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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, Sept. 14. Let’s get started.
Clap on, clap off?
Penn State coach James Franklin reiterated during his weekly news conference Tuesday what he said after Saturday’s 42-39 loss to Pitt – that Panthers defenders were skirting the rules when they clapped to mimic the Nittany Lions’ “clap cadence,” a device used to counter crowd noise.
As Franklin said:
“It’s illegal. It’s illegal. You’re not allowed to do that.”
Because a Big Ten officiating crew worked the game, Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reached out to the Big Ten head of officials, Bill Carollo, and tweeted out the following:
From Big Ten coordinator of football officials Bill Carollo (a B1G crew worked Pitt-Penn St). Hope this settles it: pic.twitter.com/TZOykMJicP
— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) September 13, 2016
Meyer then went the extra mile, unearthing a video clip from Pitt’s season-opening victory over Villanova that shows Panthers linebacker Matt Galambos clapping to signal a defensive line shift by his teammates:
A final clap-related note: notice the defensive line's shift after Matt Galambos claps in Pitt's win vs Villanova pic.twitter.com/p7l57teU6b
— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) September 14, 2016
Lions’ opponents are born to run
The Lions have allowed 245.5 yards per game on the ground, including a whopping 341 against Pitt, leaving them 116th among the nation’s 128 FBS teams in rushing defense. Franklin said during Tuesday’s presser that his team was not being “gap accountable,” while defensive end Garrett Sickels put it another way:
“Guys were just trying to do too much. In the second half (against Pitt), I think we settled down and just played our gap and just did our job … I think guys were just trying to make a play and not play their assignments.”
The Lions “only” gave up 115 rushing yards in the second half against the Panthers, which still extrapolates to 230 yards a game. In other words, it’s not time to pass out the party hats and noisemakers just yet.
This is a real issue, and there’s no telling if PSU can solve it. Not when the Lions began the season with six new defensive starters. Not when they have seen five defenders miss sizable chunks of playing time because of injuries in the first two weeks of the season.
Tales from Joe Paterno’s debut
There is going to be some sort of celebration of Joe Paterno’s first game as head coach on Saturday – Penn State is going to announce details to season-ticket holders via email later this week – and David Jones of Pennlive.com wrote about Paterno’s inaugural, a 15-7 victory over Maryland on Sept. 17, 1966.
Some great nuggets here, the first being that Paterno went looking for Terrapins coach Lou Saban to shake his hand after the game, but couldn’t find him. Budd Thalman, the former Penn State sports information director and Buffalo Bills publicist (under Saban), took the story from there:
“The next day, I got a call,” Thalman remembered Paterno telling him. “And it’s Saban. And he says, ‘Joe, I’m sorry I ran off after the game. But we both played so lousy, I didn’t feel like congratulating anybody.'”
The only notable thing about the game was that Mike Reid, an All-American defensive tackle for the Nittany Lions, was credited with three safeties. Reid later went on to star for the Cincinnati Bengals but retired at age 27 to pursue a musical career, as he was a gifted pianist and songwriter.
As Jones notes:
By the early 1990s, he had written a No. 1 Billboard Country chart hit for himself (Walk on Faith), a Grammy-winner for Ronnie Milsap (A Stranger in My House) and a legendary pop song for Bonnie Raitt that became a standard for generations of singers (I Can’t Make You Love Me). So, protecting his hands might have been the right choice.
Finally, there was the fact that Paterno implemented an 11 p.m. curfew after the game, one that was violated by defensive tackle Dave Rowe, who was newly married and whose in-laws were in town. Rowe, who later enjoyed a long NFL career, figured Paterno might make him run after practice as punishment.
No such luck:
“Rowe, you broke curfew,” Paterno told him. “You’re off the team.”
“It stunned me,” said Rowe, now 71, who said he still holds a vivid memory of the scene. “I never expected it. “
Some teammates intervened on his behalf, and Paterno eventually reinstated him. Rowe told Jones he never forgot, though:
“That was a great life lesson for me. Coach Paterno, he didn’t care who you were. I was a starter, I was a senior. … But you know what? I went 13 years in the NFL, never broke a curfew, never a rule, nothing.”
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