2016-12-04T14:39:32-05:00After back-to-back season-ending injuries, the linebacker is moving on to the pros Nyeem Wartman-White first came to Penn State in 2012, right before the NCAA sanctions storm hit Happy Valley. He first endeared himself to us by blocking a punt that set up a touchdown in his very first collegiate game against Ohio University and throughout the next few years, endeared himself through his work ethic, athleticism, and contributions to the linebacker and special teams units. Unfortunately, back-to-back season-ending injuries against Temple have cut his career short, but certainly have not dampened his enthusiasm about his team nor his future prospects. That brings us to today, where Nyeem himself tweeted a note indicating his intention not to petition the NCAA to grant him an additional medical redshirt to suit up for the blue and white but rather, to give the NFL a shot: To whom was wondering and did not know pic.twitter.com/tSjanQCoFB— Nyeem Wartman-White (@NyeemWartman) December 4, 2016 Running Back: A Despite Wisconsin making him the focal point defensively, Saquon Barkley still managed to rack up 83 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead wheel route catch that gave the Lions their first lead of the night, which they never relinquished. Even when he’s not putting up video game-like numbers, Saquon is still good for a handful of video game-like plays. Wide Receiver/Tight End: A+++ Mike Gesicki opened up the Penn State scoring with an encore performance of his jump-ball touchdown against Michigan State last week, but it was Saeed Blacknall’s six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns that helped spark the rally when things were at their absolute bleakest. Down 28-7 with a minute remaining in the first half, Blacknall caught a routine mid-range pass and turned it into six points, thanks to overpursuit by a Wisconsin defender. He then followed it up with a 70-yard touchdown that paid homage to Allen Robinson highlight reels on PSU’s first play of the second half to cut the deficit to 28-21. Shout-out also goes to DaeSean Hamilton, who led the team in receptions with eight of them for 108 yards, many of them clutch grabs on 3rd down to help move the chains. Offensive Line: B Both side of the trenches for PSU were brutalized by Wisconsin’s for most of the first half, but the real turning point was when they were able to start giving Trace more than a couple of seconds to throw the ball. For an injury-decimated unit that had only two of its Week 1 starters at the helm, they sure stepped up in a big way. Defensive Line: B While they didn’t consistently get pressure on Wisconsin quarterback Bart Houston and were unable to stuff Corey Clement (who rushed for 164 yards), they were still able to do so at critical moments in the game, whether it was to stop a drive, or hold the Badgers out of the end zone. Curtis Cothran led the way with three tackles for a loss. Linebacker: A- While this unit did have issues with containing Clement, Brent Pry did a solid job calling timely blitzes, which led to a sack each for Brandon Bell (who led all PSU tacklers with 13) and Koa Farmer. Perhaps the most underrated critical play of the game was with Wisconsin marching inside the PSU 10, right after PSU tied the game at 28, when Farmer (with the aid of Evan Schwan) got in the face of Bart Houston who had a wide-open Badgers tight end Troy Fumagalli ready to catch the ball and walk in for a touchdown, forcing Houston to misfire. As a result, Wisconsin was forced to settle for a field goal and PSU took the lead on its very next possession. Secondary: A- They did give up a few chunk plays in the air and had some trouble bringing down Clement (but who doesn’t?), but overall, did a good job in coverage on Wisconsin’s receivers. Shout-out to Marcus Allen, whose 11 tackles were second-best on the team. Special Teams: A Tyler Davis’ leg was not tested in the dome, as his lone field goal was from 24 yards out. Blake Gillikin only punted twice, but averaged a solid 49 yards with a long o[...]
