BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Penn State offensive line, already down both starting tackles entering Saturday's game against Indiana, lost two more players to injury and forced offensive line coach Matt Limegrover to patch things up on the fly.
The Nittany Lions lost offensive tackle Paris Palmer, a backup who moved up after an injury to Andrew Nelson against Maryland, on Trace McSorley's 10-yard touchdown run on their first series of the game. Freshman guard Connor McGovern was lost in the fourth quarter.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Bates, an Archbishop Wood product, moved from left guard to left tackle after the Palmer injury. Another redshirt freshman, Steven Gonzalez, filled in for McGovern.
In addition to Nelson, injured starting tackle Brendan Mahon also was unable to play in the 45-31 victory over the Hoosiers.
"I think we had one offensive lineman playing the position he played at the beginning of the season, [center] Brian Gaia," coach James Franklin said. "We've had a lot of injuries. I think we are on our fourth or fifth offensive tackle. Bates played tackle for the first time this week. He never really repped it at all since he'd been here."
"I think you just have to instill confidence in them," Gaia said. "For a lot of guys, it's their first time playing, like Steven Gonzalez. He stepped up really well for us. So you let them know that they're able to do this, and they just have to go out there and do it."
Franklin, who said last week that he did not want to burn the redshirt of freshman tackle Will Fries, said after the game that he will discuss the possibility of making Fries available with his staff and the player's father in the coming days.
Since throwing an interception on the last pass he attempted against Michigan on Sept. 24, Trace McSorley had gone 139 consecutive passes without one, covering five full games and the first 28 minutes Saturday.
But the string ended on McSorley's 16th pass, an interception by cornerback Richard Fant that set up an Indiana touchdown late in the second quarter. Three passes later, he threw another pick, this one to safety Tony Fields in the third period.
Penn State still won the turnover battle. Indiana lost five fumbles during the game. The fourth one led to a second-quarter touchdown, and the last one was scooped up by defensive end Torrance Brown, who scored.
The Penn State secondary allowed a season-high 344 passing yards to Indiana but tightened when needed. The Hoosiers completed just 1 of 6 passes for 14 yards after taking the lead for good with 3 minutes, 58 seconds to play.