While fielding inquires after Penn State’s win against Temple on Saturday, Michael Mauti offered a question of his own.
“Who would’ve thought Jesse Della Valle would be catching punts for us a year ago?” the senior linebacker said.
The answer to Mauti’s question is likely nobody. But it’s been some former “nobodies” who have been aiding the Nittany Lions when they need them.
In addition to Della Valle — who had a 29-yard return and averaged 15 yards per return on three attempts — Zach Zwinak ran for 94 yards, Matt Lehman had two grabs for 46 yards and Michael Zordich led the team with 114 all-purpose yards. On defense, C.J. Olaniyan made four tackles and broke up a pass filling in for the injured Sean Stanley.
Allen Robinson, who had three career receptions a month ago, has become a household name.
Whether it’s because they are filling in for transfers or injured teammates, players who weren’t putting up big numbers in the past got the job done against Temple.
Even given the weakened state of the conference, Penn State begins its Big Ten slate next week where the team and all the players in new roles should get a better test than what Temple offered.
“Really, it comes down to putting our best football players on the field,” Mauti said. “Finding those guys who can run the ball, finding a guy who can block this guy, finding a guy who can catch a punt.”
Day to remember
Offense: Running back Zach Zwinak
Buried on the depth chart just a few weeks ago, Zwinak was the lone running back left standing when Zordich went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. Zwinak ran for a career-high 94 yards on the afternoon and accumulated 106 all-purpose yards.
Defense: Defensive tackle Kyle Baublitz
The redshirt sophomore only had one tackle against the Owls, but he made it count as Baublitz wrapped up quarterback Chris Coyer in the backfield for his first career sack.
Baublitz’s big play came on a fourth down in the fourth quarter and really ended any slim hope Temple still had at winning. The York native was also part of a defensive line that helped hold Temple to a 237 total yards.
Day to forget
Offense: Wide receiver Brandon Moseby-Felder
Matt McGloin’s only interception of the afternoon wasn’t because of a bad throw, it was because Moseby-Felder couldn’t haul one in on a slant route in the second quarter.
The ball bounced off his hands and into those of Temple defensive back Tavon Young for the pick in the red zone. Moseby-Felder couldn’t make a play on a ball thrown to him in the endzone late in the game, either.
Defense: Linebacker Ben Kline
On a punt in the third quarter, Kline, who had one tackle in the game, was whistled for a late hit near the Penn State sideline. Though it was a questionable call, the flag gave Temple 15 extra yards and was one of the Lions’ nine penalties.
Did you notice?
Multiple tight ends remain involved in Penn State’s offense. Three different tight ends caught passes against Temple with Kyle Carter having the best day (five grabs, 70 yards).
Freshman Jesse James didn’t make a catch, but got his first career start. Paul Jones also was reception-less, but showed a different look as he lined up in the backfield on Penn State’s second play from scrimmage. It didn’t pan out though, as Jones lost seven yards on a rushing attempt.
Mauti made nine more tackles Saturday and he now has 42 for the season. Two of those tackles went for losses and Mauti has also forced two fumbles. Keeping with the “two” theme, Mauti has the second-most tackles in the Big Ten after four weeks of play.
Redshirt junior guard Eric Shrive on Matt McGloin’s mobility: “I’m not going to call him Michael Vick, but he moves around the pocket pretty well.”