In his weekly meeting with the media today James Franklin said that Penn State could possibly have Dieffenbach back on Saturday night. Dieffenbach has been practicing with his teammates the past few weeks, and is close to a return. Franklin said his knee is a "week to week thing," and that getting the senior captain back would also provide a huge emotional boost to the team.
How much Dieffenbach could help on the field obviously is a huge unknown. First off, he has not played in a game since November of 2013 in the season finale at Wisconsin. Secondly, it's pretty crazy to expect him to go from having missed nearly a calender year to starting and taking every snap. Odds are Dieffenbach would be eased back into his playing role. But, even at 75% and rusty Miles Dieffenbach is an upgrade over the offensive line play the Nittany Lions have gotten this season.
When Dieffenbach returns, rather it is Saturday night vs Ohio State or at some other time, he will be reinserted at his left guard position. This could potentially make the left side of the Nittany Lions offensive line a strength with Dieffenbach and left tackle Donovan Smith. I would expect Brendan Mahon to move from left guard to right guard, with Brian Gaia moving to the bench. Having Dieffenbach may not be felt on the field in his first game back, whenever that ends up being. However, once he knocks rust off and is able to play the majority of games that should help improve the line.
It would be very nice if Dieffenbach is able to start against Indiana, Temple, and Illinois. These three games are all extremely winnable, and having Dieffenbach and Smith on the left side of the line should improve pass protection and the running game. Being at full strength for those games gives the Nittany Lions a great chance of going 7-5. Even if Dieffenbach is not back Saturday night, he should be back soon. All along my guess was that he would be back for the Maryland game on November 1st, and I'm sticking to that prediction.