The Penn State Nittany Lions lost to Virginia on Saturday 17-16 after place kicker Sam Ficken missed a 42-yard field goal at the end that could have won the game.
Ficken replaced one of Penn State's transfers over the summer, Anthony Fera, and had multiple chances to add points for the Nittany Lions. But he missed four of his five field goal attempts.
Michael Rocco found Jake McGee for a 6-yard touchdown pass, and the point after gave the Cavaliers a 17-16 lead. Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin battled a banged-up elbow from being hit on consecutive drives in the first half.
McGloin made his return on in the third quarter and led the Nittany Lions to another touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. But the 12-play drive that ended with McGee in the end zone gave Virginia its lead.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin has reentered the game for the Nittany Lions after suffering an elbow injury in the second quarter against Virginia. The PSU quarterback was hit on the elbow in the exact same spot on two consecutive series. He was standing exposed in the pocket on both occasions. The second blow from Ausar Walcott sent him to the locker room, as he immediately walked off the field with his right shoulder and arm sagging. It looked like his day would be over and true freshman Steven Bench came on in relief to end the half.
But McGloin returned during the Nittany Lions' first possession of the second half. He was the last one out of the locker room, but looked to still be in pain. Bench came out to start the series but he was quickly replaced by McGloin. The veteran QB hit Alex Kenney for a 23-yard strike on his first play back in the game. The elbow still looks to be bothering him, however, as he tries to work his way back into rhythm with a brace on it.
PSU currently trails 10-7 but Bill O'Brien's offense has had success moving the ball up-and-down the field. Two missed field goals hurt their chances in the first half.
Penn State leads Virginia 7-3 at halftime, but there appears to be cause for concern at the quarterback position.
Matt McGloin, who led Penn State to its only touchdown drive in this game so far, went to the locker room favoring his throwing elbow after being hit by a Virginia defender in the second consecutive drive. Freshman quarterback Steven Bench filled in for McGloin, but was sacked on a fourth down attempt in his first play, and unable to get much going in his next drive.
McGloin connected with Kyle Carter for an eight-yard touchdown pass that capped a 17-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:27 off the clock. Virginia didn't get on the board until the second quarter when Drew Jarrett knocked in a 46-yard field goal.
Penn State is looking to avoid going 0-2 for the first time since 2001.
After dropping their season opener to the Ohio Bobcats, Penn State hopes to rebound in their first road trip of the year when they head down to Virginia to play the Cavaliers. The Nittany Lions were shocked at home by the Ohio Bobcats in Week 1, while the Cavaliers won their first matchup easily over Richmond, 43-19.
Here are the basics for the game:
Game Time/Date: 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, September 8, 2012
TV Schedule: ABC
Spread: Virginia (-10)
As usual, a big question mark for Penn State will be the production of starter Matt McGloin. He had a solid game against Ohio throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns, but also had an interception and completed only 56% of his passes (27-48). The Nittany Lions will also rely heavily upon sophomore running back Bill Belton, who led the team with 53 yards on 13 carries last week.
O'Brien talked about his past experiences coaching against the Cavaliers as well as the home atmosphere of Scott Stadium.
The Virginia teams that we played in the mid‑'90s, early 2000s were very similar; big, tall defensive linemen, offensive linemen, big DBs...I think they've got a great home field environment, atmosphere. It's a loud place. Our guys got to be ready for that. But I definitely see some similar qualities of the teams that we played.
O'Brien thinks that one of the keys to stopping the Cavaliers' offense is to maintain focus with as much motion the Cavaliers do.
I think, again, Coach Lazor does a great job with that offense of motioning and shifting and trying to keep people off balance with a lot of different looks; call it window dressing, but he does a really good job with that.
O'Brien also talked about how his team matches up against its ACC opponent.
Coach London has done an excellent job of putting together his style of team. They're a big team, they're a physical team. There's certain units on the team that are veteran guys that play extremely hard. It's going to be a big challenge for us.
The Nittany Lions play against the Cavaliers at Scott Stadium this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ABC.
With overall depth seeming to be the biggest problem surrounding the Penn State football program, which is coming off a 24-14 season opening loss at the hands of Ohio University in Bill O'Brien's head coaching debut, depth at the tailback position doesn't seem to be an issue.
That's a good thing, as it appears that sophomore tailback Bill Belton won't be available for Saturday's road game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Belton suffered an ankle sprain against Ohio and has been listed as day-to-day, but O'Brien -- during a Tuesday teleconference -- says he feels confident in the other players the Nittany Lions have at the tailback position:
We'd probably go with Derek Day, and then the other guys that will be ready to go are Akeel Lynch like we talked about, Zwinak, Curtis Dukes, those guys will be ready to go, Mike Zordich will be involved there, too.
We've got good depth at running back. Billy, obviously the ankle injury, you never like to lose a player like Billy. We think he's a really good player. But if he can't go, we've got plenty of guys there that can go.