PSU's Hill, Carter questionable for Nebraska game
Penn State may have to win at Nebraska for the first time since 1981 without one of its top defensive players and one of its leading receivers.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill and tight end Kyle Carter are “day to day,” coach Bill O'Brien said Tuesday.
Hill sprained his left knee Saturday at Purdue, while Carter didn't make the trip to West Lafayette, Ind., after hurting his ankle in an Oct. 27 loss to Ohio State.
“Probably that will be a later-in-the-week decision whether they will play or not,” O'Brien said at his weekly news conference.
Penn State may be deepest along its defensive line, but the loss of Hill would be significant.
The 6-foot-1, 298-pounder is fourth on the team with 45 tackles, including four for losses, and also has 2 1⁄2 sacks and an interception.
Nebraska will be Hill's final road game at Penn State, and outside linebacker Michael Mauti said Hill is “itching” to play in the 3:30 p.m. contest.
Carter, second on the team in catches (35) and receiving yards (441), is trying to return after missing the first game of his career.
O'Brien said each player was “able to do some things” Monday, but he did not elaborate.
RB competition continues
Zach Zwinak rushed for a career-high 134 yards on 21 carries at Purdue.
His big day does not necessarily mean he will make a second consecutive start when Penn State visits Nebraska.
“That will be a competition every week,” O'Brien said of the situation at running back. “Really, that's what we try to do at every position.”
Zwinak leads Penn State in rushing with 545 yards, and he averaged 6.4 yards per carry in Penn State's 34-9 win at Purdue.
Sophomore Bill Belton, who opened the season as the starter, did not get a carry against the Boilermakers and was in for one play.
O'Brien said he was not trying to get Belton's attention by using him so sparingly.
“From Day One that I arrived here, we've talked to our guys about the importance of practice and producing in practice,” O'Brien said. “Everything you get is earned on the practice field, so there's no message being sent. You practice to compete and get ready for games, and life is about competition. We try and compete every day and then we try to be as fair as we can be as coaches, (and) tell the players who are starting or playing important roles, why they're playing.”
Reserve running back Curtis Dukes won't play Saturday after sustaining a concussion on the opening kickoff at Purdue. ... O'Brien on freshman tight end Jesse James, a South Allegheny graduate. “He has unlimited potential. We're really expecting big things from Jesse in the next in the next few games and the next few things.” ... Running back Michael Zordich on what he remembers from the Nebraska game last year, which came after the arrest of Jerry Sandusky and the firing of coach Joe Paterno: “We lost.”
Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.