Anthony Zettel didn’t need a scouting report before Penn State’s game with Michigan State.
He certainly didn’t need to be reminded about how good the Spartan offensive line was after Michigan State’s 34-10 win at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
“They’ve got a lot of old, elite players that are really low-pads, big guys and stout guys that really come off the ball and are ready to hit you if you don’t bring your pads to them. They’re going to just bull you around so as a defensive perspective, we just tried to go out there and really deliver the blows to them, reset the line of scrimmage because every team they play they seemed to just destroy everybody.”
The Spartans didn’t demolish Penn State’s front seven as they had nearly every opponent beforehand. Michigan State entered the game averaging 246 rushing yards per game. But the Spartans did just enough behind their big, athletic, violent offensive line.
Jeremy Langford rushed for118 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns. He became just the second running back all season to eclipse 100 yards against Penn State’s top-ranked rush defense. Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 109 yards against Penn State earlier this season.
“He’s a pretty good back,” linebacker Mike Hull said of Langford. “He’s really patient. He waits for blocks to develop and runs behind those guys really well. I think a lot of it has to do with their offensive line. They don’t allow much penetration and they do a good job blocking for him.”
The Spartan offensive line -- which is made up of all upperclassmen including four seniors and two former Rimington Award candidates -- succeeded in blocking for quarterback Connor Cook, too. The Michigan State quarterback was sacked just once, pushing Michigan State’s total of sacks allowed to just 10 on the season.
“They’re a great team,” defensive end C.J. Olaniyan said. “They’re a well-coached team. They have a great offensive line … and they came out and made plays when they needed to.”
Linebackers sit out
Brandon Bell missed his second straight game with an upper body injury and his backup, true freshman Jason Cabinda also sat out with an injury, also.
Cabinda, who made his first start in place of Bell last week, got off the team bus with his left hand in a cast. As a result, Penn State shuffled its linebacker corps. Gary Wooten made his first start at middle linebacker and Mike Hull moved to the outside. Hull said he thought Wooten played well in his first extended outing.
“At first we thought it was going to be difficult but I think Gary Wooten stepped up and played MIKE,” Wartman said. “I think Mike Hull not playing WILL at all this year, just going out on the fly, one practice playing WILL, I think guys stepped up.”
Ficken takes blame
Senior kicker Sam Ficken has had plenty of ups recently after enduring the early portion of his career as a much-maligned specialist.
He didn’t have his best day on Saturday and he was the first to say so. He kicked a wobbly line drive on the game’s opening kickoff that gave his coverage team little time to get down the field after Michigan State’s R.J. Shelton who caught the ball on one hop over his head and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
“I don’t think I did a good job of tuning it out, I guess,” Ficken said of the pregame ceremony that saw 17 seniors honored. “Bad kickoff. Good return but sometimes that’s the way it goes. It’s on me. That touchdown was 100 percent on me.”
He also missed a 51-yard kick on Penn State’s first possession and said he again failed to get any lift on the ball.
Penn State honored 17 seniors before the game.
The Senior Day festivities featured individual introductions for defensive backs Adrian Amos, Jesse Della Valle, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, Devin Pryor and Deron Thompson; linebackers Drew Boyce, Hull and T.J. Rhattigan; offensive lineman Miles Dieffenbach; wide receiver DeShawn Baker; running backs Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak; defensive lineman Brad Bars, C.J. Olaniyan and Tyrone Smith and Ficken.
Della Valle, Ficken, Hull, Dieffenbach, Olaniyan and Keiser are co-captains.
Franklin said the fact that Penn State will play in its first bowl game since the 2011 season did little to ease the immediate sting of dropping the Senior Day game.
“Right now, they’re not thinking about that,” Franklin said. “It’s the disappointment of today, but I think it does help in that locker room a little bit, the fact that it’s not completely over. We do still have another game to play, another game to prepare and more opportunities to be together as a family.”