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 Friday, Nov. 11. Let’s get started.
Charles in charge (of Lions’ fate)
Penn State backup wide receiver Irv Charles, a redshirt freshman, has two catches this season, and thus two catches in his college career. The first, Mike Poorman of Statecollege.com argues, turned the Nittany Lions’ season around.
It went for an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter of an Oct. 1 game against Minnesota, and triggered the comeback in a 29-26 overtime victory. It has since gotten lost in the shuffle of the Ohio State upset, the five-game winning streak, the bowl talk borne of a 7-2 record, the talk of Saquon Barkley winning the Heisman, etc.
But it was enormous, and nobody saw it coming – least of all Charles himself. As coach James Franklin said after the game:
“He wasn’t even looking for the ball, then all of a sudden at the last second it just kind of hits him in the chest.”
The Lions, down 13-3, were facing a third-and-11 from their own 20 when quarterback Trace McSorley fired downfield to Charles, who did indeed seem surprised to see the ball. (There were, in fact, press-box observers who noticed that Charles wasn’t exactly busting it on his route.)
But he caught the ball just past the 50 and outraced safety Adekunle Ayinde to the end zone. And everything has been different for the Lions since. As assistant coach Charles Huff told reporters on a conference call Thursday:
“Those types of plays, to me, are the ones that give you that ‘we can come back from anything, all we have to do is make plays’ (feeling).”
Huff on Barkley: He adjusted, midstream
Huff, who is in charge of running backs and special teams, covered a number of other topics during his call, as Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com reports.
One was Barkley’s explosion. The sophomore running back has rushed for 675 yards over his last four games, and has more than 200 all-purpose yards in each of the last two. Huff’s explanation:
“We sat down after Game 2 and looked at some things, and talked through that, and he started to make that change, taking the defense (and) what it is giving him. I told him once you do those things once or twice, the 200-yard games will come. And he really received that.”
And what of Barkley’s backups, Mark Allen, Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders? Here’s Huff:
“Just the overall awareness, attention to detail, has improved. Mark and Andre kind of had a little bit of a routine down. Miles came in and probably didn’t grasp it as early, but about the time we got out of camp he decided, ‘I have to put some extra work in,’ and he changed, even to the point of being the kick returner.”
Finally, there was a question about sophomore cornerback John Reid, who in recent weeks has lost his job as the punt returner:
“John Reid had a really good summer for us, but John Reid’s arguably one of the best corners in the Big Ten, so he played a lot. Earlier in the season he was a little fresher. But as the season goes on, his body’s getting tired, so what we’re trying to do as a program (is), one, we’d like to have a Devin Hester back there who’s dangerous, but as we continue to grow, we’ll have different options.”
Wade makes a visit
Brian Dohn of Scout.com wrote about Lamont Wade, a five-star cornerback from Clairton, Pa., making his official visit to Penn State the weekend of the Iowa game, when he was hosted by Sanders. As Wade’s father, Carlton, told Dohn:
“It was impressive. They rolled out the red carpet and treated us likes kings and queens. It was everything I expected and more from the school. The fact that the school is winning, and bringing a winning attitude back, especially coming from where they came from, I just look at that and it’s awesome how they came from the (sanctions) this quick. I didn’t expect them to come back this quick, or be ranked this high.”
The Lions were No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings at the time of Wade’s visit, and have since jumped to No. 10.
Wade also made an official visit to Tennessee in October, and hopes to visit Pitt, West Virginia and UCLA, though a long postseason run by his high school team could interfere with those plans. He hopes to announce his choice Dec. 17 and enroll in January.
More from McSorley
McSorley, interviewed by the Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine on Thursday, talked about the team’s weekly preparation being a key to its success, Barkley’s spectacular play and his own recruitment. McSorley originally committed to Franklin when he was coaching at Vanderbilt, then flipped to Penn State when Franklin changed jobs. “The biggest thing for me,” he told Revsine, “was the trust Coach Franklin and the coaching staff here at Penn State had in me being able to play quarterback at the Division I level.”
Elsewhere in the Land of 10
Nebraska coach Mike Riley is optimistic about Tommy Armstrong’s progress.
Five-star basketball recruit Gary Trent Jr., a Michigan State target, commits to Duke.
Three Big Ten players are named semifinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy.