There were a number of great performances that could have been more than deemed worth of BSD Most Valuable Player honors for Penn State's season-opening 26-24 victory over Central Florida, but one in particular was downright dominant. While his home is on the Penn State defensive line, Anthony Zettel took up temporary residence in the UCF backfield all day long on Saturday in his first start at defensive tackle after shifting from his past position of defensive end. His push and disruptions of the Knight offense are what earn Zettel BSD MVP honors for week one.
Zettel ended the game with six tackles which included three tackles for loss, a number that could probably be considered low considering just how much time he spent breaking through the re-built Knight offensive line. He sacked UCF starter Pete DiNovo on the first Knight drive of the second half, a play that may have had everything to do with George O'Leary replacing DiNovo with Justin Holman, who ended up becoming the spark-plug behind UCF's second-half comeback. But even Holman wasn't immune to Zettel's ways as, after Christian Hackenberg's second interception of the day gave UCF even more momentum, the redshirt junior once again got into the backfield and recovered a Holman fumble to give Penn State possession in Knight territory.
The entire front seven played awesome on Saturday, only giving up 24 rushing yards on 29 attempts and putting pressure on whichever quarterback was taking snaps. Anthony Zettel was the lynchpin of that dominant performance of old and we're proud to give him no trophy at all for earning BSD MVP's honors.
Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton - The wide receiver duo both brought in over 160 yards in receptions and proved while inexperienced, the talent at the wideout position is more than capable of stepping in for the lost production of Allen Robinson.
Christian Hackenberg - The true sophomore picked up right where he left off last year and set a school record in the process by throwing for 454 yards and a touchdown. His mobility out of the pocket was fantastic to see, but he still needs to learn to throw the ball away as his two interceptions were pretty ugly.
Jordan Lucas - While only credited with two tackles, his three pass break-ups were things of beauty for a defensive back. Twice while playing off the intended receiver, whether it was his man or not, his vertical leap allowed him to swat down certain first-down results and maybe more. He's blossoming into a corner whose side of the field quarterbacks do not want to throw towards.
Sam Ficken - He's gone between face and heel as many times as the Big Show has in WWE in the eyes of Penn State fans over the past two years, but he was the Nittany Lions savior again to start off 2014, nailing four field goals, including the game-winner as time expired. And then that embrace of James Franklin... how can you not just feel extreme exuberance for the guy?