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Penn State notebook: Knee injury worrisome for Hill

| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Penn State's Bill O'Brien is guardedly optimistic that he hasn't coached defensive tackle Jordan Hill for the final time.

The 6-foot-1, 292-pound senior left Penn State's 34-9 win over Purdue on Saturday in the second quarter with what was officially ruled a sprained left knee.

O'Brien said it is too early to determine the extent of Hill's injury, but he added that he does not believe it is a torn ACL.

“He's moving around, so we'll have to see,” O'Brien said.

When asked if there is any chance Hill tore his ACL, O'Brien said, “Right now I would say no, but I don't know.”

Hill, one of Penn State's best players and a future NFL draft pick, appeared to have his knee rolled upon by a teammate, and he stayed down on the turf.

Teammates were visibly concerned as medical personnel tended to Hill, and not just because of how valuable he is to the defense.

“He's a great player, a better person off the field,” senior cornerback Stephon Morris said. “Anytime you lose a person like that it definitely hurts, but we just kept fighting for him.”

Staking his claim

Zach Zwinak almost certainly earned a start at Nebraska after rushing for a game-high 134 yards on 21 carries.

It was the redshirt sophomore's third 100-yard game of the season, and it came after Zwinak got the starting nod over Bill Belton.

Belton got in for just one play Saturday, and the sophomore did not have a carry. O'Brien indicated that Belton has to do a better job of fighting for carries in the days leading up to games.

“You've got to earn it on the practice field, and I felt like (Zwinak) deserved the start; I was up front with Billy about that,” O'Brien said. “I like Billy. I think Billy's going to be a starter again at some point because he's going to fight and compete.”

Belton entered the season as the No. 1 running back, but an ankle sprain sidelined the 5-10, 196-pounder for three games.

He rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago at Iowa, but he was ineffective against Ohio State, and Belton was replaced as a kickoff returner at Purdue by Alex Kenney.

Extra points

Running back Curtis Dukes sustained a concussion while covering the opening kickoff and did not return. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong had to leave several times because of a shoulder that popped out. He said he has been dealing with a rotator cuff injury since September and may need surgery after the season. ... True freshman quarterback Steve Bench played in his second game, replacing starter Matt McGloin at the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter. ... Outside linebacker Gerald Hodges tied a career high with three tackles for losses.

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

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