September 8, 2012 at 6:38 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Before this season, State College native Alex Kenney had not caught a pass in a Penn State uniform.
The sophomore finally got on the board with two catches for 21 yards against Ohio last week. His performance in Saturday's loss against Virginia, though, showed his ability to not only make catches but big plays for the offense.
Twice on a third quarter drive, Kenney broke loose for gains of 20-plus yards. The first long catch, good for 23 yards, came on 3rd-and-10 with Penn State deep in its own territory at the 25-yard line. The play moved the sticks and gave the offense some breathing room. Six plays later, quarterback Matt McGloin found Kenney for 24 yards down to the Virginia 5-yard line, setting Penn State up with a 1st-and-goal situation.
Ultimately, Sam Ficken missed a 20-yard field goal attempt to cap the drive, but Kenney's big plays helped give the Nittany Lions a good opportunity to score. He credited work with wide receivers coach Stan Hixon for being put in a position to succeed.
"I just try to do whatever I'm taught in practice," Kenney said. "Coach [Stan] Hixon is doing a great job, and if I get the ball I'm just going to try to make a play."
Kenney finished the day with three receptions for 50 yards. He also lined up for some returns, though he didn't have an opportunity to run one back.
He's not so much worried about kick returns for the time being, though. He just wants to continue getting better at the wide receiver position, and he plans to keep his ears open in practice to do so.
"I feel like I'm making progress," Kenney said. "Obviously I have a lot of room to improve. Like I said, I'm just going to keep listening to coach Hixon's advice, coach O'Brien's advice and try to progress."