Let’s open thread
What: #4 Penn State vs. #14 Lehigh
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, 12/4, 12 pm ET
Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: Live on the Big Ten Network
|No. 4 Penn State||WT||No. 14 Lehigh|
|#6 - Nick Suriano (Fr., Paramus, NJ)||125||#4 Darian Cruz (Jr., Allentown, PA)|
|#12 - Jered Cortez (So., Carol Stream, IL)||133||UR - Scott Parker (Jr., Sellersville, PA)|
|#15 - Jimmy Gulibon (Sr., Latrobe, PA)||141||#3 - Randy Cruz (Sr., Allentown, PA)|
|#1 - Zain Retherford (Jr., Benton, PA)||149||#9 - Laike Gardner (Sr., Biglerville, PA)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (So., Yatesboro, PA)||157||#14 - Jordan Kutler (Fr., Sparta, NJ)|
|#10 - Vincenzo Joseph (Fr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||UR - Gordon Wolf (So., Lawrenceville, NJ) OR #5 - Mitch Minotti (Sr., Easton, PA)|
|UR - Geno Morelli (Sr., DuBois, PA) OR Shakur Rasheed (So., Coram, NY)||174||#19 - Ryan Preisch (Jr., New Columbia, PA)|
|#3 - Bo Nickal (So., Allen, TX)||184||UR - Kyle Gentile (Fr., Sellersville, PA)|
|#13 - Matt McCutcheon (Jr., Apollo, PA)||197||UR - Ben Haas (Sr., Little Valley, NY)|
|#7 - Nick Nevills (So., Clovis, CA)||285||#11 - Doug Vollaro (Sr., Springfield, MA)|
After the win against Wisconsin, the Lions have an outside chance at the playoffs.
Penn State took care of business last night in Indianapolis, falling behind by as much as 21 before storming back in the 2nd half in typical 2016 Nittany Lion football action. Today, they'll learn whether their efforts are rewarded with a berth in the College Football playoffs at noon on ESPN.
Rather than Ohio State, whom the Lions beat head to head and who didn't even win the division in their conference let alone a share of the Big Ten, James Franklin's team is likely battling Washington, who came into this week number 4, for the final playoff berth.
If Penn State does not make the playoff, they'll be headed to the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions. They last played in Pasadena after the 2008 Big Ten Championship season, where the Daryll Clark-led Nittany Lions fell to a national-title-caliber USC squad.
This morning already, PSU has jumped up in the rankings that have been released, coming in at #5 in the AP poll—the highest of 2-loss teams.
Stick with BSD for coverage on Penn State's bowl destination, as well as post-game reactions.
2016-12-04T11:05:44-05:00After a difficult stretch of years the Nittany Lion faithful hug it out following a Big Ten Championship victory. The game started out as so many this year have. Penn State looked like it was on the ropes, standing on its wobbly feet as Wisconsin prepared to deliver the knockout blow. Like so many other times when the team was down, Trace McSorley and his teammates refused to throw in the towel. Bruised, bloodied and battered, the Penn State team and its fans that filled the Lucas Oil Stadium hung in the fight until the final whistle. The first drive was typical for the Badgers. Going 14 plays for 80 yards, using 7 minutes off the clock in the process, Wisconsin got out to an early 7-point lead. The drive was aided by a late hit out of bounds by linebacker Manny Bowen of Penn State. Penn State was unsuccessful in its first two drives of the game. Wisconsin took the ball for the second time and needed just two plays to make its second score, a 67-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement. The quick 14-point lead for the Badgers had the Penn State fans a little bit subdued as the Lions took the field on offense for the third time. Trace McSorley, who threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns on the day along the way to being named the game’s MVP, led his team down the field for a touchdown to cut the lead in half, 14-7. The drive was highlighted by a Saquon Barkley 22-yard run to start the effort, finished off by a great catch in the endzone by Mike Gesicki. The third possession for the Lions was a disaster. Trace McSorley and Brian Gaia were not able to connect on a routine shotgun snap, the ball went over McSorley’s head and was recovered by Wisconsin for its third touchdown of the game. The next drive wasn’t much better, as the Lions faced 4th and 2 from its own 42 yard line. Making a curious but very aggressive decision, James Franklin decided to try for the conversion, but the team failed as McSorley was chased from the pocket and forced to throw the ball away. Wisconsin made the decision hurt, as it punched in a fourth touchdown in short order to extend the lead to 28-7. With the fumble and short field provided by the 4th down stop, the Badgers scored 14 points with just 42 yards of offense to put the Lions on their heels. On the next possession Penn State found itself once again facing a fourth and one near midfield. Once again Franklin chose to go for the conversion but the team did not get the yardage. With a short field to defend, Brent