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    2018 penn state nittany lions fan forum



    OVERALL RECORD:

    BIG TEN CONFERENCE: 6-3

    BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP: NOPE!

    BOWL GAME: CITRUS BOWL VS. KENTUCKY JANUARY 1, 2019
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 03-12-2018 at 00:31.

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    Penn State Football: 2018 Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction

    The Nittany Lions rank No. 11 in AP Top 25 for 2018 Preseason

    HEAD COACH: JAMES FRANKLIN 36-17 (60-32 OVERALL)
    STADIUM: BEAVER STADIUM (107,000)

    Saquon Barkley is now in the NFL, but there is still plenty of talent left in Penn State's cupboard. James Franklin has consistently recruited well since coming to Happy Valley, and that work should pay off this fall. The Nittany Lions' offense will remain a dangerous threat even with a new running back and offensive coordinator thanks to steady presence and production of quarterback Trace McSorley. The bigger question marks are on defense, which is replacing nine starters. If that side of the ball can come together enough to at least slow down some Big Ten opponents, Penn State should find itself in the mix for another New Year's Six bowl appearance.

    So when do we start using James Franklinís name more in the conversation of great college football coaches?

    Obviously thereís Saban and Urban in a class of their own, Dabo is another CFP appearance away from knocking on that door, and Jimbo gets included in the need-only-one-name club of current head coaches with a national title. But for what heís doing, and what he created, Franklin needs to at least be put in that next category of elite coaches.

    The guy went to three bowl games in three years at Vanderbilt, but that was nothing compared to the mess he walked into at Penn State. And now, with his personality, his attitude, and his success, heís turned out to be the perfect head coach to help rebrand and reboot the most unlikeable of programs after the most unthinkable of scandals.

    Of course, being successful doesnít cure everything, but remembering that a big part of the problem in the Paterno era was that a football coach became more than a football coach, Franklinís doing just about everything right.

    Heís winning. Thatís his job.

    That heís doing it with personality and flair Ė and helped in a huge way by having the dream of a franchise representative in Saquon Barkley to help things along Ė is a huge help.

    The guy is more than holding his own in a division with Urban, Harbaugh and Dantonio, and with the big-time recruits coming in, and with the fun teams he keeps putting together, heís going to keep Penn State in the hunt for the Big Ten title on a regular basis.

    And to think, when he started four years ago, the Nittany Lions werenít bowl eligible, he had to deal with the NCAA world, and there was even some lingering Death Penalty talk.

    And now, after two 11-win seasons, itís time to rebuild again, only this time itís not going to take nearly as much work.

    The defense loses eight starters including the entire starting secondary and most of the top linebackers. But there are good veterans ready to fill in and be fine, and thereís a potential superstar freshman in Micah Parsons about to be unleashed at linebacker.

    Thereís obviously no Barkley anymore, but Trace McSorley is back for his 13th year as the starting quarterback Ė at least, thatís how he plays Ė but the receiving corps loses two huge parts in TE Mike Gesicki and WR DaeSean Hamilton.

    The bigger problem is the departure of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to the Mississippi State head coaching job, but at least the experience is there for new OC Ricky Rahne to work with.

    The backfield has more than enough talent to replace Barkley Ė even if it takes a few guys to do it Ė and while the O line wonít exactly be Wisconsinís, itís at least experienced enough to be okay.

    And thereís Franklin. Heís going to come up with a winning season, heís going to put Penn State in the Big Ten title chase despite all the lost parts, and heís going to recruit a slew of five-star talents to keep it all going.

    Heís going to keep doing what elite head football coaches do.

    Previewing Penn State Football's Offense for 2018

    What You Need To Know About The Penn State Offense

    Ė Gone is Joe Moorhead to be the Mississippi State head coach, and gone is, of course, Saquon Barkley to be the early round must-have in your fantasy draft, and WR DaeSean Hamilton and all-star TE Mike Gesicki. And now itís up to Ricky Rahne Ė last yearís passing game coordinator Ė to keep the Big Tenís second-best offense going after it rolled up 460 yards and 41 points per game.

    But for that to happen, the offensive line has to be stronger. It gets back four starters and has a good, versatile talent in Ryan Bates whoíll be an all-star just about anywhere, but the pass protection was spotty and allowed way, way too many big plays behind the line.

    Ė As insane as this sounds, losing Barkley might not be that big a deal Ė at least it isnít if you have Penn Stateís backs. Of course, Barkley was a devastating superstar who took over the Iowa game and the bowl win over Washington, but he also disappeared way, WAY too often. He was the college football equivalent of the big-time home run hitter who strikes out three times a game.

    Miles Sanders was considered every bit the prospect Barkley was coming out of high school, and big-time recruit Ricky Slade has the upside to be the smallish speedster who turns into an instant factor as a receiver as well as a part of the running rotation. However ..

    Ė The offense is Trace McSorleyís to fly. Barkley got all of the love and attention, but it was McSorley who led the Nittany Lions to the late win over Iowa. Heís the one who bombed away over the second half of 2016 to take the Big Ten title, and even through Barkley stole the Fiesta Bowl show, the 342 yards from the passing game didnít hurt.

    Juwan Johnson might not be Hamilton as a deep threat, but he can be a No. 1. target, and DeAndre Thompkins should grow into a reliable No. 2, with the hope that star recruit Justin Shorter is amazing right away. The problem is Ö
    Biggest Key To The Penn State Offense

    Replacing Barkley and Gesickiís receiving production. Okay, so the big key is the lineís potential to block someone, but in the offense, McSorley is missing two of his key safety valves.

    Yeah, Slade is built to potentially be an amazing third down receiver, but heís a freshman Ė heís not going to match Barkleyís 54 catches right out of the box. The tight end situation will be okay, but Gesicki was the ultra-reliable 57-catch guy who tied for the team lead with nine scores.

    Previewing Penn State Football's Defense for 2018

    What You Need To Know About The Penn State Defense

    Ė The defense that allowed 330 yards and 16.5 points per game gets a redo. The top four and six of the top eight tacklers are done for a D that has to replace eight starters.

    The biggest positive, though, should be the defensive ends and the pass rush overall. The Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in sacks, and thereís more to come with Shareef Miller and Shaka Toney two proven playmakers whoíll live behind the line. Itís the one area of proven depth on the D, even with Ryan Buchholz choosing to retire from football.

    The tackles will be fine, too, despite the loss of Parker and Curtis Cothran. Kevin Givens is a fireplug on the inside, and Robert Windsor as the 300-pound size and experience to be just fine in a bigger role.

    Ė The linebacking corps has to replace the key parts, losing leading tackler Jason Cabinda and big-time tackler Brandon Smith. However, thereís a whole lot of hope for something special from superstar recruit Micah Parsons Ė who, and itís early, appears to be well worth the hype Ė along with reliable veteran Koa Farmer. There will be growing pains, but by the middle of the season, this will be a big positive.

    Ė The safety tandem of Troy Apke and Marcus Allen was among the Big Tenís best. Theyíre gone, along with the starting corners, too. The Nittany Lions need 2016 playmaker John Reid to be past a torn ACL to lock down one of the corner gigs, and itíll be up to senior Nick Scott to be the leader of the emerging secondary.

    On the plus side, there isnít an killer passing game to deal with early on, and the Ohio State game isnít until the end of September. But Ö
    Biggest Key To The Penn State Defense

    The pass defense has to be a rock throughout the season. As great as the Penn State defense was at times, and as amazing as the pass rush was, there are a few key struggles late in the season that proved costly.

    J.T. Barrett went off in the second half as Ohio State finished with 328 passing yards and four scores in the win over the Nittany Lions, and Brian Lewerke had a day the week after, throwing for 400 yards in the Michigan State win. This yearís Penn State secondary will be fine; last yearís was a whole lot better.

    Nebraska was able to hang around in the loss with almost 400 yards through the air, but that was about it. Only Washingtonís Jake Browning added to the list of teams that threw for 200 yards.

    Previewing Penn State Football's Specialists for 2018

    Punter Blake Gillikin is one of the Big Ten's best. His career average of 43.0 yards ranks second in school history. But it's a much different story at placekicker. The Lions had only one kicker on campus in the spring, redshirt freshman walk-on Carson Landis. He'll be joined in preseason camp by scholarship freshman Jake Pinegar and walk-ons Rafael Checa and Vlad Hilling.

    Best Penn State Offensive Player

    QB Trace McSorley, Sr.
    If Baker Mayfield could go No. 1 overall, then a 6-0, 198-pound scrapper like McSorley can find a home with an NFL team next season.

    Heís got a decent enough arm, and heís a runner Ė more than Mayfield, anyway Ė taking off for close to 500 yards and 11 scores. More than that, heís clutch, has no problem taking over games, and heís able to spread the ball around well.

    He hit 67% of his passes for 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns after throwing 29 scoring throws two seasons ago. However, he has to cut down on the picks, giving away 18 over the last two seasons including five in the last two bowl appearances.

    2. RB Miles Sanders, Jr.
    3. WR Juwan Johnson, Jr.
    4. OT Ryan Bates, Jr.
    5. RB Ricky Slade, Fr.

    Best Penn State Defensive Player

    DE Shareef Miller, Sr.
    Itís pushing things ahead way too quickly, but donít be stunned if Micah Parsons turns out to be the teamís best defensive player by the end of the season. Heís not a lock to start in the opener against Appalachian State, but heís ready to shine right away. Until then, Miller will be the key veteran on a D that has to replace way too many important parts.

    The 6-5, 259-pounder might not have the big name, but heís a tough, consistent player who can get behind the line. He only came up with 37 tackles, but he led the team with five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and did a great job of generating pressure.

    2. LB Micah Parsons, Fr.
    3. LB Koa Farmer, Sr.
    4. CB Amani Oruwariye, Sr.
    5. CB John Reid, Jr.

    Key Player To A Successful Season

    OT Ryan Bates, Jr.
    Itís not as bad as when James Franklin first took over the program, but the offensive line has been an occasional sore spot over the years, and was rocky way too often last season. It didnít seem to matter for the Big Tenís second-best offense, but still, the 29 sacks and 91 tackles for loss allowed were way too many.

    Penn State returns a veteran front with enough versatile parts to put the top five players out there, and Bates is the all-star main man to make it all better. Heís a left tackle, but he worked on the right side last year and has the 6-4, 305-pound build and experience to kick inside if needed.

    Key Game To The Penn State Season

    Ohio State, Sept. 29
    Michigan State has to come to Happy Valley, and so does Wisconsin, but the Michigan game is on the road. Other than that, the rest of the Big Ten schedule should be a breeze, at least without a total gag somewhere along the way.

    However, lose to Ohio State in the conference home opener, and there goes any control over the Big Ten Championship destiny. Win, and with a week off to prepare for Michigan State, itís revenge time with a shot to put a stranglehold on the East.

    Final Analysis

    Barkley is someone else's problem now, but opponents should still be wary of this offense, especially if McSorley displays the kind of accuracy he showed while completing all 12 of his third-down passing attempts vs. Washington in the Fiesta Bowl. Penn State is going to get its points. But can a graduation-depleted defense stop opponents from getting theirs? That's what will determine whether this team earns its third consecutive New Year's Six bowl berth.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 23-08-2018 at 00:49.

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    Excited about this year! Even though we lost Barkley were still a strong team and a lot of the most difficult(on paper) games are in happy valley.

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    Linebacker U? We Got Running Backs Too!! PSU Running Backs Series: Lenny Moore

    Linebacker U ....Through the years Penn State has earned this nickname, but we have produced more than just All American Linebackers that have gone on to great careers in the NFL. Penn State has produced its share of great Running Backs that have gone on to win Super Bowls, Hall of Fame careers in the NFL, and a Heisman trophy Winner. Though we may not have the same amount of Heisman Winners as a USC or Ohio State at the Running back position, Penn State can stake a claim as one of the great schools in producing Running Backs. So, this season, in the PSU Fan Forum we will look at some of the great backs that have worn the blue and white. The series starts with the great Lenny Moore, the first of the great super backs and generational talents to come to Penn State.

    Lenny Moore 1953-1955

    Lenny Moore is 84 but still stands straight and tall, a shade under 6-foot-2. He still crushes a handshake. He moves slowly but steadily past the blue and white street sign ó Lenny Moore Way ó that's propped against the wall of his sun room. He passes the Hall of Fame bust that sits in a living room bookcase, like some forgotten knick-knack.

    Follow him down a flight of steps to the rec room. It's filled with treasures honoring his time with the Baltimore Colts and their back-to-back championships nearly 60 years ago, when he was the game's most feared running and receiving threat.

    There, a pair of his bronzed football cleats are in a glass case. Paintings, plaques and photographs of him and his Colts teammates such as Johnny Unitas and Jim Parker are everywhere ó on the walls, leaning against furniture, standing in frames.

    Moore may be Penn State's greatest football player ever. At least Joe Paterno called him that, of the thousands he coached.

    So did others.

    "Lenny could do anything on the football field," said Glenn Ressler, Penn State's College Football Hall of Fame lineman who played with Moore on the Colts.

    "One of those great teammates you remember forever. ... Probably the best athlete to ever come out of Penn State."

    Moore will reminisce about all of it, if you want, although the conversations invariably lead to topics like religion and race relations. One afternoon last winter, he sank into the couch in that rec room and began talking.

    His message focused on how all of those NFL accolades ó the seven Pro Bowls, the MVP, back-to-back world titles ó were born of forces beyond him.

    Moore was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and was blessed with exceptional athletic ability. He attended Reading High School, where his speed on the field earned him the nickname ďThe Reading Rocket.Ē He was tagged with a number of other nicknames: "Sputnik," for the fear he incited in opposing defenses; "The Reading Rambler" and "Lightning Lenny," for his unmatched speed; and "Spats," for the way he taped his high-top shoes, making them look like low-tops.

