UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State cornerback D'Anton Lynn returned to the starting lineup Saturday against Purdue for the first time in three weeks.
It took him until the fourth quarter, when he delivered a big hit on Boilermakers running back Ralph Bolden, before he felt he was completely back.
"I was a little timid at first because I hadn't had full contact," Lynn said. "But, as I started playing, I started getting back to my old self.
"I just needed one big hit and I finally got a good hit in the fourth quarter. After that, I felt like I was able to take the pain off my shoulders and I felt ready."
Lynn, a senior three-year starter, suffered a concussion Sept. 24 after a scary hit against Eastern Michigan.
He left the field strapped to a backboard and was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where he was examined for possible head, neck and spinal cord injuries before being released.
Lynn said the effects of his concussion were so bad, he had headaches for a week and a half. It took him four tries to pass the standardized concussion test administered by the university that cleared him to return.
He finished with seven tackles in the Nittany Lions' 23-18 win against Purdue, tied for third most on the team.
Lynn will make his 32nd career start Saturday night when Penn State (6-1, 3-0) plays at Northwestern (2-4, 0-3) in a Big Ten Conference matchup. He has 18 tackles this year and has broken up three passes.
"With D'Anton back, we feel good as a unit," cornerback Chaz Powell said. "We're all complete now."
Kicker/punter Anthony Fera does not mind a little help.
He has a different coach for each of his duties -- field goals, kickoffs and punting.
Matt Bahr, former Penn State All-American and NFL kicker, dropped by practice a few weeks ago and offered Fera and the other kickers some tips.
"He helped us out and gave us a few pointers," Fera said. "That helped out a lot."
Fera, a two-time Big Ten special teams player of the week, said Bahr was especially helpful on technique.
"He noticed how I was off balance at times on field goals," Fera said. "It's just like the basic things, just pick a target in the background, stay smooth and calm and just focus on making the kick."
Fera is 9 of 10 on field-goal attempts since taking over the job four games ago and leads the team with 35 points. He is averaging 43.8 yards on 29 punts, with nine landing inside the 20, and 64.9 yards on 23 kickoffs.
Fera's high school teammate in Houston Venric Mark, has returned 19 kickoffs for 423 yards for Northwestern and five punts for 71 yards.
"Venric is one of my best friends from back home," Fera said. "We were really good teammates. We always stayed after practice together, and I would always punt and kick off to him.
"We would get extra work in, and I would give him a ride home. It should be fun kicking to him again."
Strongside linebacker Nate Stupar might not be as talented as Michael Mauti, but Stupar has filled in admirably since Mauti's season-ending ACL injury against Eastern Michigan, the same game where Lynn was injured. Stupar's second interception of the game Saturday, with 1:59 remaining, clinched a victory against the Boilermakers. He also had seven tackles and a pass break-up.
"Mike was a big part of our defense, and I knew we lost someone [special] when he went down," Stupar said. "I knew I needed to fill that void. I put it on myself to work even harder, learn stuff, watch film more and overall become a better player.
"You can't rely on anyone because you never know when something is going to happen."
Senior Jeravin Matthews (Canon-McMillan High School) started the first five games at cornerback for Northwestern. He has 27 tackles and two pass breakups.
Redshirt junior backup defensive end Quentin Williams (Central Catholic) has six tackles, including 2 1/2 for losses, and 1 1/2 sacks. He played on the Vikings' 2004 and '07 teams that earned WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA crowns. Williams also was Pennsylvania's Class AAAA player of the year in 2007.
Ron Musselman: firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter @rmusselmanppg.