As we try to pry our eyes away from the train wreck that is Penn State football right now, here’s some highlights from coordinator day down at the NovaCare Complex …
First, the Eagles confirmed — barring medical miracles in the next two days — that the team will have two new starters this week. King Dunlap will replace Evan Mathis (turf toe) at left guard, while rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett will take over at safety for Nate Allen (concussion).
Dunlap leaked the news of his promotion Wednesday, while defensive coordinator Juan Castillo confirmed that Jarrett would start Thursday.
“The more reps that he’ll get the more comfortable he’ll feel and it’s more about being comfortable than anything else,” Castillo said.
“Starter or non-starter, you always prepare as if you are a starter,” Jarrett said. “I still go into the game with the same mind frame, always prepare as if I’m starter, even if I’m not playing, I always prepare as a starter.”
Meanwhile, Mathis was gingerly walking around the locker room, with what looked like a swollen toe. However, it wasn’t wrapped or in any kind of protective boot.
BABIN VENTS ABOUT DIRTY HIT. Eagles defensive end Jason Babin is often the target of the NFL’s ire for his aggressive, sometimes dirty play. This time, he feels that he was the victim, after the Bears sent tight end Kellen Davis at him on a vicious chip block that tomahawked him Monday night.
“It was definitely an intentionally-called play,” Babin said. “Technically, no, it’s not illegal, but if you look at the rules of a defenseless player, obviously I’m defenseless.”
Babin added that the Eagles have informed commissioner Roger Goodell about it.
MARTY PLEADS THE FIFTH. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg refused to answer any questions concerning Penn State. His son, Skyler, a blue-chip quarterback recruit out of St. Joseph’s Prep, had verbally committed to the Nittany Lions last summer. With Joe Paterno out, it stands to reason that Skyler could back out and go elsewhere.
“I’m sure he’ll come out and speak one of these days, I think it’ll be quite awhile, so we’ll see,” Mornhinweg said.
There are also some rumors making the rounds that Mornhinweg would be considered for the head coaching job at Penn State next season. Paterno’s defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, has taken over on an interim basis. Mornhinweg simply offered a “no comment” on that speculation.
SOFT TO THE TOUCH. The entire Eagles team, from offense to defense, has been accused of being a finesse (read: soft) squad in recent days. On Wednesday, quarterback Mike Vick dismissed those rumors and sneered at the reporter who asked the question. Vick did admit that perhaps some panic has crept in at times.
“We beat ourselves,” Vick said Wednesday. “I think when certain things happen in a game, we kind of, it’s like we go into a panic, and we can’t do that.”
Babin was asked the same question Thursday.
“I evaluate my position and the rest of the defensive line,” he said. “I don’t really have the particular skill sets to evaluate everybody else, nor is it my job. I know the coaches do and they coach those guys up, so let them handle that.”