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Film study shows Penn State's flaws after loss

| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Central Florida wide receiver Rannell Hall (6) hauls in a pass as Penn State cornerback Trevor Williams (10) defends during the second quarter Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.

Like a horror-movie addict, Glenn Carson is a glutton for punishment when it comes to watching film he finds distressing.

Penn State's senior linebacker left the 34-31 loss Saturday to Central Florida “humbled,” and with a sensation in the pit of his stomach “I definitely don't want to feel again.”

Not enough to avoid re-living it, though. Like the scene from “Clockwork Orange,” Carson was eager to sit down and watch the pummeling the Knights' offense (507 total yards) gave to the Nittany Lions' defense again and again.

“For me, I know that after a loss I'm much more motivated when I'm watching (game) film,” Carson said Tuesday. “I take things more critically and really evaluate how I played moreso than after a win.”

It was back to the drawing board early this week for Penn State (2-1), which finishes its nonconference schedule 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Kent State (1-2) at Beaver Stadium. For just the fifth time in the Bill O'Brien coaching tenure, the Nittany Lions enter a week of preparation coming off a defeat. After each of the previous three, Penn State rebounded with a resounding victory (average margin: 25 points).

Like Carson, O'Brien and his assistants were more than willing to go over last weekend's loss with attention to detail.

“We watched it from every angle,” O'Brien said. “We spent a lot of time. We watched it as a staff, both sides of the ball, and special teams. That's usually what happens when you lose. You try to get together and really observe.”

O'Brien said he allows players a 12-hour “mourning period” to get over a loss. He was heartened by the player turnout at the Lasch Building football offices Sunday. Even in times of scholarship reductions and other NCAA sanctions, Penn State isn't accustomed to losing to teams from schools with directional names.

“The feeling of that loss, you've got to hate to lose more than you want to win — and I think that that loss was humbling to us,” Carson said.

“So I really think that this could be a blessing in disguise. It could help us later on down the road.”

The Lions will be heavily favored in their next two games before an October gauntlet of Michigan and at Ohio State. With no fewer than 11 freshmen playing significant roles who are faced with adversity for the first time, O'Brien preached a stay-the-course mantra.

“We don't overreact” O'Brien said more than once.

“We're not changing.”

That was reflected in the depth chart, where no significant adjustments were made. Notably, sophomore cornerbacks Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas — first-year starters who were frequently targeted by UCF quarterback Blake Bortles as the Knights racked up 288 passing yards — were given a vote of confidence by O'Brien.

Further, on each occasion he was asked about the Lions' defense during his weekly teleconference Tuesday, O'Brien made sure he mentioned the offense and special teams and how all facets of the team must improve.

The message seems to be resonating with the players.

“We've got to continue to lift each other up, and we've all got to play better,” junior safety Ryan Keiser said. “It's a learning experience; we all have to learn from it and move on.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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