Offensive line, running backs stand out in Penn State rout of Idaho

Penn State sophomore running back Devyn Ford: left Iowa game after the first series last week.

Penn State was expected to learn Thursday or Friday whether sophomore running back Devyn Ford will play Saturday at Michigan, according to coach James Franklin.

Ford did not play after the first series last week in a 41-21 loss to Iowa at Beaver Stadium. He carried three times for 2 yards and caught one pass for 1 yard. As a policy, Penn State does not disclose injuries.

“We’re hoping to hear something tomorrow whether he’ll be available or not,” Franklin said after practice Wednesday night. “Maybe on Friday we’ll hear something. But as of right now, we’re depending on the two young guys.”

That would be true freshmen Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee, a pair of four-star recruits. Holmes has rushed 24 times for 103 yards, and Lee has run 35 timers for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Franklin did not expect them to receive so much playing time this season. Penn State planned to use Journey Brown, Noah Cain and Ford ahead of them, but Brown was forced to retire because of a heart condition and Cain sustained a season-ending injury in the first series of the season opener.

And now it appears that Ford will not play for Penn State (0-5) against the Wolverines (2-3) Saturday at noon (TV-ABC, WEEU-AM/830) at Michigan Stadium.

“It makes a significant difference having guys who have played before and who have more experience,” Franklin said. “You guys know what that running back room was like before the season and it’s changed dramatically.”

Wide receiver Jahan Dotson said he has faith that Holmes and Lee can help the Lions the rest of the season.

“We know that they’re going to get the job done when we need a big play,” Dotson said. “We’ve just got to trust them.”

Backup quarterbacks >> Redshirt freshman Ta’Quan Roberson, Penn State’s No. 3 quarterback, has not been available in recent weeks because of an undisclosed injury.

Franklin said Roberson might be available Saturday at Michigan.

“He was having a really good fall,” Franklin said. “We scrimmage on Sundays and he was getting pretty much all of the reps. We got a chance to evaluate him and a chance to develop him. He was doing some really nice things. He made a big improvement.”

Micah Bowens, a true freshman, is the Lions’ fourth-team quarterback. He was receiving more repetitions the last few weeks with Roberson out.

They’re behind Sean Clifford and Will Levis, who have struggled.

“Micah’s done a good job,” Franklin said. “He’s a smart guy. He picks up things well. He’s got a really good feel for the position and a really good understanding. He’s got quickness and change of direction. We’re excited about his future.”

Dixon opens up >> Penn State linebacker Lance Dixon, a redshirt freshman, revealed earlier this week that sleep apnea caused problems for him last season.

Dixon said he would be late for team activities because he would sleep at least 12 hours a day.

“I was just asleep all day,” he said. “I felt like I wasn’t getting any sleep. I’d just wake up and felt like I slept an hour maybe.”

Dixon said he was diagnosed with sleep apnea late last year and began using a CPAP machine earlier this year to help him improve his breathing at night and his sleep.

“I think I had it in high school,” he said. “My mom would have trouble waking me up. Being on a schedule every day in college, it just got a lot worse. It got a lot worse my second semester here. I felt like I had to do something.”

Dixon said he feels much more rested this season.

“If I get five hours of sleep,” he said, “I feel like I got the whole night, to be honest.”

@Nittanyrich on Twitter

Assistant sports editor Rich Scarcella covers Penn State football, Berks County college basketball and high school baseball.

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