Penn State notebook: Coach Bill O’Brien heaps praise on receiver Allen Robinson
Coach Bill O’Brien referred to receiver Allen Robinson as Penn State’s best player. Bouncing back from a rare down statistical game, Robinson was unquestionably the Nittany Lions’ top performer Saturday.
Robinson had a career-high 12 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the 44-24 loss to Indiana. He was denied a third score when he leaped and fell on his backside just out of bounds in the back of the end zone late in the third quarter.
Robinson would return in a limited capacity, but had just one catch the rest of the game.
“You can’t say enough about him,” O’Brien said. “He plays hard, he plays hurt. On offense he’s our best player.”
Only once has a player had more catches in a game for Penn State — Freddie Scott’s 13 against Wisconsin in 1995.
“Allen’s a great player,” quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. “And he’s a great security blanket.”
The Lions’ other wide receivers combined for nine receptions (six by Eugene Lewis). Senior Brandon Felder did not play after suffering an ankle injury during practice this week.
Lions’ run game sputters
Just eight of the 123 FBS teams in the country were worse against the run than Indiana entering Saturday’s game.
And Penn State failed to take advantage.
The Lions were credited with a season-worst 70 rushing yards. Although they lost 31 on a botched field-goal snap, it still will go down as 127 fewer yards than their season average and 177.8 less than the Hoosiers’ were allowing this season.
“We have to scheme up some better runs,” O’Brien said. “We need to be more diverse in the running game and it starts with coaching. It starts with me.”
Penn State officially had 38 rushes and attempted 55 passes. Part of that is the nature of play-calling when behind. But even while the game was still close through three quarters, the pass-run split was 42-30.
Hull ‘90-95 percent’
Junior linebacker Mike Hull wore a large knee brace, but played a full game for the first time this season. The Canon-McMillan graduate injured his right knee early during the opener against Syracuse and had played in only one game since — against Central Florida on Sept. 14. He tied for the team lead in total tackles with 10 and was tied for second in solo tackles with six.
“I’m still feeling it a little bit,” said Hull, who termed himself at 90-95 percent. “But it’s a lot better, and I felt a lot more like myself today.”
Converted safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong started at outside linebacker for the fourth consecutive game. Unlike the previous three, when he was filling in for Hull, this time Obeng-Agyapong started in place of freshman Nyeem Wartman. O’Brien said Wartman has a minor shoulder injury. … Freshman Zach Ladonis made his debut, serving as the long snapper for punts. … Indiana won its Big Ten opener for the first time since 2000. … Reversal of fortunes: After spending much of the first month of the season as one of the nation’s best teams on fourth down and among its worst on third down, Penn State was 11 for 22 on third down but 1 for 5 on fourth down Saturday.
— Chris Adamski