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, Oct. 13. Let’s get started.
Fries flies up the depth chart
Penn State coach James Franklin again discussed the situation at offensive tackle after the Nittany Lions held a bye-week scrimmage Wednesday involving those players who are not on the travel roster. He has said that he is considering a few different options in the wake of a season-ending injury suffered by right tackle Andrew Nelson last Saturday against Maryland.
On Wednesday he was asked whether the coaching staff’s decision heading into the Oct. 22 home game against No. 2 Ohio State will be based on what it learns over the next week or so, or if that decision will be based on what Franklin and his fellow coaches already know:
“It will be pretty much based on what we already know. The only thing that’s probably a little bit new is (freshman) Will Fries. (He’s) still kind of been in a redshirt mentality. Now he’s closer to playing.”
Fries, listed at 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, figures in a puzzle that also includes Brendan Mahon, Paris Palmer and Chasz Wright. Mahon, who has started the first six games at left tackle, moved to the right side when Nelson was injured in the second quarter last week. Palmer, who started on the left side last year, came off the bench to fill in for Mahon.
Wright has appeared at guard this season, but had been playing tackle before that. Which brings us to Fries, who has discussed losing his redshirt with his parents, according to Franklin. And, the coach said:
“He’s ready to go. We had a little bit of wiggle room before. We really don’t have any wiggle room left.”
Franklin also said freshman quarterback Jake Zembiec, who enrolled at Penn State in January, was nursing an injury when he arrived on campus, an injury that continued to dog him in preseason camp. But overall he has made a favorable impression.
“He throws the deep ball really well. He needs to put more zip on the underneath ball. He needs to get stronger generally.”
Here is Franklin’s complete presser, courtesy of Fight on State.
Is Reid the most valuable defender?
As was the case with the offense on Tuesday, Pennlive.com asked its readers Wednesday to vote in an online poll for the Lions’ first-half defensive MVP. The choices were cornerback John Reid, end Torrence Brown, punter Blake Gillikin, the defensive tackles, safeties Marcus Allen and Malik Golden and linebackers Brandon Smith, Koa Farmer and Manny Bowen.
As of Thursday at 8 a.m. ET, Reid had 31.2 percent of the vote, giving him a slim lead over Smith (28.3) and Allen (28.3).
Reid has 22 tackles, fifth-most on the team, and one of the Lions’ six interceptions. He is also averaging 7.8 yards on 16 punt returns.
Allen has logged a Big Ten-leading 57 stops, 22 against Minnesota, while Smith has come from the furthest reaches of the depth chart to make 31 tackles, third-most on the team.
Things looking up for men’s hoops
PSU men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers said the things Wednesday that a great many coaches say on preseason media day – that he wants his team to play fast, and he wants to use a bunch of guys.
Sometimes it happens, often it doesn’t.
One thing that is inarguable is that the team has a definite Philadelphia feel, which is hardly a surprise. Chambers himself is a native of the Philly suburbs, and played for the legendary Herb Magee at Philadelphia University. He is also a former Villanova assistant.
This year he has added three recruits from two-time defending state champion Roman Catholic – Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens and Nazeer Bostick – to a club that finished 16-16 last season and lists three other Philadelphia-area products on its roster.
Hopes are high, as Carr told Philly.com’s Erin McCarthy:
“I just felt like I could come in here, and just kind of start something new and lead the way, make this a powerhouse.”
Junior guard Shep Garner, another Roman Catholic product, is PSU’s top returning scorer (14.8). He also led last year’s squad in assists (3.4) and steals (1.3). Given all the Philly guys on the team, the choice of music in the early stages of Wednesday’s practice should not come as a surprise, as noted by DKsports.com’s Audrey Snyder:
This is what you play at practice when you have a bunch of Philly guys on the roster pic.twitter.com/sS5XMSxGPv
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) October 12, 2016
Star turn for Urschel
Former Penn State guard John Urschel, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens and is an MIT doctoral student in mathematics, co-stars with Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt in a commercial for Bose noise-cancelling headphones:
— John Urschel (@JohnCUrschel) October 12, 2016