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 Tuesday, Oct. 11. Let’s get started.
Line change for the Lions
Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com reviews some of the hot topics hovering over Penn State during its bye week, with a home date against unbeaten Ohio State looming on Oct. 22.
One of the ones he mentions is the reshuffling of the offensive line in light of the leg injury suffered by right tackle Andrew Nelson, possibly the Nittany Lions’ best lineman, in the first half of last Saturday’s 38-14 victory over Maryland.
Coach James Franklin said after the game that the injury would likely be season-ending, and his initial solution was to move Brendan Mahon from left tackle to Nelson’s spot, while inserting former starter Paris Palmer at left tackle.
Given the fact that Mahon started seven games on the right side and Palmer was the regular on the other flank for 11 in 2015, this seems like the most likely alignment going forward.
“Paris has been pretty much predominantly left tackle, so we did feel like Mahon’s got a little bit more flexibility, he’s played a little bit more football, that’s he’s going to handle that (move to the right side) better than Paris. I don’t know what we’ll do here in the off weeke. It will be based on how the tape looks.”
Franklin also mentioned the possibility of Chasz Wright playing tackle, his natural position, but Wright has recently been coming off the bench at guard. And there is a chance, the coach added, that freshman Will Fries will have his red shirt stripped off, though it’s hard to imagine Fries starting.
Barkley, Smith honored
Saquon Barkley and Brandon Smith were named the Big Ten Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week on Monday for their efforts against Maryland.
Barkley ran for 202 yards, which was not only a career high but also the most yards by a PSU back since Larry Johnson had 279 against Michigan State in 2002. Smith, a one-time walk-on, contributed a career-high 14 tackles and his first career interception.
According to a Penn State release, Barkley became the first Lion to be honored in this fashion since Bill Belton ran for 201 yards against Illinois in 2013. It is also the first time PSU had the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week since Daryll Clark and NaVorro Bowman won the awards after the Michigan State game in 2009.
One more Barkley-related note: He revealed in an interview Monday on the Big Ten Network that his dad, Alibay Barkley, really wanted to name him after Tupac Shakur. Saquon added quickly that his mom, Tonya Johnson, “was not having that at all.”
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) October 10, 2016
Defending champ Lions hit the mat
Monday marked the official start of preseason wrestling practice for Penn State, the defending NCAA champion, as well as the nation’s other 76 Division I teams. And the cupboard is far from bare for the Lions, who have also won five of the last six national titles.
While PSU lost NCAA champ Nico Megaludis (125) and runner-up Morgan McIntosh (197) to graduation, Jim Carlson of Pennlive.com wrote, another champ, Zain Retherford (149), returns, as do runners-up Jason Nolf (157) and Bo Nickal (174).
As coach Cael Sanderson told Carlson over the summer:
“We have a good lineup. There’s a lot of good teams with good lineups, too, with a lot of points back. But we’re excited.”
Penn State opens its season Nov. 11 against Army, and faces Stanford in its first home meet two days later.