    His parents moved from Bamberg, S.C., during the Great Depression to find more profitable work and a better life, settling in Reading, while other family members anchored in York. His mother, father, two uncles and paternal grandmother are buried in North Yorkís Lebanon Cemetery.

    Moore also praises former teammates like Don Balthaser, who blocked for him in high school and at Penn State, to coaches such as Paterno and Rip Engle. He said they protected him amid racial discrimination, motivated him through academic troubles and ultimately prepared him for the NFL and beyond.

    At Penn State, Moore was the signature star of a ground-breaking team ó the one that led the program's success on and off the field for decades to come.

    While Balthaser co-captained those 1954 Nittany Lions, Moore was one of the most talented players at any position in the nation. He was the nation's second-leading rusher with a school-record 1,074 yards in only nine games. He averaged a stunning 8 yards per carry and was nearly as lethal at defensive back. He returned punts and kicks and was just growing into a scintillating receiver. He dominated Syracuse and the great Jim Brown in head-to-head competition.

    But Penn State lacked national exposure then, and discrimination still cloaked the game. Moore didn't even finish in the Top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting and was named to only one of nine All-America teams. Those snubs inexplicably kept him out of the College Football Hall of Fame.

    But during a recent visit to his home, he waved his hand to dismiss any regrets or wrongdoing. Rather, he said he was blessed for his long-standing good health on the field and for working himself back into Penn State after temporarily flunking out.

    There were bigger things to accomplish, anyway. The Deep South was still segregated in '54, but the Lions not only demanded to bring their six black players to a game at Texas Christian, they refused to separate the team when hotels and restaurants would not serve them. Instead, they stayed at a ranch 15 miles outside of town.

    Life in State College could be difficult for black players, too, Moore said, as some businesses all but refused to serve them. There were no black barbershops, so they had to cut each other's hair. "You could see the vibes," he said. "You knew where you could go and couldn't go."

    Moore and his best friend and fullback Charlie Blockson used to spend hours together sitting on the stone wall along College Avenue, across from The Corner Room. They'd commiserate about the burns of segregation, as well as celebrate their teammates, and even more specifically, their coaches, who lifted them up.

    "And that took a lot of the tension, the pressure off, to have their backing immediately," Moore said of head coach Rip Engle and Joe Paterno and the other assistants. "They knew there were issues in and around (State College). It was just something you had to deal with, knowing what was more important."

    On the field, Moore ran away from defenders like a sweet jazz riff disappearing into the night. He was smooth, fast and always improvising, a magical kind of running many had never witnessed. Philadelphia Eagles' Hall of Fame linebacker Maxie Baughan described the torture of trying to figure out where Moore was going, no less stopping him.

    "All of a sudden he's lined up as a receiver, out there by himself, and I've got to go cover him?" Baughan said with a grin last month. "Lenny and I laughed many a time over me covering him and him running by me."

    Only the burden of playing both ways stunted Moore's offensive numbers. He was a star on defense before most stats were even kept.

    "I don't know how many passes he intercepted," said former quarterback Bobby Hoffman, who lives in Lititz. "He did things as a player, you'd just shake your head."

    But the greatest ever at Penn State?

    He stashed a miniature Bible in his right thigh pad during each game with the Colts and touched it after every play as a way of giving thanks.

    He then went to work for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, a job partly from his giving soul, partly to make ends meet, since he never made the millions earned by younger stars to come. There, he counseled at-risk teenagers in Baltimore who needed direction.

    In 1975 Moore was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and was named to the NFLís 1950s All Decade Team.

    Lenny Moore Statistics at Penn State

    Lenny Moore was a Freshman in 1952, but under NCAA Rules at the time Freshmen were ineligible to play.

    1953: 9 games, 108 attempts - 601 yds, 7 TDS; 5 receptions- 44 yds 0 TDS
    1954: 9 games, 136 attempts- 1074 yds, 11 TDS; 4 receptions- 44 yds 1 TD
    1955: 9 games, 138 attempts- 697 yds, 5 TDS; 4 receptions- 37 yds 0 TDS

    Career: 27 games, 382 attempts- 2372 yds, 23 TDS; 13 receptions- 125 yds, 1 TD




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    Last edited by Ratpenat; 26-08-2018 at 04:34.

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    Coach franklin press conference: Appalachian state

    PENN STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
    August 28, 2018
    James Franklin
    University Park, Pennsylvania

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I like where we're at. I think it's a tremendous challenge that we've got. I think App State, if you look at what they have been able to do in their short time at Division I has been really remarkable in a lot of ways. You know, three Bowl games, have won all three Bowl games. If you look at I think their record over the last 45 games, they are in the top six in the country over their last 45 games, so they have done some really good things. I think they are 36-9 over the last 41 games and that's with Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Wisconsin in terms of number of wins.

    You look at some of the teams they have played not only in the Bowl games but in the regular season, no disrespect to anybody but they really probably should have beat Wake Forest. Last year they lost 20-19, Wake Forest blocked a field goal, a 39-yard field goal with 35 seconds left to go in the game.

    They had Tennessee beat, had to go to over time at Tennessee for Tennessee to beat them two years ago and then obviously everybody is well aware of the Michigan; at, I think they were the second I-AA team to beat a ranked opponent.

    So great things. Scott Satterfield has been a part of all those things, the head coach. Got a lot of respect for him and what he's been able to do in his career, not only as an offensive guy in terms of quarterbacks, receivers; in a short time as an offensive coordinator and then becoming a head coach there. He's an alum, so that's special for him, as well.

    Statistically, I think we match up pretty well. Offensively, Frank Ponce is the offensive coordinator. They are primarily a pistol-spread team but they are more of a run team. That's kind of who they have been.

    And obviously we have been impressed with Jalen Moore, the running back, not a highly-recruited guy but has had a productive career, back-to-back thousand-yard rushing seasons, has got over 30 100-career rushing yards, second-most returning in FBS, and then is on Bruce Feldman's freak list, as well: Has run 4:37 in a 40 and 38.5 vertical jump, 11-1 broad jump, 390-bench. I mean, this guy obviously is a specimen and was the Sun Belt offensive Player of the Year. So that will be challenging.

    Obviously Thomas Hennigan, wide receiver as a freshman, played extremely well for them last year. That will be interesting, and obviously they had some guys transfer in. Very, very explosive offense especially when it comes to the running game.

    They take an approach similar to what you have seen with us, where they are a check-with-me-line-of-scrimmage team. I would not necessarily call them a tempo team. They are trying to get into the right play. What everybody is trying to do is everybody is trying to hold the chalk last, or you guess you shouldn't lose chalk any more or the dry eraser last, so you can get your offense or defense into the best call, based on what the offense or defense is showing.

    Defensively, Bryan Brown has been promoted to the defensive coordinator. Has worked with their secondary. Their secondary has done an unbelievable job. Their corners, I think have led the country in interceptions, especially their one corner has 11 interceptions over the last two years.

    They are a three-down defense. You are going to look at them. They are undersized but they are quick, they are twitchy, they are explosive and they are very productive and they play fast.

    You know, so that will be a challenge for us, not only from a front perspective but also what they do.

    Clifton Duck is the corner I was talking about, No. 4. Not a very big guy but extremely productive. Has had 11 interceptions over the last two years.

    And then Anthony Flory, really reminds us in a lot of ways of Brandon Bell. Seems to have a lot of savvy to him. Has got a really good feel for the game, and is very, very productive; was the MVP of the Dollar General Bowl last year.

    And then they have a nose tackle who is a problem where you'd better have a nose tackle is a problem in a 3-4 defense.

    Stout I think is a perfect name for him, Stout, 6-1,280 pounds, very, very productive.

    And then on special teams, I think Coach Holt has done an unbelievable job. They jumped from 128 in the country to 25th in special teams efficiency, so obviously they have improved there and we are excited about that challenge.

    So great opening game one for us in Beaver Stadium. I know our coaches and players are excited. We've still got a few more days we need to clean up some things and get ready for this game and so we can go and play fast and aggressive come Saturday, but I like where we're at. I like where we're at, considering it's Tuesday and we still have a few more days to get ready for this opponent.

    So open up to questions.

    Q. What did you see from Jan Johnson in camp, and what do you expect from him now and has he been awarded a scholarship yet?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Jan has been very steady. He's very smart. He's very consistent. He's very physical, especially within the box.

    You know, I think you guys have heard us talk about before, probably one of the more intelligent players we have. Asks great questions of the coaches, and has been very productive in the classroom, as well and has earned everybody's respect. His teammates' respect, the coaches' respect and he's earned that starting position.

    I do think it's going to be a battle. All those linebacker positions are going to be a battle all year long, but I don't think there's any doubt that Jan Johnson gives us the best opportunity to win on Saturday. And his status has not changed at this point.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about your young wide oats, your two freshmen and your redshirt freshmen, your thoughts on what they showed you in August?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Could you name who you're talking about? We have a bunch of those guys. You said just two freshmen.

    Okay. Yeah. Jahan Dotson has really had a productive camp. I think you saw, we put something out the other day, he led us for touchdowns during camp. He's still under-sized. He's got to get bigger and stronger in the weight room but football comes very natural to him. Things make sense to him. He's able to take things from meetings to the field.

    He's a guy we think could factor in for us at some point and the coaches would be very comfortable and confident with playing him. We'll see how that plays out right now. We'll have him slated as yellow, a guy we'll try to play at four games at some point, whether that's early, middle of the season or late in the season, to solve problems from an injury perspective or whatever it may be.

    Shorter got dinged up during camp. Was really on a roll. Will probably see significant action early in the season, but was a little dinged up and missed some time. He's big and physical and reminds you a lot of Juwan Johnson. Excited about those two guys's future.

    Then KJ, when you talk to our defensive coaches, we do a lot of kind of interaction between the offense and the defense, and having discussions, having the opposite side of the ball rank the position; so having the DBs rank the receivers, the receivers rank the DBs and so on and so forth; having discussions as a coaching staff.

    When you talk to our defensive coaches about guys that scare them when they got the ball in their hand, KJ is one of the guys at the top of the list. If we can get him involved in offense and get the ball in his hands and if we can get the ball in his hands on special teams, then we'd like to be able to do that, because he's an explosive player and he's also been a really good leader; and what I mean by that is maybe not the leader that you think of when I say that; but a guy that brings enthusiasm and energy to meetings and the locker room, similar to the way Marcus did for four years for us.

    I think those three guys will not only have great years for us this year but also their careers. I'm excited about their futures.

    Q. How are you feeling about your depth across the board at defensive line coming out of camp and where does Shane Simmons fit into that, not being on the depth chart?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: You know, excited about our defensive line, and really, the growth that we have made there in a short period of time.

    At defensive end, I think we are as good as we've been. Probably the best defensive end unit that I've had in my time as a head coach. I think Shane obviously would be a huge factor in that. He got dinged up a little bit during camp. We do expect him back. How quickly that is is unsure at this moment. We'll know more on Thursday, but we feel really good about defensive end.

    Obviously getting Shane back will take it to a whole other level because he had a great spring and a great summer and a great camp.

    At defensive tackle, I think we've still got some questions here. I think we feel a lot better than we did coming into the camp. I think we feel like we have a lot of depth, but who are the guys that are really going to take on the responsibility and say we are the five guys that are going to play a lot in the rotation; there's been clearly separation.

    I don't know if there necessarily is with that right now. We'd like there to be at least two, if not five guys, that we feel like have separated themselves and take control of that. They are showing all really good signs but I think the name of the game for us and what we talk to the players all the time about is consistency, and being able to be in the gap that you're supposed to be consistently; being physical and striking your keys consistently and then making play when is you're there.

    We've still got some questions that we've got to get answered there, but to be honest with you, by this point, we feel good about it, but we won't completely know until we get out there under the light.

    Q. The offensive line, did you settle on the question marks that you had going into the season, at least from the perspective of five starters, and then the depth behind them, like a 2-deep?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think right now, we're very comfortable with the six guys that we have listed. Wright and Fries, that will probably be a game-day decision, but the reality of it is we feel like we can play and play well, with either one of those guys.

    Neither one have completely separated themselves from the other and a lot of times, when that happens, you're concerned because you're not sure if you have one starter. I actually think we have two.

    Obviously both of them have started a bunch of games here and we've been able to win Bowl games and high-level Big Ten games with both of those guys playing, so feel good about those six, and then I think we've got, you know, a combination after that that we feel good about. We feel good about Thorpe; we feel good about Simpson and Miranda and Des Holmes, but I don't know if it's necessarily purely a 2-deep.

    I think we still have some moving parts based on some guys going down to make sure we get the best five guys on the field from an experience standpoint.

    Q. Your linebackers, three of the young guys, Micah, Jesse and Ellis, how have they done, and how much do you think they are going to be pushing for time the first couple of weeks? And just secondly, the loss of not having Manny in the linebacker room, can you just speak on that a little bit.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, a couple things.

    I think at linebacker, I think you're going to see a lot of those guys. I think they are going to get a lot of reps. I don't think there's, again, a huge gap between our ones and our twos. So I think you're going to see maybe the twos get close, if not the same amount of reps as the ones at a lot of those positions.

    I think Cam Brown is probably a guy that's differentiated himself and separated himself a little bit from the pack, and then there's a gap, you know, between maybe his backups.

    I think Koa has done a good job, played a lot of football for them and I think Micah is making a strong push there, and then I think Jan, between Ellis and Luketa, there's going to be a strong push there and you're going to see a lot of guys rotating and getting time.

