Green Ready to Get Going

Penn State's redshirt freshman tailback has not been happy with his performance to date. But the only finger he is pointing is at himself.

It's hard to imagine Penn State improving on its offensive output through seven games, but tailback Stephfon Green believes one of the Nittany Lions' key players has fallen short of his potential this year. The player in question: Stephfon Green.

“I'm disappointed in myself because I'm not consistent,” he said Wednesday. “That's my fault. I put that all on me. I'm not reading my blocks, I'm not slowing the game down like I'm supposed to.”

Green came into his debut season riding a wave of hyperbole. He had wowed teammates last year while practicing with the foreign team — among others, he impersonated Michigan's Mike Hart — and appeared poised for a breakout freshman season. Expectations skyrocketed when he rushed for a game-high 89 yards on 10 carries in the Nittany Lions' opener against Coastal Carolina.

But in the Lions' past six games, Green has carried 50 times for 294 yards. While Evan Royster's emergence as one of the Big Ten's top running backs has no doubt hampered Green's rise, the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder can't help but feel partly responsible. He said his desire to impress has left him feeling jittery in the backfield.

“I just get this anxious feeling like every run has to be a home run,” he said. “I see myself thinking like that, and I really can't. But that's the way I play. Every time I hit the hole I'm thinking it's going to be a home run. That's just from high school. … I have to slow myself down and not get anxious and I'll be fine.”

Green and Royster will be going up against a strong run defense Saturday when Michigan visits Beaver Stadium. The Wolverines may have their problems on offense, but their defensive front seven has been solid. They are giving up only 2.8 yards per carry and 102.5 yards per game on the ground, third-best in the Big Ten.

“They're big, they're strong, they move around a lot,” Green said. “If you look at their record and look at their defense, you'd be like, 'How are they 2-4?' ”

Green said he believes his problems are “all mental” and will subside with time. He's been getting just as many practice repetitions as Royster, with the coaches eager to keep their starter fresh and injury-free.

There are worse things than to be the backup tailback on the third-ranked team in the country, a team that, with a rare victory over Michigan, will remain in contention for the national championship. So for all his concerns, Green knows he's in an enviable spot.

“Don't get me wrong. We're undefeated right now, and I'm happy about that. I'm not a selfish player,” he said. “But as far as my overall ability, I feel like I'm not consistent running the ball. I had a good game against Coastal, then I didn't have a good game against Oregon State. But you know, it's the role I'm playing right now. I don't know what specific role I'm playing. That's up to the guys upstairs who call the plays. I feel like my pass blocking has been on point this year, but I want to be consistent running the ball and reading my blocks and things like that.”

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