PENN STATE NOTES: Senior safety Jordan Lucas to miss rest of season
One of Penn State's captains has met an early end to his college career.
Senior safety Jordan Lucas will miss the rest of the season with an injury, Penn State announced Tuesday. Though the school did not give details on the injury, Lucas has been battling shoulder problems for much of the year.
He exited Saturday's loss to Northwestern in the first half and returned to the sideline after the break in street clothes with his right arm in a sling.
Lucas was fourth on the team with 56 tackles (2.5 for loss) through 10 games. He finishes his Nittany Lions career with 180 tackles (11.0 for loss), 25 pass breakups and 4.0 sacks.
"Congrats on a helluva career," Lucas' former teammate and fellow defensive back, Stephon Morris, wrote on Twitter. "I'm proud of all the steps you have taken to leave your mark and be a name remembered in Penn State football history.
"It was an honor to have had the opportunity to play next to you, be an influence for you staying through a tough situation (sanctions), and also the continued brotherhood we share amongst each (other). Thank you for being one of the many contributing factors that made me stay committed to Penn State."
Junior Malik Golden took Lucas' spot at strong safety and figures to start there the rest of the way. Lucas would also typically move up to serve as the third cornerback in Penn State's nickel package, a role that may go to true freshman John Reid.
A starter in the secondary since his sophomore year in 2013, Lucas had been extremely durable before this season, appearing in 40 straight games.
The always talkative New York native started in 27 of 28 games until an injury sidelined him against San Diego State at the end of September. A week earlier, Lucas had been briefly forced off the field against Rutgers to get his shoulder wrapped.
"It's been pretty challenging, I guess," Lucas said last month of his newfound injury woes. "Nobody likes to sit out a game, especially when it's the first game I missed in my college career. But it happens.
"It's part of the game and you just have to bounce back."
New indoor facility?: James Franklin has no game to prepare for this weekend. But somehow things are more hectic than usual for the Penn State coach.
"Everyone finds out it's a bye week for you, so there's 35 different meetings that are on my schedule because people see the week off," Franklin said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "You think it's going to be a slower week, but in some ways, it may be busier."
Take Tuesday. Though he didn't have his usual weekly press conference in the early afternoon, Franklin spent that time meeting with athletic director Sandy Barbour and other administrators about the ongoing "facilities master plan" study and what it might mean for the football program.
Beaver Stadium, of course, has been the biggest topic of conversation among fans — Barbour is on record saying she prefers to renovate rather than rebuild — but it's not the only thing on Franklin's mind.
Penn State's Lasch Building headquarters is already in the midst of a major facelift. Beyond that, Franklin has his eyes set on Holuba Hall, which serves as the indoor practice facility for more than just football.
That, Franklin said, can become an issue.
"Once the weather breaks, it's packed from 6 in the morning to 12 at night," Franklin said. "There are wear and tear issues and it makes it difficult for us to do the necessary upkeep just because it's used basically 20 hours a day. So those things are in discussion."
Franklin is a proponent of building another multi-sport indoor facility on campus to improve the situation.
The facilities study is being done by Kansas City architecture firm Populous, which specializes in sports venues. No decisions on any project will be made for several months, as Penn State has announced that the research phase will carry on until July.
On the schedule: The Lions don't return to the field until Nov. 21 when they host Michigan for senior day at Beaver Stadium. According to the Big Ten, kickoff will be at either noon or 3:30 p.m. but won't be finalized until late Saturday night into early Sunday morning this weekend.
The final decision belongs to Disney, which also has Ohio State-Michigan State on the slate for Week 12. Both that game and Penn State-Michigan will air on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. It is highly unlikely both would be scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
As far as Penn State players go, they will have this weekend off to head home or stay back and rest up. Until then, they will have a fairly normal practice schedule over the next few days.
"They'll be modified versions of those practices with more emphasis on younger guys," Franklin said. "We'll be able to hold out some guys that have had nagging injuries all year long that they haven't been able to get over."
That emphasis also includes a full scrimmage for players who aren't typically on the 70-man travel roster — mostly freshmen who are redshirting and walk-ons.
Penn State doesn't practice on Mondays. This week, players used that time to get involved in the team's wide-reaching community service program.
"You take the time and instill those values of service as freshmen, and a lot of times they do it and they have a positive experience and catch the service bug," Franklin said. "Now it's with them not only in college, but for the rest of their life.
"We had guys out in the community Monday at five locations, whether it's manual labor or hanging out with kids and doing those things. The guys really enjoy it."