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Penn State Football Notebook: Blue Ribbons to be Placed on Back of Helmets

by on August 23, 2012 12:11 PM

Updated at 6:31 a.m. Friday

A weekly radio call-in show featuring Bill O'Brien debuted Thursday night.

O’Brien did not participate on this week’s show because of the team’s practice schedule but will join each week starting Aug. 30.

Instead, acting athletic director Dave Joyner hopped on The Penn State Football Show as the featured guest and made a couple interesting points, most notably that the blue ribbon decals meant to symbolize support for victims of child abuse will be placed on the back of players' helmets. It was reasonably speculated the ribbons be sewn onto the jerseys.

Steve Jones, the radio voice of Penn State football, hosts the one-hour show. Fans can submit questions to www.GoPSUsports.com/askthecoach or call 1-800-52-LIONS (525-4667) to ask questions of the coaches and student-athletes.

Earlier at 5:02 p.m. on Aug. 23

Bill O’Brien handed the keys of the offense to Matt McGloin in June as his starting quarterback. He wanted one man to be able to maximize his first-team reps and gain comfort with a new, complex scheme.

Come Sept. 1, it’s the McGloin show, and the fifth-year senior is ready to take center stage as the cog in the offense that must call and audible in the correct play before each snap.

"We don't want to run a bad play ever," McGloin said Thursday. "It took a lot of time and film work to get familiar with the language and the play calls, to get familiar with what the defense is doing. We don't need to be our best today, we need to be our best Sept. 1."

How far McGloin has come is a major key to the 2012 season. Last year, he split time with Rob Bolden, who has since transferred to LSU. A career completion percentage of 54 percent must surely improve if the offense is to quell talk of being inept.

"I'm definitely light years ahead of where I was in terms of quarterback and being a leader as well,” said McGloin. “We're really happy with the progress that we've made and hopefully ready to show everybody how far we've come.”

"Matt is doing a helluva job this camp as far as accuracy and precision," senior cornerback Stephon Morris said. "He's so much smart as a quarterback, checking out of plays. Matt is doing great, and the only way the quarterback can do good like that is if you have a good offensive line."

Massaro Dealing with Minor Knee Issue

Pete Massaro’s knee is not 100 percent one week before the Sept. 1 season opener, but he still expects to play against Ohio.

The redshirt senior said Thursday he has suffered some minor issues in the knee. He received a Platelet Rich Plasma injection on Wednesday and is taking precaution during practice to see how the knee responds to the treatment.

“It already feels better,” said Massaro, who has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees.

Former Navy SEAL Rick Slater Tells Team 'Everything's Riding on This Season'

Bill O’Brien has been bringing myriad guest speakers in throughout training camp. Just over a week ago, one of them, a former back-up defensive tackle for Penn State in the late ‘90s, opened everyone’s eyes.

Rick Slater, a former Navy SEAL, nearly died twice. Once, he ran out of oxygen on a dive and had to alert his swim buddy, breathe off his rig and swim to safety. Elsewhere, in the sky, a malfunction left him in an uncontrollable flat spin before some quick-thinking adjustment saved his life.

Slater once rode the same blue buses to Beaver Stadium as his audience. He saw an ad in the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, about walking on at Penn State. Eleven years had passed since Slater, then on the other side of 30, last played a down of football.

Survival is one theme of Penn State’s narrative this season. But college football is quite trivial in the scope of Slater’s world — and even he put on the blue and white uniform. What do heavy NCAA sanctions levied to cripple a program for years mean compared to war?

But that wasn’t Slater’s message.

"He just said everything's riding on this season,” senior fullback Mike Zordich said Thursday. “The future of the program, the past, all the guys who used to play here. Everything's riding on this season, and it's very important for us to go out and make things happen for the university.”

Penn State faces a four-year postseason ban, reduction of 40 scholarships over four years, a $60 million fine, and, perhaps most damning, the freedom for any player to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year until preseason practice 2013.

Nine have transferred. Two others have left the team for unknown reasons but remain enrolled at the university. A media blitzkrieg has swallowed life in State College like a tsunami since November.

But . . .

In nine days there will be football at Beaver Stadium, and that excites the hell out of the Nittany Lions, according to team members who spoke Thursday morning via teleconference.

Zordich said the 2012 team can do for Penn State what the NFL’s Saints did for New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the deadly storm that ravaged the gulf coast in 2005. Four years later, of course, the franchise won its first Super Bowl.

Perspective.

O’Brien has said he will continue to bring in the motivational speakers throughout the season. It’s a concept Nick Saban uses at Alabama, which has claimed two of the last three national championships, and it’s a concept Bill Belichick, one of the most respected football coaches ever, uses with the New England Patriots.

“I was thoroughly impressed by the guy,” said offensive guard John Urschel, elaborating on the visit by Slater. “His dedication to his country and how much Penn State football truly meant to him, how clear that’s a guy who’s done some great things in his life, and it’s great to see such a great person like that.”



Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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