Every football season, there are Penn State players and coaches that get on the wrong side of the fans in attendance, the people watching from home on television, and yes, even the people in the media. While it comes with the territory of being a college athlete at a major program that draws nationwide interest, some of the criticism is not warranted.
There simply is no better example right now than Evan Royster - the Nittany Lions' senior tailback. This is a guy who has given everything to the Penn State program for his entire career and has done it in a professional manner - something that can't be said for a lot of college football players these days. He rushed for 513 yards his freshman season, 1,236 more during his sophomore campaign and 1,169 last season. Against Kent State on Saturday, Royster went over the 3,000-yard mark for his career - just the sixth player in Nittany Lion history to accomplish that feat.
Think we can give the guy a break now?
It's true that Penn State has two explosive running backs in the stable (Stephon Green and Silas Redd) and I'm all for finding a way to get them their touches as Paterno did in the second half last week. But Galen Hall's biggest problem right now is finding a way to pound the ball behind an offensive line that simply hasn't grasped the concept of run blocking in the first three games.
Heck, running behind the left side has been virtually impossible, partly because neither Johnnie Troutman nor DeOn'tae Pannell has secured the left guard position yet.
Either way, Royster is a big part of this offense and only five other running backs have done a better job wearing blue and white to date. He's going to get his carries and in order for the team to perform well in the Big Ten, he's going to have to make them count.
I have no doubt he will - just as he has his entire career. That's why he has a shot at becoming Penn State's all-time leading rusher when it's all said and done.
Can you believe we're already four weeks into the season? Next week at this time, Penn State will be preparing for its Big Ten opener at Iowa. But this year, the Lions have to take their last non-conference game seriously as unbeaten Temple is anything but the Owls of old.
Al Golden took the head coaching job at Temple five years ago when the Owls were mired in a long losing streak and were forced out of the Big East Conference. Nobody wanted the position, yet Golden - a former Penn State captain - stepped up to the plate, endured the struggles, and returned the Owls to a bowl game last season.
As a Temple student in Golden's first year, I was unsure of whether or not the administration would give him enough time to create a winner in the Mid-American Conference. It did, however, and Golden has delivered.
Now, for the first time in his tenure at Temple, he has a team that can come to Beaver Stadium on Saturday and play with the Nittany Lions. Can they win? That might be a bit of a stretch, but the Owls won't roll over after Penn State gets on the board first, as they have in season's past.
"They're not going to be awestruck coming into Beaver Stadium," Paterno said at his weekly press conference. "Most of the kids have been here. They've got a good, competitive football team and they can come up here and beat us. If they can do that, obviously it's a milestone for them.
"And it's something that we certainly have to be ready for. We're going to have our hands full, I don't care any way you twist it."
For those of us who follow Paterno on a daily basis, we know he says similar things about most of his opponents. This time, he's not joking - and the players had better buy in to what he's saying.
Random fact - did you know that Penn State is the only team in Division I football that has not had a quarterback sacked this season? For all the trouble that the linemen have had run blocking, they've redeemed themselves in the passing game. Having an athletic quarterback like Rob Bolden that isn't afraid to vacate the pocket surely doesn't hurt that stat either.
Drew Pellman is a Sentinel sports reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org