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 Wednesday, Oct. 26. Let’s get started.
Michigan loss looms as Lions’ turning point
John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times writes that the turning point for Penn State came after its 49-10 loss at Michigan on Sept. 24.
It was the Nittany Lions’ third straight loss to the Wolverines, by an average score of 39-16, and their 10th straight to either Michigan, Ohio State or Michigan State – i.e., the Big Ten East’s upper crust (MSU’s struggles this year notwithstanding). The average score of those games was 38-13.
With the Lions 2-2 on the season, some of their key players – center Brian Gaia, quarterback Trace McSorley, defensive ends Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan and linebacker Jason Cabinda (then injured) – began texting back and forth.
And as Gaia told reporters Tuesday morning:
“We made a decision that if we kept doing what we were doing, we’d keep getting what we were getting.”
The results of this confab were hardly immediate. The Lions spotted Minnesota a 13-3 halftime lead on Oct. 1 before roaring back to win 29-26 in overtime. They followed that up with a 38-14 rout of Maryland, then upended No. 2 Ohio State last weekend.
Momentum has built, and complacency would appear to be a danger, given the fact that PSU visits Purdue (3-4) this Saturday. But assistant head coach Terry Smith, who filled in on Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call with James Franklin out of town for the funeral of his brother-in-law, believes otherwise:
“We’re going to approach (this week) as business as usual. There’s just a little bit more excitement. Our kids have bought into the process all year, and after a game like this past weekend, the process becomes, I don’t want to say easier, but the buy-in becomes greater.”
More from Terry Smith
Smith, who also doubles as PSU’s defensive recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach, tackled several other topics during his appearance on Tuesday’s call. That included his assessment of senior cornerback Jordan Smith, who was credited with a pass breakup during the final defensive series against the Buckeyes, a play that looked suspiciously like pass interference.
Anyway, here’s Smith on Smith:
He has made tremendous plays for us the last few weeks, including the pass breakup on the last series of our defense. His veteran savviness, he’s a great leader in the cornerback room. All the other corners look to him. He is kind of that wise, older spokesman. He has been around the block, he doesn’t get too high and doesn’t get too low. He understands what his role on our football team is and when he’s asked to contribute, he is contributing greatly for us.
He was also asked about the potential recruiting impact of the victory, since it was estimated that more than 170 high school players were in attendance:
The greatest thing is that we defended our home turf. We always want to win games at home. It was a pretty electric atmosphere. We hope that we impacted one or two recruits for the future, but all we can do is try to take care of business on the football field.
And finally, there was a question about how many times Smith had watched Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal, which led to Grant Haley’s decisive touchdown return:
I watched it probably two times through film study, just when I’m grading the film. Once the game is over and we review the film, it’s time to move on.
Mahon again nation’s top tackle
PSU’s Brendan Mahon, rated the nation’s best left tackle by Pro Football Focus for his work against Minnesota, was again tabbed by PFF this week, this time for his play on the right side against Ohio State.
Here’s the evaluation:
The right tackle did his best work creating movement in the run game with an 87.5 grade, and he didn’t allow a pressure on 33 dropbacks.
Mahon moved from the left flank to the right when Andrew Nelson was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained in the second quarter of the Maryland game. He has also played guard in his career.
Cabinda on camera
Penn State middle linebacker Jason Cabinda sat for an interview with Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network on Tuesday, and one of the things Cabinda talked about was the defense’s mindset on Ohio State’s final drive.
“It was just, give everything we’ve got,” Cabinda said. “That’s what we did.”
"It was the definition of a family coming together."
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) October 25, 2016
Elsewhere in the Land of 10
- Assessing how last Saturday’s loss affects Ohio State’s recruiting.
- Former Michigan basketball star Trey Burke said his comments about dorm food were taken out of context.
- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is well aware that a victory over Michigan could make the Spartans’ season — or ruin the Wolverines’.