Plenty of story lines and talking points came out of Penn State’s up-and-down game against Iowa last Saturday, so it’s only natural that freshman kicker Jake Pinegar’s flawless performance went somewhat unnoticed.
Pinegar nailed all three of his field goals attempts on the day and knocked through his three extra-point attempts. Pinegar’s three made field goals were also his three longest successful attempts of the season, as the freshman hit from 45, 49, and 44 yards out.
“Jake Pinegar, to come up as big as he came up today, was huge for us,” head coach James Franklin said after the game.
Pinegar has now hit his last five field goal attempts after an inconsistent start to the season when he hit only four out of his eight attempts. Despite Pinegar’s early struggles, Franklin never wavered in his support of the freshman.
“People are going to be critical of things like that, but around here, we are in the business of loving kids and we are in the business of developing guys,” Franklin said. “I believe with their investment and us loving them and us believing in them and us developing them, they are going to make plays for you.”
The Nittany Lions have had their fair share of issues on special teams so far this season. The punting unit gave up a pair of safeties in the first half against the Hawkeyes and a late onside kick recovery by the Hoosiers gave Indiana a chance to take down the Nittany Lions late in the fourth quarter two weeks ago.
None of the Iowa native’s field goal attempts were “gimmes,” and his accuracy on a rainy day was the difference in a crucial game. Pinegar’s improved play should add a stabilizing affect to the unit as a whole and ensure points on the board in the coming weeks.
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