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Penn State football notebook: Road trip could provide calming influence

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By Scott Brown
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, 11:06 p.m.
 

A film review from a 35-23 loss to Ohio State led one of the most analytical thinkers on Penn State's football team to conclude that the offensive line's struggles stemmed from something rather simple.

“I think we got too excited for the game, to be quite honest,” said starting right guard John Urschel, a 4.0 student who graduated in three years with a degree in mathematics.

The offensive line played its worst game of the season in the loss that snapped a five-game winning streak. Several players said after the game that communication issues hindered the line.

Fixing those problems has been an emphasis in practice, as the line will be tested at Purdue, particularly if senior defensive tackle Kawann Short (ankle) plays.

One factor the offensive line probably won't have to contend with at Purdue is the kind of crowd noise that had Beaver Stadium rocking last Saturday. The Boilermakers have been averaging fewer than 50,000 fans per game — less than half the number of people who crammed into Beaver Stadium for the Ohio State game.

Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin said fans were so loud that he had to use a silent snap count at times — something that is unheard of for home teams. Urschel said the excitement and energy generated by Penn State's biggest game of the year may have worked against the offensive line.

“Some positions do extremely well, high on emotion, but I believe offensive line to be one of the position groups where it's important to be into the game, but at the same time, you have to be somewhat collected and aware of what's going on,” Urschel said. “You have to be excited for the game, but at the same time you have to be mentally sharp.”

Deconstructing the Ohio State loss is something Penn State coach Bill O'Brien declined to do during his weekly news conference.

“We turned the page on Monday,” he said. “We've moved on to Purdue.”

On the mend

Redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Carter (foot) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. Listed as probable for the 3:30 p.m. game, Penn State's second-leading receiver practiced with his left ankle taped.

“We'll have to monitor him at the end of the week and see how he can cut and do certain things,” O'Brien said.

If Carter is unable to play, Garry Gilliam, Matt Lehman and Jesse James, a true freshman from South Allegheny, would have expanded roles.

O'Brien said kicker Sam Ficken has been dealing with a “quad issue,” which has limited the sophomore in practice.

Ficken, who had the best game of his career against Ohio State, is expected to be able to kick at Purdue.

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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