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 Tuesday, Sept. 27. Let’s get started.
Changes to the two-deep
It is unwise to put too much stock in the weekly depth chart issued by Penn State, because it is often reflective of the lineup used in the previous game, as opposed to the one that will be employed the following week.
In the run-up to Saturday’s game against Minnesota, however, it is worth pointing out that there are some departures from the norm.
For beginners, freshman Connor McGovern is listed as the first-stringer at right guard, ahead of Derek Dowrey, who started the first four games. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound McGovern saw considerable playing time in Saturday’s 49-10 loss at Michigan, and has been fast-tracking since departing Lake-Lehman High School in northeastern Pennsylvania.
He enrolled early at Penn State, in December 2015, and cracked the depth chart before the opener against Kent State. He has appeared in every game to date.
Another freshman, Cam Brown, has vaulted to the top of the depth chart at weak-side linebacker, replacing Jake Cooper. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Brown had 10 tackles off the bench against the Wolverines.
Cooper is listed as Brandon Smith’s backup at middle linebacker, and played much of the Michigan game at that position after Smith was ejected on a dubious targeting call.
Grant Haley, out since the early stages of the Pitt game with an undisclosed injury, is again listed as the starting cornerback, but that is a wait-and-see proposition. Same for the status of injured linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell.
Grading the Michigan debacle
For what it’s worth, the Lions’ top offensive performers against Michigan, according to Pro Football Focus, were right tackle Andrew Nelson (73.5), center Brian Gaia (68.8), running back Saquon Barkley (67.8), wide receiver DeSean Hamilton (60.6) and left guard Ryan Bates (57.7).
Of Nelson, PFF noted:
He went back and forth in the run game against linebacker Mike McCray and tackle Matthew Godin, ending with slightly more negative plays, but only surrendered one pressure in 38 snaps in pass protection. None of the team’s other linemen graded better than average, and they particularly struggled at the right guard spot. Both Derek Dowrey and Connor McGovern saw snaps there, but the two combined for four pressures and both played below-average in run blocking.
On defense, the top performers were safety Marcus Allen (78.7), linebacker Manny Bowen (78.5), cornerback John Reid (75.4), cornerback Christian Campbell (75.1) and defensive end Torrence Brown (73.3).
Again, the specifics:
Penn State’s defense got crushed in the run game, in part due to 15 missed tackles – a count within range of the team’s average over the first three weeks. But for the most part, they played well in the passing game. Pressured Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight on roughly 38 percent of his dropbacks, while in the secondary safety Marcus Allen and corner Christian Campbell combined to allow just one catch in nine targets, with two pass defenses between them.
Classwork a snap for Yazujian
Long snapper Tyler Yazujian, owner of a 3.87 GPA in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology through the spring semester, was an Academic All-American in 2015. Yazujian, who is in his third year as a starter, is also a two-time academic all-district selection and a two-time academic All-Big Ten choice.
Yazujian is studying security and risk analysis, and according to a PSU-originated profile is nearing completion of his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also pitches on the club baseball team.
As he said:
“I’m just a guy who comes in every day, does what is asked of him and doesn’t need credit when he is doing well. I would call myself a hard worker, which is something that translates from the weight room to the practice field to the classroom to club baseball, to pretty much anything I involve myself in.”
Yazujian has worked each summer in the school’s Red Cell Analytics Lab, where students are afforded the opportunity to evaluate and analyze threats of all kinds – “cyber or physical, domestic or global,” according to U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jake Graham, professor of practice in information sciences and technology and director of the lab.
Yazujian nearly had an internship with the Department of Homeland Security locked up in 2014, but was “unable to make it work.” He and teammate Chris Gulla, a punter for the Lions, did work up some simulations of Russia’s 2007 cyber-attacks that were used in Graham’s 400-level course on deception and counter-deception.
As Graham said:
“As a professor of practice, I do a lot of very hands-on practical application analytic exercises or analytic-decision games. These are large-scale simulations that allow students to solve the problems we see in our world today. Tyler has done a masterful job with some of things I have asked him to do over the last three years in helping create scenarios for my classes.”
Elsewhere in the Land of 10
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said the late Arnold Palmer had “an enthusiasm and a real zest for life”
Iowa wide receiver Matt VandeBerg suffers an injury in practice
Longtime Nebraska coach Milt Tenopir dies