<
>
Insider

Saturday's player to watch: C Stankiewitch

11/15/2012

Everyone will closely watch Zach Zwinak and Allen Robinson, but who else should play a critical role in Saturday's game? NittanyNation ventures outside the box against Indiana.

This week's impact player: Matt Stankiewitch, fifth-year senior center

This game has the potential to be a lopsided affair, and Stankiewitch could play a crucial role in determining just how much. The Hoosiers have allowed 244 rushing yards a game -- the third-worst mark in the country -- and have permitted more than five yards a carry. That means Penn State is likely to run it early and run it often, and nowhere is Indiana's defense more experienced than the interior.

Indiana boasts a pair of big 294-pound defensive tackles in Larry Black and Adam Replogle. They combine for 83 career starts, and Penn State players have been remarking all week on those two. For Zwinak to have a big game, he'll need to run some behind Stankiewitch -- and a subpar game by the senior center could trip up PSU's rhythm.

Think the center's performance will have minimal impact? Well, just take a look at last week's rushing performance against Nebraska. Zwinak was able to set the tone early on a long 50-yard run thanks to nice block by John Urschel. Without that block, PSU doesn't get on the board that early.

Stankiewitch is the anchor of this line, and a big game for Stank likely means a big game for Zwinak. Penn State's senior center is definitely a player to keep an eye on Saturday. If Penn State has its biggest rushing game of the season, Stankiewitch will be a big reason why.