With the Penn State Nittany Lions off again this week before stating the second half of their schedule, I figured it was a good time to sit back and reflect on what I’ve seen so far through the first six games of 2013. I have had the great opportunity to cover this team from the press box and the field during every home game.
The first thing I can say about the 2013 Nittany Lions is that they are unselfish and do everything for the betterment of the team. Starting back in spring practice, several players were asked to move positions in order to help with some depth issues on the roster. Adrian Amos, Trevor Williams, Garry Gilliam and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong are just a few of the players who have moved positions from last season.
Perhaps no more has this unselfishness been shown than in the backfield. Penn State has three capable running backs in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch. Zwinak and Belton both started last year, while Lynch is a redshirt freshman. All three backs have been the leading rusher at some point in each of the team’s first six games.
There’s no way I could reflect on the games so far without mentioning the play of quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Though only a true freshman, he’s played very well and has proven that he’s got what it takes to lead the Nittany Lions to victory. Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way, but all things considered, Hackenberg is off to a brilliant start in his collegiate career.
Another thing that I’ve noticed this season is the fact that these guys are fighters and don’t give up (ok, so I had to throw in a reference to O’Brien’s “fighters” comment).
After being dominated at home the entire game against Central Florida, the Nittany Lions fought hard and still had an opportunity to try to win late in the game.
In its only road game of the season, Penn State was upset for the first time ever by the Indiana Hoosiers. There’s no question the loss at Indiana was a bad one, as the defense had trouble stopping the Hoosiers all day and the offense struggled to get anything going, especially on the ground. Based on how the Nittany Lions looked during that loss, it was difficult to imagine them defeating the unbeaten Michigan Wolverines the following week. However, that’s exactly what happened.
Watching Penn State storm back after being down double-digits in the fourth quarter and persevering through missed field goals and turnovers in four overtimes made me realize that great things are happening in Happy Valley. I stood on the field and just stared at the crowd, watching the jubilation on everyone’s face and listening to their loud roars.
For me, the first half of the season sort of sums up what’s happened at Penn State over the last two years. Although there’s adversity, the Nittany Lions find a way to fight through it and come out on top.
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