Penn State football notebook: Open date brings light week
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State will enjoy a relatively light week of practice after arriving at the midpoint of the season, and the off week seemingly comes at a good time as it gives players a chance to rest and get healthy.
On the other hand, Penn State has stayed mostly injury-free, and the bye comes after the team has reeled off four consecutive wins and improved every week.
“You always want to keep playing,” senior running back Michael Zordich said, “but I think this is a great time for the bye because we get a chance to rejuvenate and just get your mindset on beating Iowa. It's good for the body.”
Penn State (4-2) travels to Iowa on Oct. 20 for an 8 p.m. game. The players will get a jump on preparing for the Hawkeyes as they are scheduled to practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Coach Bill O'Brien said he will be mindful not to overwork his team.
“It won't be a bloodbath, I can tell you that,” O'Brien said. “We'll see how we practice those three days, and then we'll decide what we're going to do toward the end of the week.”
O'Brien's assistants won't get much of a break, as they will hit the road to recruit later in the week.
“We're going to go out and see games and see kids and basically spread the message, ‘Where would you rather play college football than here?'” secondary coach John Butler said. “Anybody that says anything otherwise has never been to a game here.”
Quarterback Matt McGloin is on pace to set a school record for most career 200-yard passing games.
The fifth-year senior notched his 12th such outing Saturday — his fifth this season — after throwing for 282 yards in a 39-28 win over Northwestern.
McGloin trails Daryll Clark (14), Kerry Collins (16) and Zack Mills (16) on the all-time list.
McGloin set a Penn State record with 35 completions against the Wildcats, and the Scranton native continues to leave his mark on the program he initially joined as a walk-on.
“I think (McGloin) kind of embodies what this team is all about,” Zordich said, “just a group of guys that's going to grind to get to where they need to get.”
The off week will give Bill Belton time to strengthen his ankle and reclaim his spot atop the running back rotation.
The sophomore had just four carries against Northwestern, and his role has been diminished by the emergence of Zach Zwinak.
Zwinak has rushed for 100 yards in the past two games, and he received a career-high 28 carries against Northwestern. Belton, who missed three games earlier this season because of a sprained ankle, did not play in the second half.
“Bill is coming along fine,” running backs coach Charles London said. “He is still getting over that ankle injury. He is still a big part of our group.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.