Penn State Football

Penn State football notes: Ficken is Nittany Lions’ best weapon

Penn State's Sam Ficken made four field goals on Saturday, three of those coming beyond 40 yards, in the Nittany Lions’ 20-19 loss to Maryland.
Penn State's Sam Ficken made four field goals on Saturday, three of those coming beyond 40 yards, in the Nittany Lions’ 20-19 loss to Maryland. CDT photo

Sam Ficken’s right foot has been Penn State’s most dangerous offensive weapon for quite a while now.

Ficken, who has made nine straight field goals over the last four games, has outscored Penn State's offense 30-18 in that span. Against Maryland on Saturday, Ficken was as accurate as ever. He drilled kicks down the middle from 48, 47 and 46 yards and added a 25-yarder despite breezy conditions where wind gusts reached 25 miles per hour.

And he did so for the second straight week with a new holder. Punter Chris Gulla handled holding duties, a job Ryan Keiser usually does. Keiser is out for the season with a rib and bowel injury.

“He’s been playing extremely well,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I’ve said that to you in the spring. I said that in the summer. You’re talking about a veteran player who’s seen it, done it and that shows up on the field.”

And Ficken’s name is showing up higher and higher on Penn State’s career points-getters list.

Ficken has 47 field goals in his career and is tied for third place with Travis Forney. He’s sixth on Penn State’s points scored list with 239 and within striking distance of fifth-place Lydell Mitchell (246). Ficken passed Curtis Enis (230) and mentor Robbie Gould (232) on Saturday.

Gould helped Ficken turn his career around by giving him numerous pointers following a disastrous game back in 2012 against Virginia.

Ficken said he talks to Gould, the Chicago Bears’ kicker, weekly now.

“There were tough times and obviously I had some doubts at points but the kind of person that I am, I felt like I could’ve handled anything,” Ficken said.

His confidence is showing.

Edsall apologizes for players’ refusal to shake hands

Maryland coach Randy Edsall immediately addressed his players’ refusal to shake hands with Penn State before the coin toss.

“First of all let me just start off by saying that I want to apologize to Penn State fans, to their team, their university for what took place at the beginning of the game,” Edsall said. “That is not who we are. Our emotions got the best of us, and we’ve got to be above that.”

Penn State captains Christian Hackenberg, Jesse Della Valle and C.J. Olaniyan reached out to shake hands with the Maryland captains P.J. Gallo, Sean Davis and Stefon Diggs, who chose not to take part in the typical act of sportsmanship.

“I actually went up to one kid’s hand and he shook his head at me,” Hackenberg said.

“I think that they tried to send a message,” Hackenberg added. “That’s not how we do it. I don’t really know what to think of it.”

Edsall said he felt bad about the display by the Terrapins.

“They decided to start the game that way,” Franklin said. “That’s their prerogative. I’ve never been a part of that. In 20 years, I’ve never seen that before.”

Gallo, one of the captains, addressed the incident after the game.

“We got to keep our composure,” Gallo said. “It wasn’t a smart decision. It’s something that could cost us the game and we got to be smarter than that.”

When he and teammate Jermaine Carter were asked what the Maryland players were trying to accomplish by not shaking hands, a Maryland sports information director interrupted and said “next question” three times — refusing to allow the players to answer.

Punishment unclear

Franklin did not say specifically what would happen to four players who were charged with criminal mischief after they allegedly egged a campus building Thursday night, only guaranteeing “it will be” fixed.

Center Wendy Laurent, tight end Brent Wilkerson, defensive end Garrett Sickels and defensive back Anthony Smith were cited for egging Beaver Hall and all but Smith — who hasn’t played this season — played against Maryland. Laurent started the game.

“Obviously, I don’t want our guys getting in trouble for anything and we talked about making great choices all the time,” Franklin said. “I also know that they threw eggs. It needs to be addressed and it will be addressed with a lot of different things starting tonight and throughout the week. It will be addressed with them, it will be addressed with their families because we’re not going to do anything to embarrass the university, embarrass our program and things like that. But I also know they’re kids and they make mistakes.

“There’s a lot of problems going on right now in our society. There’s a lot of problems going on in college athletics. Throwing eggs is a little bit farther down the totem pole in my opinion but it still needs to be addressed.”

Quick hits

Jesse James set a record for most touchdowns in a career by a tight end with 11. The old record was held by Ted Kwalick. … DaeSean Hamilton broke the freshman single season receiving yardage record and has 728 yards on the season. Deon Butler held the previous mark with 691. … Marcus Allen led the team with 11 tackles. … Allen, Austin Johnson, Garrett Sickels, Tyrone Smith and Carl Nassib all had sacks. … Deion Barnes led Penn State with two sacks.

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