Glenn Carson and his teammates are always looking to rip the football from their opponents’ hands.
It is constantly stressed in practice. The team does multiple fumble drills and ball security exercises every week. Saturday against Purdue, all those fumble and turnover drill reps paid off.
Penn State’s defense forced three turnovers and stopped Purdue another time on fourth down. The Nittany Lion offense took advantage, turning two Boilermaker fumbles and another interception into 21 points in a 45-21 win.
“We haven’t created many turnovers this year and we’ve turned the ball over. Which we did again today,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said. “But our defense came to play again today and they created some good turnovers and we were able to take advantage of them. It was good to see. I think the defense played a good football game.”
Most of those turnovers came due to heavy pressure Penn State applied on true freshman quarterback Danny Etling.
Etling’s fifth career start turned out like his first four thanks to an at-times vicious Penn State pass rush. The rookie quarterback, who had been sacked 13 times in the last three games was taken down six times by the Nittany Lions. Before he was sacked at all, he was jarred by Carson who flew up the middle on a blitz and drilled him as he released an incomplete deep pass.
“We knew coming in that they were going to run some boots and I just didn’t bite on the play-action fake,” Carson said. “It just looked like the line didn’t sell it well enough and I was able to read it and just took my shot on the quarterback and was able to get a pretty good hit on him.”
Adrian Amos, DaQuan Jones, Deion Barnes, Austin Johnson and Carl Nassib all contributed sacks or partial sacks in the win. Barnes and Wartman forced the fumbles that Mike Hull and Austin Johnson recovered that turned into Penn State touchdowns.
Jordan Lucas added his team-leading third interception of the season.
“Anytime you get pressure on the quarterback you can force turnovers and that’s what we did today,” Hull said. “The defensive line came off the ball well and it helped us get turnovers.”
Another record for Robinson
Even a heavily wrapped shoulder can’t slow down Allen Robinson.
Already Penn State’s single-season receptions and receiving yardage leader, Robinson upped his own ante on Saturday with eight catches for 98 yards to push his season total to 81. He set the previous record last season with 77. His single-season record for receiving yards now stands at 1,204.
His career total of 2,246 yards has him tied for fourth on Penn State’s all-time list with Derrick Williams.
Ficken’s tackle proves crucial
Penn State players had already watched from the sideline as Raheem Mostert returned a second-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
With his team up 31-21 with plenty of game to play, Sam Ficken was determined to not let it happen again.
Ficken kicked deep to Akeem Hunt in the third quarter and Hunt, Purdue’s leading rusher and receiver, found a seam a burst upfield for a 37-yard pickup. He could’ve had more had Ficken not laid out to make a shoestring tackle.
“I never really want to get in the play,” Ficken said. “It’s never really good for the team if I’m make the tackle. Luckily, I hit the kid in the knee and got the tackle.”
McGloin to start
From walk-on quarterback at Penn State to NFL starter for the Oakland Raiders. Matt McGloin’s career arc continues to steepen.
The Raiders announced McGloin will start on Sunday in Houston when the Raiders face the Texans. O’Brien was unaware of the development as the Raiders made the announcement while Penn State was playing on Saturday.
“Having been in that league I know that it takes a smart guy, it takes a competitive guy, it takes a guy that does the same thing every day,” O’Brien said. “He works at it, he’s in the office early, he leaves late and that’s what Matt is. Everything that Matt gets he deserves because he works for it and it’s going to be fun to watch him.”
Former high school and Penn State teammate Eric Shrive said that he and several of his teammates will find a place to watch Sunday.
“I think he’s going to take this opportunity and run with it,” Shrive said. “I’ve been talking to him all week and really looking forward to the game. It’s well deserved. He’s worked real hard. Don’t be surprised if he goes out and throws for 300.
“It’s pretty unique,” he added. “I don’t know that if ever it’s been done before, at least here at Penn State, that (Stefen) Wisniewski is going to be center and he’s going to be the quarterback.”
Stuck on you
Penn State offensive lineman Garry Gilliam had a humorous moment when he and a Purdue linemen had their face masks stuck together. Officials had to call an equipment timeout to get them unstuck.
“It got stuck,” Gilliam described the situation. “A few of my teammates said they were about to start fighting because of the way we were stuck together. We got stuck and I tried to get off and he tried to get off. The referee ran over because he thought we were fighting. He said, ‘One of you guys is going to have to take your helmet off.’”
Gilliam said the two did share a few words. “I was like, ‘Yeah, too much awesomeness in one spot, huh?’ I started laughing about it.”