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Injuries pile up for Lions on first game

September 2, 2012
By Timothy Schoen ( , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY?PARK - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien does not like to talk about injuries to his team.

Following his team's disappointing 24-14 loss Saturday afternoon against Ohio, the coach quickly dismissed an opportunity to address two potential injuries to cornerback Stephon Morris and running back Bill Belton.

Both appeared to suffer ankle injuries and both were forced to leave Saturday's game. Morris was carted off the field at the end of the third quarter.

Belton was having a solid game both on the ground and receiving before he got hurt. The former wide receiver turned running back was on the end of one of quarterback Matt McGloin's touchdown passes.

Senior running back Derek Day said after the game that he saw his teammate getting treatment in the training room and did not believe the injury to Belton to be too serious.

Day said he was not immediately sure of Belton's availability for next week's game at Virginia. But the senior did say he would be ready to step in and carry the load if need be.

"Obviously that is something that I have to be ready for and I believe I am ready to do that so we will see what happens," Day said." I am sure I am prepared."

The loss of Morris in the secondary was another blow to an already thin and young Nittany Lion secondary.

Cornerback Adrian Amos also said he didn't know the condition of Morris's ankle immediately after the game either.

Amos said that regardless of who is in the game that execution must improve as the season goes along and that people will need to step in and make plays when someone goes out with an injury.

The warm and muggy weather made cramping a problem for both teams all game and there were several officials' timeouts to get the players hydrated throughout the more than three hour game.

Tackle Donovan Smith missed time during the game but said after that he was OK.

Guard John Urschel said that he was pleased how other guys on the line stepped in and played when Smith was out. He said he was happy with the guys that rotated in and it is a testament to the team's depth on the line.

"We have great depth at tackle, Adam Gress came in, Mike Farrell came over to left tackle, both of which are great offensive tackles," Urschel said. " We didn't miss a beat."

Gerald Hodges had a wrap on his right leg, but there was no update after the game on his injury status. Jordan Hill also missed some game time with a left knee injury but said after he was fine and it was nothing to be concerned with.

"My knee buckled, and a little shock went through my knee," Hill said. "I couldn't really feel it at first and it came back and I was fine. "

A noticeable change from the past era of Penn State football, after the game the players stayed away from talking about injuries to their fellow teammates. In the past, there would sometimes be an assistant coach made available to provide updates on the injury report but that was not the case Saturday afternoon.

One of O'Brien's coaching mentors is New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who is known to give very little information on injuries. O'Brien did not even want to address the issue after the game.

When Smith was asked if some of the injuries were simply cramps or more serious he said that it wasn't his place to talk about that.

"You'd have to talk to those guys or Coach O'Brien," Smith said. "It's not my business to hand out anything that happens in the locker room or on the field relating injuries."

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