Penn State's beleaguered offensive line could soon receive a boost.
During Wednesday's bye week scrimmage for redshirting players in Holuba Hall, a familiar face trotted out onto the field at left guard. Senior Miles Dieffenbach, who tore his left ACL early in spring practice and had surgery to repair the injury, was in there banging heads with the youngsters.
Even after missing the first six games of the 2014 season, Dieffenbach is still the second most experienced PSU offensive lineman. His 23 career starts are second only to left tackle Donovan Smith's 26. The rest of the offensive linemen on the roster have 24 combined career starts.
Wednesday marked the first time Dieffenbach saw scrimmage action at a practice that was open to the media. Redshirting running back Nick Scott popped several long runs with Dieffenbach and company clearing the way.
One of the things that's been great is these live young scrimmages, we've been able to put Dief in there, PSU coach James Franklin said. Because it's hard to go from not doing anything to go play a game. Now he's been able to do drill work, he's been able to go into live scrimmages, and you see him getting more confidence. Because it's not just the physical aspect. It's the mental aspect, as well. I think that's been very important for us.
“It's hard to go from not doing anything to go play a game. Now he's been able to do drill work, he's been able to go into live scrimmages, and you see him getting more confidence.”
Riding a two-game losing streak, 4-2 Penn State is off this weekend before No. 13 Ohio State comes calling at Beaver Stadium Oct. 25. The Lions currently rank 116th in the nation in rushing yardage and sacks allowed, so getting a veteran like Dieffenbach -- the team's only senior scholarship O-lineman -- back in the lineup would be a bonus.
How much of a jump is it to go from scrimmaging primarily against untested freshmen and walk-ons to being game-ready for the Buckeyes?
It's hard to say that, Franklin said. I'm not sure. I think we're close.
Franklin usually gives few details regarding injuries, but he opened up a bit when discussing the 6-foot-3, 303-pounder.
I think he's getting closer every single day, the coach said. You'd love to see him this week. But I don't really completely control that. The doctors make that call and the kid's gonna make that call. And his family will be part of it as well.
But we're gettin' close, he added.