    Once again, it's like a lot of things that come out and become public. No. 1, we love Manny. We want nothing but success for him and his future. I think Manny has a very, very bright future. But for us, we had been kind of working, you know, with this, anyway.

    Again, there's a lot of details of this matter that you guys aren't aware of, but it really had not changed a whole lot for us at this point in the season.

    Q. You mentioned the start of training camp, that you didn't want people to think that the program had arrived after back-to-back 11-win seasons; that you still wanted to work hard and with a sense of urgency. Do you think the focus of work ethic on your guys in practice and training camp had that sense of urgency and desire to get better?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. I feel good about it. It's funny, I'm writing this note down. You just kind of made me think about something I want to cover with the team in the team meeting.

    But yeah, I've been very impressed. I think our culture is really strong right now. I think our chemistry is really strong. I think our leadership is different in terms of we don't have a huge senior class and those types of things.

    But yeah, I like where we're at, I really do, and you see that in the weight room. You see that in the locker room. It probably doesn't sound like a big deal but our locker room is as clean as it's ever been. I think you guys know a few years ago, we bought our leadership counsel and the coaches, the book Legacy, which is one of my all-time favorite books and in that book they talk about the leaders, sweeping the sheds, basically cleaning the locker room out, and that no role is to big or too small for anyone, whether it's the head coach or the captain or whoever it is, is going to pick up something that's on the floor.

    It probably sounds like a little thing to people that are watching this, but our players' locker room is as clean as it's ever been. I think that's a tremendous example of discipline and leadership on our team. I think we're in a good place. I know talking to the strength staff, they feel really good about where we are and how our guys are working.

    You talk to the training staff; you talk to the equipment staff; you talk to the academic staff -- because you learn things by talking to all those groups. There's usually some places in the program where the guys go and fuss or moan and complain, and you learn a lot about that. You learn about what the guys are fussing and moaning and complaining about. But we don't have a whole lot of that right now in any of the areas.

    When you've got 120 guys on your roster, there's usually some of that. So I think we're in a good place. I think guys are putting the team and the program first, and they understand that they can still achieve all their individual goals, but typically, those individual goals go to guys that are part of the best teams and the best organizations, and if they were interested in individual goals and objectives, then they could have played tennis or swimming or golf or they chose to play the greatest team sport there is.

    So I think our guys have really embraced that and our leadership has been tremendous with those things.

    Q. Your kickers, they are a bunch of young guys that have not had the opportunity to perform under the pressure, the fishbowl and the crowds and everything; that they are going to have to perform in. What have you done to kind of get them ready for that, and what have you seen in their makeup and personality that makes you think that they will be able to deal with that?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: The first thing I would say, this is the most competition we've had, and if you ask any of our players that, they will tell you the same thing. It's the most competition we've had at the kicker position since we've been here, not even close.

    We really feel like that Pinegar, Hilling, Tobin, Checa, could all kick in a game for us, whether that was kickoff or field goal, and be able to do it at a fairly high level. So the competition at practice has been really good, so I think that helps.

    Then I think as coaches, we have to manage that. We had a huge discussion this morning and then also a week ago about, you know, when do you go for that field goal that's at the top of our field goal range, or when do we use one of the best punters that we have in America at pinning people deep; or when do you go for it on fourth and sixth down or less, when you're in that plus territory too long for a field goal but maybe you're not gaining a whole lot by a punt and things like that. That's a huge discussion.

    That's a huge discussion and we do it as a staff, because I want the offense and defense and special teams coaches to all be on the same page. So whatever our philosophy is, our offensive players can play with confidence knowing we're more likely going to go for it in these situations, and that the defense backs it.

    They want to see our offense be aggressive and go for a fourth down, and if it doesn't work out, they are not hanging their head because they are bought into the philosophy, as well; and that we manage early on those young kickers and put them in advantageous situations early in the season so that we can continue to build their confidence and they have a chance to go out and be successful.

    So you'll probably see us maybe punt or go for it on fourth down early in the season on some field goals that late in the season we're hoping to be able to go kick and go kick consistently.

    Q. How did tight end competition shake down? And with the two true freshmen kids you have, where does tight end rank as a position, easier or harder to contribute early on, and is picking up the physical aspect of that position usually the biggest challenge for those younger players?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it's like the O-line. I think typically, those guys have a hard time playing young in their careers. Kind of like how we saw Mike Gesicki go through growing pains early on and things like that. We are at a different point as a program now.

    I do think Freiermuth can factor in partly because of how talented he is and how poised he's been through this process, but also that he's 258, if not 60 pounds, and I think that helps the physical aspect of the game.

    I think Holland and Dalton have had great camps. I think Bowers has shown flashes of being really special, really special.

    I would say our tight ends are a lot like our D-tackles. I think we are talented at both those positions but we still have a lot of question marks because we're just relying on so many guys that haven't played a whole lot of football for us at this point.

    Q. Two Altoona area guys, one, Kevin Givens, how much is his experience going to be counted on at the defensive tackle spot and what are some of the next steps he can take? And the kickers, is there any one or two things specifically about Vlad that kept him in the competition for the field goal kicking job?
    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, first of all, I think Vlad Hilling may be one of the most popular players on our team. The perspective that he brings to our team, the attitude. I don't know if the guy has ever had a bad day in his life. He affects others around him, players and coaches, as well. And he's got a really strong leg.

    He has got to get more refined on his process. He kind of is like a home run hitter: He puts a big wad of bubble game in his mouth and walks up to the plate and kind of taps the plate a few times and then just cranks away, and that's just kind of how he is as a kicker. He's all heart, and he may have the strongest field goal leg we have, but his process needs to be a little bit more consistent so that his field goal percentage can go up a little bit.

    But we love him. I think Vlad has got a very, very bright future in our program and we are so glad he's with us and is still competing, still competing for us.

    Then Kevin Givens is a grown man. He's really grown and evolved in so many different ways in our program. He's still got a ways to go. But I think about when we were recruiting him and he was, I think a 6-1, 237-pound or 245-pound linebacker and running back; to see where he is now, I'm proud of Kevin. He's still got growth to make in a lot of different areas, but he is headed in the right direction, and I'm really proud of him. So I think he's going to have a significant year for us.

    Q. I know the redshirt rule has changed some things, but are there any freshmen you know will see action in those four games and already have that green light, so to speak?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I probably should have brought that with me so I don't miss anybody, but maybe you can help me with that, Kris.

    Freiermuth has a green light.

    Slade has a green light at this point.

    Luketa has a green light.

    Parsons has a green light.

    And then obviously Pinegar has a green light.

    I think that's everybody that's truly a green light I think at this point. How many did I name?

    Q. Five.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I'm probably short two because I think the number's seven but that's the number I know right now. I'll have Kris be able to reach out to you guys and let you know exactly what that list is so you know, but offhand those are the ones I can remember.

    The couple I'm unsure of, I don't want to say it and they are hearing it for the first time at the press conference.

    Q. You mentioned speed with Appalachian State. How much can speed level the playing field when you have a team that may not have those other things like size and strength?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think it's probably the main factor. That's why you look at their program and how successful they have been because that's been their focus.

    You know, you look at these types of games every single year. Usually the skill players, the back seven on defense, and the perimeter players on offense, and then we have the big skill, obviously, as well -- I don't want Coach Limegrover to get mad at me, but the perimeter skill players usually match up very well in these types of games. It's usually up front where it's different.

    But yeah, I think you can get away with an under-sized player as long as his quickness -- and plays to his strengths and plays down the edges and not the middle of people and things like that. I think you've heard me talk about before with our offensive line and defensive line, most college lines have a hard time blocking movement. If you're going to be under-sized, obviously you're not going to go right down the middle of people; you're going to slant; you're going to angle; you're going to twist and pressure and spike, those different types of things, to play to your strengths and give your team an advantage.

    I watched a Georgia game from last year. It was 0-0 until the very end of the first quarter. They had played really good on defense early in the game, and then I think Georgia scored right at the end of the first quarter. Like I told you, they took Tennessee to double overtime. Wake Forest had to block a field goal with five seconds to go (audio drop.)

    I think Micah's very similar to what we thought and very similar to the rest of class. You're dealing with 18-year-old males, but I think we've done a really good job with our player development program of making sure that these guys understand the expectation and standards and the opportunity that they have and how blessed that they should feel and make sure they leave Penn State better educated and prepared for life.

    You asked me specifically about Micah, but really my answer is about the whole freshmen class. The guys, they are all over the map, from Monday, Friday, it's going to be different, but they are maturing and growing up every single day and I'm really proud of them.

    Q. You mentioned Jalen Moore earlier. What challenges will he present for your defense?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think he's a home run hitter. He's a home run hitter. There's games where he has been highly, highly productive. There's games where he hasn't been, but what you're dealing with with him is if there's a hole, he has the ability to take it the distance, and I think that's what happens a lot of times with coaches at the high school level and the college level and the NFL. There's some really productive backs that aren't really fast and are going to be able to grind out and rush for over a hundred yards and get you five or six yards a carry.

    And then there's some guys like him that can really skew the numbers because they may average four yards of rush, but then they are going to have two runs a game that are over 80 yards and spike their numbers and all those types of things and he's that type of guy.

    If you're not sound, if you're not in your gap, if you're not gap responsible or over pursue or things like that, he's a guy that can stick his foot in the ground and go 80 at any point.

    And he's the rare competition -- he's not a little guy, he runs 4:37, his broad jump we talked about, his squat. So he's not like one of these under-sized guys that can't run for power when he needs to or break a tackle and those types of things.

    I think he's had something -- I don't have it written down here but I remember at some point, either watching a tape or reading the stats, he's had two or three games where he's rushed for over 230 yards -- four of them? Thank you, four of them -- and he's the only guy in the country that has done that.

    We've got to make sure that knowing that they are a run-first-based offense, that we need to be prepared for those types of things.

    I also know playing this type of opponent, and the speed that they have at wide out, as well, that we spend a lot of time talking about if I'm them with the speed that they have at wide out, as well, and some of the changes that they have had on the offensive line, do they max protect and take ten shots; say we are going to take ten shots down the field and we complete four of them, we're in a really good position and they may do that. They may run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, max protect, take shots can really run to swing momentum and try to silence the crowd.

    Q. Would Mustipher be close to green?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, he's like hunter green.

    Q. What are the challenges for a true freshman to contribute at that position? Obviously he has the physical tools but you don't often see a lot of true freshmen come in and play a D-tackle.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: He's unusual, I don't think there's any doubt about it. I think he's unusual.

    He's a high-energy, high-motor guy, which usually doesn't happen with guys that are 6-4 and 300 pounds. I think that helps him. I think if you have a motor on the defensive line, that can solve a lot of issues for you, and he goes hard.

    You talk to players during summer workouts, conditioning tests, he's crushing it. He came in with that. I think it helps that his dad played college football. I think it helps that his brother is the captain of Notre Dame Football. He's been around football his whole life. His dad played a big role in training him, not only in the weight room but also out on the field, so he came in pretty far along and came in with a really good mentality, as well.

    Played a great high school program. I think that plays a factor into it. So I think it's all those things. I think he came in physically ready to play from a size and from a strength and from a movement standpoint, and then also just him being around football as much as he's been, he's learned stuff.

    It's like hiring a coach's kid to coach for you. It's like recruiting a player who has grown up in a football family, parents were coaches or whatever it may be. They are learning football and they don't even know they are learning football. They have just been around it their whole life, so he's one of those guys.

    Yeah, he's definitely one of those guys -- six, we're up to six, right? We've got one more to get for you.

    Q. Going back to your days as a player even, first game of the season, after all the build-up, what are the emotions?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think obviously there's excitement. I was getting a bunch of texts on Saturday night from guys, Antonio Shelton was blowing me up about how excited he is. And we've got to balance that.

    We had a discussion in the staff meeting last week and a discussion with our team, as well, in a team meeting, about making sure that our players understand that those feelings are natural, because those feelings, really, are there to help you.

    Those feelings, those butterfly feelings in your stomach; that nervous energy, that increased heart rate, that sweating. That's your body telling you that you are ready, and we talked about that a lot as a staff and we talked about that a lot with the players.

    It's funny, based on how you perceive that; if you're a player or just a person in general and you perceive that as I am ready, my body is reacting like this because this is something that is important to me, and this energy that I'm getting from my heart rate and from these things, is actually going to go to allow me to be the best football player I possibly can be; or an exam or whatever it may be, that's a positive. There's other people that can interpret that energy as a negative: I'm stressed; I'm not prepared; I have anxiety.

    It's really the same exact feeling. It's all based on how you interpret that feeling and that energy. So talking to our players and our coaches about embracing that, embracing that and using that.

    I think we're in a good place, but I think there will be some of that, and there should be. I'll be nervous. I get butterflies every time I walk into that stadium. I've been in there probably a hundred times now. You should feel that way because that's your body telling you that you care and that's your mind and your heart letting you know that you're invested.

    Q. Are you still trying to get Tommy Stevens the ball in multiple roles?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. Be similar to what you've seen in the past. As you guys know, I don't like to get into schemes a whole lot because I don't necessarily want to tell App State and our opponents what we're doing. I know you've got to ask, but I try to avoid scheme answers and scheme questions.

    Q. How much more value is there in a game like this with an opponent that can hit back?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think, again, I'll never approach it or say what you just said because I think we have all learned that on any given Sunday or any given Saturday or any given Friday night, if you don't have your mind right, and you haven't prepared the right way and you haven't approached it the right way, you're going to be in for a long day.

    Yeah, I do think, being very strategic about what we do, non-conference is critical; is critical to our season, is critical to getting our guys ready and prepared for what the season may bring, is critical to put us in the best position to be part of Big 10 Championship conversations; is critical and strategic to give us the best chance to go further than that.

