What a difference a year makes.
Starting off the 2013 season with a victory over a BCS conference historical rival got the attention of the Big Ten conference (and the BTN, which named it the game of the week), as junior kicker Sam Ficken and freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg were named the Special Teams and Freshman Players of the Week, respectively.
Ficken continued where he left off last season, and has now made 13 straight field goals. He went 3 for 3 on the day Saturday, including logging a career-high 46-yarder. He also went 2 for 2 on extra points and booted all but one kickoff into the end zone.
The storyline surrounding Ficken has long been his dreadful performance last year at UVA, but lost in the chorus of naysayers is the very real possibility that Ficken has become a go-to guy for Penn State. Indeed. Ficken's goal for 2013 is a lofty one: to not miss a kick all season--something those outside the program may scoff at, but from what we've seen in the last 11 months, is a worthy (and potentially attainable) goal indeed. This is his second straight regular season B1G Special Teams POW honor, after getting the nod last year after his game-winning field goal versus Wisconsin.
Hackenberg, much like Ficken, was viewed outside the program as a bit of a wild card for this first game of the season. BOB never publicly confirmed that the 18-year-old would get the start, but rumors swirled and as of Friday night, ESPN reported that Hack would be taking the first snaps the next day.
The quarterback didn't disappoint, going 22 of 31 for 2 TDs and 2 INTs. He made some mistakes, granted, but nowhere near as many as your run-of-the-mill true freshman--and his positives far made up for his negatives. With a lack of ground game mostly due to Syracuse's as-good-as-advertised defense, the outcome of the game rested on Hack's shoulders, and he delivered.
Hackenberg is the first PSU freshman to garner the Freshman of the Week award since Kyle Carter got the honor after last year's thrashing of Iowa.
Other Big Ten Players of the Week:
Offensive: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
Defensive: Collin Ellis, Northwestern
More from Black Shoe Diaries:
- B1G Recap: Week One
- GoPSUSports Shop Allows You To Cherish "23-17" Forever
- Post-Game Link Dump- Syracuse
- Hey, Wha Happen? Penn State 23, Syracuse 17
- Quick Recap: Penn State 23 Syracuse 17
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