Penn State will be without two starters for the Rose Bowl.
Nittany Lion wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and linebacker Manny Bowen have been suspended for violation of team rules, Penn State announced Wednesday afternoon. Neither Blacknall nor Bowen will be available when No. 5 Penn State faces No. 9 Southern California at 5 p.m. on Monday.
A specific reason for the suspensions were not offered.
While they will not be playing in the Rose Bowl, both Bowen and Blacknall are with the team. They were practicing with the Nittany Lions on Wednesday at the LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center complex.
Penn State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry, when asked about Bowen, said his suspension is a learning experience for the entire team.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Pry said Wednesday. “If we could have everybody learn from those mistakes, we’ll be better for it.”
With Bowen not in the lineup, Koa Farmer will start in his place. Farmer, a southern California native, has recorded 27 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, this season.
Junior linebacker Jason Cabinda is happy for Farmer, who made a key sack in the Big Ten Championship win over Wisconsin.
“We’re confident in him,” Cabinda said. “He’s made plays for us all year.”
Despite Penn State’s talent at both wide receiver and linebacker, the suspensions of Blacknall and Bowen are sure to have an impact.
Blacknall missed five games due to injury, but became a valuable piece to Penn State’s explosive offense down the stretch. The junior had 13 catches for 323 receiving yards (24.8 yards per catch) in the Nittany Lions’ last seven games, including a stellar performance in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin (six catches, 155 yards, two touchdowns).
Bowen has started 12 of 13 games this season, recording 68 tackles (tied for fourth-most on the team). The sophomore linebacker especially played well the last couple games with nine tackles against Michigan State and six when facing the Badgers.
However, Bowen’s absence hasn’t fazed the Nittany Lion defense. Pry said his unit has been through plenty of adversity this year already and will adjust accordingly.
“We’re used to that right now to be honest,” Pry said. “I’m a Manny Bowen fan, and he’s had a really good year for us. But we just keep rolling. It’s a rallying cry for our group. There really wasn’t any flinching in the room.”