Penn State running back Akeel Lynch played his high school football in suburban Buffalo, received his first scholarship offer from the University of Buffalo and knows some of the players on the Bulls’ roster.
Now he will face that school Saturday, when the Bulls (1-0) visit Beaver Stadium for the Nittany Lions’ home opener.
“It will definitely be a good game this week,” Lynch said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
Or so the Lions hope, after laying an egg in last Saturday’s 27-10 season-opening loss to Temple.
Lynch scored a first-quarter touchdown on a 42-yard run and wound up with 78 yards on 10 carries, but after a promising start the offense stalled. The Lions had 126 yards in building a 10-0 lead after a quarter, but managed just 54 the rest of the way.
A total of 105 of those 180 yards came on three plays – Lynch’s TD, Brandon Polk’s 33-yard reverse on PSU’s first play from scrimmage and Chris Godwin’s 30-yard reception. The Lions’ other 52 plays netted 75 yards, in large part because the Owls had 10 sacks for 64 yards in losses.
“You’ve got to give Temple credit: They made good adjustments,” Lynch said, echoing what coach James Franklin and other players said after the game. “There were plays we could have made more of. Other than that, Temple won that day.”
Lynch also reiterated the party line when he said there were communication issues, saying that the Lions have “just got to continue to echo the call” after it is first made.
“From a personal standpoint there were a couple more plays I could have made,” he said. “Other than that, there’s a lot of learning, a lot of communication. We have to continue to learn from that film and move on.”
Lynch, a redshirt junior and Toronto native, attended St. Francis High School outside Buffalo, living with teammates each of his last two seasons. He rushed for 828 yards as a junior and a school-record 2,131 yards his senior year, including a 376-yard game.
Playing at St. Francis, he said, “helped me explore more opportunities” and “allowed me to continue to develop my game.”
He has slowly worked his way into the mix at Penn State, rushing 60 times for 358 yards in 2013 and 147 times for a team-leading 678 yards last season.
“I’m a lot stronger (than two years ago),” he said. “Mentally I’m more in tune with the offense. That allows me to play faster.”
And he wouldn’t mind getting the ball more. Then again, he said, “As a competitive player, all of us want the ball more. … If you ask DaeSean (Hamilton, the wide receiver), he wants the ball thrown to him all the time. I want the ball all the time.”
It’s just a matter of doing more with it. Unlike last week.