A solemn Penn State squad stayed true to its word by remaining on the field for the singing of the alma mater immediately after the emotional defeat.
With fewer smiles and a little less swaying, players and coaches could have been pondering the ramifications of their 35-23 loss to Ohio State.
But instead, players said they had already left the ill effects of the game behind them.
“My mind was on the next game when the clock hit zero,” tight end Garry Gilliam said. “That’s just what it is. It’s a game that you have to be very, very resilient at this level.”
The Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten) have many areas to pick from if they choose to analyze their shortcomings in the loss to the undefeated Buckeyes on Saturday. An inability to contain dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller doomed a team that struggled to run the ball — Penn State totaled just 32 rushing yards — and shot itself in the foot with several critical penalties.
However, linebacker Michael Yancich said quarterback Matt McGloin had already outlined the goal for the rest of the season when the team huddled together in the locker room afterward.
“We actually broke down [in a huddle] and Matt McGloin said ‘9-3,’ ” Yancich said. “That’s our goal. We don’t want to lose another game the rest of the season. We’re going to get back to work on Monday, and hopefully win out.”
Purdue is the first team standing in the way of the Lions’ desired finish, and Penn State will travel to West Lafayette, Ind. for the game this weekend.
McGloin, whose interception to begin the second half sparked the Buckeyes’ 21-point third quarter, said he’s already looking forward to Purdue.
“We have four games left,” McGloin said. “We have a tough game on Saturday against a tough Purdue team. We cannot be worried about one loss.”
The quarterback did have positive results to take away from the game himself, though, as he threw for a career-high 327 yards and two touchdowns.
O’Brien said, on the other hand, the team will look to better its effort on the ground. Penn State averaged just 1.1 yards per attempt and its lack of a rushing presence allowed the Buckeyes’ defense to amp up its pressure on McGloin, tallying four sacks in the process.
“[Defensive coaches] Luke Fickell and Mike Vrabel did a great job of getting their guys ready to go,” O’Brien said. “Again, we have to go and watch the tape and find ways to improve. No question about it.”
Meanwhile, after succeeding against several dual-threat quarterbacks earlier this season, Penn State’s defense was exposed by Miller, who tallied three total touchdowns.
Despite the outcome, linebacker Michael Mauti downplayed the idea of the Lions being outmatched as much as simply missing opportunities to alter the outcome of the game.
“When we get the opportunities to make big plays, we have to make them and execute,” Mauti said. “We had a couple of opportunities for interceptions. We didn’t get many turnovers tonight, so that’s something that we have to work on.”
The Lions, now standing at 3-1 in Big Ten play, still have time to recover from the setback and make some noise in the Leaders Division.
Linebacker Glenn Carson said with the large amount of experience the Lions’ leaders possess, there is “no doubt” they will bounce back to finish the season strong.
“Everyone is a little heartbroken right now, but we have a bunch of warriors on our team,” Carson said. “Once Sunday and Monday hit and put this Ohio State film behind us, it’s back to work and everyone’s going to rebound in a positive way.”
To email reporter: email@example.com