Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields had a message for fans Wednesday night: Last week’s fourth quarter won’t happen again.
“We’ll finish way stronger,” he said after practice. “It’ll be a more complete game.”
After surrendering four touchdowns to Appalachian State in the final 15 minutes of regulation last Saturday, Castro-Fields intimated that this team isn’t panicking. It’s been here before, after all.
Last season the Nittany Lions barely slipped past Iowa in overtime before winning three straight games by an average of four touchdowns. The year before, it stood at 2-2 in the standings before rattling off nine straight victories.
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One bad quarter in Week 1? “You can blame nerves or whatever it is,” Castro-Fields said. “But now we kind of know what it is to expect.”
Castro-Fields and the rest of these Nittany Lions are looking at last Saturday’s game as a minor bump in the road. Linebacker Koa Farmer explained it away by saying, “The first game’s always weird.” Defensive end Shareef Miller said the performance was the result of shaking off rust.
Besides nerves, Castro-Fields had another explanation.
“I think it’s just seeing another opponent for the first time,” he said, “because we go against the offense every day and we’ve been inside that stadium before. But seeing another opponent in that stadium, in front of 107,000, it’s kind of different.”
Call them invalid excuses or valid reasons, but the fact is that Penn State still believes last week’s fourth quarter is a disparity that won’t follow it to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Castro-Fields and the Nittany Lions are confident.
Allowing four TDs in the final quarter is something Penn State’s defense has never before done under James Franklin. And Castro-Fields said it wouldn’t happen again, especially against Pitt this Saturday.
“From Week 1 to Week 2 is where teams make their biggest jump,” Castro-Fields said. “So I think that’s the biggest reason.”