For the second year in a row Alabama will dine on a scrumptious cupcake in the season opener before facing Penn State in the first real test of the season, this time in State College on September 10th. With that showdown in mind, aside from a bit of a quarterback controversy, injuries are beginning to hit the Nittany Lions this spring. Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Penn State defensive end Pete Massaro, arguably the team's best pass rusher, suffered a significant knee injury during a late-Friday workout, two sources close to the program told The Patriot-News on Friday.
The extent of the injury is still to be determined but Massaro could miss the 2011 season.
Massaro's father confirmed the injury to his son's left knee to the PSU student newspaper, and an MRI is scheduled for today. There will be no official confirmation until the MRI is completed, but all signs point to Massaro having suffered a significant injury, and if there is ligament damage that will almost certainly mean he will miss the Alabama game this September (for what it's worth, Massaro tore the ACL in his right knee in 2009).
If that MRI returns as most seemingly expect, Massaro would be a decent loss for the Nittany Lions. As the above article mentioned, he was arguably Penn State's best pass rusher last year, leading the team in tackles for loss and coming in second on the team in sacks. In fact, he came up with a sack of Greg McElroy in the 'Bama v. Penn State game a year ago.
This news comes on the heels of some more bad injury news from Penn State. Wide receiver Curtis Drake, who missed the Alabama game a year ago with a broken leg, recently broke the same leg once again this spring in a non-contact drill. Per the aforementioned PSU student newspaper:
Wide receiver Curtis Drake is out for the remainder of the spring after suffering a left leg injury, Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson confirmed via text message. The injury occurred in a non-contact drill and Drake, who missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his lower left leg, gives the Lions plenty of options at wide receiver when healthy.
The former West Philadelphia Catholic star brings a great deal of versatility to the team but it's unknown how long it will take him to recover from his latest setback.
Drake will miss the rest of the spring at the least, and while he could conceivably return for the 'Bama game, given the recurring nature of his injury it's hard to say anything definitive about his status at this point. Depth looks to be good at wide receiver for the Nittany Lions with Derek Moye, Justin Brown, and Devon Smith returning, but Drake looked to be a versatile player who could contribute in several different ways, and while it may not significantly hurt the Penn State offense, his absence clearly won't help things.