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Penn State guard Dieffenbach hopes to build on 1st game back

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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State coach James Franklin (right) greets offensive lineman Andrew Nelson after a touchdown against Ohio State on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, at Beaver Stadium.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Medi
Penn State offensive lineman Donovan Smith prepares to block Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Medi
Penn State captain Miles Dieffenbach helps his coaches against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 25, 2014, in University Park.
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Barry Reeger | Trib Total Medi
Penn State offensive lineman Andrew Nelson blocks Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 25, 2014, in University Park.

Saying his surgically-repaired left knee “felt great during the game and felt great after the game,” Penn State guard Miles Dieffenbach is poised to take on an even bigger workload.

The Fox Chapel native played 10 snaps during his season debut Saturday at Indiana.

The question remains whether he will do so next to injured teammate Donovan Smith.

“You’d love to be in a position where you get Donovan back and Miles back,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.

Asked if he expected Smith to return from a two-game absence, Franklin said, “I would hope so…

“Being able to have him and Miles is exciting just from an experience and leadership standpoint, if nothing else.”

The status of Smith, Penn State’s three-year starting left tackle, remains unclear as the Lions prepare to host Temple at noon Saturday. He left late in the Ohio State game Oct. 25 because of an undisclosed injury.

Smith and Dieffenbach — the lone returnees with any appreciable experience entering the season along Penn State’s offensive line — comprised the left side of the line in 2012 and ’13. They have yet to play a snap next to each other this season.

Smith, who judging by a limp during warmups is not 100 percent, started the first seven games but did not practice the following two weeks. Dieffenbach (torn ACL in March) was in uniform for the first time in Bloomington, Ind., for Penn State’s 13-7 victory.

He played left guard during the Lions’ third and fourth series of the game, and he was at right guard for a second-half series.

“It definitely was a big moment just to be out there and be with the team,” Dieffenbach said. “I had to take a step back and thank God for the opportunity to go out there and play with your guys. You’re only given so many opportunities to play for Penn State. It’s a real honor to play here.”

Smith’s replacement, redshirt freshman Andrew Nelson, relished the chance to line up next to Dieffenbach.

“That was something that was very special to me,” said Nelson, who began his playing career as PSU’s starting right tackle, but moved over to left to replace Smith.

“Miles is a guy I really look up to, who’s taught me a lot about college football and what it means to be student-athlete in college. Being able to be next to him … was an awesome experience.”

The coaching staff last week predetermined Dieffenbach’s playing time at Indiana.

“We probably could have played him a little bit more,” Franklin said, “but we’d rather have been cautious on the front end than overly aggressive.

“I know he wants to have a bigger role this week, so we’ll see how he practices and go from there.”

Franklin said Smith would need to practice at some point this week before coaches would consider putting him in a game.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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