    Yeah, I think it's very, very important from a scheduling perspective, but the hard part is, how do you predict that when typically you're scheduling five, six, seven, eight years out; a team that you scheduled six or eight years ago, was really strong and then by the time they get on your schedule, they are not, or vice versa.

    That's the challenging part of it and that's where I think the best way to handle that is looking at historical data. You know, where has this program been over the last 50 years? There's a good chance that they are going to be in that category.

    There is times where there's spikes and there's times where there's dips, but looking at that historical data and evidence, I think is important.

    And then also, how does that factor in with your conference, your side of the conference and also who is rotating in from the other side of your conference that year. All those things have got to factor into that.

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    Penn state vs appalachian state: Preview



    No. 10 Penn State vs. Appalachian State: Game Preview

    Penn State kicks off the 2018 season against the back-to-back Sun Belt champs in its first-ever meeting with Appalachian State.

    (10) Penn State (0-0) vs. Appalachian State (0-0)

    Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium, State College, PA

    The Betting Line: Penn State -24

    TV: BTN- Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst), Lisa Byington (sideline)

    Weather: Pleasant temperatures in the mid-70s, but likely wet with showers expected early in the day that will turn into scattered thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and evening.

    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 36-17, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 60-32, 7th Year

    VS. APPALACHIAN STATE: First Meeting

    Scott Satterfield:

    APPALACHIAN STATE RECORD: 41-22, 6th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: Same

    VS. PENN STATE: First Meeting

    NOW THE FUN PART....

    Football is returning to Happy Valley this Saturday, although a number of familiar names will be absent when Penn State opens the 2018 season against Appalachian State. Saquon Barkley, gone. Mike Gesicki, gone. DaeSean Hamilton, gone. Joe Moorhead, gone. Questions about the Nittany Lions are fair going into the season, but head coach James Franklin has reason to believe his team is prepared thanks to strong efforts in recruiting since his arrival and improved player development.

    Penn State will have opportunities to make a run for the Big Ten title later this season, but first up is a home game against Sun Belt contender Appalachian State. The Mountaineers have been looking for their first major upset as an FBS member to pair with their monster upset of Michigan as an FCS team in 2007. Could this be the year the Mountaineers sneak up on a top-10 team and turn heads in the Group of 5 conversations?

    Three Things to Watch

    1. The Trace McSorley Show

    Not that anyone was overlooking what McSorley has done in the Penn State offense the past two seasons, but he will clearly be the star attraction of the offense now after the departure of Saquon Barkley and a handful of others. Among those no longer around: former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, now the head coach at Mississippi State. Ideally, McSorley's presence will make for a smooth transition for the offense, as he is among the top passers in the country.

    While McSorley has some familiar targets in Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins, heíll be looking to get on the same page with several talented but inexperienced receivers in new starter KJ Hamler, as well as back-ups Mac Hippenhammer and true freshman Jahan Dotson, who both figure to play heavily in the passing game this season. Hamler and Dotson especially received the majority of buzz on offense throughout the offseason, and now have a chance to show the world what they can do.

    McSorley will also be looking to get the new faces at tight end involved. Jonathan Holland is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but had just three receptions for 16 yards as Mike Gesickiís back-up in 2017. True freshman Pat Freiermuth should see action as well, and has an outstanding opportunity to work his way up the depth chart. Freiermuth is a big target at 6-5, 260 lbs. and enters Penn State as a four-star prospect.
    Opponents now won't have to sell out to stop Barkley, though, putting more of a burden on McSorley's shoulders. How will he respond?

    2. Meet Miles Sanders

    So Barkley is gone and playing in the NFL with the New York Giants. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill, right? Perhaps the most intrigue for Penn Stateís offense is the performance of the line, which looks to finally turn the corner. Each of the starters is at least a four-star with plenty of experience. If they can make good on potential and open up some running lanes, Penn State has the horses in the backfield to punish defenses. Enter Sanders, who was the top-ranked running back in the Class of 2016 and the top-rated recruit from the state of Pennsylvania that year. Sanders may not be Barkley, but he may not have to be.

    He has enough potential on his own to keep Penn Stateís offense moving on the ground, especially with what should be the best and deepest offensive line Penn State has had in a long time. Miles Sanders is finally set to become the starter after sitting behind Saquon Barkley for two seasons. Sanders (along with true freshman Ricky Slade) was the top running backs in his class and showed flashes in limited opportunities. Now he can prove heís ready to carry the load. He has the broad skillset to do it, with the ability to run between the tackles, bounce it outside, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Keep an eye out for senior Mark Allen, who could be a dangerous weapon as a third down back.

    3. Appalachian Stateís experienced secondary

    While the Mountaineers have undergone a significant amount of turnover from a season ago, the secondary may be the best-situated unit on the team in terms of experience. With corners Tae Hayes and Clifton Duck and safety Desmond Franklin, the defensive backfield should be consistent and reliable and will look to prevent McSorley from making plays through the air as he tries to establish a rhythm with a new crop of receivers.

    4. Penn State Defense Revamped

    As for Penn Stateís defense, Jan Johnson is set to start at middle linebacker after an offseason of uncertainty at the position. His performance will be heavily scrutinized as he looks to permanently lock down the starting gig. He wonít be the only one, as Penn State returns just two starters on defense from 2017- Koa Farmer and Shareef Miller. However, many of the freshly-minted starters have plenty of experience, including defensive tackles Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor, cornerback Amani Oruwariye and safety Nick Scott.

    Keep an eye out for Garrett Taylor, who beat out Lamont Wade for the starting spot at strong safety. Taylor has battled some injuries during his time at State College, but looks to be ready to shine on defense following his performance as a special teams ace this past season. And then thereís Micah Parsons, one of the top recruits for Penn State in recent memory, who will be seeing time at outside linebacker. Wearing the famed #11, Parsons has the freakish athletic ability to make the kind of plays that Lavar Arrington and NaVorro Bowman once did during their time in Happy Valley.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 01-09-2018 at 00:35.

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    Post game: Penn state vs. Appalachian state



    Penn State-Appalachian State takeaways:

    You won't see a more entertaining Penn State opener than the 2018 version. No chance. The Nittany Lions are fortunate to be 1-0 after a 45-38 overtime triumph over Appalachian State Saturday in front of 105,000 at Beaver Stadium.
    The Mountaineers are a resilient bunch and they had PSU in huge trouble late but the Lions' offense got it going and the defense finally made a play.

    Here are my takeaways ...

    KJ Hamler brings a different dimension to the Lions.

    He showed up in a major way during the second half, catching the 15-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley with 42 seconds left that forced overtime. And don't forget about the young wideout's 52-yard kickoff return that jump-started that drive. His four-catch, 68-yard day is only the start.

    Where was DeAndre Thompkins in Week 1?

    The veteran wideout is a proven playmaker and he earned All-Big Ten honors in 2017 as a punt returner. He didn't have a catch and his lone contribution was a 29-yard punt return. PSU must get him more involved.

    The defense needs some reinforcements.

    Penn State didn't have starting 3-technique defensive tackle Kevin Givens (violation of team rules) and pass rusher Shane Simmons missed the game with an injury. Then in-game, something happened to top corner John Reid. He didn't play in crunch time.

    It will not be a fun time in the film room for some members of Penn State's special teams.

    The Lions allowed App State's Darrynton Evans an easy 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter and the Mountaineers recovered an onside kick in the fourth quarter that led to the touchdown that tied the game at 31. The kicking game must be better.

    Will Fries looked like the best option at right tackle.

    Veteran Chasz Wright started the game but looked like he had some issues. Fries was more consistent and he played the meaningful snaps late.

    Game balls:

    Offense:

    RB Miles Sanders: 19 carries, 91 yards 2 TDS and three catches for 20 yards.

    A few players on offense were deserving, including QB Trace McSorley, who extended his career stretch of consecutive games with a TD pass to 29. Sanders was the horse PSU rode late, though, and he answered the bell and helped the Lions lock up a win.

    Defense:

    CB Amani Oruwariye: 7 tackles, INT, FF

    No ambiguity here: Oruwariye was Penn State's best defender on Saturday night. He snared an interception to win the game after App State QB Zac Thomas routinely picked apart the Lions' secondary, and he had a game-high seven total tackles

    NEXT GAME: AT SHITT ..... 8 P.M. (2 A.M. CET) ABC

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    Rat,

    Would like too add to many missed tackles during the game.


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    Quote Originally Posted by itwizard View Post
    Rat,

    Would like to add to many missed tackles during the game.
    Indeed Wiz, many missed tackles. I dont know if you have read any fan forums out there, but some people have been bashing the team and coaches. have been pretty harsh. I mean it was the first game, there were lots of mistakes. There were injuries. I also think people are not used to getting a challenge in the opener. I also have to say that some offensive play calling had me scratching my head....... Appalachian State gave us all we wanted and they wanted it bad. Played with lots of heart....... They are a good team.

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    PSU Running Backs Series: Charlie Pittman

    Charlie Pittman 1967-1969

    Recruited out of Edmondson High School in Baltimore, Maryland, Pittman was a member of Joe Paterno's first recruiting class as head coach. He was an All-American halfback at Penn State. A crafty, oversized running back on defensive-minded teams, he rushed for 2,236 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career with the Nittany Lions. In his junior and senior seasons, Penn State went 22-0, with wins over Kansas and Missouri in the 1969 and 1970 Orange Bowls.

    Pittman led the Nittany Lions in rushing in 1969 with 706 yards and 10 touchdowns on 149 carries, caught 10 passes for 127 yards and topped the team in scoring with 66 points. He was named All-American following the 1969 season and was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 1970 NFL Draft (#58 overall).

    Conversely, Pittman's son Tony Pittman starred as an undersized defensive back on the high-powered offensive 1994 Penn State team.

    Father and son were both starters for the Nittany Lions. Despite playing on three of Joe Paterno's five undefeated teams, both were denied national championships that could have been awarded their teams, but were given to other squads.

    Charlie Pittman never lost a game he started in high school and neither he nor Tony ever lost a game they started at Penn State. Their combined college records are 45-0-1. In the sports world, that is almost a miraculous number. In elite college football, there is no father-son tandem better at their game, record-wise, than the Pittmans. Both father Chalie and son Tony Pittman were also academic all-Americans while attending and playing football for Penn State.

    Pittman is currently the senior vice president of publishing at Schurz Communications, a South Bend, Indiana-based media company. In 2007, he teamed up with his son Tony to write "Playing for Paterno", ISBN 1-60078-000-8, about their shared experiences as the first father/son to play for the legendary coach.

    Pittman wore jersey number 24 at Penn Stateóthe same number worn by his boyhood idol, and fellow Nittany Lion, Lenny Moore. His son Tony would wear the same number during his days at Penn State (1992Ė1994) to honor his father. (Lenny Moore wore 24 as a Baltimore Colt but wore 42 during his playing days at Penn State)

    Charlie Pittman Statistics at Penn State

    Charlie Pittman was a Freshman in 1966, but under NCAA Rules at the time Freshmen were ineligible to play.

    1967: 119 att, 580 yds, 6 tds / 4 rec, 60 yds
    1968: 186 att, 950 yds, 14 tds/ 14 rec, 196 yds
    1969: 149 att, 706 yds, 10 tds/ 10 rec, 127 yds, 1 td

    Totals: 454 att, 2236 yds, 30 tds/ 28 rec, 383 yds, 1 td







    Last edited by Ratpenat; 05-09-2018 at 07:34.

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    As I look at it, Appalachian State is a very good team this year or PSU not as good as they say. I'm with you on the play calling as well. I would have mention it, but the tackling I thought was more profound. Was a great game to watch.


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    Coach franklin press conference: Pitt

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: First of all, appreciate everybody coming out to cover us. Had a good Sunday of corrections, good Monday day off, had a bunch of guys coming in on their own, watching the film, which was great. And not only obviously from App State, but also to get a head start on Pitt. So feel really good about that.

    I think overall just kind of -- before getting into the specifics, you gotta give App State credit. I think they had a really good plan against us. They played really hard. I thought their quarterback played extremely well, extremely well; ran and threw the ball really well. And I think thereís going to be a lot of value that comes out of it.

    The adversity that we had to overcome, I think everybody realizes we have a lot of confidence when the ball is in Trace McSorleyís hands at the end of the game. Heís just done it so many times. We were talking to the team the other day, think about how many games weíve been able to win -- win or tie with two-minute drives, all the way back to, I think, our first game in Ireland. So thatís something we take a lot of pride in teaching situational football. I think you guys know that come out to practice, we donít just do random two-minute situations. We use actual two-minute situations that our guys have been through, so itís more realistic. They can remember and feel the emotion of what that experience was and what we learned from and where we can grow. So a lot of confidence there.

    But we played like an inexperienced football team. We had a bunch of guys playing for the first time, guys that did not play as fast or as confident as I know theyíre capable of. And then mistakes. You know, guys, you know, not playing the techniques or the fundamentals the way we want them played, or not even the right assignments. So obviously we gotta make big improvements between week one and week two. A lot of people feel thatís when you make the biggest improvements, so weíre going to need it, and I think our guys have the right mentality, and I think our coaching staff took the right approach on Sunday and Monday.

    Overall I think probably the thing that allowed us to be successful on Saturday was that we won the turnover battle. If you look, the percentages at Penn State at home and in general, youíre in the 90 percents. You win the turnover battle, you got a chance to be successful. We won the penalty battle. I thought App State did a really good job of handling the noise. I donít think there was a whole lot of jumping offsides and things like that, but we won that battle.

    I think the adjustments that we made with the new blocking rules, I think, helped us. But I think that was a major factor in the game. And then the sack battle, which there wasnít a lot of sacks for either side, but we won that as well. So positives there.

