Zwinak banged up going out of bounds
UNIVERSITY PARK – The Blue-White Game got off to a bad start from an injury standpoint when running back Zach Zwinak suffered a left hand or wrist injury on the first series.
Zwinak caught a 14-yard pass and was hit going out of bounds on the right sideline. He was slow to get up and was favoring his left hand walking back to the huddle. When he lined up at tailback for the next play, he was grabbing at his wrist in obvious pain.
Zwinak came out of the game, was tended to by several people on the sideline and did not return. He later got his left wrist heavily taped.
“I think it was his hand, but I haven’t heard, so I’ll know more probably [today],” coach Bill O’Brien said.
Zwinak rushed for 1,000 yards last year and was a powerful workhorse down the stretch. With the season still more than four months away, his wrist should have time heal as long as it’s nothing too serious.
There did not appear to be any other injuries during Saturday’s scrimmage.
The Legends and Leaders Divisions soon will be a thing of the past in the Big Ten as the conference is close to renaming and realigning divisions based on geography rather than competitive balance.
According to ESPN.com, the new divisions will be: East – Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland; and West Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.
The Nittany Lions clearly will be in the tougher division as they will have to beat out the Buckeyes and Wolverines as well as the Spartans in order to reach the Big Ten title game once the NCAA sanctions are over.
O’Brien mic’d up
One highlight of Saturday’s scrimmage was Bill O’Brien getting mic’d up and talking to the crowd during the first series of the second half. The coach was having fun as he led the “We are” chant from the sideline while also calling plays and encouraging his players.
“I want our guys to have fun,” O’Brien said. “This is the best time of their lives. They’re going to a great university, they’re playing a spring game in front of thousands of fans in a stadium that in my opinion is the best stadium in the country. Fantastic atmosphere.
“So I just want these guys to have fun. They deserve to have fun. They worked really hard all spring and all winter, so I hope that they had fun today.”
The coach joked that he knew one thing would be fun about the game.
“I knew one thing today that Penn State was going to win,” O’Brien said.
Place-kicker Sam Ficken had a rough day, missing a 37-yard field goal and later missing an extra point.
“I’m not taking anything away from the spring game,” Ficken said. “I had a great spring, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Ficken had a new holder Saturday as punter Alex Butterworth took over the duties from Ryan Keiser. Ficken called the switch “experimental,” and given the results, O’Brien likely will have to re-evaluate the personnel on the kicks.
“Most of the spring I was working with Keiser as my holder,” Ficken said. “Me and Butterworth, I think we had four live kicks before today with teams, so we have a learning curve really with a new holder, and that’s me too. I should have made that extra point really.”
Ficken had a forgettable start to the 2012 season – he missed four field goals and an extra point in week two at Virginia – but he came on strong late to finish at 14-of-21 on field goals and 39-of-41 on extra points.
“I know that Sam Ficken is an improved kicker since the Wisconsin game, so I have confidence in him,” O’Brien said.
Boston best wishes
O’Brien is from the Boston area and still has close ties there, so he was asked his thoughts about the bombings at last week’s Boston Marathon that killed three and injured nearly 200.
“I just feel terrible for those people,” O’Brien said. “I certainly don’t know anyone personally that was affected, but it’s kind of friends of friends. In fact I have a great friend who I went to Brown with who’s a head high school coach up north of Boston, and his daughter was across the street, 9-year-old daughter with her third-grade class watching the finish across the street from the bomb.
“I just feel terrible. I love that city. I love that city. I grew up 20 minutes north of that city and my brother Tommy is heavily involved in that city and has been for a long time, and so has my older brother John and my dad and my mom. So I feel terrible for them.”
O’Brien then briefly talked about the suspect being apprehended Friday night, saying, “We caught him last night, so that was good.”
Cornerback Jordan Lucas and defensive end C.J. Olaniyan were honored with the Jim O’Hora Award for most improvement on defense this spring. Center Ty Howle earned the Red Worrell Award for offensive improvement. Guard Miles Dieffenbach and linebacker Mike Hull earned the Frank Patrick Award for total commitment to the team.
The injured players who didn’t see action Saturday included: RB Bill Belton (toe), TE Kyle Carter (wrist), TE Adam Breneman (knee), T Garry Gilliam (leg), DT DaQuan Jones (back), LB Ben Kline (shoulder), S Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (shoulder). TE Matt Lehman and WR Brandon Moseby-Felder sat out with undisclosed injuries.