Defensive end Shareef Miller grew a little quiet when the subject of his teammate was broached.
Miller was one of the many Nittany Lions who took a knee around midfield when fellow starting end Torrence Brown crumpled to the turf late in the first quarter and couldn’t get up. James Franklin reminded the media he doesn’t offer injury updates — players said they didn’t know what the extent of the injury was anyway — but Brown needed to be carted off the field. And Miller naturally showed concern shortly after the game.
“I was kind of upset Torrence went down because me and him are real close,” Miller said. “We’re like brothers. So that’s kind of tough seeing him go down — but we got the next-man-up mentality, and the young guys stepped up and they played a huge part. They did real well.”
Franklin said he’s “hopeful” Brown will return in time for the next game. But he’s used those words before, when players have missed several weeks.
Really, right now, there’s no way to know the extent of Brown’s injury. But teammates said after Saturday’s game that, no matter what happens, they’ll be prepared for it.
“We got a lot of depth, to be honest,” safety Marcus Allen said. “We got Shareef Miller going crazy. We got (defensive tackles) Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran; those guys are big. Our D-line is crazy; I ain’t going to lie to you.
“As far as Torrence being out, that’s our brother and we look up to him, and we definitely got to play for him.”
Allen wasn’t exaggerating. The players behind Brown — Ryan Buchholz, Shaka Tony, Shane Simmons, Yetur Gross-Matos — have all shown flashes so far this season, and all have received unprompted praise at some point in the last few weeks.
Franklin said he loved how Gross-Matos plays “recklessly” even if he doesn’t know the playbook 100 percent. Against Georgia State, he sprinted off the edge on one play, tagged the ball-carrier and refused to let go of his jersey for a half-tackle for loss. Gross-Matos recovered a fumble; Tony forced one and had 1.5 tackles for loss.
“Two guys that stick out at defensive end are Shaka and Yetur,” linebacker Brandon Smith said Saturday night. “They’re doing a lot of good things — getting to the passer in practice and the games. Really fast guys, and they have a lot of great potential.”
Miller, who’s started every game at defensive end this season, praised another end: Buchholz, who had a sack and forced fumble in the opener.
“I ain’t too worried; Buchholz is going to hold it down,” Miller said. “He’s going to do what he’s going to do.”
None of the Nittany Lions wanted to see their friend and teammate go down in the first quarter. But they’re confident, no matter the extent of the injury, they’ll be OK as a team — and Brown will be around regardless.
Franklin said that Brown helped break the team down in the locker room. And both Allen and Franklin said he was on the field in the second half.
“We don’t know the injury report right now,” Allen said. “So, hopefully, we got him back for this game (Iowa) and, as far as the depth, the young guys go crazy too. Those boys are athletically gifted.”