    Players of the week, on offense was Miles Sanders. On defense was Shareef Miller, and on special teams was Jake Pinegar.

    So the positives, big-time gritty win against a really good opponent, a two-minute drive to win the game. Doesnít feel like this, but the defense had given up three points and 175 yards going into the fourth quarter. Didnít feel like that, but thatís the reality of it. Bunch of first-time starters gained a lot of experience that will grow from, tremendous opportunity for growth game one to game two, and then I thought the PAT field goals we were 7 of 7 with a guy doing it for the first time.

    The major areas for growth, examples of making sure that our guys are playing full speed from the snap to the whistle, discipline up front and defense in keying the ball, not jumping offsides. They were our two penalties, jumping offsides, one in a critical situation.

    Offensively, we gotta be better in our perimeter blocking, and defensively, we gotta be better in our block destruction, especially on the perimeter with D backs and wide receivers. And then we gotta do a great job, we coach it all the time in practice, but it showed up a few times, whenever the ball is on the ground, we donít know how theyíre going to rule it; are they going to rule it an incomplete pass, are they going to rule it a fumble, are they going to rule it a backwards pass? Whenever the ball is on the ground in practice, weíre all over our guys about covering, and we didnít do that consistently on Saturday.

    So just some things like that we gotta get cleared up, but I feel good about it.

    And then obviously, getting into Pitt, tremendous challenge. Got so much respect for the University of Pittsburgh and their program and Coach Narduzzi and what heís been able to do throughout his career. Itís going to be a tough place to play. I think weíll get really good support. I think our fans will show up strong as well. But itís a tough place to play, thereís no doubt about it. So we gotta be ready for that.

    Weíll have their fight song. Weíll have all their stadium music blaring all week long to get prepared for that and make it as loud and hostile as we possibly can. And then we gotta go out and we gotta make a huge improvement from game one to game two. So should be a tremendous challenge.

    Obviously Coach Narduzzi does a great job. Heís got obviously a defensive background. Offensively, Shawn Watson has done a really good job, heís had a great career, been a head coach, been a coordinator, has been doing this for a long time, 32 years.

    You know, the offensive guys, Qadree Ollison returning, George Aston, who gave us fits two years earlier. Jimmy Morrissey and Alex Bookser are all guys that we have a lot of respect for, and itís going to be a challenge to stop their pro-style, multiple-shift motion offense, speed sweeps, fake speed sweeps, inside zone. I think although Coach Watson is in his second year, he was part of the program the year before in a consultant role. So he knows what they do and what they do well.

    And then defensively, Randy Bates is now there, so combining his experience with Coach Narduzziís, they got a bunch of starters back on defense, nine returning starters on defense. I wonít list all those guys out. As you guys know, there are 4-3 quarters, press, very similar to what Michigan State does. Itís evolved over time a little bit obviously, once heís left Michigan State, and theyíve been disruptive.

    Dewayne Hendrix is a guy that weíve got a lot of respect for as a defensive end. Quintin Wirginis, if Iím saying that correctly, their linebacker, wasnít able to play last year, who Iíve heard great things about, has played in 38 career games up to that point and got a knack for getting to the quarterback. And then we expect Dane Jackson to be back this game, their starting corner, No. 11.

    So should be interesting. And then I think Andre Powell and their special teams is always really good. Theyíve given us some fits in the past, so weíre going to have to be prepared, weíre going to have to be better, because thatís an area we didnít play up to our standards on Saturday. I know I talked too long. Chris wants me to be quiet. So Iíll open it up to specific questions you guys have.

    Q. James, what did you see on film from your defense including the experienced and inexperienced players in the fourth quarter Saturday?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, you know, I think the biggest thing that probably stood out to everybody, it doesnít take 23 yearsí coaching experience to say we didnít tackle well. I think thatís probably the biggest thing that stood out. Too many missed tackles. I mean thatís a constant conversation with defensive coaches and offensive coaches during camp and other head coaches Iíve talked about with all the rule changes, how much do you tackle in preseason to make sure your guys are ready to go in game one and donít have a situation like that where we miss so many tackles.

    I think thatís the biggest thing that stands out. Wrote a note down that weíre going to have to look at our camp model next year and do a little bit more tackling without putting ourselves in a situation that we increase the injury rate. So thatís the fine line there.

    I thought we had some guys that just werenít playing fast. We werenít triggering off the ball up front the way I think weíre capable of. Our alignments, we werenít in great alignments sometimes. We werenít getting hands on receivers. They had a good play and they were getting the ball out of the quarterbackís hand quickly. They did some good things in the running game with their outside zone, and we were getting reached and not gap accountable, especially at the defense tackle position. So gotta get those things cleaned up.

    And then offensively, we were just inconsistent. You know, weíd go on a long scoring drive one time and then go a three-and-out the other. And three-and-outs are bad words. Theyíre bad words on offense and theyíre bad words for your program, puts your defense in a tough spot as well.

    And then I think the other thing is rotation. I think itís easy to sit here and say we should have just rode our starters out. But I would say the opposite. I think we probably should have played some more young guys because I think if you look at our rep count, I think our rep count factored in the first game in the fourth quarter. Iím a big believer if we can get our rep count down, thatíll help us in the fourth quarter of that game and that will help us throughout the season. So I actually think we could have played some more guys and got some more guys some reps. I think that would be helpful for us.

    And then on special teams, we had a bunch of new starters on special teams, especially on our kickoff coverage, and it hurt us. Guys ran out of their lanes. We werenít lane disciplined, created a ^ natural lane in there for the kickoff return. And that guy can run. So I think they outkicked us on Saturday. Their kickoffs consistently were deep in the end zone. Their punts were deep. And they were able to win the field position battle because of that, which is something I probably would not have thought coming into the game. So we gotta get those things cleaned up as well.

    But overall, you know, overall, we were able to find a way to get a win and learn from it and grow.

    Q. James, I wanted to ask you about your new starter at center Michal Menet. How did you think he did in the first start? And also the guy he kind of flipped spots with, Connor McGovern, how do you think he did in his move back to guard?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think there was some growing pains there. I think itís probably not an ideal situation that your center, whoís starting his first game of his career, is playing an odd defense where you got a nose right over your head. The positive was we didnít have any bad snaps, which typically is an issue with first-time starters at center. But being in a situation where you got a true zero nose right over your head, probably not ideal. We gotta play lower. We gotta be more aggressive. We gotta displace people a little bit more often. But I think both of them, you know, with an odd front defense and playing a different position, I donít think played up to the standards that I know they want to play at or we need them to play at.

    But once again, we were able to make those corrections on film. We were able to make those corrections in a walk-through setting, and now weíve moved on to our next opponent. And that odd front will show up on third down because Pitt does a good job with their third package, especially on third and six or more, when they get into that odd front, mug up the linebackers, give you a bunch of different pressure looks and twists that are going to be challenging as well. They do a good job of getting free runners at the quarterback.

    Q. James, how would you rate your defense as far as communication with some newer faces in there, especially presnaps where a few times guys had to be realigned? You had to call the timeout in overtime.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, the timeout in overtime was basically this was a critical play in the game, and Iím going to use the timeout. Thereís no reason to save the timeout. Burn the timeout, make sure we got the best call, that everythingís communicated, that we know exactly what weíre doing and why, and that was the reason we called the timeout there. I just felt like, hey, no reason to go through the first overtime period and not use it.

    But communication, yeah, again, with all the first-time starters and the first-time guys playing, gaining experience, it wasnít as good as it needs to be. And thatís some of the things that we cleaned up on Sunday in the film session. Thatís some of the things that we talked about on the field on Sunday when we walked through some of the mistakes and things like that. But yeah, we look at communication as a fundamental; no different than tackling and blocking, you know, communication is a fundamental in football, and we werenít as good as we needed to be on Saturday.

    The interesting thing is you spend so much time focused on communication on offense when you go to away stadiums that I think sometimes you donít emphasize how you need to communicate on defense at home. Thereís a similar challenge there. So usually thereís less communication that happens on the defensive side of the ball. But itís still critical.

    Q. After the game you said all wins arenít created equally. What was different about Saturdayís win that you can then apply to this coming Saturday?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. Actually, Michael Hazel came up to me afterward at the press conference and said, ďis that what you meant to say?Ē

    Probably not. I probably didnít do a great job articulating what I was trying to say there. All wins, you know, obviously are all equal. How you get to those wins are different I guess is what I was trying to say after the game. And some are going to be by a lot of points and some are going to be by a few points, and some are going to be in overtime. But at the end of the season weíre going to look back, and that was going to be a significant win for us.

    So thatís really what I was trying to say is, you know, at the end of the day weíd love for them to all be pretty wins, but thatís not going to be the case. Any given Sunday, any given Saturday, any given Friday, I think we all see it. We saw it in our game, and we saw it watching games on Saturday and on Sunday, and even yesterday.

    But the most important thing is you find a way to win and you grow and you learn, and thatís one of the things that Iím pretty proud over our career is we have typically gotten better as the season has gone on. So as long as we keep that approach and we get better each day and get better each week, I think weíll like where weíre at come the end of the season.

    Q. Your offense line, in overtime I think you ran the ball every play, looked good, scored the touchdown. How do you think those guys maybe did at the end of the game there? Do you think they performed better? Do you think thatís a boost for them, especially when you have a new center working? What do you think about the way they played at the end of the game and maybe can that carry over?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think in the first drive we played well. I think at the end of the game we played well. I think we played well in the red zone. We were great in the red zone. Why? Because we were able to run the ball. I thought our offensive line had a mentality down there. But I donít think thereís any doubt -- and itís going to be one of my messages to the team today -- is we gotta play better up front on both sides of the ball. D line has gotta be dominant and disruptive, and the O line has gotta be dominant and disruptive. Thatís something weíre going to talk about this week. We gotta grow there.

    You look at the best teams in the country, theyíre able to dominate the line of scrimmage. Iím pretty confident when you look at what weíve been able to do on the defensive line since weíve been here, and I keep seeing our offensive line gradually chipping away at it and getting better, so once again, we gotta get better in that unit this week and do that all season.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about John Reid. It didnít seem like he was on the field a lot in the fourth quarter in overtime. I may be wrong. I just wanted to know how you evaluated his performance after watching the film. And I also wanted to ask you about Shareef Millerís performance and the leadership he seems to be showing on the D line?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Shareef is a guy that weíre very proud of. His evolution across the board has been really impressive. I couldnít be more proud of him the type of teammate he is, the type of student heís become, you know, the type of player he is; the leader. Heís done a great job with the defensive line.

    I actually just saw him walking across campus. Iím really proud of Shareef in so many ways. And, you know, heís worked for everything that heís got, hasnít been given anything. And Iím proud of him. I mean I think Shareefís a great example of why weíre in college athletics. You know, to think about Shareef back in high school when I met him and we started recruiting him, and to see where he is now, Iím really proud. He was a great kid coming out of high school, but like all of us, he was immature and needed to grow up and evolve, and he has. So Iím really, really proud of him.

    And then the first part of your question was, oh, John Reid. Yeah, John played like a guy that, you know, hadnít played for a year, you know, did some things really good, but did some things, you know, where he was a little bit inconsistent. And I think part of that is Johnís a perfectionist. Heís like that in school. Heís like that in football. Itís really important to him. And he works really hard at it. But, you know, I think there was a little bit of rust on him and we were able to chip some of that rust off, and I think Johnís going to have a huge year for us.

    Q. After the game the App State coach said, about the new blocking rule, he said, ďI didnít know that we were calling it that way. We gotta go back and take a look at that.Ē Could you explain a little bit about what that change is and how you were able to sort of teach it so that it wasnít an issue for you guys on Saturday?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. You know, Iím not going to get into that. Iíll get into, you know, Penn State. And they basically have eliminated cutting, specifically cutting at the second level. Unless you are blocking someone thatís in front of you and within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and when I say in front of you, square, weíre looking at each other. No blocks from the side. Theyíve been eliminated from the game.

    And I can just speak for Penn State, that was very clearly expressed to us through a video that went out, and then the officials that we have work our practice. So we were very clear on that. But, again, I can just address Penn State and specifically talk about how we handled things.

    I think our guys handled it well, and I think our coaches handled it well. You know, Iím glad we did.

    Q. You said last week that you hadnít seen a whole lot of separation between the top couple of guys at the defensive tackle, and Iím wondering what the younger guys, Jordan, Hansard and ^ Mustipher. Did any of them stand out to you? Has there been any separation?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. I think Fred did some good things, but played like a guy that started his first game. I think that showed up. Ellison showed some flashes. As you guys know, he missed some time at the end of last season, so coming off an injury, and a little bit like John Reid where missed a lot of time and is just getting back into the groove of things, but we think both of those guys got really bright futures. Antonio Shelton got probably -- I donít think thereís any doubt probably the most reps of his career, and heíll learn from that and heíll grow there.

    And then P. J. Mustipher is your unusual true freshman playing defensive tackle, and again, did some good things, but also did some things that, you know, that you would probably expect from a first-time freshman starting in a game in front of 105,000. As we all know, that was a big question mark going into the season, and theyíre going to need to take a big step, and weíre going to need to take a big step from week one to week two because you guys have heard me say this a thousand times, it starts up front on both offense and defense. I feel good about our defensive ends. I think we can be even more disruptive there, but I think our defensive tackles are going to take a big step for us this week and continue to grow and evolve.

