Penn State's trip to Purdue this week probably couldn't come at a better time for an offensive line that struggled in a 35-23 loss to Ohio State.
Penn State managed just 38 yards rushing against the Buckeyes, while Matt McGloin was sacked four times and hit or hurried on numerous other occasions.
“They blitzed a significant amount,” Nittany Lions right guard John Urschel said. “They brought a decent amount of twists, slants, but as offensive linemen we need to be able to pick these things up. We'll look at the film on Monday and see where we made mistakes, where we can improve.”
Purdue looms as a get-well game, especially for the offensive line. The Boilermakers are free-falling, having lost four in a row, and they are 11th in the Big Ten in total defense (408.4 yards per game) and rushing defense (194.5).
Purdue played unbeaten Notre Dame tough and led Ohio State by eight points in the fourth quarter before falling in overtime.
The Boilermakers also have a potential first-round NFL draft pick in 6-foot-3, 315-pound defensive tackle Kawann Short.
For Penn State to get back to its winning ways, coach Bill O'Brien has to straighten out the offensive line.
“I have to think of something I can do better to help that offensive line with different schemes,” O'Brien said. “They're hurting, and they're going to really work hard to try and improve between now and Purdue.”
Penn State lost some hidden yardage in the third quarter against Ohio State when Adrian Amos intercepted a Braxton Miller pass and fell to the Beaver Stadium turf on the Buckeyes' 44-yard line.
The sophomore cornerback, who is also a kickoff returner, had plenty of running room in front of him, but he opted to play it safe and make sure he secured the first interception by a Penn State defensive back this season.
“Mostly, I was surprised where the ball was thrown,” Amos said.
Four plays later, with Penn State trailing, 14-10, O'Brien opted for a fake punt from the 43. Punter Alex Butterworth's pass to reserve running back Derek Day fell incomplete. That proved to be a turning point, not that O'Brien second-guessed the decision.
“I was just trying to make a play there,” O'Brien said. “I felt like at that point and time we wanted to try and get something going. We had it. We just didn't execute it as well as we could.”
Tight end Kyle Carter led all receivers with six catches for 77 yards Saturday, but the redshirt freshman had only one reception for 5 yards in the first three quarters. ... Outside linebacker Mike Hull, a Canon-McMillan graduate, on his blocked punt that accounted for Penn State's first touchdown: “It kind of opened up like the Red Sea.”... True freshman receiver Trevor Williams made his first career start Saturday and caught one pass for 8 yards.
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.