— Story by PSU Insider Brian Tripp @psuTripp
Despite back-to-back wins over previously unbeaten opponents, Penn State’s bye week came at the right time as the Nittany Lions conclude a three game homestand on Saturday against #2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes escaped with a 30-23 overtime win at Wisconsin this weekend and will be in the primetime spotlight again at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
With the bye, Penn State’s injury-ravaged defense could get much needed reinforcements. There’s a chance we could learn more tomorrow during head coach James Franklin’s weekly press conference, but most questions probably won’t be answered until Saturday night. At linebacker Franklin said Jason Cabinda and Brandon Bell are both expected back at some point this season. If it’s Saturday night, their presence would provide a huge jolt to the defense. Brandon Smith, Manny Bowen, Cam Brown and Koa Farmer have grown in their roles on the defense during the starters’ absence, but Cabinda and Bell are two of the Lions’ top players. Wisconsin’s elite defense was holding opponents to just over 12 points per game prior to Ohio State’s 30-point outburst on Saturday night.
Besides the linebackers, dinged-up safety Malik Golden, cornerback Amani Oruwariye, cornerback Grant Haley, wide receiver Brandon Polk and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall should also benefit from the bye week to continue recovery from injuries. Additionally, Penn State has had time to reevaluate its offensive line and determine the best replacement for tackle Andrew Nelson, who suffered an apparent season-ending knee injury against Maryland.
Otherwise, Penn State’s bye week was relatively uneventful. That’s typically a good thing. Here are some other news and notes from over the weekend.
– Ben Jones from Statecollege.com reviewed Penn State’s new virtual reality program. It sounds like a good purchase for fans, providing exclusive content in a relatively new format. Penn State plans to launch the program in its entirety soon.
– Franklin was inducted into the East Stroudsburg University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon. Franklin was a standout quarterback while playing at ESU and returned to his alma mater for one year as a coach in the mid-1990s. Local television station WNEP had coverage of his return.
– Penn State kicker Joey Julius was featured on Good Morning America and ESPN after publicly releasing details about his battle with a binge-eating disorder.
– Finally, I ran a poll on Twitter on Friday asking fans to vote for their favorite current Penn State football player. To no surprise, Saquon Barkley was the overwhelming champion.
Curious. Who is your favorite active Penn State football player? If someone else, please list.
— Brian Tripp (@psuTripp) October 14, 2016