Robinson has up-and-down day
UNIVERSITY PARK – Allen Robinson went from having a single reception for 6 yards in the first half to catching a game saving ball while time was winding down to fumbling in the third overtime period.
To say the least, Robinson’s day could be compared to a roller coaster.
The high of that roller coaster ride came at the end of regulation when the 6-foot-3 wide receiver went up for a pass from Christian Hackenberg with under 30 seconds left.
Robinson hauled the ball in for a 36-yard reception just in bounds at the Michigan 1-yard line over the head of Channing Stribling, who jumped too soon to make the play.
“It was just me and No. 8 over there,” Robinson said. “It was a 50-50 ball and he threw it up and gave me an opportunity to make the catch and I was able to make the play.”
Previous to making the catch that set up a Hackenberg sneak to tie the game, Robinson made a toe-dragging, 14-yard catch to get the drive going.
To counter the high of Robinson’s day, the low came when the wide receiver came across the backfield on an end around play and fumbled the ball, leaving Michigan with a golden opportunity to come away with a victory in three overtime periods.
Robinson said he picked his eyes up off the ball too soon and didn’t secure the ball first.
“I couldn’t believe I fumbled the ball on that play, but you know you got to play the next play, and our defense was able to stop them,” Robinson said.
The stop came in the form of a Brendan Gibbons missed field goal and Robinson said it was a relief once the field goal pushed left.
Robinson’s day was slow to get going as he was held to just two receptions for 18 yards heading into the final quarter of play.
Hackenberg did not target his go-to receiver nearly as much as he has in the first five games of the season, but Robinson said the quarterback was just going through his reads.
“It’s not something I can complain [about],” Robinson said. “Sometimes, I might say I’m open and he doesn’t think I’m open, so it’s all about what he’s reading at the time.”
Bill O’Brien said Robinson was frustrated he wasn’t getting the ball, but echoed the receiver’s words and said it was just the read of the play that kept the ball out of Robinson’s hands.
“What is says about Allen is that he never quits,” O’Brien said. “…It’s not always pretty, but a guy like Allen is going to keep hanging in there, keep fighting and try to come up with big plays when the ball is thrown to him and that’s what he did.”
D-line shines in win
Kyle Baublitz put the highlight on the Penn State defensive line’s night, one in which it kept a potent Michigan offensive in check.
Sam Ficken had just missed a 40-yard attempt in the Nittany Lions’ portion of the first overtime period and it looked as if the comeback attempt would fall just short.
But, Baublitz stuck his hand up as Gibbons attempted a 40-yarder of his own and blocked it from sailing toward the uprights.
Baublitz said he took note of Gibbons’ previous attempts and noticed a trend with them.
“We wanted to push the lineman,” Baublitz said. “I saw the kicks were low, you just have to put your hands up, there’s not much to it.”
While field goal blocks are relatively rare, an even more unusual scene came from the defensive line when Penn State’s No. 98 Anthony Zettel picked off Michigan’s No. 98 Devin Gardner.
The interception came in the second quarter as Zettel dropped into coverage, nabbed the pass and returned it 18 yards to set up a one-play touchdown toss to Jesse James.
Zettel, who got the start against the Wolverines, had to jump at the right time in order to make a play that isn’t typically seen from a lineman, but he said he knew he could do it.
“I played a little basketball,” Zettel joked.
Fellow lineman C.J. Olaniyan struggled for most of Penn State’s season, but the defensive end made up for it against the Wolverines.
Olaniyan recorded 2.5 sacks, as he came into the game with just one on the stat sheet, a forced fumble that was recovered by DaQuan Jones and two pass breakups.
Olaniyan, who is from Warren, Mich., joked when he goes back to Michigan during Penn State’s upcoming bye week, he won’t have to hear anything.
O’Brien said he could not say enough about his defense’s play and that it kept coming up big.
“They gave up a couple big plays, but I think they played a whale of a football game,” O’Brien said. “C.J., all those guys, they were rushing hard, making it difficult to run the football.”
The Wolverines’ entire offense rested solely upon the shoulders of quarterback Devin Gardner.
Gardner rushed for a career-high 121 yards and passed for 240 and three touchdowns while running back Fitzgerald Toussaint only netted 27 yards on the night.
Gardner provided the duel threat with his legs and Olaniyan said how the quarterback changes a pass rush.
“Whenever you rush, you have to have awareness and be alert tat whenever the pocket is closing, he’s going to try to get out of the pocket,” Olaniyan said.
Olaniyan also said the line’s job was to pressure Gardner and make it easier for the defensive backs.
Another player that Michigan had to rely on was kicker Brendan Gibbons, but Gibbons did not fare as well as Gardner.
Gibbons went 4-for-7 on the night with a miss to win the game in regulation and another in overtime in addition to the blocked attempt.
Ficken went over to Gibbons after the game to tell the kicker to keep his head up and keep working hard.
“I’ve been there before,” Ficken said. “It’s not the greatest feeling in the world.”
Gibbons was 4-for-5 coming into the night with a long of 44 yards.
PSU’s game captains were LB Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, C Ty Howler and DT DaQuan Jones. … O’Brien almost always takes the ball first if PSU wins the coin toss, but he elected to defer and put the defense on the field first. RB Adam Geiger took over as the holder on FGs and PATs, replacing P Alex Butterworth.