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 Thursday, Sept. 22. Let’s get started.
Quantifying Barkley’s greatness
The greatness of Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley has always been as evident on the stat sheet as the highlight reel, but the folks at Pro Football Focus took things a step further Wednesday by declaring that his juke move is one of the 10 most unstoppable forces in college football.
As an example, PFF added video of his long touchdown run last week against Temple and added:
As a freshman we got a taste of what Barkley can do. His 60 broken tackles on (182) carries led the Big 10. This year, he’s on pace to lead the nation. Barkley’s already broken 20 carries on 51 attempts as he has a full array of moves he uses to shake defenders.
In a post two months ago, PFF asserted that Barkley, who played just 474 snaps as a freshman in 2015, topped the charts in something the web site calls its “elusive rating”:
At 126.7, Barkley forcing 60 missed tackles on rushes and adding another seven in the receiving game. … His 3.82 yards after contact ranked sixth for returning running backs. It is evident that he was creating yards on his own last year.
Especially, the site added, since he was operating behind one of the worst offensive lines in the sport. PFF rated the Lions’ 2015 front 87th among 128 FBS teams in cumulative run blocking grade last season.
This season Barkley has rushed for 258 yards on 51 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per carry. That is the Big Ten’s ninth-best yardage total.
Lions plead the third
Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that PSU has converted just 9 of 33 third downs to date, a 27.3-percent success rate that leaves the Lions tied for 118th among 128 FBS schools.
Michigan, their opponent Saturday in Ann Arbor, has allowed its first three opponents to convert just 4 of 38 third downs, the nation’s stingiest rate.
The silver lining, according to Penn State coach James Franklin, is this:
“If you look at analytics and things like that, really your first downs should not come on third down. They should come on first and second downs. We’re doing a much better job of that.”
Juliano writes that while the Lions were just 2-for-9 on third down against Temple, they did convert two fourth downs. He adds, however, that the team’s third-down woes are not new. Last year they converted just 27.6 percent, leaving them 125th in the FBS.
Hamilton on the rebound
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton spoke with reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning, and said he is none the worse for wear after his critical drop late in the 42-39 loss to Pitt two weeks ago.
Just the opposite, in fact. He has been heartened by the many people who have shown support through texts, tweets and the like:
“After I dropped the catch I was expecting to get chewed out on social media platforms. You know, that’s how people act these days. Just seeing all of the support from all these people really made the situation a lot better. It made me feel a lot better to have all of Nittany Nation’s support behind me. It didn’t allow me to be too down on myself for too long an amount of time.”
Hamilton, who had two catches for 50 yards against Temple (including a 45-yarder), also said he never thought twice about appearing in the interview room after the game in Pittsburgh:
“I mean, I’ve never been one to say ‘no.’ I’m not the type of person to just do things when I feel like I’m good with myself. Any type of circumstance that’s put in front of me, I know that I have a task at hand — (especially) if someone wants me to do something for them.
“Plus, I’ve always been open to media. I’ve never been the type of person to shy away from the media.”
Hamilton has 12 receptions this season, second-most on the team to Chris Godwin’s 18.
‘A national embarrassment’
CBSChicago.com columnist Dan Bernstein writes that Penn State’s decision to honor the late Joe Paterno during the Temple game was “a national embarrassment” and adds that the school’s “spineless leaders” gave in to a “crazed wing of alumni and football fans.”
Further, he writes that that faction is not about to rest:
And these people are legion, and endlessly venomous. They are led from the inside by trustee Anthony Lubrano, who is still trying to use procedural tactics to pack the board with like-minded votes to restore Paterno’s statue and standing, all those raped boys be damned. He has argued in fact that Sandusky’s victims are lying, and that the school has been too quick to pay out the $93 million and counting in civil settlements. Lubrano has deep and well-funded support from a large group of organized alumni, many of whom have embraced the most unhinged conspiracy theories to assuage their cognitive dissonance.
Bernstein mentions that several faculty members penned a letter in support of Lauren Davis, the opinions editor of the Daily Collegian, who in the student newspaper’s Sept. 2 editions wrote an editorial critical of the decision to honor Paterno.
She was vilified by Paterno’s supporters, and the faculty members asked in their letter that the administration condemn those who reacted in such a fashion.
No such luck, Bernstein writes:
So far, there has been no such official response from Penn State leaders still held hostage by the dark and twisted forces of football and idol worship. No condemnation, no properly directed empathy for victims and no understanding of how the rest of the world views them. Their answer when called to stand for what is right is, appropriately, the same as Paterno’s was for so many years as he chose to allow a monster to commit violent crimes against children.
Elsewhere in the Land of 10
As Charlotte rioted, Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes took to Twitter to decry shooting deaths of African-Americans | Former Michigan hoops standout Glen Rice confesses he’s “almost broke” in Florida court | Nebraska wide receiver Brandon Reilly posts a picture on Twitter of Kanye West football cleats