The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 1, 2013

College football: 'Fantastic kid' Keiser sidelined for Penn State's Big Ten opener

'Fantastic kid' may be back for Michigan

Daily Item

---- — By Tim Owen

For The Daily Item

The first portion of the football season couldn't have gone much better for Selinsgrove High graduate Ryan Keiser. At least that was until partway through the fourth game of Penn State's season.

After playing in each of the first three games, Keiser was having a career day against Kent State on Sept. 21. The junior safety amassed three tackles, one of which was a sack for a 2-yard loss. He deflected three passes and intercepted another. As the full-time PAT and field goal holder, too, he was as flawless as you can get.

"Watching from the sideline, I thought he did a heck of a job," head coach Bill O'Brien said after the game, a 34-0 victory in favor of the Nittany Lions. "What a fantastic kid."

But later on, Keiser learned he had broken his hand during the game. Penn State had a bye last weekend, so Keiser had a week to heal, but O'Brien confirmed Tuesday that the injury will keep him out of action for the team's Big Ten opener. When Penn State travels to Indiana on Saturday for a noon kickoff, Keiser will not play.

"He's out for the game," O'Brien said. "He could possibly be back for Michigan (on Oct. 12)."

Preparing for the Hoosiers

Indiana (2-2) has the most potent passing offense in the Big Ten through four games and it averages 44.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Penn State's passing defense is ranked third against the pass and allows a formidable 183.2 yards per game.

Keiser's absence will surely hurt the Nittany Lions, so this could be the most crucial matchup of the game, in which Indiana is considered a slight favorite..

"They do a fantastic job," O'Brien said of the Hoosiers' passing attack, led by quarterback Nate Sudfeld. "(Head coach) Kevin Wilson has done a really good job. He was (offensive coordinator) at Oklahoma. Now he's at Indiana and tries to run 90 to 100 plays a game. So you have to get (the defense) lined up, communicate properly and handle the tempo.

"Then they have two good running backs, a good quarterback that's playing well, a couple of good receivers and good tight ends. They get you into situations where you're going to have to make plays in space. So handling the tempo, being able to tackle in space, and not give up a ton of explosive plays is a big part of the game plan."

Sanction relief

Holding his first press conference since the NCAA announced that it would gradually reduce Penn State's scholarship restrictions, O'Brien fielded only one question on the topic in the Beaver Stadium media room Tuesday. He held a teleconference after the news broke on Sept. 24, in which he stated that he is happy for his "players and our fans. I think that they're the best fans in the country. I feel good for the student body. Days like this, when scholarships are restored, is a good day for all those people."

At the press conference, he was asked what kind of impact the development has since had on his recruiting efforts.

"I think it's been positive," he replied. "I talked to a few (recruits). We're only allowed one phone call a week right now. It's positive news for Penn State. Our guys feel good about it, but we're focused on Indiana."