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, Nov. 10. Let’s get started.
PSU tackles depth issues on offensive line
As has been the case all season, Penn State is dealing with injuries heading into Saturday’s game at Indiana, this time at offensive tackle.
The Nittany Lions have been without Andrew Nelson, the starter on the right side, since he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of the Oct. 8 victory over Maryland. And three plays into last week’s victory over Iowa, Brendan Mahon was carted off with a foot injury. He was also hospitalized for undisclosed medical reasons Tuesday, and the school announced he is in stable condition.
That leaves the Lions exceedingly thin at the position. Paris Palmer has seen the bulk of the action on the left side the last three-plus games, having become a regular when Nelson was injured and Mahon shifted from the left side to the right. And when Mahon was injured, Chasz Wright was inserted.
Palmer and Wright are almost certain to start Saturday — it will, in fact, be the first start of Wright’s career — and coach James Franklin told reporters after practice Wednesday that Ryan Bates, the starting left guard, has been seeing some time at tackle, in case he is needed at that position in a pinch.
Franklin also said he hopes he doesn’t have to remove the redshirt from Will Fries, a highly regarded freshman tackle.
Barkley ‘grateful’ for Heisman hype
PSU officially launched the belated Heisman Trophy campaign of sophomore running back Saquon Barkley via Twitter on Monday. Barkley, who leads the Big Ten in rushing with 1,055 yards and has eclipsed 200 all-purpose yards in his last two games, addressed the topic during a conference call Wednesday, according to the Centre Daily Times’ John McGonigal:
“I saw that yesterday, and I’m ever so grateful for them doing that. I’m really not looking too much into it right now. I’m just kind of trying to stay focused on the task ahead and that’s just Indiana this week. … But I saw that and that was really cool and I’m really appreciative.”
His teammates have rushed to show their support. Here’s safety Marcus Allen:
“I don’t know why people aren’t talking about him. Everybody should know that he’s a Heisman contender.”
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson remains the favorite for the award, but others, like Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers, remain in the picture.
PSU linebacker Brandon Bell considered Barkley’s candidacy in that prism:
“He’s getting talked about more and more, but at the same time the guys that are in there now continue to play well and continue to be in that conversation. So will someone from the original few guys up there drop out? That’d be tough … but it’s possible.”
Ex-Lions heartened by alma mater’s success
Former Penn State linebacker NaVorro Bowman, a three-time Pro Bowler with the San Francisco 49ers, was among the former Lions enthused by their alma mater’s resurrection, as noted in an ESPN.com post by Josh Moyer.
Bowman revealed Franklin once recruited him, back when he was a Maryland assistant. Bowman ultimately opted for PSU, and was on a team in 2009 that was the last one to be ranked 10th or better in a poll until the current club reached that lofty perch in the College Football Playoff rankings this week.
That doesn’t surprise Bowman, given how well he knows Franklin. As he told Moyer:
“I spoke to him during the springtime, and I could tell he was all in. I always knew he was going to get us back to where we needed to be. I could tell he was hungry to get to that spot.”
Another former Penn Stater, Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley, played on a team in 2008 that peaked at No. 8. And he is a bit more surprised than Bowman by this team’s success:
“At 2-2, coming off a loss like they did to Michigan (on Sept. 24), I don’t think anyone expected this. A lot of the media, former players and fans were counting them out, but they did a heck of a job cutting out the outside noise, sticking together and coming back stronger than ever. That’s a testament to those guys and those coaches.”
A somber post-election note
Freshman defensive end Shaka Toney took to Twitter after Tuesday’s presidential election:
Heard people screaming explicit comments about Muslims outside my dorm last night. It hurts because I am Muslim
— Shaka (@toney_7) November 9, 2016