PSU football players honored
UNIVERSITY?PARK?- Less than 48 hours removed from a team upset over then-No. 18 Michigan – a game in which several Nittany Lions stepped up – two were individually awarded.
C.J. Olaniyan and Christian Hackenberg won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the Week, respectively, for their performances in the 43-40, quadruple overtime victory.
Olaniyan, who struggled and compiled just one sack across the first five games of the season, broke out and recorded 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two pass breakups in the sixth.
Olaniyan’s standout performance included the redshirt junior containing Michigan’s dual-threat quarterback in Devin Gardner, which played a large role in the victory.
“If we take care of our assignments, play hard, no mistakes, we are going to win every game that we step on the field,” Olaniyan said after the game.
Olaniyan’s night was highlighted by the forced fumble when he blindsided Gardner, knocked the ball loose only to be covered up by fellow defensive lineman DaQuan Jones.
Bill O’Brien said Olaniyan and the Penn State defense played a whale of a football game and kept coming up big.
“C.J., all those guys, I was watching them closely at the end there,” O’Brien said. “I thought all of those guys really contributed to the win and I can’t say enough about our defense.”
The redshirt junior’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week nod marks the first time Olaniyan picked up the honor.
While Olaniyan is new to receiving the honor, Hackenberg is no stranger as he has tallied three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards.
Hackenberg surpassed 300 yards passing for the third time this season as he accumulated 305 Saturday while tossing three touchdowns.
The freshman led an 80-yard, game tying drive in just 23 seconds in the waning moments of the fourth quarter that was highlighted with a 36-yard pass to Allen Robinson, which placed the ball on the Michigan 1-yard line.
Hackenberg would then pick up that extra yard with a quarterback sneak to send the game into the first of four overtime periods.
O’Brien said the final drive Hackenberg orchestrated was a situation Penn State practices every day and that the young quarterback and the offense came up big.
“I think Christian is, obviously, a very mature quarterback for being 18 years old,” O’Brien said. “He’s a fun guy to coach and some of that was training and it paid off.”