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. 17. Let’s get started.
Hamilton has a handle on early season drop
It should come as no surprise that Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton is a stand-up guy. His parents were both U.S. Marines, and growing up, DaeSean played a big role in the care of his older brother Darius, who has nonverbal autism.
This is a kid of considerable substance, so when he was asked Wednesday about his critical drop late in the Week 2 loss to Pitt, he neither balked nor bristled. Instead, he said this:
“The drop against Pitt honestly still haunts me to this day, because of the fact of what situation we could be in.”
What he was saying is if he makes the catch down the right sideline, he likely scores, PSU likely wins and is now likely 9-1 and an even bigger player in the College Football Playoff picture than it already is.
As it stands, the gaffe has served to sharpen Hamilton’s focus, to give him an even greater sense of purpose. And last weekend against Indiana he again found himself running free, on a flea-flicker early in the fourth quarter. This time he gathered in the pass from Trace McSorley for a gain of 54 yards.
It was the longest of the 23 receptions Hamilton has this season, and it set up a touchdown in a game the Lions won, 45-31. That was a huge deal, he said:
“To finally get that play called late in the game, early in the fourth quarter, I just wanted to make sure I made the most of it, obviously. I just wanted to make sure I catch the ball this time and possibly get our team in position to score.”
The daily offensive line update
Reporters watch a portion of practice every Wednesday, and there was an understandably large amount of attention paid to the offensive line this week, given the spate of injuries that has hit that positional group. The one bit of news was that Connor McGovern, the starting right guard the last six weeks, lined up with the first string. He was injured late in the Indiana game, and wasn’t listed on the depth chart distributed Monday.
Coach James Franklin also said during his regular weekly news briefing Tuesday that he wasn’t sure about McGovern’s status for Saturday night’s game at Rutgers.
But there was McGovern Wednesday, working with a line that featured Ryan Bates at left tackle, Steven Gonzalez at left guard, Brian Gaia at center and Chasz Wright at right tackle. That’s two redshirt freshmen (Bates and Gonzalez), a freshman (McGovern) and a still-wet-behind-his-ears junior (Wright) with Gaia, a senior.
And Gaia seemed relatively certain that McGovern would be on the field Saturday, though the line’s elder statesman spoke in the cryptic way the Lions always speak about injuries:
“I think he’s going to bounce back from whatever happened. He’s out there getting the reps and getting ready mentally.”
Franklin was also asked about tackle Sterling Jenkins, a 6-foot-8, 328-pound redshirt freshman who was highly recruited last year but has yet to crack the line rotation:
“Sterling is a skilled player, but there are still some things where the light needs to go on for him. I’d make the argument that he’s in the one percent, including the NFL, in terms of body type, athleticism, strength. He’s got a lot of things you’re looking for, but he just needs the game to slow down for him.”
Urschel: Ever curious
Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel, a Penn State graduate and doctoral student in mathematics at MIT, remains a refreshing soul, whether he is seeking old books in his discipline (and successful in acquiring them) or posing seemingly impossible questions on The Players’ Tribune.
On Wednesday, he betrayed more excitement on Twitter than might be expected for … well, a blackboard:
Just the thing my bedroom's been missing! pic.twitter.com/sblR0DGFGM
— John Urschel (@JohnCUrschel) November 16, 2016
Women’s soccer team to face Virginia
The PSU women’s soccer team, the defending national champion, beat Bucknell 6-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and will face No. 15 Virginia on Friday in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, junior forward Megan Schafer told the Big Ten Network, “We don’t have as much of the target on our back because we don’t have the No. 1 seed like we did last year.” Below is the complete interview:
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) November 16, 2016
Also in the Land of 10
- Center Pat Elflein, an Outland Trophy semifinalist, could be Urban Meyer’s first major award-winner at Ohio State.
- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says tight end George Kittle is likely out against Illinois.
- Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong does some light throwing, but has not yet been cleared to play Saturday.