    Q. You mentioned about Michael Hazel asking if what you said after the win is what you really meant. And I know youíre always conscientious about how you answer these questions. So when you made the statement last year that beating Pitt was like beating Akron, that drew some heavy criticism. Looking back on it, did you word that the way you wanted, given your 1 and 0 philosophy each week or do you still stand by what you said?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think itís still being misinterpreted. I hear people saying this is a big game, and anybody that says this isnít a big game is kidding themselves. This is the biggest game in the world. This is the Super Bowl for us. It is the most important game on our schedule. Why? Because itís the game weíre playing this week. Last week was the Super Bowl for us. It was the most important game in the universe. This week is a huge game for us. Iíve never denied that, from the very beginning. This is the most important game on our schedule, and itís the Super Bowl. Itís the most important game in the universe. I donít know how much clearer I can be on that.

    Last week, that was the most important game in the universe. That was the Super Bowl for us. Thatís how we approach it. So Iím not -- Iím not saying that this game isnít really important. Iím actually saying the opposite. Iím actually saying the opposite. And I still think itís being misinterpreted, is itís one game at a time, and we focus on the task at hand. And Iím never going to say that one game is more important than the other, except for the game that we are playing right now.

    Thatís the message. Thatís the message. Thatís the message that I was trying to say last year. Thatís the message I think for the people that cover us consistently. I come in here every single week and say that. So the people that cover us consistently, I think that message has been pretty consistent, no different -- you know, on Sunday, you know, I tweet out ďPitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt, Pitt.Ē I do that every week. And itís amazing that the reactions I get.

    Thereís not a whole lot. You know, I know you guys, you know, this is your job. I pretty much come in and say the same thing every week, and I apologize, you guys show up for it. But it hasnít changed.

    So I know people like to take sound bytes that only deal with us once a week. I get it. Whether thatís people, you know, that donít cover us week in and week out or certain fan bases that donít follow us week in and week out or national. I get that, but I pretty much say the same thing every single week.

    Q. I might get the same answer, but Kevin Givens, do you expect that heíll be back this week?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. Yeah. I hope so.

    Q. Different note. You look at kind of the evolution of recruiting staffs, and as the number has grown and how itís just become such a monster thing. What do you like about that approach, and specifically guys like Justin and Kenny for you guys? What do they mean when you get into a season and youíve got so much going on?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. You know, I think -- I guess I donít really necessarily look at it like that. You know, weíll have the spring game, and weíll have 150 prospects here, and weíre trying to -- I think the ultimate responsibility that we have is to our players on campus, and supporting them, and coaching them and developing them. And you canít serve two masters at once. So these recruiting staffs are critical because we want to make sure that our future is protected and supported. And the only way youíre doing that is when people come to your campus that you treat them in a first-class manner and you show them respect and you show them all the wonderful things that Penn State has to offer. And there are certain times where you canít do that. So you need some people to support that, and Justin and Kenny have been a huge part of that. Theyíre the two guys that you mentioned. But really, itís our entire staff. And I think thereís a time of year where the coaches are balancing both. They are 50 percent coaches with our current players and 50 percent recruiting. But then obviously thereís other times of the year, during spring ball or during the season where that shifts, 75/25 or 80/20, however you want to break it down. And thereís gotta be people that jump in at that time, you know, to be able to show our future whatís so wonderful about this place. So I think itís gotten probably a little bit of a bad rap, and I donít think thatís necessarily justified. Itís just the nature of it.

    Q. Your first-time starters and the true freshmen who played now have one game under their belts at home. Whatís the challenge now for those guys going into whatís going to be most likely a hostile environment Saturday night?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think thatís a good point. Thereís one thing to have your first game at home and thereís a different experience to go on the road. So weíll make practice as hostile as we possibly can. But itís going to be different. I do think, you know, that first game probably is still probably the biggest challenge. But going on the road has factors to it as well. So, you know, weíll make practices as loud and as challenging as we possibly can. Weíll show them video. Weíll show them clips. Weíll show them -- give them the best examples we possibly can of what to expect, what itís going to be like there.

    I also think, you know, with it being in the state of Pennsylvania, though, that I think weíll get a good percentage of Penn State fans there. We travel usually pretty well, and obviously it makes it easier to travel in the state. So I think weíll have -- I think weíll have good support there.

    Q. James, do you feel you guys are coaching as aggressively with the leads that youíve built? Youíve built a lot of big leads over the last say year and a half, and then teams have been able to come back on it. As you self-scout, what are you seeing there?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think thatís a fair point that I think, you know, we could be more aggressive in those settings. Itís interesting because you can make both arguments. You know, people say, well, you should be more aggressive offensively. Well, for us in our offense, thatís throwing the ball. Well, then you got other people that are going to be critical because theyíre saying in four-minute offense you should be running the ball more, but thatís not really our style of offense. Thatís not how we do things. So I think you have to be careful in how youíre interpreting aggressive.

    I think defensively, yeah, I think we could have used some more aggressive blitz packages and things like that, and weíve discussed that the last couple of days. So yeah, I think thatís a fair criticism. But I also think make sure that the criticism is coming from a perspective of 2018 football and the style of offense we play. So I think thatís where we gotta on offense when we get to four-minute situations, we canít lose our identity and try to now become something weíre not in that situation. So that was a big all-season study and conversation and still talked about, you know, on Saturday -- excuse me. On Sunday.

    Q. James, clarification, was that all 280 characters in your Pitt tweet? Did you use all of them?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I always want to use 280 characters, but literally, the hashtag ďwe are,Ē which I usually put, I think is five, if Iím correct, and it wouldnít add up. So it was either the ďPittĒ or the ďwe are,Ē and then when I did it, I think I came up three or four characters short, which usually really bothers me, because I want to maximize every experience. I probably should have just put exclamation points in.

    But I get in trouble from my wife and my staff all the time because I never use periods. Every time I text someone itís an exclamation point, so they think Iím yelling at them. And all Iím saying is this is really important to me. Thatís what the exclamation point means. But people have told me thatís not grammatically correct.

    Q. Serious question, though.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: That was a serious answer, just so you know.

    Q. No, it was. That was more than I was expecting. Thank you. And two years ago you went into Pitt with a younger or at least starts-wise inexperienced defense. How do you translate those lessons learned from two years ago where your team struggled with the shifts and the motions and the jet sweeps to this new defense that has a couple of fresh faces and some players that havenít experienced that yet?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, obviously we learned from that experience. The challenge is in our old offensive system one of the things that I really liked about that is we ran a system that had an H back or a fullback, however you want to make the argument. I probably shouldnít have said fullback because then the message boards and everything will be going crazy. But an H back that could fill that type of role. So we could line up in 21-type sets. We could line up in 12-personnel type of sets. We could line up in 11-personnel sets. We could line up in 10-personnel sets; we could line up in empty. So although I donít know if we were in position to do that the way I would have liked to do it with where our offensive line was at that point, I really felt like thatís the things that we had done pretty well in our previous institution at Vanderbilt is our offense maybe was never record setting, but it was really good for our team to play great team football, which is really ultimately all we want to do. Itís not about offensive records or defensive records. Itís about -- or special teams. Itís about playing great team football. So running that style of offense allowed our defense to pretty much see everything that they were going to see throughout the year. Does that make sense?

    So when we made the change and went to the spread-style offense, youíve gotta be really disciplined now that your defense gets enough work during spring ball, during training camp and throughout the entire year that youíre getting enough 12-personnel and 21-personnel work, because if you think youíre going to be able to go from only seeing spread and prepare for a pro-style offense thatís going to line up and pound you in a weekís period of time. Thatís challenging.

    No different if youíre going to play an option team. You canít wait to that week to prepare. I think thatís one of the things, if you look at Georgia and Georgia Tech, with that series Georgia has always been really smart. What do they do? They always scheduled Georgia Southern the week before Georgia Tech. Why, to get them really two weeks of option work before that game.

    So you gotta be really disciplined. No different on offense. We donít see a whole lot of odd front defense from our defense. So we gotta mix that in during camp on our own, because once again, you want your players comfortable and confident playing that style of defense, whether theyíve seen it a whole lot or not.

    So I think thatís one of the things that I think is really important to us is itís never going to be about setting records on defense or setting records on offense or setting records on special teams. Itís going to be about playing great team football to allow us to be successful. And thatís where our focus is.

    If records come, beautiful, thatís a by-product of the other things that weíre doing. But thatís never our goal.

    Q. I like your shirt.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Thank you. I appreciate that. I think thatís the first compliment youíve given me in five years about my clothes.

    Q. I can point you in some directions if youíd like.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I like your glasses.

    Q. TouchГ©. Theyíre transition lenses. I get so much shit for that.

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I do too. I wore them I think the first year, and I got a lot of heat about the transition lenses. But it makes it easier. Then I donít need that guy on the sideline handing sunglasses. Theyíre more efficient.

    Q. Thatís my thought. Youíve got three new assistants this year, which is the most youíve had in a single season as a head coach, be it here or at Vanderbilt. How does that change in-game oversight from your perspective and in-season evaluation as you go along?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it changes a lot. I donít think thereís any doubt about it. I think itís a little bit of the nature of the beast in college football now, so you have to just embrace it and make the best of it. But I also think thatís where it is very important for us to try to limit that as much as we possibly can. And the administration has been very supportive of that and we gotta continue to do that. I think thatís going to be critical, because obviously the more years that weíre all together, the better. You know, the players arenít having to build new relationships with their position coaches; the recruits arenít having to build new relationships with their recruiting coaches. The staff knows how Iím going to be on the fourth quarter against App State in front of 105,000, we lose the lead late in the game. I know how theyíre going to react when times get tough and adversity hits, because itís easy when things are going well. Itís how do you all work together, whatís the communication like.

    You know, and I think you guys have heard me talk about this before, itís like a family. And every time your family goes through adversity and you get through that adversity, you become stronger. And itís no different than with a football team. Itís no different in the locker room with the players. Itís no different with the staff. So we were able to get through some adversity on Saturday. Weíll grow from that. Players will grow. Coaches will grow. The organization will grow as a whole.

    But I think thatís a fair point. Thereís probably some things that happened that I addressed during the game that I addressed after the game and that I addressed on Sunday in the meetings and then slept on it and addressed some more things on Monday to make sure that thereís no gray area and everybody completely understands kind of how we do things and why. And as much as we cover those things in the off season, thereís always going to be things that come up on game day that you havenít necessarily covered in the detail that you need to.

    Q. Did any of those eight true freshmen you used the other day make a particular impression on you, and would you be reluctant to use any of them again this coming weekend?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: No. Actually the opposite. I think I said that earlier. I think we probably should have played those guys more, not just the freshmen, but all those guys starting for the first time. And Iíd like to see that again on Saturday. But as you know, we grade the tape, and some guyís play is going to warrant less reps and some guyís play is going to warrant more reps. I donít think there was a guy that really kind of stood out in either direction, except for the guys that are already probably starting for us, like Pinegar and Checa and guys like that.

    Q. Question, what do you see from Kenny Pickett that you like and also, too, on the second part of that stopping their defensive ends, what do you guys have to do to contain those defensive ends?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think a couple things. He is bigger than you think. He is much more athletic and mobile than you think. Youíve seen that time and time again. And then obviously heís been able to step up and play big in big games. So I think heís earned a lot of respect from us. I think heís earned a lot of respect regionally and nationally. He can make the throws that he needs to make. Heís got enough mobility to keep you honest, knows things not only in the pocket, but also breaking the pocket. Seems to have a good feel for the game as well. So Iíve been impressed with him. I think heís just going to continue to get better and better the more he plays. And then their defensive ends, you know, I think last time we were there, I think their defensive end was probably the biggest difference maker in the game. I think he changed the game single-handedly; was one of, I thought, the better defensive players that we saw that entire season. I think these defensive ends are long and athletic and are disruptive and make plays. I think we got some guys in practice that we go against that are probably similar, you know. But itís going to be a challenge. I think they do some things with their three-down front on third and six or more that create some challenges as well. We typically do a pretty good job of studying those things.

    You know, and then thereís going to be some things that come up in this game that we havenít prepared for. You know, if you look at Coach Narduzzi, he typically, just like he did last year against Youngstown State, plays very vanilla in game one and has some things that heís going to show in game two, and especially in a game like this, that he hasnít shown. So thatís where you gotta trust your training and your fundamentals and your techniques and your rules, because thereís going to be a few things that come up that we havenít seen or expected.

    And then obviously that fullback got a lot of attention from us, you know, I guess however you want to say it, two or three years ago, and heís back after missing last year. So I know heís going to be a big part of what they do as well.

    Q. How do you assess the performance and involvement of Juwan and DeAndre?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think Juwan has a few plays that heíd like to have back. But he also made some big plays that thereís not too many humans on the planet could make, you know, the corner out in between the safety and the corner and theyíre both converging on the ball, and Trace throws it up to a 7-footer, and he goes up and ^ gets it, comes down with contact from both sides. So I think that was kind of the first step for him and heíll continue to evolve.

    I thought DeAndre did some good things, especially in the return unit as the punt returner. A few balls got to the ground that weíd love to see him catch in the air, because you never know once the ball gets to the ground where itís going to go or who itís going to hit and things like that. And I think weíve seen DeAndre make huge plays for us over the last two to three years, and I think that will continue to evolve. As you guys know, thereís going to be some games where guys get a bunch of touches based on opportunities and what the defense is trying to take away. If I had to imagine, DeAndre and Juwan are going to get some opportunities this week because thereís going to be some packages where theyíre going to try to take away K.J., obviously, based on what he did in week one.

    So each week is going to be different based on what the defense is trying to do and what the defense is trying to limit. And no different than anything else in life when you try to take one thing away, it creates other opportunities. So youíll see that. Youíll see some weeks where we run the ball for 200 yards and youíll see other weeks where we run the ball for 100 yards. Youíll see some weeks where we throw for 450 yards. Youíll see other weeks where we throw for 250 yards. Youíll see some weeks where some guys catch 150 yards, receiving yards, and youíll see other weeks where they may not get a catch. It just depends on what the defense is trying to do that week and how weíre attacking it.

