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Penn State's Franklin says Barkley, Lynch will likely be back this season, but they're uncertain for Saturday

TRAVIS JOHNSON
Associated Press


STATE COLLEGE — Penn State coach James Franklin said Tuesday he does not believe injuries to his top two running backs will end their seasons.

Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch were both hurt in the second quarter of Penn State's 37-21 win over San Diego State on Saturday. They are questionable for this week against Army.

"(We) anticipate getting them back," Franklin said. "Whether it's this week or next week, we'll see how the week goes, how they heal."

Franklin extended the same prognosis to starting safeties Jordan Lucas and Marcus Allen, both of whom spent most of the last game on the sideline.

Allen injured his right arm on Penn State's first defensive series and Lucas, who briefly left the team's Week 3 game against Rutgers with a right shoulder injury, was ruled out before kickoff. Malik Golden and Troy Apke filled in but having Lucas and Allen — who both excel in run support — back will be a boost against Army's run-heavy, triple-option offense, Franklin said.

Apke is preparing for a more physical role against the Black Knights even if Allen can play.

"With these option teams, you have to be even more disciplined than ever because they will take a shot when you're over committed to stopping the run," Franklin said.

So far, Penn State has committed to establishing its own rushing attack with Barkley as the focal point. Since his first extended action in Week 2, Barkley has averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Lynch has been a steady contributor with 5.4 yards per carry but Penn State's offense looked pedestrian without both backs.

After Barkley hurt his right ankle and Lynch had to be helped off with a left knee injury, Mark Allen and Nick Scott combined for just 14 rushing yards the rest of the game. But Franklin has faith in the redshirt freshmen.

"Mark is probably more of our slash, make-you-miss type running back," Franklin said. "The only thing that moves faster than his feet is his mouth."

Scott has been one of the team's better special teams players. He's returned kicks and been praised for his awareness and stopping power on kickoff and punt coverage teams. He was taken off those duties when needed in the offensive backfield last weekend. "You could make the argument that he's maybe our fastest guy," Franklin said. "Our biggest home run threat out of all of them."