Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Players Say They Still Believe in Themselves after Tough Losses

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Players Say They Still Believe in Themselves after Tough Losses

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They sound determined, even defiant.

Or perhaps they're in denial, if not delusional.

But as Penn State prepares for a game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Indiana, players contend that they've come through a couple of scalding, late-game losses to Ohio State and Michigan State with their confidence intact.

That while their record, now 4-2, is bruised after they failed to hold fourth-quarter leads against the Buckeyes and Spartans, their belief in themselves hasn't been damaged.

"I don't believe our team's confidence has been shaken," cornerback Donovan Johnson said Wednesday.

Offensive lineman Connor McGovern echoed that sentiment - "I don't think we lost any confidence, as a team" - although backup quarterback Tommy Stevens acknowledged that those defeats had at least some impact.

"I don't think anybody is overwhelmingly down," Stevens said. "Obviously, people are upset. I'm upset. Everyone is upset."

The Hoosiers appear to share that feeling; they've dropped consecutive games to Ohio State and Iowa after a 4-1 start. Their lopsided, 42-16 defeat to the Hawkeyes at home Saturday prompted several players to request permission from coach Tom Allen to speak at a team meeting Monday.

"There's no doubt, getting hit upside the head with a two-by-four doesn't feel very good," Allen told a press conference in Bloomington, Ind. "But I promise you, it will get your attention."

So will the prospect of having a season spiral out of control, which could be a very real danger for the losing team Saturday.

"It's amazing how one game changes how you feel, one way or the other," Allen said. "It can change the trajectory of your season."

Despite its recent stumbles, Penn State, which Allen described as a "very talented football team that has high hopes and expectations," is favored to beat the Hoosiers, perhaps because of its 20-1 lead in the all-time series. …

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