    Q. You mentioned in your opening statement, Pitt corner Dane Jackson. If he plays, is that the guy that kind of stands out to you in that secondary that really improved over the latter half of the season last year?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think itís a guy that they have a lot of confidence in, from everything that weíve seen and read that they feel like is their top guy. So obviously, you know, itís going to be a challenge. Theyíre going to be in your face. Thatís who they are. Theyíre typically based a quarter is defense. But what we call four X and Z where the X and Z are pressed on the outside, again, very similar to what weíve seen from Michigan State since we joined the league. And itís challenging. Theyíve been doing it and doing it at a high level for a long time in the scheme, and they got answers and they know what the weaknesses are and challenges. So yeah, it should be interesting.

    You know, thereís some other guys that ended up getting some reps in there as well that we also think are talented. So itíll be interesting.

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    Penn state vs. Pitt: Preview



    No. 13 Penn State at Pitt: Game Preview

    (13)Penn State (1-0) vs. Pitt (1-0)

    Kickoff: 8 p.m., Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

    TV: ABC- Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst), Holly Rowe (sideline)

    Weather: Chances of showers throughout the evening with temperatures cooling into the 60s.

    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 37-17, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 61-32, 7th Year

    VS. PITT: 1-1


    Pat Narduzzi:

    PITT RECORD: 22-17, 4th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: Same

    VS. PENN STATE: 1-1


    NOW THE FUN PART....

    Penn State returns to Heinz Field for the first time since 2016 to take on the Pitt Panthers under the lights on Saturday night. After struggling out of the gate, the Nittany Lions will need to take a big step forward to walk out of Pittsburgh with a win.

    Avoiding the fourth quarter collapse

    The Nittany Lions have had some hard times in the fourth quarter over the past few seasons. After last week's debacle, cleaning that up should be Penn State's biggest focus. The Nittany Lions rotated a lot of guys all afternoon, so it wasn't like they didn't have fresh legs. Whether it be not wrapping up, missing assignments, or young guys still learning the college game, it seemed like the defense was lost for the final 20 minutes or so. Pitt has the weapons to make you pay for mental mistakes like that. Penn State will need to play aggressively to make sure Kenny Pickett doesn't get into a groove.

    What do the defensive rotations look like?

    As aforementioned, Brent Pry rotated a lot of guys last week. That was more than likely to get a feel for who can play and who can't. Now that Pry knows who is ready, he can focus on getting his rotations right and making sure the right players are in at the right time. John Reid will need more snaps to get comfortable again, Kevin Givens will need time to get situated if he's available, and Micah Parsons will need to see his fair share of reps. Pry needs to find a way to best utilize each player's skill set.

    How to avoid a repeat of 2016

    Take care of the football and avoid costly mistakes. Penn State turned the ball over four times last time they made the trip to Heinz Field. If that doesn't happen, Penn State probably wins that game. Receivers need to catch the ball when it comes their way, the offensive line needs to execute their assignments, and the defense needs to find their identity. That's easier said than done but if the Nittany Lions can accomplish these things, Saturday night will be far less stressful than last week.

    Will Penn Stateís offense start fast?

    In the last two meetings against the Panthers, Penn Stateís offense took some time to get going. Penn State dug a 28-7 hole two years ago in Heinz Field before nearly pulling off a major comeback. Last season in Beaver Stadium, Penn State capitalized on an early Pitt turnover and a very short field, but the offense only scored one more time before halftime. Last week against Appalachian State, the Nittany Lions scored on the opening drive of the game, thanks in part to a bad penalty by a freshman to give Penn State a free first down after a third-down stop. Look to see if Trace McSorley and the Nittany Lions have a little more success moving the football and getting points on the board in the primetime setting at Heinz Field.

    Watch Pitt try to work the clock to their advantage

    Although Penn Stateís offense took a while to warm up last weekend, Pitt knows the best chance it will have to win is by keeping the Nittany Lions' offense off the field as much as possible. To do this, Pat Narduzzi will likely look to use a similar game plan to last year that operated with short, accurate passing by Kenny Pickett in his second start and running the ball to move at a relative snailís pace and picking and choosing the right spots to try for a big play against a defense that showed some problems tackling and making stops last week. Pitt may not have the offensive talent to get involved in a shootout with Penn State, but limiting how many scoring opportunities the Nittany Lions have will be essential to Pitt having a shot to win this one. Last season, it was turnovers that helped force Pitt to have to try changing things up on offense to catch up. If Pitt protects the ball and sustains some drives that result in any points, the Panthers will give the Nittany Lions a battle.

    Miles Sanders comes home

    Sanders is just one Penn State player looking forward to a chance to return home to play in front of friends and family. The Pittsburgh native was one of the top-ranked recruits in the Class of 2016 but Pitt was unable to secure his commitment. Now, Sanders is stepping into the starting role at Penn State after the departure of Saquon Barkley. Last week, he rushed for 91 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime. He also caught three passes for 20 yards. Pitt counters with senior Qadree Ollison, who rushed for 96 yards against Penn State last season 73 yards on seven carries last weekend. Both schools have solid running back options this season, and each could cause some problems for the opposing defense.

    Put a framed picture of miles sanders on your mantel if...

    Sanders torches the Pitt defense for 150+ yards and three tuddies
    Trace McSorley puts together a near flawless game and shows that he's probably the best quarterback in the state
    The defensive line gets some guys back and eats the Pitt offensive line alive one by one

    Throw your computer in a garbage disposal and never return to the internet if...

    The defense struggles to wrap guys up again
    Pitt tries to run 50+ times and takes advantage of a still inexperienced front seven
    Narduzzi comes out with some funky blitzes and Penn State's o-line doesn't know how to handle it
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 08-09-2018 at 07:59.

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    Penn state vs. Pitt: Recap




    KJ Hamler/Miles Sanders Are STUDS

    Weíre two weeks into the 2018 season and KJ Hamler may already be one of Penn Stateís top 10 players. That may be an overreaction, but whenever Hamler touches the ball so far this season, you hold your breath knowing he could take it to the house with every time.

    On Saturday against the Panthers, Hamler saw himself pick up his first career rushing touchdown, a 32-yarder on a jet sweep that put Penn State up 7-0. He also caught his second career touchdown pass in the game, giving the Nittany Lions a 14-6 edge going into the half. Going forward, Hamler should continue to grow with the offense, and should only get more dangerous as the season goes on.

    When it comes to Miles Sanders, the junior running back waited his turn to be the star running back, and so far, the patience has paid off. Against Pitt, Sanders recorded his first career 100-yard game as he rushed for 118 yards on 16 carries. He now has 209 rushing yards this season on just 35 carries ó not a bad start to the season for the former five-star recruit. If Saturday was any indication, Sanders is just getting started.

    Note: I didnít want to make this first key takeaway incredibly long but itís worth noting that Micah Parsons deserves to be among Hamler and Sanders as stud players. The true freshman led the team in tackles in just his second game with the program.

    GET THE JUG MACHINES GOING

    The offense put up 51 points on Saturday against Pitt so you canít really complain about much, right? Well, if there is one thing that should be complained about, that would be the drops that plagued the Nittany Lions throughout the game on Saturday. It didnít matter which receiver it was, whether it was KJ Hamler, Juwan Johnson, or DeAndre Thompkins, they all had one drop at one point or another in the game. So while Trace McSorley finished 14-for-30 for the game, he probably should have had closer to 20 completions on the day, and a couple passing touchdowns to boot. You could chalk this one up to the wet weather, but it still needs to be cleaned up going forward.

    Second Half Team...Again

    Two weeks and eight quarters into the season, itís starting to look like Penn State will once again be a strong second half team. After leading 14-6 going into halftime, the Nittany Lions exploded in the second half, putting up 37 points after a so-so- first half.

    Meanwhile, the defense in the first half kept getting gashed by Pittsburgh, allowing the Panthers to pick up 231 total yards with 210 of those coming on the ground. In the second half however, the Nittany Lions adapted to the Pitt game plan, allowing just 35 rushing yards and 69 total yards. The second half should be used as a strong confidence builder for the defense going forward, especially after the rough finish to the App State game, and the rough start (at least yardage wise) against Pitt.

    So, what do we make of Franklin v. Narduzzi?

    The reason I most lament that the Penn State-Pittsburgh series ends after next season is that we will no longer get to observe this annual stage play between the two head coaches. I can't think of two coaches in major-college football less like each other and I find the drama entertaining as hell.

    We know the backstory after three years of this back-and-forth Certs commercial:

    "It is a rivalry!"

    "It isn't a rivalry."

    "It is!!"

    "Not."

    "You're kidding yourself!!!"

    "Nah."

    The more bent Narduzzi seems to get, the calmer Franklin becomes.

    At the end of the 51-6 blowout in which Penn State had scored 44 straight points, 37 in the second half, as the clock ticked down toward the postgame handshake, you wondered what might happen. The ol' "fly-by" flesh-press seemed the very least that could occur, both coaches barely tolerating the other. A Doug Graber-Joe Paterno confrontation, circa 1995, seemed the most likely, profanity involved. And a total throw-down did not appear out of the question.

    Instead, what happened looked like when you get so angry that you scare yourself and you end up unplugging your emotions for fear of completely losing control.

    In fact, it was the fly-by, nothing more. All of which points up the difference in sports between football and, say, baseball. Or hockey.

    Can you imagine something like the Penguins rolling up a 6-0 score, adding a couple of cheapies in the third period, and the Flyers simply accepting it without the gloves coming off at the 3:00 mark? Or the Phillies stealing on the Pirates with a 9-1 lead in the 8th? For all its bravado and macho veneer, football treats such stuff more matter-of-factly than maybe any sport. I've always found that fascinating.

    Penn State has never had a player like K.J. Hamler

    I tweeted during the game that the redshirt freshman wideout from Pontiac, Mich., by way of IMG Academy, reminds me of one of those mini-mite pinballs you find almost expressly in the Southeastern Conference. Blazing fast, smaller than anyone on the field but possibly a placekicker. Maybe not an every-down player, but who cares? He sends ripples of excitement through the crowd.

    I came up with a Louisiana State player from 2006-09 who actually faced the Nittany Lions in the post-2009 Capital One Bowl - running back and kick returner Trindon Holiday. Every time he touched the ball, even on that rain-soaked Orlando field that looked like it had experienced trench warfare by the end, you just felt the anticipation that anything could happen.

    The thing is, Penn State has never had a player like him, at least not one who actually played any length of time and accomplished much at PSU. The closest I can recall is Michael Timpson who was an absolute burner, a 5-10 track star who only caught 53 passes and scored but 2 touchdowns at PSU before having a much more abundant career in the NFL with over 300 catches.

    Hamler should way outshine Timpson, mostly because the era and the regime under which he'll play. Penn State fans can hope he will be something closer to the Lions' version of Percy Harvin when he played college ball at Florida. The "Human Joy Stick" has the same shiftiness and ability to change direction at high speed as Jordan Norwood back in the mid-'00s but with much better flat-out speed. He's going to be a blast to watch.

    What happened to taking the high road when you're up 30 points?

    Maybe it's the urge to score style points due to the College Football Playoff. But I can't explain why Franklin continually feels the need to put his starters needlessly in danger by playing them deep into garbage time. He's done it over and over the past couple of years and I see no reason for it. It's not just poor sportsmanship, it doesn't even make practical sense.

    It was inexcusable to have Trace McSorley out there winging the ball downfield with a 37-7 lead well into the fourth quarter. Was it really that important to Franklin that he stick it to Pat Narduzzi just because the Pitt coach was flapping his gums all week about the "rivalry" question? If taking a high road in such a situation doesn't make any sense to him, how about the wrenching facemask twist McSorley took from a Pitt defender in that fourth quarter? What if a leg had been planted awkwardly and he'd been hurt? Would it have been worth running up the score then?

    Penn State football has been more fun than I've ever seen it since Franklin got this machine revving. Considering his legendary predecessor's stodgy style for 46 seasons, this brand of ball the last two years plus can't help but glow in contrast. But I have to say, Joe Paterno very rarely left his foot on the gas too long just to make a petty point. In this case, Franklin could take a lesson from the past.

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    The score looks good, a solid defeat of Pitt. But believe the game would have been different if it was not for all the miscues and penalties Pitt had throughout the game. Still the Lions defense is shaky on the run game given up 245 rushing yards. When the big guys come to town will they be able to hold them to a reasonable amount?

    Will take the win no matter how ugly it's obtain.

    Positive side, do see a lot of potential in the chase for the Big Apple in January. Buckeyes will be the true test.


    We are Penn State Go Lions.

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    Coach franklin press confeence: Kent state

    Opening Statement: First of all, I appreciate everybody coming out and covering Penn State Football. Before I kind of get started here, obviously this day, 9/11, represents a lot of things for a lot of different people in our country and, obviously, hits close to home.

    So I didn't want to get into football without talking about, you know, this significant day in our country's history. I wanted to take a moment to mention that: I actually had a teammate from college that passed away on that day, as well, and when we were able to take our team a few years back to the site, I think it was powerful and another example of how college athletics and, specifically football, can use our platform to do other things. That was on important day in our program. I wanted to mention that.

    I also wanted to mention David Williams is stepping down; the athletics director at Vanderbilt. He's been a mentor and a friend of mine. He's had a huge impact on me both personally and professionally. Just got done visiting with David here in the last hour.

