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, Oct. 21. Let’s get started.
Lions’ defense faces big test
Ohio State lost eight starters on offense and eight more on defense from last year’s 12-1 team, yet it has hardly skipped a beat, as evidenced by the 6-0 record and No. 2 national ranking the Buckeyes bring into Saturday night’s game at Penn State.
Ohio State is fourth in the FBS for scoring (49.3 ppg) and rushing offense (300.5), and quarterback J.T. Barrett leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency.
The rushing attack is of particular concern to PSU’s banged-up defense, which at one time or another has lost seven linebackers to injury since the start of the season. Two of them, opening-week starters Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell, have practiced this week and are expected to see action against OSU.
It remains to be seen how much impact they can have. The Lions were gashed on the ground in their two losses, giving up 341 yards on the ground to Pitt and 326 to Michigan – but two weeks ago they stymied Maryland, which had brought a strong running game to Beaver Stadium.
The Buckeyes are, of course, an entirely different animal. Phillynews.com’s Joe Juliano pointed out that Barrett has combined with tailback Mike Weber and H-Back Curtis Samuel for 1,502 rushing yards and an average of 6.1 yards per carry.
Weber is second in the Big Ten with 612 yards (6.5 ypc), while Samuel is 10th with 456 (7.4 ypc). Barrett, who has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards and 16 touchdowns (with four interceptions), has rushed for 434 yards.
So all the Lions have to look out for is … everything. As fill-in middle linebacker Brandon Smith said:
“It comes down to everybody on our defense doing their job and getting off blocks and making sure tackles. You’ve really got to get 11 guys running to the ball against this team because they’ve got some real athletic and explosive guys that can do some nice things, if they get enough space to do it.”
Tackling has been an issue. Safety Marcus Allen has 57 of them this season, equaling the conference’s second-highest total, and is well aware of what it’s going to take to beat a team like Ohio State:
“We have to come in there with a lot of energy. We have to tackle well in space, create turnovers, just work on everything. We have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
McSorley: IU provided a blueprint
Lions quarterback Trace McSorley told reporters after practice Wednesday that while he watched Ohio State’s overtime victory over Wisconsin on TV last weekend, he learned more from examining the video of the Buckeyes’ 38-17 victory over Indiana on Oct. 8. That’s because PSU’s playing style more resembles that of the Hoosiers.
“Indiana was able to move the ball, kind of do some things, make them kind of uncomfortable. And I think we are kind of seeing that we are going to utilize what they did a little bit.”
The Hoosiers gained just 281 yards, 182 of those on the passing of Richard Lagow, who went 14-for-28 and fired two touchdown passes. The second of those was a 7-yarder to Danny Friend 5 minutes, 1 second into the third quarter that cut OSU’s lead to 24-17.
Indiana drew no closer.
“It was just an awkward game,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer told reporters afterward.
PSU can only hope to make Saturday’s game that way, too.
Reid’s success continues to compute
Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call writes that sophomore cornerback John Reid, a computer science major, participated last summer in a research project with Penn State’s Microsystems Design Lab that involved convolutional neural networks. In broad terms, Wogenrich writes, the research concerns teaching computers to learn as humans: inputting data, writing code to interpret that information and then tracking patterns.
That experience has helped him in football, Reid said:
“The attention to detail has helped me on the field with my focus and knowing how important the little things are in something. Just like in football, if you mess up the little things, it becomes a big deal. If you mess up little things when you’re coding, it can be a big problem.”
Reid has often been praised for his methodical approach, and he has emerged as one of the Lions’ steadiest defenders, while also excelling as a punt returner.
As cornerbacks coach Terry Smith put it:
“He’s one of our best cover guys. He’s really, really, really smart and an exceptional worker. He gets every ounce of his ability out of himself.”
Nittanyville: Before and after
Audrey Snyder of DKsports.com tweeted out video Thursday of coach James Franklin and some of his players visiting Nittanyville, the tent city that springs up outside Beaver Stadium during game weeks:
James Franklin was also on hand, along with the LBs and Saquon Barkley for the visit to Nittanyville. pic.twitter.com/ElRqDnsE12
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) October 21, 2016
There was also one of running back Saquon Barkley and linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell momentarily joining the Blue Band’s drum line:
That escalated quickly. LBs Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda momentarily joined the drum line with an assist from Saquon Barkley. pic.twitter.com/wsBlatWSqg
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) October 20, 2016
Later in the evening, however, there was a tweet from the Daily Collegian featuring video of the campers striking their tents, with thunderstorms moving into the State College area:
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) October 21, 2016
The Collegian later tweeted that the campers will be allowed to return Friday at 8 a.m.
Also in the Land of 10:
Nebraska will, as always, rely on its running game against Purdue.
Wisconsin basketball star Nigel Hayes says he wants to be “a voice” for college athletes.
Indiana’s basketball team announced the schedule for Hoosier Hysteria.