Penn State’s James Franklin focuses on problem at RT, believes K Tyler Davis will rebound

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Tackling the O-line issue

As reported by John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times, Penn State coach James Franklin believes his offensive line’s problems start at right tackle.

Chasz Wright started the season’s first three games there, and Andrew Nelson started against Iowa. But redshirt freshman Will Fries replaced Nelson against the Hawkeyes and started last week against Indiana, while Nelson did not dress because of an undisclosed injury.

Wright saw some time against the Hoosiers, but Franklin intimated during his regular weekly news conference Tuesday that he too continues to be dogged by ill health. Wright is listed as the first-stringer at that position for the  game Saturday at Northwestern, and Franklin can only hope that the line finds its footing.

As he said, per McGonigal:

“All five (linemen) have to be playing at a high level or people would say the O-line is not doing as well as they should.”

Kicking quandary

As noted by Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record, Franklin also said Tuesday he is feeling better about kicker Tyler Davis, who is just 5-for-11 on field goals after missing just 2 of 32 attempts in his first season and a half as the regular. Franklin said some “correctable” errors resulted in two attempts being blocked this season, and expressed confidence that Davis will turn things around.

Sibling rivalries

Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com points out that two sets of siblings will be on opposite sidelines this Saturday. The twin brother of Penn State punter Blake Gillikin, Tyler, is Northwestern’s starting long snapper, and the brother of Penn State holder Billy Fessler, Charlie, is a backup wide receiver for the Wildcats.

What would Joe Paterno have done?

Pickel’s Pennlive.com partner, David Jones, revisits the video posted to social media last week by Nittany Lions cornerback Lamont Wade, in which Wade expressed support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his protest of police brutality. Some Penn State fans, Jones writes, responded by saying Franklin needs to exert more control over his players, as they believe the late Joe Paterno would have done. Jones argues otherwise, pointing out that Paterno welcomed debate and dissent and that he was always up for a healthy give-and-take.

Defensive dominance

Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the success of the Nittany Lions’ defense has largely been overshadowed by the explosive offense. Penn State, third in the FBS in points allowed (9.4) and 13th in yards yielded (289.2), is the only FBS team to hold opponents scoreless in the first quarter to date. But the defenders have yet to garner many headlines. “It doesn’t really matter, as long as we win,” middle linebacker Jason Cabinda said, per Molinari. “I think that’s the best thing about this team. We’re selfless.”

Field hockey team drops to No. 5

According to the university’s website, the field hockey team, off to a 10-2 start, dropped a spot to No. 5 in the weekly National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, despite weekend victories over Michigan State and Kent State. Connecticut, Duke, Virginia and Michigan occupy the top four spots.

Nifty netminder

Senior Hannah Ehresmann was named College Hockey America Goalie of the Week,  according to the university website, after she turned aside 60 of 61 shots while the Penn State’s women’s ice hockey team split a pair of games at No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth last weekend.

Sean Spencer’s salute

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer, who long ago dubbed his guys “Wild Dogs,” tweeted out a salute to two of his former proteges, the Detroit Lions’ Anthony Zettel and the Cleveland Browns’ Carl Nassib, who are enjoying NFL success.

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