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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, Oct. 12. Let’s get started.
Who’s offensive MVP at season’s midpoint?
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing (582 yards), and second in scoring (nine touchdowns). His teammate, quarterback Trace McSorley, is third in passing yardage (1,436) and fourth in total offense (270.3 yards per game).
With the Nittany Lions halfway through their regular season and in their bye week, the question was raised Tuesday as to which player has been the team’s offensive MVP to date. Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call went with Barkley and noted:
The sophomore running back didn’t assemble the eye-popping rushing numbers until last week against Maryland (31 carries, 202 yards) but has been instrumental to every game.
Pennlive.com’s readers were presented with eight MVP possibilities in an online poll: McSorley, Barkley, offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, tight end Mike Gesicki, tackle Brendan Mahon and wide receivers Chris Godwin and DeAndre Thompkins.
As of Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET, McSorley was in the lead with 58 percent of the vote. Barkley was next, with 26percent and Moorhead was third at 8 percent,
As PL’s Greg Pickel wrote of McSorley:
The Lions’ quarterback has had arguably his best two weeks in PSU’s back-to-back victories, as he’s found his running stride to match the best deep ball accuracy in the Big Ten, per ESPN. McSorley has the most yards (1,622) in the Big Ten, and has improved on turning the ball over compared to the first few weeks.
One thing is inarguable: Barkley and McSorley have given the offense the life it has lacked the last two years. While PSU is just 85th among the nation’s 128 FBS teams in total offense (391.5 yards per game) and 62nd in scoring (30.5 points per game), its respective finishes were 105th (348.6) and 101st (23.2) in 2015 and 111th (335.3) and 110th (20.6) in ’14.
With the Lions’ offensive tackle picture unclear after Andrew Nelson, the starter on the right side, suffered a season-ending leg injury last week against Maryland, Audrey Snyder of DKsports.com asked coach James Franklin on Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call where redshirt sophomore Noah Beh might figure in the scheme of things going forward.
That’s when Franklin revealed that Beh had been suspended for “a violation of team rules.” The coach offered little information beyond that, and the question arose as to when the suspension occurred, since Beh has not played all season.
A spokesperson said she did not know, but pointed out that Beh was on the travel roster for the games at Pitt and Michigan.
After Nelson was injured in the second quarter of the 38-14 victory over the Terps, Mahon moved from left tackle to the right side, and Paris Palmer came off the bench to fill Mahon’s spot. Franklin said those two remain possibilities in the weeks ahead, as do redshirt sophomore Chasz Wright and freshman Will Fries.
Maryland coach suspends backup LB
Maryland coach D.J. Durkin announced Tuesday he had suspended redshirt freshman linebacker Isaiah Davis one game for his late hit on Penn State kicker Joey Julius in Saturday’s second half, a hit that earned Davis an ejection.
As reported by the Washington Post, here is Durkin’s view on the matter:
“Isaiah is a great young man, he’s a great member of our team. We love him. He made a very bad decision. We are a work-in-progress in learning what our team is about, what our culture is about. I spend a lot of time talking to our guys and trying to educate them on respecting the game we play. Respecting our team and being accountable to each other. And that really violates all of those things.”
Julius had become something of an internet sensation for big hits on kickoff returners from Kent State and Michigan, but has been the victim of cheap shots in each of the last two games. Minnesota backup linebacker Jaylen Waters was also ejected for a late hit on him in the Nittany Lions’ 29-26 overtime victory on Oct. 1.
Julius gained further renown when he admitted on Facebook that he underwent treatment beginning last spring for an eating disorder.
Coming to a head
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, former Penn State defensive tackle Greg Gattuso, now the head coach at Albany, did an in-house interview while wearing his old PSU helmet. (His interviewer, meanwhile, donned the Great Danes’ headgear.)
Gattuso played for the Nittany Lions from 1981-83, and was part of a national championship team in ’82. He is in his third year at Albany, having previously served as the head man at Duquesne for 12 seasons.
— UAlbany Sports (@UAlbanySports) October 11, 2016