Lions flustered by flags
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Penn State coach Bill O'Brien was asked about a questionable penalty from Saturday's Temple game. In the second quarter, referees called pass interference on tight end Kyle Carter for blocking while the ball was in the air on a pass that would have given Penn State a first down inside the Temple 20. At least, that's how O'Brien claims it was explained.
"Good call, whatever," O'Brien said with a hint of resignation.
When so many flags are thrown, it's hard not to accept the close calls. Penn State committed nine penalties for 100 yards, a development antithetical to the previous three weeks.
Before Saturday, one of the better qualities you could assign to the Penn State football team was that the team showed discipline. It did not commit penalties. Before the 24-13 victory against Temple, the Nittany Lions had committed 11 penalties in the first three games of the season.
Those penalties consisted of four holding calls, one personal foul, one illegal shift, two face masks, one delay of game, one illegal procedure and one offside. Saturday's penalties were different, not just in quantity, but in the situations in which Penn State picked them up.
Two personal fouls were called, one while defending a punt return and another while defending a kick return. Two pass interference penalties were called -- one offensive and one defensive -- both firsts for Penn State on the year. Two illegal procedure penalties were called, and they particularly bothered O'Brien.
"That's one thing we pride ourselves on," he said on Saturday. "Today I felt like we took a step back on that."
He couldn't place the exact reasons for why the Temple game had been so different from the first three. O'Brien cited a lack of concentration by his players and an inability to keep their hands in during some blocking situations. Quarterback Matt McGloin pointed toward distractions.
"It's just mental mistakes like that are more frustrating than anything, but we'll learn from that," McGloin said. "We'll figure it out and we'll be fine."
NOTE -- Bill Belton will be back Saturday, if his own prediction is correct. Saturday night on Twitter, he wrote, "Time for Illinois. Guess who's backkkk." In his absence, players such as Mike Zordich, Zach Zwinak, Curtis Dukes and Derek Day, who has missed the past two games with injury, have had carries. Zordich and Zwinak average the most yards per carry, at 4.6. Belton averaged 4.1 per carry in his lone game against Ohio. "We'll have a rotation there and hopefully one of them will get hot," O'Brien said.
• Game: Pitt at Syracuse.
• When: 7 p.m. Oct. 5.
• TV: ESPN.
• Game: Penn State at Illinois.
• When: Noon Saturday.
• TV: ESPN.
First Published September 24, 2012 12:00 am