Lion Defensive Line Surviving

Odrick and company holding up well despite serious personnel losses up front. "We can't sit here and mourn. We have to move on," he said.

Penn State would love to have its defensive line intact, make no mistake about that. But the wave of attrition that has left the Nittany Lions perilously shorthanded up front has in no way changed Jared Odrick’s approach to the season.  

“We can’t sit here and mourn our losses,” Odrick said. “We have to move on. That’s got to be the mind-set. … You’d love to have those guys on the field, but that’s part of the game.”

Odrick has been one of the survivors as the Lions have reassembled their line following the permanent dismissals of Chris Baker and Phil Taylor, the (presumably) temporary suspensions of Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma, and the injuries that have claimed Jerome Hayes and Devon Still. Odrick’s backup at tackle, converted offensive guard Mike Lucian, is also hurt, having suffered a sprained ankle last week against Syracuse.  

Odrick, who is playing defensive tackle after starting his career at end, is coming off an injury of his own. His sophomore season was cut short when his right ankle was dislocated last October against Indiana.

Odrick said he was pain-free in spring practice, but he was wary at first, concerned about testing his surgically repaired ankle. He felt good in the Blue-White Game and continued to make progress after spring drills ended. “I felt that coming out of the summer I was in pretty good shape,” he said, “and I feel that way now.”  

Joe Paterno said he thinks the 6-foot-5, 303-pound Odrick still needs to improve his conditioning. “He doesn’t have quite the stamina you would like for him to have at this stage,” Paterno said. “That’s because he’s lost so much practice time because of injuries. But he’s doing very, very well.”  

Odrick said he felt a bit winded in Penn State’s rout of Syracuse, but he added that the stuffy field conditions were a contributing factor. “It’s tough to breathe in the Carrier Dome,” he said.  

He and his teammates will return to the great outdoors Saturday against visiting Temple. Odrick said he expects Owls quarterback Adam DiMichele to keep Penn State’s defense on its toes with his passing and running, and he doesn’t see the Lions taking their final nonconference opponent lightly. Said Odrick, “I don’t think Joe Paterno is going to let us get big heads.”

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