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Nebraska-PSU notebook

November 24, 2013
The Altoona Mirror

Could Robinson be done in Beaver?

UNIVERSITY PARK - While 16 players were honored Saturday for taking part in their final game at Beaver Stadium, another may have played his last game on Penn State's field, too.

Allen Robinson, whose record-setting season saw him add eight catches for 106 yards against Nebraska to his already staggering statistics, is set to graduate in the summer and could be done playing in front of the Penn State home crowd.

Robinson could declare early for the 2014 NFL draft and end his career as a Nittany Lion early.

Tight end Adam Breneman said he had no idea what Robinson is thinking on the prospective situation, but said he means a lot to him and the team.

"I've learned a lot from Allen," Breneman said. "I watch Allen in practice and watch how he runs his routes and watch how aggressive he plays."

Breneman also said Robinson is a competitor and he creates a "neat dynamic" for the team.

Another player Robinson has meant a lot to is quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

"When I came here in the summer, it was me, him [and] Brandon Felder," Hackenberg said. "We really worked a lot one-on-one, pulling me out, just throwing, routes and sort of working on our timing."

Robinson will likely be defined by his game-saving grab at the end of regulation against Michigan to spark the quadruple-overtime game, one in which the Nittany Lions ended up taking the victory.

The receiver, who was recently named a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, brought his record-leading, single-season reception total to 89 and moved up another spot on the program's career reception leaderboard as he surpassed Bobby Engram for second place with 169. He is now just 10 receptions behind tying the Penn State all-time mark of 179 held by Deon Butler.

Nebraska dodges a bullet

The Cornhuskers came to Beaver Stadium following a crushing loss to Michigan State that put the Spartans in the driver's seat to take the Legends Division.

On Saturday, Nebraska came close to losing back-to-back games, which would have dropped the team to 7-4 and even further down the Big Ten standings. But the Cornhuskers took the game in overtime to save their season, and maybe even coach Bo Pelini's job.

The game, however, may not have even got to overtime if it was not for a controversial call that came in the fourth quarter.

While running back Ameer Abdullah was pulling toward the end zone for what would have been seven points to put Nebraska up 24-20 late in the fourth, a flag was thrown for what looked to be a legal block by receiver Sam Burtch on defensive back Adrian Amos. The block was several yards behind the play.

"They said it was unnecessary you saw my reaction," Pelini said.

That reaction was Pelini irate on the sideline in a screaming match with officials.

Nebraska settled for a game-tying 19-yard field before taking the game in one round of overtime.

Previous to the drama in the fourth quarter, the Cornhuskers lost starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to an ankle injury that saw him miss the rest of the game from the end of the first quarter on.

Ron Kellogg III filled in admirably for Armstrong as he threw for 191 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions on 34 passing attempts.

"Tommy Armstrong, losing him early in the game was tough," Pelini said. " I thought Ron came in and did a great job. He did some really good things out there."

Tight ends flourish in loss

Questions swirled earlier in the year about the Penn State tight ends and their lack of production, but Saturday possibly was the group's best game yet.

James, Breneman and Kyle Carter all got in on the receiving end as both James and Breneman had one score each, which accounted for both of Penn State's passing touchdowns.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, James caught a pass and proceeded to take it 46 yards for a score to put the Lions up by three.

James said the tight ends continue to get better every week and tight ends coach John Strollo always brings in new drills with something the group can emphasize.

"We took the coaching well the past couple of weeks," James said. "We've been getting better every week."

RB Belton misses game

Running back Bill Belton did not see action Saturday due to an injured shoulder and strep throat, according to O'Brien.

Belton had played in all previous 10 games and led the team in rushing yards coming into the day.

With Belton out, Zach Zwinak saw the majority of the time in the backfield and ran for 149 yards for the second week in a row.

Zwinak carried the ball 35 times as Akeel Lynch worked his way into the mix with five carries for 12 yards.

O'Brien did not say whether Belton would be back for the final game against Wisconsin or not.

Kenney not recognized before game

Earlier in the week, it was announced that receiver Alex Kenney would join tackle Garry Gilliam and defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz in foregoing their final year of eligibility.

While 16 seniors trotted out to be recognized for their time at Penn State, Kenney, a State College Area High School graduate, was nowhere to be found during the festivities.

O'Brien said it was a personal discussion between he and Kenney and he was going to leave it at that.

"He's done everything we've asked him to do here at Penn State in the football program," O'Brien said.

O'Brien did, however, reveal that Kenney's future in Penn State athletics is not necessarily over.

"I believe he's going to run track here at Penn State," O'Brien said. "He's going to do a great job running track."

News and notes

PSU's captains were T Garry Gilliam, TE Matt Lehman, DT DaQuan Jones and LB Glenn Carson. ... Since 1990, Penn State has complied a 20-4 record on senior day, with half of those losses coming at the hands of Nebraska as the Cornhuskers also spoiled the Lions' senior day in 2011. ... Penn State previously owned an undefeated 2013 overtime record before Saturday.

(Compiled by Lee Cary)

 
 

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