UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State faced uncertainty, or worse, earlier this season. Linebacker Mike Hull said the Indiana loss a month ago spurred the Nittany Lions to think critically about this season and try harder for success. What happened after was a thrilling victory against Michigan followed by the rough three-game stretch.
Now, after Saturday’s loss to Minnesota, they’re the same way again, needing momentum to end the Big Ten schedule in a positive way.
“I would definitely say it’s one of those moments during the season,” Hull said. “Our backs are kind of against the wall.”
In the past couple of days, Penn State followed its general schedule for recovery after a win or a loss. The Nittany Lions underwent their usual 24-hour period to think about the game before poring over film to correct mistakes and then finally to practice Monday. Hull said leaders like linebacker Glenn Carson, offensive tackle John Urschel and center Ty Howle have spread a message of moving on after the tough games all season.
This Minnesota loss could prove more difficult to recover from. Coach Bill O’Brien acknowledged having a higher level of frustration afterward but said Penn State will try to build on its defensive performance from the second half of Saturday’s game. Penn State didn’t allow any points, and Minnesota gained 140 yards.
“I think we stopped the run well,” he said. “I think we challenged receivers more. I think we need to challenge some receivers a little bit more. I think we play good run defense, I really do. I know some teams have run the ball on us in different schemes, but I think the core of our defense plays good run defense. I think that it will carry over, and I hope it does.”
Kline out for season
The unlucky season of linebacker Ben Kline took a negative turn. Kline, who had been recovering from a shoulder injury since the spring, tore his pectoral muscle on the second play of the game Saturday and will miss the rest of the season. Though he was unknowingly injured, Kline played through the pain, and O’Brien complimented his coverage in the second half in particular.
“I can’t say enough about him,” O’Brien said. “We’re going to miss him.”
Kline will have surgery on his pectoral muscle and on his shoulder in the offseason. He started one game this season, played in another five and had 18 tackles and a sack.
Robinson banged up
Wide receiver Allen Robinson came down gingerly on his shoulder during the second half Saturday and missed a few plays. O’Brien said Tuesday that Robinson had a minor shoulder issue but would likely be ready for Saturday’s game against Purdue.
Mark Dent: email@example.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.