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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Thursday, Sept. 29. Let’s get started.
Penn State’s secret weapon?
David Jones of Pennlive.com writes that Penn State could have an advantage against Minnesota on Saturday in offensive line coach Matt Limegrover, formerly the Gophers’ offensive coordinator.
Jones points out that Limegrover, in his first year at PSU after Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys fired him, coached against Claeys in practice at four stops over 17 years, and is intimately familiar with every significant Gophers offensive player:
Consider that, other than the true freshmen, Limegrover has crunched and graded the videotape of every player individually for their entire careers at Minnesota. He knows what they do well, what gives them trouble, their tendencies and tells. The Pittsburgh native can without question provide a personal dossier on every member of the Gopher offense.
Claeys and PSU coach James Franklin both downplayed any difference Limegrover’s presence might make during Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call, and indeed it might be negligible given the Nittany Lions’ laundry list of problems. But it is something to consider.
The Big Ten issued a statement Wednesday saying that while the targeting call that on-field officials assessed linebacker Brandon Smith in the second quarter of last Saturday’s loss at Michigan was correct, it should have been reversed by the replay official.
Per the statement:
Prior to the 2016 season, the NCAA granted additional authority to replay officials when reviewing on-field targeting calls by changing the standard of review. As a result, the replay official now has the authority to re-officiate and review all aspects of the on-field targeting call and in the absence of specific indicators identified by NCAA targeting standards, the replay official can reverse the on-field call. Additionally, replay officials have the ability, and responsibility, to independently review potential targeting plays that are egregious and not seen, or called, on the field.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job on targeting in general,” Franklin told reporters after practice Wednesday. “That was kind of a unique situation.”
Here is Franklin’s complete response, per Josh Moyer of ESPN.com:
— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) September 28, 2016
Barkley is in a rush
Saquon Barkley is considered one of the nation’s best running backs, yet the Lions are last in the Big Ten in rushing (101.3 yards a game), and 122nd among 128 teams in the FBS.
The problem is multi-faceted. For starters, Limegrover’s offensive line is subpar. As Franklin pointed out during his news conference Tuesday, “We need to be more physical. We’re getting a hat on a hat, but we’re not creating movement.”
The Lions have also lost to two teams with stout defenses. Pitt is third in the nation against the rush, and Michigan is No. 11 in total yardage allowed.
The other thing, Franklin said, is Barkley’s approach. Barkley has been “trying to make every run an 80-yard touchdown,” the coach said Tuesday.
Barkley, who spoke with reporters on a conference call Wednesday, did not disagree:
“When I was in high school, my mentality was that every time I touched the ball, I felt like I was capable of scoring and I wanted to score. Sometimes putting the team in the best position is just taking what the defense gives you and lowering your shoulder and picking up four or five yards. Going through the game, eventually something will open up. I just have to grow and mature in that spot.”
Penn State men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers appeared in Philadelphia Wednesday to promote his team’s Jan. 7 game against Michigan State in the historic Palestra. In the video below he tours that grand old building with Pennlive.com’s David Jones: