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 Monday, Oct. 10. Let’s get started.
Gauging the recruiting impact of PSU-Maryland
Penn State won the on-the-field battle against Maryland on Saturday, and convincingly so. The Nittany Lions, who through their first five games averaged only 108.2 yards a game on the ground, churned out 372 rushing yards in the 38-14 rout of the Terps, PSU’s highest total since 2006, and its highest total against an FBS team since 2002.
Still in question, however, is whether the Lions closed the gap in the off-the-field battle for recruits. As Pennlive.com’s David Jones noted, Penn State has long dominated the fertile Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia corridor (the “DMV,” as it is sometimes called). But Maryland is now making inroads with high school players from that area, to the point that their next recruiting class is rated in the teens nationally, while Penn State’s is in the low 20s.
Will Saturday’s game have any impact on future recruiting? That depends on who you ask. First-year Maryland coach D.J. Durkin believes it won’t:
“Those things are so individuality based. Recruiting’s a marathon, not a sprint. You come off a big win, you’ve got a momentum, you’re really excited. You lose a game, what does everyone do? ‘I’m gonna go somewhere else.’ I don’t believe that. I think it’s about relationships. It’s about being consistent. It’s staying with people.”
He might be expected to say that, since his team lost. And PSU coach James Franklin might be expected to say the following, since his team won.
“The Big Ten that Penn State was in for so long, one of the things that really differentiated us, wasn’t that we had the 107,000-seat stadium and the history and tradition and academics, but that we were the only team really in this region in the Big Ten. And it gave us a real advantage, to be honest with you.
“Now we have other teams in this region – Maryland and Rutgers – that are playing Big Ten football. We don’t have that to differentiate us anymore.
“Does the win help? Yes, it does.”
Smith, Farmer rise to the occasion
Penn State’s linebacker corps has been in a constant state of flux this season because of injuries, and on Saturday Brandon Smith, a one-time walk-on, made his third straight start at middle linebacker, and Koa Farmer made his first career start on the strong side. Both played well. Smith had 14 tackles, most on either team, and his first career interception. Farmer, a converted safety, had five stops and his first career sack.
The sack was particularly important, because it came after Maryland, trailing just 17-7, blocked a punt late in the second quarter and recovered the ball at the Lions’ 15. Farmer forced a fumble with a blind-side hit on Terps quarterback Perry Hills, which PSU’s Torrence Brown recovered.
As Farmer told Mike Poorman of Statecollege.com:
“I needed a big play in there. I needed to show people what I can do. And I need to continually get those big plays. Coming off the edge and the quarterback’s looking the other way – my eyes are getting big. I’m like, ‘Please don’t throw this,’ because I didn’t want to get a penalty. Right there I hit him. That’s my highlight of the season … so far.”
Smith’s interception came earlier in the second quarter, at the PSU 45, and set in motion a field-goal drive. As he recalled:
“To be honest with you, last week I dropped an interception (against Minnesota), so today I probably could have kept my feet there. But I was just thinking, ‘Don’t drop this ball.’ The D-line did a good job of getting pressure and I think it was (defensive end Garrett) Sickels who did a good job of getting pressure there. They did a great job up front and it was a pretty easy ball to catch.”
One opinion: PSU is No. 18
Penn State is unranked everywhere but in the S&P+ rankings of Bill Connelly of SB Nation. By his calculations, which take into account efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers, the Lions are the 18th-best team in the land. That’s 20 spots better than they had been last week.
As Connelly tweeted:
I was surprised they moved up *that* much, but PSU really was spectacular yesterday. pic.twitter.com/sIVBfYuRUn
— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) October 9, 2016
Penn State freshmen are prohibited from talking to reporters, but one member of that class, running back Miles Sanders, spoke with the school’s in-house outlet after scoring his first career touchdown on a 25-yard run late in Saturday’s game:
— Penn State Athletics (@GoPSUsports) October 9, 2016