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Penn State notebook: Mangiro’s flexibility has helped young offensive line

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, November 16, 2014 7:09 p.m

UNIVERSITY PARK — Miles Dieffenbach, by all accounts, returned to form two games in after months of grueling rehab for his surgically-repaired knee.

But it was Dieffenbach who was marveling at the performance of another Penn State offensive lineman.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Angelo (Mangiro),” Dieffenbach said after the Nittany Lions beat Temple, 30-13, Saturday.

Mangiro started at his third position in four weeks when he played left guard against the Owls. He previously started at center and right tackle.

“To play all those different positions, that’s unbelievable. That is so tough,” Dieffenbach said. “Each one of those positions is so different, technically and physically. It takes terrific talent to be able to do that.”

Mangiro began the season as Penn State’s center but was pressed into other positions because of an injury to left tackle Donovan Smith. Mangiro said once it became apparent he’d be the Lions’ center, he spent his offseason focusing on that.

But new offensive line coach Herb Hand stresses “cross-training,” his term for position flexibility. It’s been needed for PSU this season with such a young and thin offensive line.

“I credit (Hand) a lot and (offensive coordinator John Donovan) for giving me confidence early on,” Mangiro said. “If I messed up in practice, they did not get on my case. They hold me to a high standard but understand I’m moving around and doing a lot of things for the team … If the team needs it, I’ll do it.”

Ficken kickin’ his way up

With three games remaining in his career, Sam Ficken continues his ascension up the Penn State kicking record book.

Ficken is second in career field goals (52) and tied for fourth in career scoring with 258 points (with 19 more points, he’ll move into third). His 22 field goals in 2014 are tied for the most in season for PSU.

Ficken is a 7 for 7 on field-goal attempts of 40-plus yards this season. His four misses this season have come via blocks.

Ficken’s eligibility expires after this season. He could have had another season had coaches not used him sparingly as a freshman in 2012, when he attempted two field goals and one extra point and kicked off four times.

Patsies no more

Penn State is finishing a stretch of three games in which it plays teams it has traditionally dominated — going a combined 89-5-2 against Maryland, Indiana and Temple heading into these meetings. Throw in Rutgers (23-2 after Sept. 13 meeting), too.

But NCAA sanctions have made these Lions a watered-down version. And these also haven’t been typical Scarlet Knights, Terrapins, Hoosiers or Owls. PSU’s lack of dominance against them this season is proof.

The Lions needed a late comeback to beat Rutgers, lost to Maryland and had a one-possession victory over Indiana on Nov. 8. On Saturday, PSU was locked in a tie during the third quarter against Temple before blowing it open late.

Penn State has won 17 of 21 meetings with Saturday’s opponent, Illinois.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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