Penn State's Ryan Keiser (23) intercepts an Illinois pass at the goal line in overtime of Penn State's 24-17 win Saturday.
By Mark Dent / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Ryan Keiser's cast is black and hugs the lower part of his left arm, protecting his broken hand. It interferes with some of the activities he needs to do as a safety, he said, but clearly not that badly.
Keiser, of course, had the game-sealing interception Saturday in a 24-17 overtime victory against Illinois at Beaver Stadium. His diving catch ensured that Penn State wouldn't suffer a consecutive disappointing loss.
Just over a month ago, against Kent State, he slammed his hand into an opponent's leg. He continued to play, getting an interception in that game, and said he barely noticed pain. But X-rays revealed he had broken his hand.
That threatened to ruin a breakout season. Once a walk-on and special teams player, he had been splitting time with Malcolm Willis at safety this season. In that Kent State game Keiser had four tackles, a sack and an interception. Because of the injury he missed the Indiana and Michigan games but returned last week.
"We have great doctors and great trainers so I was able to get back and get healed up extremely fast," Keiser said. "I think I'm way ahead."
Against Illinois he had a tackle for a loss, one pass breakup and that interception. After the game he recalled seeing the ball floating, almost as if it was in slow motion.
"I was just chasing the receiver and Adrian made an awesome play going up and just tipping the ball right in front of me," he said. "I caught it, and it was over."
Keiser sees his quick comeback from injury as a characteristic of everyone on the team. He believes it's another sign of their willingness to forget about the past and push ahead.
"The cool thing about our team is we don't get down," Keiser said.
NOTE -- Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said he had a long discussion this past week with running back Zach Zwinak, who suggested that he start wearing gloves, which he did Saturday. Zwinak has three fumbles this year, his most recent coming against Ohio State. Against Illinois, Zwinak had six carries for 25 yards.
Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @mdent05.
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