Penn State focuses on Pitt’s Quadree Henderson; Connor McGovern settles in at center

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Quadree Henderson is potential ‘game-wrecker’

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times writes that one of Penn State’s big concerns in the matchup Saturday against Pitt is Quadree Henderson, who Lions coach James Franklin called a potential “game-wrecker.”

Henderson, an All-American kick returner in 2016, piled up 201 all-purpose yards in Pitt’s 42-39 defeat of the Nittany Lions last year – 58 on 4 rushes, 47 (and a touchdown) on 3 receptions and 92 on 2 kickoff returns, including an 84-yarder.

In the Panthers’ season-opening 28-21 overtime victory last week over Youngstown State, he generated 155 all-purpose yards, including 77 on 9 rushes.

Connor McGovern talks, plays a good game

Derek Levarse of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader profiles sophomore center Connor McGovern, who started much of last season at right guard before moving back to his natural position this year. While Franklin was concerned about McGovern making the line calls – “He’s not the most vocal guy,” the coach said – that hasn’t been an issue. “I think it lines up with who I am,” McGovern told Levarse. “I want to make sure everyone’s on the same page. I like to make sure everyone knows what’s going on and no one’s left out, so I think it comes naturally to me.”

Why am I soft in the middle now?

McGovern’s name also comes up in the video breakdown Andrew Callahan of Lions247 does of last year’s Penn State-Pitt game. Specifically, Callahan mentions that at a critical juncture the Panthers used an exotic blitz to overload the middle of the Lions’ line, resulting in a sack. That’s something they can be expected to do again with a first-year starter at center, writes Callahan, who offers 18 other observations of the game last year as well.

Grading on a curve

David Jones of Pennlive.com notes the game this week underscores the dangers of putting too much stock in the recruiting rankings ascribed to quarterbacks. Pitt QB Max Browne, a graduate transfer from USC, is still trying to find his way after earning a 5-star grade out of high school. Penn State’s Trace McSorley, a mere 3-star recruit out of Virginia, set three single-season school records while leading the Lions to a Big Ten championship last year, and is viewed as a dark-horse Heisman candidate this season.

The name rings a bell

Steve Connelly writes for the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat about Lions safety Troy Apke, whose dad, Steve, was once a linebacker at Pitt. “He supports me with everything I do,” the younger Apke told Connelly. “He just supports me, and I’m at Penn State, so he’s a Penn State fan.”

Born to run

Two Penn State cross country runners, junior Colin Abert and senior Jillian Hunsberger, were named Big Ten men’s and women’s Athletes of the Week in their sport, according to a university release. They finished first in their respective races while leading Penn State to team titles at the Lock Haven (Pa.) Dolan Duels.

Flashback

The Big Ten Network correctly zeroes in on the turning point of Penn State’s 2016 season – a game-winning 25-yard touchdown run in overtime by Saquon Barkley against Minnesota last Oct. 8 — and offers up video of the play on its Twitter page. That victory was the first of nine straight for the Lions, who went on to win the conference championship.

Also in the Land of 10

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