Evan Royster has taken a considerable amount of flak this year for his play and a lot of it, especially early on, was justified. He just didn't look like the same running back that rushed for over 1,000 yards his first two years as a starter. Things have gotten a little better lately, but unfortunately for him, his numbers are still very un-Roysterlike. In the loss to Illinois, he gained only 38 yards on 12 carries. He has one 100-yard game in six. Things aren't looking very good right now and he knows it.
Asked if the players are showing enough desire in practice, Royster said: "I don't think so. Obviously not. We have to get a sense of urgency, and get out there and stop complaining about long practices.
"The coaches know what's best for us. So, we need to get out there and just stop complaining and just do it."
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he's not talking about the defensive backfield, either. He's talking about the guys he's with everyday in practice, including his offensive line. It takes a lot of guts to call your teammates out in the press like that, especially the people that block for you. Royster is frustrated, but he's obviously not the only one.
Royster was expected to be a cornerstone of the offense, but parts of his play against Illinois clearly agitated Jay Paterno. Asked at separate points about the offense's inefficiency in the red zone, Paterno expressed dissatisfaction with the running backs as a whole.
"We gotta get a back who makes a miss and gets in the end zone," Paterno said. "We can't block them all."
Later, Paterno said at one point that an upperclassmen running back went the wrong way in pass protection on a third-and-goal playaction pass from the 4-yard line.
Rob Bolden's pass was deflected, and Royster was the running back on the play.
"That killed us," Jay Paterno said.
So it looks like everyone is mad at everyone and no one thinks anyone is trying hard enough. Great. I'm not a "sky is falling' kind of guy, but this loss is really exposing just how terrible the Penn State locker room must be right now. For perspective, how many times did you see Talor Battle say his teammates weren't working hard enough during last year's 3-16 Big Ten season for the basketball team? How many times did you see Kurt Kanaski shooting off his mouth in the press seemingly about one guy?
You didn't. You saw this.
"We are still basketball players, and we love to play the game," Battle said. "When you go out there and you expect to get steamrolled, you may as well quit. Being 0-11 now, that's like the worst feeling ever, but it gives you the stride to want to win."
I'm not saying the basketball locker room was perfect last year, as some of the transfers should indicate, but I'll tell you one thing, the players and coaches didn't act like that as the losses were piling up. They weren't turning on each other and trying to pass off the blame in the press. Obviously, there's probably a not-so-subtle motivation tactic hidden in Royster and Paterno's comments, but it's still no pleasant to see people that are supposed to be leaders of the team dividing and laying blame instead of trying to bring people together. If the players and coaches don't believe in each other, why should we?
Speaking of the basketball team, things are off to a flying start.
Sources close to the situation confirmed today that Sasa Borovnjak tore his ACL while at Thursday practice. Borovnjak was slated to be one of the first big men off the bench in the upcoming season. While Borovnjak had yet to contribute any sort of substantialnumbers he was expected to fill the hole Bill Edward’s and Andrew Ott’s departure left.
As Ben notes, this means bigger minutes off the bench for freshman Jonathan Graham. It also means that if Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks struggle again this year, there's not a whole lot for Penn State to fall back on this time. Edwards and Ott were hardly all-stars when Jones and Brooks were benched mid-way through last season, but they were serviceable. Without either of those two or Sasa, Penn State is going to live and die by what the senior forwards do in 2010-2011.
In Scores Of Other Games
- North Carolina cuts ties with Marvin Austin amid recruiting scandal [AP]
- ESPN is projecting that Boise State will top the first BCS standings later today, followed by Oregon. Oi. [ESPN]
- Roster shake-ups could be rampant this week. [PG]
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