Neil Rudel

Rudel: PSU’s Ficken has seen it all

UNIVERSITY PARK - Sam Ficken settled onto a blue couch in the Nittany Lions' players' lounge at the Lasch Building earlier this week and couldn't help but shake his head when it was suggested that he's been in more do-or-die situations than any kicker in Penn State history."Obviously," he said ...

Lions’ low point ‘tough to swallow’

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - We've now reached the low point of the sanctions era.Since the NCAA punishments took hold in July of 2012, the Nittany Lions have suffered whippings (Ohio State last year), inexplicable performances (Indiana last year) and stunners at home (Maryland this year), but Penn ...

Illini series produces (few) moments

Some nitpicking as the curtain begins to fall on another regular season:When Penn State joined the Big Ten 21 years ago, it didn't do so with the idea that the Nittany Nation would forge a memorable rivalry with Illinois.And yet, there have been a few games or at least moments that have stood ...

Hackenberg struggling to match his shadow

UNIVERSITY PARK - A not-so-funny thing is happening to the greatest young quarterback in Penn State history.He's starting to look his age (19).Christian Hackenberg's tremendous freshman season and penchant for late-game comebacks have declined steadily this year due to a myriad of ...

Defense equal to Shoop’s challenge

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Penn State's defense arrived here with a pair of specific marching orders.Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop told his unit not to allow a single point and to limit Indiana's Tevin Coleman, the nation's leading rusher, to fewer than 100 yards.The Nittany Lions batted 2-for-2 in ...

Pre-game act taints Terps’ win

UNIVERSITY PARK - Maybe in the history of football, not just Penn State football, this has happened before.But I doubt it.Maryland's captains - its designated leaders - reported to midfield for the pre-game coin flip Saturday afternoon, and when Penn State's captains extended their hands for ...

Great effort could be Lions’ springboard

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State football was not built on moral victories.But with most forecasting the Nittany Lions' young and depleted squad to suffer a blowout by an Ohio State team that won by 50 points a year ago, Penn State far exceeded expectations before ultimately surrendering a 31-24 ...

O’Brien living his dream

PITTSBURGH - Nearly 10 years ago, when he was an assistant coach at New England under Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien used to appreciate the respect his mentor showed for the game in general and the league's flagship franchises in particular.Tonight, in the center of the NFL universe - Monday ...

Hack takes step back, and he’s getting no help

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Christian Hackenberg didn't come out to meet the media following the Nittany Lions' loss to Michigan on Saturday night, and it's tough to blame him.He's suffered enough.Penn State's decorated sophomore quarterback is bruised and beaten - "frustrated," James Franklin admitted ...

Rudel: Penn State should fall back on fullback

That Penn State arrived at its first of two open dates with a 4-1 record is not surprising.In some ways, given the Nittany Lions' lack of depth due to the NCAA sanctions, and in particular their skeleton offensive line, it's admirable.But we're a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society, and ...

Flaws catch up to Lions

UNIVERSITY PARK - In two of its first four games this season, against Central Florida and Rutgers, Penn State was trailing in the final two minutes only to be rescued by late-game heroics.That apparently built a false sense of security for the Nittany Lions, who were totally unmasked and ...

Belton’s patience, versatility rewarded

UNIVERSITY PARK - Bill Belton was enduring his postgame media request Saturday evening until a question came up concerning what he liked best about the Nittany Lions' 48-7 waltz over Massachusetts in which Penn State's running game finally got rolling."Green grass," Belton said, providing some ...

Hackenberg shows greatness

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The great ones have short memories and thrive best in the clutch.If he hadn't proven that he's a great one before Saturday night, Penn State sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg definitely showed it in the last two minutes of the Nittany Lions' thrilling 13-10 comeback ...

Blitz becoming staple of PSU ‘D’

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State has long been known for its defense, but it hasn't necessarily gotten its reputation by being overly aggressive.The Nittany Lions' philosophy used to be to keep everything in front of them, read and react, and use the blitz as a change-of-pace surprise.Under new ...

Rudel: City League hits homer with award

Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while smelling the pigskin in the air:ITEM: City League honors Mirror scribeThe Greater City Baseball League made a wonderful gesture earlier this week by naming an award in honor of Matt Adamiak, who has covered the league for the Mirror for ...

Coaches, players working on mutual trust

UNIVERSITY PARK - It's tough to imagine a more battled-scarred college football team in America than the one spread out by positions across the Beaver Stadium turf on a gorgeous Monday during Penn State's annual media day.James Franklin and his staff sensed those wounds in January after he ...

Ingold winds up ‘great ride’ at Penn State Altoona

Fredina Ingold has spent the last few weeks with tears in her eyes.After working practically her entire career at Penn State, Ingold is retiring. It was announced internally this spring and is effective Monday."This has been my whole life," she was saying quietly earlier this week. "Thinking of ...

Draft days may spread to local roots

Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while savoring the paper even more now that you can read it early in the morning on the porch:ITEM: Draft days approach.Blair County has been fortunate over the years to have produced its share of professional athletes, and there's no question ...

Franklin touched by support

UNIVERSITY PARK - There may be no sporting event in which attendance is more closely tied to the weather than an annual spring football game, and when James Franklin awoke to a gorgeous blue and white sky Saturday morning, he knew his Penn State debut would be special.And it was.Fans tailgated ...

Hard to imagine a better time of the year

Some random thoughts as, finally, we may be heading toward spring:n The best three days of the year are the first two days of the NCAA Tournament - today and Friday - and the NFL's championship Sunday. A case can be made for Final Four Saturday, but by that point, Cinderella's glass slipper has ...