Neil Rudel

Nittany Lions’ focus gets final test

UNIVERSITY PARK — While Penn State’s 9-2 record this season was definitely unpredictable, the same cannot be said for James Franklin’s weekly approach. Franklin’s focus has been such that many questions throughout this seven-game win streak that even inched toward the bigger picture ...

Missing Big Ten final wouldn’t hurt progress

Commentary Penn State even being in the College Football Playoff conversation is a pinch-yourself kind of scenario. And, obviously, the best way to cap this dream season and program-restoring two-month surge would be to land in the Big Ten championship game, win it and play Alabama in ...

Credit where due: Franklin’s star shines

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — James Franklin was announced as a semifinalist for the George Munger national coach of the year award Friday. There are 16 candidates, and Franklin is as worthy as any of his peers and more worthy than most. Don’t be surprised if he wins it. Following Penn State’s ...

Center should get attention

The unsung hero of the 2016 Penn State football team is ... Center Brian Gaia. And no matter what Cory says across the page, I’m comfortable with my selection and am confident you’ll agree. Gaia has been the one constant on the one unit that needed to improve the most and certainly ...

Lions progressing to lofty heights

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After Penn State completed yet another second-half comeback en route to its sixth-straight Big Ten victory and headed for the 2016 regular-season finish line at a spiffy 8-2, the Nittany Lions’ extraordinary progress and improvement was not lost on the man who sits in ...

Penn State looking like its old self again

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A caste system, featuring the haves and the have nots, has generally existed in college football for decades. Fast forward to the year 2050, and it’s a pretty safe bet Alabama will still be pretty good. And Purdue probably won’t be. There may be some trends at ...

Defensive improvement holding up its end so far

Commentary This question is almost too easy. I’m sure Cory, my esteemed counterpart across the page, will present a compelling case for the special teams, and they were obviously outstanding in the clutch. But they also kept both teams in the game. The special teams needed the ...

Victory takes treasured place in PSU history

UNIVERSITY PARK — This is why we all love sports. Because you just never quite know when you might witness something amazingly unexpected. Like Saturday night. Trailing Ohio State 21-7 with 14 minutes left and showing no signs of being able to spring a monumental upset, Penn State — ...

Nits’ big-play ability major improvement

I know I wrote last week that offensive preparation was the most disappointing aspect of the 2016 season.(Cue the scene from "A Few Good Men" when Jack Nicholson said on the stand, "I recall what I said - I don't have to have it read back to me.")OK, some levity, which seems fitting because I ...

Rudel: Offensive scheming has fallen short

There have been several, of course, but I'm going with the overall coaching in general and specifically the offensive preparation.Barring the roof falling in the form of second-straight loss to Temple, most thought it was a distinct possibility that the Nittany Lions would limp into October at ...

Battered defense holds up its end

UNIVERSITY PARK - OK, Penn State fans: Raise your hand if you're satisfied with a 34-27 victory over Temple.There should be more hands up.While the Nittany Lion faithful will likely never get used to having to recover a late onside kick to pretty much snuff out the Owls' last breath - nor ...

Game shows pride of series

PITTSBURGH - As Trace McSorley was facing a pack of reporters underneath the Heinz Field stands late Saturday afternoon, trying to express his disappointment over his last-minute interception that clinched Penn State's fate in a 42-39 loss to Pitt, the session was interrupted by a vociferous ...

Knocking off Panthers shot in Franklin’s arm

If you put the behavior of both coaches under a microscope, Saturday's game would seem to mean more to Pat Narduzzi than James Franklin.Narduzzi, after all, has closed ranks and decided all players are off limits to the media this week, the first time he's done that in his short Pitt ...

McSorley, offense leave room to grow

UNIVERSITY PARK - Almost the entire time he was watching Christian Hackenberg lead the Penn State offense the last two years, James Franklin never let go of his opinion that a running quarterback puts added pressure on the opposing defense.We saw some of that Saturday.Trace McSorley made his ...

Lions should have fresh(er) start this year

A little nitpicking while eager for the 2016 curtain to go up:n James Franklin had a good explanation to a question this week on why the Nittany Lions looked so flat against Temple in their opener last year.He said the lack of depth in practice kept the 2015 regulars on the field longer, in the ...

Measure program’s strides in its improvements

Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record says you are."That statement probably applied more to the NFL, where Parcells spent the vast majority of his Hall of Fame career.(Parcells, incidentally, was approached by a Penn State representative to succeed Joe Paterno after all the fallout ...

Pry ascending to his biggest stage

UNIVERSITY PARK - When Bob Shoop left Penn State's defensive coordinator position for a similar job at Tennessee after last season, several Nittany Lion players told James Franklin he didn't need to search hard for Shoop's successor.He was right down the hall.Of course, Franklin knew that.Brent ...

Griping publicly doesn’t help Penn State

James Franklin went 0-1 at the Big Ten Media Days.In two-plus years, we've learned that Franklin is an excellent representative of Penn State and has strong recruiting, leadership and communication skills.There are far more questions about his coaching ability, but even that's not entirely fair ...

Pitt’s call on beer hits spot

Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while wondering how many saw this big of a dropoff coming for the 2016 Pirates:ITEM: Pitt to sell beer at Heinz Field.This is a decision that shouldn't be criticized.If you haven't noticed, college sports long ago became big business, and if ...

Rudel: Chambers sees the light at PSU

Patrick Chambers was right at home during the Bishop Guilfoyle Marauder Club's annual spring luncheon Friday at Park Hills Country Club.As one of 12 children from an Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia, Chambers quickly drew on his roots."I'm floored by the passion everyone here has for BG," ...