allen, but it has undeniably swept the team.
So now you know, in case it ever comes up in conversation.
Also in the Land of 10
Changes are coming to the Ohio State coaching staff after the loss to Clemson in Saturday’s CFP semifinals.
Former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook could find himself the Oakland Raiders’ starting quarterback when the playoffs begin.
Ohio State falls on the road to Illinois, 75-70.