Penn State notebook: Nittany Lions linebacker Bell misses 1st game of season |

Penn State notebook: Nittany Lions linebacker Bell misses 1st game of season

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Penn State’s third-leading tackler, linebacker Brandon Bell, missed a game for the first time this season because of an apparent shoulder injury. It was the second game that a starting linebacker had missed for the Nittany Lions in 2014; Nyeem Wartman was not in uniform Sept. 20. Linebacker is the PSU defense’s thinnest unit.

Jason Cabinda took Bell’s place, becoming the sixth true freshmen to start a game this season. He had five tackles, two solo, a half of one for a loss.

“Although it was his first start, he’s played a lot of reps all year long,” coach James Franklin said. “I know the coaches were confident in what he was going to be able to do.”

Two others go down, too

Cornerback Christian Campbell and running back Bill Belton were injured during the first half and did not return. Belton’s injury appeared to be to his left arm; Campbell his left shoulder.

“Not having Bill Belton was a factor for us,” Franklin said. “He tried to go early in the game and wasn’t able to go. He’d been playing well the last couple weeks, making safeties miss.”

The starting o-line, at last

For the first time this season, all of Penn State’s top offensive linemen were deemed healthy enough to start.

The lineup of, left to right, junior Donovan Smith, senior Miles Dieffenbach, junior Angelo Mangiro, sophomore Brian Gaia and freshman Andrew Nelson probably projects as the Lions’ best five. But injuries to the two players who are by far the most experienced of that group — Dieffenbach and Smith — had wreaked havoc with what is otherwise a young and inexperienced line.

Fox Chapel’s Dieffenbach (torn ACL in the offseason) made his 24th career start and first this season. After playing all but three series last week against Temple, he played the whole game Saturday.

“We obviously all have got to play better if we don’t come out with a win,” Dieffenbach said.

Hurting Hackenberg?

Despite being sacked 39 times this season, Christian Hackenberg hasn’t missed a snap because of injury. That almost changed during the second quarter Saturday.

LaKeith Walls and Jihad Ward sandwiched him after releasing a pass, causing Hackenberg to gingerly limp toward the sideline. He was looking down at his right leg, shaking it slightly. Although he appeared, at times, slightly less mobile than usual, he did not miss any action.

“It was there, but you’ve got to be able to play through that,” Hackenberg said. “That’s been my mentality ever since I put on a uniform: play through things and don’t let that stop you. Even though it may have hurt here and there, just play through it.”

Nittany notes

After not fumbling through nine games all season, Penn State’s running backs have had fumbles in consecutive games. They lost both, including Akeel Lynch on Saturday. … Illinois lost defensive back and dynamic return man V’Angelo Bentley on an injury during the opening kickoff. … Lions linebacker Mike Hull had a game-high 10 tackles to move into seventh on the PSU career list with 275 and ninth on the season list with 121.

— Chris Adamski

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.