Pair of reserves could be up at RB for Penn State vs. Army

Coach James Franklin has confidence in his young backs.
Jerry Lai/Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football coach James Franklin has been coy about how likely running backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley are to return from injury Saturday when the Nittany Lions face Army. 

If one or both are sidelined, responsibilities would figure to fall on redshirt freshmen Mark Allen and Nick Scott, who combined for 11 carries for 14 yards last week after Barkley (ankle) and Lynch (knee) were both injured during PSU's 37-21 win over San Diego State. 

Allen caught a swing pass out of the backfield and scooted 13 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter, shortly after Lynch had to be helped off the field. 

“Losing two guys that were playing at a pretty high level, it was exciting to see Mark Allen come in and touch the ball and score a touchdown in his first touch and a pretty exciting play, and Nick Scott got some opportunities,” Franklin said this week. 

“Obviously, they were behind those other two guys on the depth chart for a reason, but that also doesn't mean that we don't have tremendous faith and belief in them and think that they're going to have an opportunity to do good things for us. So we'll see how the week goes. 

“We'll see who is available for the game on Saturday, but it's next man up, and those guys have an opportunity and I know they're excited about it.” 

Allen (5-foot-6, 181) and Scott (5-11, 198) are both much smaller than the 5-11, 220-pound Lynch and 5-11, 222-pound Barkley and perhaps bring different skill sets to the position. 

“Mark is probably more of our slash, make-you-miss-type of running back,” Franklin said. “He's very, very explosive. He's very confident. Only thing that moves faster than his feet is his mouth. Has a lot of fun at practice challenging guys. Really, really, really enjoys and loves the game of football and loves being part of a team. I'm excited to see what he's going to do.” 

While Allen can make tacklers miss in the open field, Lynch is a power back and Barkley brings both attributes. 

“Then Nick Scott is, at this point of his career, is probably more of the slasher,” Franklin said. “You can make the argument maybe our fastest guy. Biggest home run threat of all of them. In terms of you look at him and Mark, and him and Mark are similar weight-wise but Nick's taller. So he's still a little bit lankier and angular in terms of his build.

“I think Nick has got a chance to be a special running back for us as he continues to grow and get stronger, but I'm really excited to watch those two guys play on Saturday depending on how the week plays out.” 

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