Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Penn State’s Battered Offensive Line Key To Late-Season Push

Coming into Saturday’s 45-14 victory against Indiana, Penn State football’s offensive line was riddled with uncertainty.

Left guard Landon Tengwall was battling the injury he suffered in warmups before Michigan. Right tackle Caedan Wallace warmed up before Ohio State but didn’t appear during the game. Left tackle Olu Fashanu left the game limping. Right guard Sal Wormley wasn’t seen during the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to the media.

It was almost harder to conjure the name of a fully healthy offensive lineman than it was an injured one — even backup Hunter Nourzad’s season has been marred with injuries, leaving a game early, playing 11 snaps in another, and missing yet another entirely.

Of the aforementioned players, only Nourzad and Wormley were healthy enough to play. Even still, a bruised Nourzad hobbled off the field after the game’s first play, and Wormley exited in the fourth quarter.

As a result, the Nittany Lions put forth a number of new faces. True freshman Drew Shelton started at left tackle. With Nourzad’s premature exit, JB Nelson notched his third appearance of the year. Rotational tackle Bryce Effner logged appearances in each of the season’s games but finally earned his first start.

In spite of its youth, the unit was instrumental in the Nittany Lions’ dominance in Bloomington. Outside of allowing a sack on the first drive of the day, Penn State’s offensive line kept its quarterbacks clean in the pocket. The running backs were afforded similar protection, as only two of their 49 rushing attempts went negative — and even those came on the game’s final drive with Penn State’s fourth-string ball carrier Tank Smith.

“[I’m] really, really proud of those guys and what they did, and how they did it, and the sacrifices they’re making for the team,” head coach James Franklin said after the game. “I thought some of our veteran guys did a good job of helping [the young players] ready to play.”

Franklin offered updates on his injured linemen at his weekly press conference Tuesday. Tengwall underwent season-ending surgery, while Fashanu is “week-to-week” and the team is “hopeful” Wallace will return against Maryland.

Given the line’s questionable bill of health, it seems likely that the Nittany Lions will have to reach into their depth yet again. Though the head coach has praised his players for stepping up, Franklin’s long-term plans may be forced into adjustments as a result of the team’s injuries.

“We would still like to redshirt [Drew Shelton] if we could, but I don’t know if that will be feasible,” Franklin said after practice Wednesday.

After an offseason of maintaining purposeful public silence on the development of Penn State’s offensive line, Franklin is facing a new form of public uncertainty — one predicated on health and the quality of developmental reps.

Following this week’s 3:30 p.m. matchup with Maryland in Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions will travel to Rutgers and then return home to host Michigan State, closing out the Big Ten conference slate and the regular season as a whole.

With Ohio State and Michigan respectively ranked at No. 2 and No. 3 and serving as Penn State’s only losses, winning out could still mean a prestigious bowl berth. It may just hinge on the caliber of the Nittany Lions’ inexperienced offensive line.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

Follow on Another Platform
State College Links

No. 11 Penn State Handles Michigan State 35-16 In Regular-Season Finale

Behind Sean Clifford’s four touchdowns, the Nittany Lions overcame a weak third quarter to land their tenth win of the season.

No. 11 Penn State Handles Michigan State 35-16 In Regular-Season Finale

Behind Sean Clifford’s four touchdowns, the Nittany Lions overcame a weak third quarter to land their tenth win of the season.

Gameday Coverage: No. 11 Penn State vs. Michigan State

Here’s everything you need to know about Penn State’s regular-season finale.

Staff Predictions: No. 11 Penn State vs. Michigan State

Our staffers unanimously expect James Franklin’s squad to secure its first 10-win season since 2019.

Send this to a friend