Everyone from television announcers to media types to fans seemed to be wondering why hobbled Penn State starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg was still on the field in final minutes of what became a 38-10 blowout loss at No. 1 Ohio State Saturday night.
One person who had no problem with the coaching staff’s decision?
Talking to reporters Wednesday, the junior explained that he wanted to be on the field, even though he was hurting from “a combination of things” after being rolled up on earlier in the game.
“I’m gonna keep playing for my teammates as long as I can play and until I’m either taken out or for whatever reason,” Hackenberg said. “That’s kind of my mindset behind it. So for me, I wasn’t really paying any attention to (the idea of coming out). I was just worried about trying to execute plays and grind through with my boys.”
For his part, head coach James Franklin said he understood why people might be critical of the decision to leave Hackenberg in the game, but that he never wants to come across as “waving a white flag.”
Hackenberg also believes it is the job of a team leader to gut it out and stay on the field as long as possible.
“It’s something that’s really important to me, just having the availability to my teammates because I know those guys would do the same thing for me and I know those guys have done the same thing for me and our team in the past,” Hackenberg said. “So I’m just making sure I’m available every snap and doing whatever I’ve got to do to get the job done.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a pride thing,” he added. “But it’s something I expect of myself and it’s something that I hold myself to.”