Michael Zordich had a lot of talented guys to split carries with during his senior year at Youngstown's Cardinal Mooney High School, but he still racked up close to 1,000 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.
Michael Zordich was Penn State's featured running back in the win over Navy.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is no stranger to those numbers.
"He's always reminded me, 'I used to run the ball in high school, Coach,'" O'Brien said.
Zordich has spent his college career as a fullback, entering Saturday's game against Navy with just 38 career carries. Injuries to Bill Belton and Derek Day created an opportunity for the senior to get some reps -- and carries -- at tailback, and Zordich delivered, rushing for a team-best 50 yards on 11 carries and adding two catches for 25 yards in the 34-7 win over the Midshipmen.
"He's gotta get his pads down on certain times," O'Brien said of the 6-foot-1, 236-pound bruiser. "But for the most part, he did a good job."
Zordich was asked after the game to describe his running style.
"Just want to get downhill, really," Zordich said. "Just keep your shoulder pads low and get the yardage you need to get."
And that's what Zordich did, for the most part. None of his runs were longer than 9 yards, and most ended with him plowing directly into at least one Navy defender. He was pleased to have a chance to take on a featured role in the offense, at least for one week.
"It's not hard, it's just something you have to learn to accept your role on the team," Zordich said. "I accepted my role, but I kept pushing -- I let Coach O'Brien know that I could do certain things. And that's what this offense is about -- it's a lot of role-playing. You have to understand where you're at and what position you're in and what you mean to the team. Sometimes you've got to block, most of the times you've got to block, sometimes you get to run the ball, sometimes you get to catch it. That's what this offense is."
Shuffle up: Penn State rotated seven offensive linemen into the starting lineup throughout the game. Mike Farrell started at left tackle in place of an injured Donovan Smith and Adam Gress was the starting right tackle. The interior of the line -- left guard Miles Dieffenbach, center Matt Stankiewitch and right guard John Urschel -- remained the same at the start of the game, but redshirt freshman Angelo Mangiro saw several snaps at left guard and redshirt junior Eric Shrive saw action at both right guard and right tackle.
Not kicking himself: Saturday afternoon included another adventure for kicker Sam Ficken, who missed the extra point after Penn State's third touchdown, but the sophomore did not attempt a field goal.
His best chance might have been on a 4th and goal from the Navy 8-yard line late in the second quarter, but O'Brien chose to leave the offense on the field. Matt McGloin was flushed out of the pocket and his pass to the end zone, intended for Kyle Carter, was nearly intercepted.
O'Brien discussed the decision after the game.
"It had nothing to do with Sam Ficken," O'Brien said. "I just felt good about the play call that I had at that point. Obviously it didn't work out. We blew the protection on that. I wouldn't take that play call back, though."
O'Brien said after the game that Smith "should be ready to go" for next week's game against Temple. He indicated that Belton and Day were likely still "day-to-day" and that Massaro's knee injury would likely make him a question mark throughout the rest of the season.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hill saw action at fullback on the first series of the game and was in on the play that gave Penn State its first touchdown, a 2-yard pass to tight end Jesse James. O'Brien was asked if the senior was the "mystery running back" he had referred to on his radio show earlier in the week.
"He's part of the mystery running back committee," O'Brien said, smiling.
Hill told reporters after the game that he had caught three touchdown passes in practice but also liked the other possibilities for his new role.
"All options are available," the 6-foot-1, 292-pound Hill said. "I really like lead blocking. I was excited for that first play but the linebacker actually came down and cut me. He went straight for my legs so I was upset about that. We'll see how that goes."
Miscellaneous: Announced attendance was 98,792, more than 1,600 more than Penn State had for the opener against Ohio. Less than a week after Shawney Kersey left the team, Brandon Moseby-Felder earned his first career start at wide receiver. … James, Sophomore tight end Paul Jones and freshman wide receiver Trevor Williams all made their first career catches Saturday. … Penn State's game captains for Saturday's game were fullback P.J. Byers, Stankiewitch and defensive end Sean Stanley.