Just when we thought this season couldn’t get anymore bizarre, here we are. In his post game conference Coach Franklin said, “Literally, I've never been through something like this, especially at this point in the season when you're already banged up. So just a ton of respect for our guys and how they handled it. They never flinched and never panicked. I'm really proud of the guys. You know, there's not a whole lot more to say than that. But that's as much adversity as I've seen a program withstand in one week."
All ya’ll complaining about Franklin not being able to make adjustments, I give you: 35 players with seasonal flu. That could've been a disaster. Coming off a loss to Michigan in an already disappointing season, I’m not sure how it wasn’t a disaster. Players literally vomiting at the breakfast table on Saturday morning. I guess we’ll have to give this coaching staff and these players some credit after all.
I know it was Rutgers, but what more could you ask from this team. Another shutout by the defense, which was the first time in program history we’ve blanked two Big Ten opponents in the same season. The Nittany Lions also held Rutgers to 160 total offensive yards.
Jordan Stout earned his fourth B1G Special Teams Player of the Week award, having dominated the field position aspect of the game and pinning Rutgers inside their own five yard line twice.
Our ever-struggling offensive line was hit the hardest by the stomach-bug and managed to work so well with Christian Veilleux they racked up 258 yards passing, 149 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. It was also the first time in program history two Canadians connected for a touchdown reception; Malik Meiga made the 67-yard catch for his first career TD.
Even with the stomach-flu insanity, Veilleux’s debut may have been the story of the day. Veilleux hadn’t played in over two years, since his junior year of high school having had his senior season canceled due to covid. Though it took him and the offense nearly a full quarter to get a rhythm going, I don’t think there was anybody left unimpressed by his confidence and capability.
Jahan Dotson said he was impressed by “Veilleux’s poise. He never seemed to get rattled at any moment in the game. Stayed calm, made the right reads. He had a tremendous game. Everything and more that you can ask from a freshman quarterback. I’m just excited to see what he’s got down the line.” After the uncertainty of a solid backup QB during the Iowa game, I’m certain that we are all excited to see what Christian will bring to the table next season.
This season has seemed both impossibly long and like a blink of an eye. I can’t believe we’re already saying goodbye to Beaver Stadium and goodbye to this amazing group of seniors. Thank you Jaquan Brisker, Ellis Brooks, Journey Brown, Tariq Castro-Fields, Rafael Checa, Max Chizmar, Sean Clifford, Jahan Dotson, Arnold Ebiketie, Winston Eubanks, Henry Fessler, Fred Hansard, Drew Hartlaub, Vlad Hilling, Des Holmes, Bradley King, Will Knutson, Kaleb Konigus, John Lovett, Jesse Luketa, Mike Miranda, PJ Mustipher, Jason Stout, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Jonathan Sutherland, Derrick Tangelo, Dan Vasey, Justin Weller, Anthony Whigan, Benjamin Wilson, and Eric Wilson for all you’ve contributed to the glory of Old State.
Just one game to go. Last on the docket is Michigan State, always my favorite to end the regular season. It looks like the odds-makers think it's a toss up. I hope we go in as an underdog--how could we not as an unranked team on the road versus number twelve-- and prove we can end the season how we began. Go State! Beat the Spartans!