Penn State football notebook: Nebraska coach Pelini colorful after victory

For the CDTNovember 24, 2013 

— Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has been known, at times, for his colorful comments.

The fiery coach with the ever-present sideline scowl had plenty to rant about during and after his Cornhuskers’ 23-20 overtime win.

One play in particular raised Pelini’s ire.

With Penn State leading 20-17 in the fourth quarter, Nebraska faced a first-and-10 at its own 38-yard line.

Ameer Abdullah took a handoff off left tackle and burst free down the sideline for an apparent 62-yard touchdown run.

As Abdullah ran inside the 10-yard line, wide receiver Sam Burtch trailed the play and seemingly leveled a shoulder-to-shoulder block on Adrian Amos. That elicited a yellow flag from the side judge and an extended outburst from Pelini, who ventured far outside the coaching box to express his displeasure.

After the officials huddled, the referee announced a personal foul for unnecessary roughness against Burtch.

The call was crucial at the time for Penn State, as the Nittany Lions held the Cornhuskers to a tying field goal on the drive.

Asked about the call after the game, Pelini was relatively restrained.

“He said it was unnecessary,” the coach said.

Another play that Pelini couldn’t have been pleased with was Jesse James’ 46-yard touchdown catch. James was rumbling down the far sideline when Nebraska safety Corey Cooper attempted to tackle James. James shrugged off the seemingly half-hearted tackle attempt and ran into the end zone for a score.

Pelini seemed to emphasize with Cooper’s attempted tackle.

“He was right there. I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him about it. I think he might have thought he was going to get a penalty,” he said. “I lost a football game in the NFL like that, exactly like that. We got knocked out of the playoffs on a play like that. Trust me, Coop was turning down a chance to tackle.”

But, it wouldn’t have been a Pelini news conference without at least one comment that raised an eyebrow.

Quarterback Ron Kellogg III took a big hit from linebacker Mike Hull near the goal line and seeming wobbly afterward. When asked about it, Pelini gave a response indicative of his personality.

“He is fine, you would never know he got hit,” the coach said of his quarterback. “Maybe it will knock some sense into him.”

Over and over, and over again

In the long history of Big Ten football, only two teams have played three overtime games in a season. On Saturday, Penn State joined Wisconsin with that distinction.

The Badgers had two overtime games at home last season, and one on the road. All three overtime games for the Nittany Lions have been in Beaver Stadium.

In elite company

When Allen Robinson gathered in a pass from Christian Hackenberg and gained 43 yards in the third quarter, it marked his ninth catch of season for 40 yards or longer.

With that catch, he tied Bobby Engram for second with 167 career catches.

Robinson ended the game with eight catches for 106 yards, moving him into sole possession of second place with 169 career receptions. Deon Butler is at the top of the list with 179 from 2005-08.

Another Hall of Famer

Former Penn State end Dave Robinson was honored at halftime in recognition of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Robinson is the sixth Nittany Lion to be enshrined.

Lehman a captain?

In what some viewed as a surprise move, injured tight end Matt Lehman joined Glenn Carson, DaQuan Jones and Garry Gilliam as team captains for Saturday’s game.

Since the honor has been reserved for seniors, and Lehman had intended to apply for a sixth year of eligibility, his inclusion was curious.

Coach Bill O’Brien revealed why it happened after the game.

“Lehman probably won't get a sixth year, so I decided to make him a captain today. I couldn't think of a better guy to make a captain today,” he said. “He has missed this year. I just wanted to let him go out there and do the coin toss.”

Kenney not recognized

Earlier this week, when Penn State announced the players who would be recognized during Senior Day festivities, State College’s Alex Kenney was among them.

However, when the players were announced before the game, Kenney’s name wasn’t included.

O’Brien explained why.

“That was a personal discussion that Alex and I had. He is a great kid and I will leave that between Alex and I. I believe he is going to run track here at Penn State and he will do a great job running track. He has done everything we have asked him to do here at Penn State in the football program,” he said.

A tackling machine

Linebacker Glenn Carson once again led Penn State in tackles with 10 against the Cornhuskers. That gave him 256 for his career, which is tied for 12th all-time at Penn State with Trey Bauer (1984-87).

Carson needs one tackle against Wisconsin to move into the top 10. Andre Collins and Drew Astorino are tied for 10th with 257 each.

Belton sidelined

Running back Bill Belton didn’t suit up for Saturday’s game. O’Brien said a combination of factors led to that decision.

The coach said the junior running back was nursing a shoulder injury. In addition, he has a case of strep throat.

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