Penn State truly had to dig deep to get over its thorny loss in the season opener to Temple.
Not just in the sports cliche sense of trying harder. The Nittany Lions actually grabbed a shovel and turned a chunk of its practice field into a burial ground.
The victim? The DVD of Penn State's first loss to Temple in 40 games over 74 years.
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''We just wanted to let the guys know that, hey, look, we're not going to dwell on the past,'' team captain Jordan Lucas said. ''It's not the end of our season, it's the first game.''
Christian Hackenberg hatched the idea and several players took turns digging a final resting spot. Some Nittany Lions stomped the turf once the hole was filled.
''We tried to make it fun and have very positive energy around it,'' Lucas said.
Perhaps a grave was appropriate - for a team that allowed 10 sacks in the opener, the Nittany Lions had plenty of practice opening wide holes.
In Happy Valley, the ripple from Penn State's first loss against Temple since Joe Paterno was a teenager was felt even before the final seconds ticked down in Philadelphia.
- Former players lashed out at coach James Franklin on Twitter and needed just 140 characters to second-guess him.
- Hackenberg was left in to take a beating in the waning minutes of an unwinnable game.
- Weakened by the scholarship crunch in the wake of the sordid Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the thin offensive line showed it needs a makeover.
- Franklin said he would ''get a lot more involved'' in the offense that produced 183 total yards and help embattled offensive coordinator John Donovan.
With NCAA punishments lifted, Penn State's football program is whole again. Penn State has the full complement of football scholarships available and already won a bowl game. But for a fan base that no longer packs Beaver Stadium with regularity, the easy question is, sanctions are bad but at State College, is mediocrity even worse?
Former offensive lineman Adam Gress wrote, ''So I wasn't gonna be `that guy'... But now I will be ... Offensive coordinator sucks.'' Ex-defensive back Stephon Morris tweeted: ''Joe Pa beat the teams he was so suppose to beat. (hash)facts.'' Hackenberg's brother Brandon, a Penn State soccer recruit, deleted his tweet that said: ''You have a Ferrari, yet drive 30 miles under the speed limit.''
But not all former lettermen are quick to bash Franklin.
''People have to give this coach a chance,'' said Brad Benson, a former Penn State offensive lineman who won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. ''Coach (Bill) Parcells came to the Giants and went 3-12-1 his first year. Taking shots, it's not going to help any.''
Franklin, who went 7-6 and won the Pinstripe Bowl in his first season, understands taking blame is part of the deal. Before the Sandusky scandal, even Paterno was viewed by many fans as an over-the-hill legend when the Nittany Lions had four losing seasons over 2000-04.
One alumnus in 2004 paid $350 to take out a half-page ad in the student newspaper: ''The talent's there. The coaching is an abomination. TIME FOR JOE TO GO.''
Now? The 409 flags whip around in the wind each Saturday and Joe Paterno Legacy Beer has become a perfect drink to drown the sorrows of another .500 season.
''The reason people are upset is because they care so much and I get it,'' Franklin said. ''I would just ask for everybody to take a deep breath and have some patience, because the negativity is not going to help.''
Franklin's misuse of Hackenberg in the opener morphed into a two-minute offense of Twitter bashing and postgame criticism. Already sacked eight times, Hackenberg stayed in the final series of a 27-10 game and was sacked twice more.
Penn State allowed 44 sacks last year, earning the junior QB the unwanted nickname ''Sackenberg.'' Hackenberg threw more interceptions and fewer touchdowns than he did as a freshman and was sacked more than any quarterback in the Big Ten.
Hackenberg takes some of the blame for not scrambling when the line crumbled. But Franklin is quick to note that while the Nittany Lions have a full roster, talent and depth is still a major concern. Franklin has just started to make his recruiting mark and needs time to build his own roster.
And the scandal that scarred the program is turning into a distant memory for the underclassmen that weren't around for the sanctions.
''You have all your scholarships back. What are you complaining about?'' said former Nittany Lion DaQuan Jones, a Titans defensive lineman. ''That whole situation, he can't talk about it now because I don't think it had any real effect on the university.''
Penn State plays its next five games at home, starting Saturday against Buffalo. With games ahead against Rutgers, San Diego State, Army and Indiana, there's a chance PSU will play again in a bowl game. But the faithful demand conference titles and 10-win seasons, and they're tired of excuses.
No team hits those marks losing to Temple.
''I think it's going to be really, really important for our team to be in this environment,'' Franklin said. ''I ask for people to be positive, I ask for people to be patient and good things are coming.''