Penn State offensive line steps up game at pivotal time
College Football Videos
It took 10 games into the season — and an overmatched opponent. But the Penn State offensive line is finally living the dream of fully realized potential.
“We were having a blast,” guard John Urschel said of the line against Purdue this past Saturday. “That was an offensive lineman's dream.”
While the Boilermakers (1-9) hardly are a fair measure, the Nittany Lions' offensive line has put together its best three-game stretch of the season heading into a game against Nebraska on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
“It seems like all of the sudden they're clicking on all cylinders,” fullback Pat Zerbe said.
Since a 63-14 loss at Ohio State that was easily its worst performance of the season (not unlike just about every other unit on the team), Penn State's offensive line has paved the way for some numbers.
Over the course of beating Illinois Nov. 2, losing at Minnesota the following week and the Purdue game, the Lions have averaged 243 rushing yards per game and allowed just two sacks.
In the three conference games before that, Penn State's offense produced an average of 91.7 rushing yards and its quarterback was sacked nine times. Even when factoring in nonconference opponents (two of which were very weak), the statistics most affected by the offensive line have vastly improved. Until this recent three-game stretch, the Lions were averaging 151.9 rushing yards and 2.7 sacks against (19 total) per game.
Other statistics that could, indirectly at least, show the line's improvement over the past three games:
• Penn State had just two rushing touchdowns its first three conference games and eight in the three since.
• The Lions netted minus-116 yards (38.7 per game) on the carries in which they lost yardage in setbacks to Indiana and Ohio State and a win against Michigan in October; they've lost just 17 (5.6 per game) in the three weeks since.
• Along those lines — and arguably most telling in conveying the push the line has been getting in the run game — Penn State's running backs have had just four carries that netted negative yards over the past three games.
“Since the beginning of the year we've been trying to keep growing and getting better as an offensive line and as a unit,” center Ty Howle said. “I feel like our offensive line is playing better, and we're trying to keep improving.”
With 47 starts between its members prior to this season (albeit 11 of which by Garry Gilliam had come at tight end), the offensive line entered 2013 as the most experienced unit on the team. Three full-time starters returned, and the top eight on the depth chart are all at least in their third season.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former SA star Wojciechowski still shooting on the basketball floor
- Senior designs Armstrong cross country course
- Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
- Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
- Charges held against 3 in McKeesport business robbery
- Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
- Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
- Alcoa among 13 firms in $140B carbon-footprint pledge
- ‘Real’ people, solutions at heart of GOP ad blitz in Pa.
- Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
- Gunbattle kills 21 at Afghan wedding party