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Rushing attack problems leave Paterno searching for answers

The final numbers weren’t all that bad, but Penn State knew better.

Though the Nittany Lions finished with 193 yards rushing against Indiana on Saturday in a 16-10 win, coaches and players weren’t satisfied with the effort.

With the Lions hurting for depth at tailback this weekend, sophomore starter Silas Redd was called upon for a career-high 29 carries, finishing with 129 yards.

But for much of the game, the shifty Redd had very little room to run, and it was a credit to him that he was often able to grind out positive yards.

Coach Joe Paterno, who criticized his running game -- and the offensive line in particular -- in the week leading up to the game, said afterward that there was still work to be done.

“I didn’t think we were staying on blocks,” Paterno said. “I think remarks about (Indiana’s struggles) last week may have had a little bit of an impact on how they went into this game. They thought that it was going to be easier.

“The Indiana kids played a much better game, obviously. At least I would say they did. I think that’s a credit to their coaching staff. We didn’t stay on blocks and we had a couple missed assignments. Guys at this stage I would hope would be a little bit better.”

And that disappointment led to a benching on Saturday.

Senior right tackle Chima Okoli was pulled from the game late in the second quarter after getting flagged for a false start and spent the rest of the day on the sideline.

Junior Mike Farrell, playing for the first time since suffering a sprained knee in the opener against Indiana State, took Okoli’s place the rest of the way.

As usual, John Urschel also rotated in and out of the game at right guard, alternating with senior DeOn’tae Panell.

Okoli had been bothered by an ankle injury for much of September, causing him to miss long stretches of games. But the personnel switch on Saturday appeared to be motivated by performance.

“Chima’s had a tendency to jump offsides,” Paterno said. “And in all fairness to Chima, he’s been hurt. He hasn’t practiced at 100 percent until this week.

“Farrell has been hurt. We liked Farrell. We knew we were going to try to play him and Urschel.”

The left side of the line has remained intact for must of the opening five games of the season, with Quinn Barham, Johnnie Troutman and Matt Stankiewitch holding things down at left tackle, left guard and center, respectively.

Against the Hoosiers, the Lions had higher hopes for the ground game, facing an Indiana defensive front that had been pushed around a week earlier by North Texas, a winless team from the Sun Belt Conference.

The Hoosiers came into the game ranked 11th out of 12 teams against the run in the Big Ten, while the Lions’ rushing offense had been last.

One of Penn State’s best runs of the day didn’t come until its final drive, as Redd broke free for a 24-yard burst against a tiring defense. The sophomore had 79 of his 129 yards after halftime.

Backup Curtis Dukes also showed some promise, hitting a few holes with authority and finishing with 54 yards on nine carries.

Dukes saw significant time because Brandon Beachum missed his second straight game with a foot injury and did not make the trip to Bloomington. Stephfon Green is with the team but remains relegated to the practice squad for disciplinary reasons.

Walk-on Derek Day -- the fourth string tailback -- traveled with the team because of Beachum’s injury. Though he did not get a carry, he picked up his first career catch, good for 13 yards, as the Lions used him mostly on third downs because of his pass-blocking ability.





3:30 p.m.



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