Pry and his defense stiffened, providing a much-needed hold for the Nittany Lions. On the final Penn State drive of the first half Trace McSorley breathed life into his team and the crowd wearing white inside of Lucas Oild Stadium. He hit Saeed Blacknall in the back of the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14 at the half. After halftime Wisconsin took the ball and drove down the field, setting up a 47 yard field goal attempt. The kick sailed wide right and on the next play from scrimmage, Saeed Blacknall caught a 70-yard bomb from McSorley to cut the lead to just seven points. Another Badger drive and another Penn State defensive hold gave Penn State a chance to tie. It went down the field with a deliberate, methodical 8 play 63 yard drive. On the series, the Lions never needed a third down conversion as it gobbled up yards along the way. Wisconsin countered with a long drive that resulted in a field goal. On the first play of the next drive, Trace McSorley hit DaeSean Hamilton with a 38-yard pass to get the Lions on the Badger side of the field. Three plays later the drive was capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley. The Lions took a 35-31 lead with 13:41 remaining on the clock. The Lions’ defense was able to hold Wisconsin on the following drive and added a Tyler Davis field goal with just five minutes left in the game to give Penn State a 38-31 lead. The defense needed one more play on the final series of the game, when the Badgers faced a critica[...]
These Nittany Lions have been called many things in the past five years. You can add another name to that list: Champions.
Most people wrote their redemptions stories (and requisite “how dare you be happy for your team” stories) last week. I wanted to wait until everything was said and done to write mine. I wanted to say “Big Ten Champion Penn State” before I said anything else. And here we are.
We all know how it all started. And we all have dozens of opinions on the matter. What there aren’t, however, are minds to be changed. So let’s not dwell on that part.
Let’s instead talk about how Penn State found itself with 15 less players in the summer of 2012. Let’s talk about how Penn State found itself with a decimated recruiting class in 2012 and 2013, and a still-handicapped class in 2014. By the time the sanctions were lifted in 2014, Penn State was down to the 40s in available scholarship players. Practices had to be altered, for multiple years, just to avoid the risk of injuring the few available players on the team.
But that was the bad part. The good part is that on that fateful day, a group of seniors made their pledge. They decided to stick with the program through thick and thin. They gave their commitment to a little known coach, whose greatest accomplishment was getting into a public argument with Tom Brady. But they weren’t the only ones. A group of recruits also gave their commitments to said coach, knowing full well that they wouldn’t see the postseason in their entire careers, and they didn’t care. They kept the team afloat. When that coach left, and our current coach took over, a few more recruits over the next three years made sure that these Nittany Lions did not endure a single losing season. No matter how ugly it got, no matter how much criticism they received, no matter circumstance, these players found a way to come out on the better side of it. When the voices got loudest, this team focused most.
Yes, a game was played today. And yeah, the Lions got worked early, falling big to Wisconsin in the first half. And as always, the second half proved to be the difference maker for the Lions. Wisconsin tried to come back with the same game plan, but the Lions were having none of it. The 14-point lead the Badgers worked so hard to get in the first half suddenly evaporated in the third quarter, and before you knew it, the Badgers were the ones playing nervous and skittish. When it was all said and done, Penn State outscored Wisconsin 24-3 in the second half.
All of that is inconsequential, however. This game was the icing on the cake. This game was just the culmination of everything these players have been through. This game was the reward for the perseverance everyone on this program has shown over the past five years. This game was, in no small terms, a message to the world that Penn State is here. They took the hits, and are now ready to hit back.
Penn State’s future will be decided on Sunday. They’ll either play in the College Football Playoff, or they’ll get the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl. Regardless, Penn State will be playing in a bowl game that none of us would have imagined possible before the season, or after the Pitt loss, or after the Michigan loss. Penn State will have a 2016 on Beaver Stadium and a Big Ten trophy in the case to remember for years to come. And that, my friends, is all that matters.
And this is just the beginning.