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 Thursday, Oct. 27. Let’s get started.
Laying it on the linebackers
The wait was interminable for Penn State linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell, both of whom returned from injuries to key the defense in last Saturday’s upset of second-ranked Ohio State. Bell had a career-high 19 tackles and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Cabinda had 12 stops.
“It was everything, honestly, to be back out there with my teammates,” Bell said during a news conference Wednesday. “They were the only thing that kept me sane (during the time away). Guys were always asking: ‘When are you coming back? When are you coming back?’ ”
He had been out since suffering an undisclosed leg injury the second week of the season, against Pitt. Cabinda had broken his left thumb the week before, in the opener against Kent State:.
“It was the second play of the game. I didn’t think it was as bad as it was,” Cabinda said of his injury. “I had (the trainers) tape it up until I couldn’t move it. I played the rest of the game. They X-rayed it after the game and found out it was worse than I thought.”
Their return clearly enlivened the defense, which recorded six sacks of J.T. Barrett, one more than he had been dropped in the Buckeyes’ first seven games. And if the Lions had been vanilla on that side of the ball in the weeks Cabinda and Bell were out, they were immeasurably more exotic last Saturday.
That wasn’t surprising, considering Bell’s enthusiasm for the sport
“I realized that nothing really affects me the way football does,” Bell said. “Nothing makes me more sad. Nothing makes me more happy, even with the ladies.”
The team, it is a changin’
Frank Bodani of ydr.com argues that the Lions were building toward the victory over Ohio State for a while — that the team’s resolve was hardened not only during aborted comebacks against Georgia in last year’s TaxSlayer Bowl and against Pitt the second week of this season, but also when faced by a torrent of injuries this fall.
As Bodani writes:
Now, things look different, and that’s more than beating Ohio State. Rather, the way guys are picking each other up and improving together makes you finally believe this team is truly on the rise.
He allows that the Lions are far from perfect, that they are not yet in the Big Ten’s upper crust. But they’re getting there, and along the way, the perception of coach James Franklin is changing. If before this season there were questions about his job security, that is no longer the case. He has a signature win, and as safety Marcus Allen said last Saturday, he has the support of his players, too:
“To get this win for him, it just shows how we are as a family. We are going to stick together regardless.”
PSU expects ‘different vibe’ at Purdue
Mark Brennan of Fightonstate.com notes that the Lions, accustomed to playing before large crowds this season, will likely see a small gathering this Saturday in Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium.
It will be different.
“We’re kind of taking a different approach to practice, with having no music and creating our own juice, so we can try to start fast on the road,” Penn State running back Saquon Barkley told reporters after practice Wednesday. “We try to create our own juice because we don’t have that static and energy from Beaver Stadium.”
Barkley, a sophomore, has never played at Purdue, and as a result doesn’t know what to expect. The best comparison he could draw was the game last year at Northwestern, which was played before an announced crowd of 34,116. The Lions fell into an early 20-7 hole, en route to a 23-21 loss, as Barkley well remembers:
“It wasn’t like Beaver Stadium. It was a different vibe,” Barkley said. “So you had to get yourself going.”
As Brennan writes, the Lions didn’t win another game the rest of the season, en route to their second straight 7-6 finish.
A behind-the-scenes look at practice
Elijah Hermitt of Pennlive.com offered some video of the sliver of Wednesday’s practice open to the media, much of which shows quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens doing work.
— elijah (@ejude136) October 26, 2016
A behind-the-scenes look at practice
Tim Frazier, who has bounced around the NBA since departing Penn State in 2014, appeared to find a home with the injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans late last season, and he was the opening-night starter Wednesday with Jrue Holiday tending to his wife Lauren following her surgery for a brain tumor.
Frazier enjoyed a 15-point, 11-assist night in a loss to Denver (prompting the tweet below), though his effort was ever so slightly overshadowed by that of teammate Anthony Davis. All he did was collect 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocked shots.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) October 27, 2016
Also in the Land of 10
- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer discusses the upcoming game against Northwestern and his “angry” team.
- Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp was back at practice and (kind of) cheering for the Cubs.
- Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt argues that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is worth his salary.