Recognizing the best and the brightest from the Nittany Lions in Week 3:
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg: He's been a mainstay for these helmet stickers, but the true freshman has improved every week. He didn't account for a single turnover against Central Florida, completed 75 percent of his passes, threw for 262 yards and had a touchdown. If the defense could've slowed down UCF, Hackenberg just might've completed the comeback. He definitely seemed to be in the zone at times, and he ran the NASCAR well. PSU didn't win Saturday, but that certainly wasn't because of Hackenberg. He's not playing like a true freshman right now; he's playing like one of the better quarterbacks in the B1G.
Wideout Allen Robinson: OK, we'll talk about his route-running, leaping ability and all that in just a second. But just take a look at these numbers: Nine catches, 143 yards, one touchdown. He accounted for more than half of PSU's passing yards, and he drew at last one pass-interference penalty as well. He's the most valuable player on the Nittany Lions' offense right now -- and he looks NFL-ready as a route-runner. Will there be a week that A-Rob doesn't earn a helmet sticker? At this rate, it sure doesn't look like it. He's the best receiver in the Big Ten, and he certainly belongs among the best in the nation.
Tailback Zach Zwinak: You can point toward the 240-pound back's fourth-quarter fumble as one of the turning points to the game, but PSU never would've gotten within range of a comeback if it weren't for Zwinak to begin with. He finished with a career-high three touchdowns and wore down UCF's defense with an average of 6.1 yards a carry. He did well pass blocking, finished with 128 rushing yards and was an important part of the PSU offense. If it wasn't for the fumble, we might be talking about Zwinak as the player of the game. It wasn't a perfect performance, but he still played well enough to merit a helmet sticker.
Kicker Sam Ficken: There is not a Nittany Lion who's made more of a turnaround than Ficken. He received hateful messages last year after missing four field goals against Virginia, but he extended his PSU record of consecutive kicks made Saturday -- with his 15th field goal. He made a career-long 47 yard FG, and Bill O'Brien had enough confidence in him to attempt a 57-yarder. (Last year, Ficken didn't attempt anything over 39 yards.) Ficken's long kick came up just short, but it was straight -- and might've been good had it been a 52-yard attempt. He's been a touchback-producing machine, and he's given O'Brien more choices with the offense. Give the man a well-deserved helmet sticker.