    David, I'll give you an example what he's meant to me and my family, obviously professionally, kind of speaks for itself, but personally, both my parents have been deceased for a long time and my kids were going to school and they had grandparents' day at school, and they don't have grandparents from my side and my wife's side is too far away. David and Gail both went to elementary school with my daughters for grandparents' day. Kind of speaks to the type of guy he is and I'm forever grateful and thankful for David, so I did want to mention that real quick.

    Getting into the Pitt game, I'm proud of how we played. I think we took a step in the right direction, cleaned up some things. Played aggressive. Played fast. Thought we really did well at the line of scrimmage, both the defensive line and offensive line. I think getting Kevin Givens back was a significant impact in the game.

    We won the turnover battle, although I thought we were sloppy and it's something we take a lot of pride in, we did win the turnover battle but we put the ball on the ground way too many times. Penalties, I thought we were able to win that. I thought we played with poise and great discipline the entire game in a highly motivated, highly anticipated game in terms of the energy and emotion on the field on Saturday. I thought our guys did a good job there.

    We won the drive-start battle. I thought Blake [Gillikin] had a significant impact in the game and we're going to need him to be that way throughout the entire year. We won the sack battle and then we didn't meet our goal in the explosive play battle on offense, but we did win the explosive battle in the game. So real positives there.

    Our coaches' Players of the Week on offense was KJ Hamler and on defense was Amani Oruwariye. And then on special teams was Blake Gillikin.

    In general, positives: I thought we played with tremendous effort. We dominated the line of scrimmage, we kept our poise and discipline, and I thought we played a complete game on special teams.

    Then opportunities for growth, we have got to protect the football consistently on offense. On defense, we have to consistently do our jobs.

    I thought that one play where they ran the fly sweep and got down the sideline; I think if we do our jobs on that play and don't let that play get going, that may have gotten them some momentum, and I think the game is much different. We started with a three-and-out. I think if we don't give up that play early on and do our jobs, set the edge and turn the ball back inside, I think even the first half is much different than the way it played out.

    We've got to be more physical, lower and consistently wrapping up in our in our tackles. There's still times when we're throwing shoulders. I think we can do a better job there. And then, we have to eliminate the penalties on offense.

    We took two huge plays that I'm not sure if the penalties really would have helped. I think we still get the pass play to Miles [Sanders] for a huge play. I think we still get the touchdown. I believe that [Brandon] Polk's hand; he did put his hands on his back. It was the right call, but he didn't shove him and I don't know if the guy would have made the tackle, anyway, so we have to get those things cleaned up.

    Moving on to Kent State and Coach Sean Lewis, who I have a lot of respect for. We did a travel camp with those guys a few years back in Chicago and got a chance to get to know him a little bit. Very, very impressed.

    Obviously his background is on the offensive side of the ball. He's a Big Ten guy, played at the University of Wisconsin for Barry Alvarez. So, he understands this conference, as well. They have 12 of 29 starters returning.

    If you look at the Illinois game, they are winning 7-3 in the first quarter. They are winning 17-3 in the second quarter and then they gave up some points in the third quarter but then ended up losing 31-24 on the road to Illinois.

    So again, we're playing a team that expects to come in and not only compete, but win, and then they were able to get a lot of confidence last week in playing Howard and winning 54-14. You know, a real challenge, I think.

    Obviously, Kent State offense is run by Andrew Sowder, but I think we all really know, the head coach, it's his offense.

    This is going to be a tempo offense; probably the fastest tempo team that we've seen since we've been here. Very much like Syracuse has been, very much like Baylor used to be. This will be as fast of a tempo team that we have played. They like to run the counter. They like to run the zone read. They like to run the split zone and the power play. They love the quick game and the RPO stuff and then everything runs through the quarterback.

    The quarterback's a problem. Woody Barrett is a problem. Highly, highly-recruited kid. Played in the Under Armour All-American Game, signs with Auburn, transfers out to a junior college and now is starting at Kent State. He's 6-2, 236 pounds. He can run. He can throw. He's dynamic. You see guys come through blitzing and he stands in the pocket, they hit him, they bounce off, he keeps his eyes down the field, delivers the strike, will beat with you his legs. He's a problem. So, we've got to be ready and prepared for him. Like everybody in the country, dual-threat quarterbacks are problematic, so we have to be ready for him. And running back, Justin Rankin does a nice job for them, as well, 5'9, 211 points.

    On defense, Tom Kaufman, kind of an interesting deal. He actually started college at Cornell with Ricky Rahne. They were both together before he transferred out of Cornell after Ricky's freshman year. He's been a collegiate coach for now six years, defensive coordinator at Chattanooga where they hired him from, but his background is like most of this coaching staff: Syracuse, Bowling Green, Eastern Illinois.

    They are a sound, high-effort group. They are going to be another odd-front defense, very similar to what we played in week one with App State. So, three-down, although they are 4-2-5 personnel, coverages, they're two-high but they are going to mix in some quarters and some cover one. They pressure over 30 percent of the time.

    And the guys that we're impressed with is No. 7, their safety, Jamal Parker, who is a local kid from Pennsauken, New Jersey, linebacker No. 22, Jim Jones, from Tallahassee, Florida, senior and the defensive end, No. 58, Theo [Eboigbe], I don't want to mispronounce his name, 6-1, 269-pound senior from Lithonia, Georgia.

    On special teams, Zac Barton runs that for him. Does a nice job. His first year there. He's got 11 years of collegiate experience from Winona State to Memphis to Nebraska. Aggressive, fast, athletic unit. We have been impressed with linebacker No. 32 on special teams, Dalton Hicks, and linebacker No. 6, Matt Bahr, who is a senior for them, as well, guys that show up on special teams.

    So excited to be back at home. We're expecting another great crowd, but I'd love for us to take it to another level. I'd love for us to be able to sell the stadium out. I think that would do wonders for our program. I think it sends a message nationally, as well and we're going to need them. We've been fairly successful at home, and I think the crowd has been a huge part of that.

    So I'd ask everybody, all 105,000 that we're expecting on Saturday, to recruit one person and we'll try to figure out a way to get 210,000 people in this stadium. So everybody go out and recruit one person for the game, and I'll let Sandy [Barbour] and Phil [Esten] figure out how to get 210,000 people into the stadium.

    Q. Can you evaluate the play of Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins to this point?

    JF: I think both Juwan [Johnson] and DeAndre [Thompkins] have higher standards and expectations of how they want to play. I have the utmost confidence in those guys and I think they are both going to have huge years for us. But yeah, I think there's a few plays they would like to have back, there's no doubt about it.

    I thought we made a huge step, which is critical in our offense, in the perimeter blocking game. I thought those guys really took big steps, significant steps. If you guys go back and watch the tape, there's some really good examples of us blocking on the perimeter and playing physical.

    I think both of those guys have higher standards and expectations of who they want to be. One of the things I'm going to talk to the team about today.

    Juwan, one of the things I love about him is his approach. In all of his free time, he's in the facility. Stretching, on the JUGS machine, getting an extra lift, watching more film, constantly taking care of his body, hot tubs, cold tubs, and with that type of investment that you make, good things are going to happen.

    He's got great skills and you talk about investing in your future, investing in your craft, investing in school. It's all about preparation, and Juwan, constantly, from the coaching staff and from the players, is pointed out as a guy that does that as well as anybody.

    You know, I've got tremendous confidence that those guys, you're going to end up and we're going to look back at the end of the year and say, wow, what huge years these guys had. I'm very, very confident that's going to happen.

    Q. Your thoughts on the linebacker play in general and specifically what you've seen from Micah Parsons early in the season?

    JF: I think it's about where we thought it would be. It's going to continue to grow and continue to evolve; we've got a number of guys. We've got experience there.

    We've got experienced talent and we've got young talent. I think the combination of Koa Farmer and Micah Parsons at the outside linebacker position, I think that's a nice one-two punch that we have there. I feel like those guys got a chance to play at a very, very high level for us.

    At middle linebacker, you have an interesting three-way, three-headed monster there with Jan [Johnson], Ellis [Brooks] and Jesse [Luketa] and all three of them do good things and we'll continue to see those guys get reps and opportunities. It's good to see Jesse, who didn't play in week one at the linebacker position, get some reps in week two, and I think that will continue to evolve.

    And then at the other outside linebacker, Cam Brown, and I see Jarvis Miller took some steps and we were impressed when Dae'Lun [Darien] got into the game. We thought he did some good things.

    That group will continue to evolve and grow, and you'll see a lot of guys get an opportunity to make plays. I think at some point this season, either someone will take the job and take control of it and say 'it's mine', because there is a gap, or you'll see a two-headed or three-headed monster continue to kind of evolve there and grow and get better week-to-week.

    Q. Given that Tommy Stevens hasn't been 100 percent, how much has that affected, if at all, how you've used the run game so far?

    JF: Hasn't really affected us a whole lot. I think game planning, I think probably some of the quarterback run stuff we've limited, but as you know we do so much of the RPO stuff that he's still going to get a decent amount of carries per game to keep people honest.

    That's who we are and that's who we will be. I think you guys see, we have a lot of confidence in Sean Clifford, as well, which obviously helps with that.

    Obviously, getting Tommy back is going to open some other things up to us, as well, in the run and passing game, because as we've used him the last couple years, we know he can factor in a lot of different roles and wear a lot of different hats, not only as a backup quarterback but also as getting two quarterbacks on the field at the same time, use him as a running back, use him as an h-back, use him as a wide receiver. That's exciting, as well, because I do think it opens another aspect of our game plan.

    Q. You mentioned earlier this season, in preseason, about Jahan Dotson's natural feel for the game. How does he translate that to the field and how close is he to being ready to play?

    JF: Really good. We could play Jahan right now. I don't think there's any doubt in that. You'll see Jahan play this year because we've got the four games to play him, so at some point, we see it factoring in.

    We had a lot of discussions this week about some guys that maybe we would use this week and get them a little bit of experience. We'll see how that plays out, but there's a lot of confidence in Jahan and what he brings to the table. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

    Q. You mentioned Amani at the beginning. On Saturday, you said he's one of those guys where the ball just finds him. Can you talk about, maybe a little bit in detail, what makes him so successful? How important is he to your defense moving forward?

    JF: YHe reminds me a lot, when we were at Vanderbilt, we had a guy by the name of Casey Hayward, same deal. He always seemed to be around the ball. The ball liked him and I see that with Amani. Amani is long, he's got great ball skills. He's got tremendous confidence, and he's also been in the system for a long time now, and he's developed. He's mature. He believes in himself. He believes in the system. He's got that ability to find the ball.

    A lot of defensive backs aren't comfortable doing that, because you want to stay connected to the wide receiver, and you know, worst-case scenario, you let the receiver catch the ball and you strip it out of his hand as soons as it hits the hands, and the guys that want to take their game to the next level, they know when and are comfortable to look back or up and find the ball and make a play on the ball, and Amani has the ability to do that, as well as, you know, any of the DBs that I've been around.

    I think you're going to continue to see him have a big year for us. He had a big year for us last year but obviously he's getting more opportunities and more reps right now as a starter for us and I think he's very important to our defense.

    I think whenever you've got a corner like that that can make plays, whether it's in zone coverage, whether it's in man coverage, whether it's in one-on-one situations, it breeds a lot of confidence in your defensive coordinator and your secondary coaches.

    Q. About John Reid, can you tell us why he didn't play on Saturday? Will we see him soon and if this is indeed a setback injury-wise, do you sense any disappointment in him because of missing all last season?

    JF: As you guys know, I don't get into injuries and things like that. We're hopeful that we'll have John this week.

    Q. Your passing game the first couple weeks, in terms of completion percentage, yards for attempt, stuff like that, I'm guessing it's not what you want it to be, and you touched on that a little bit with the wide receivers, but in general, how do you think you can get a little more efficient in the passing game?

    JF: I don't know if that's really; when you think you had two games and one game significantly in rain the entire game. I think we threw for a good amount of yards and a good amount of touchdowns and we held our opponent to 55 yards. I think the rain, it wasn't just our defense that affected them, it was the rain, as well. I think under the circumstances, I feel really good about where we're at.

    Q. You talked earlier about Woody Barrett. He's such a big guy, physical runner, such a quick pace, what challenge does that present to the defense when they are causing substitution issues with the offense they play?

    JF: I think obviously you're dealing with three dimensions: You've got the pass that you've got to stop, you've got the run that you've got to stop and then you've got the quarterback scrambles.

    I think that changes how you call the game. If you've got a pro-style quarterback that's just going to stand in the pocket, you attack that and approach that very different than a guy who has got mobility and can hurt you with his legs.

    The other thing I can say, being on the headset and in the meeting rooms with our defensive staff, it's frustrating because you feel good. You stop the run, which is what every defensive coordinator in America wants to do, and make people one-dimensional, and you're getting great coverage, but as you're getting great coverage, the defense is turning their back to cover their guy or lose sight on the quarterback, and now he steps up in the pocket because you weren't as disciplined and you should have been in your rush lanes. Now, all of a sudden that guy is running for six or eight or 12 or 20 yards, and that's challenging, because you watch the tape and you pretty much did everything right, and the guy still has an opportunity to make big plays on you.

    It definitely affects the defensive coordinator. I tell Trace [McSorley] and our offense all the time, I've been saying it for the last couple years, when Trace factors into games with his legs early, it opens our whole offense up, and the same thing can be said about teams and offenses that we're trying to defend.

    Q. There are many instances about your team having a big second half and overcoming any issues you might have had in the first half. What are the keys for you being consistently good as a program at making half-time adjustments?

    JF: I would make the argument, really, we've got to do a better job of starting out fast. We've done a much better job in the last two years of scoring on opening possessions. We've done a better job there, so I think that helps, but then, you know, as we're trying to kind of figure out who and what they are. So, based on everything we've studied, are they staying true to what we game plan based on what we saw on film? Are they trying to break all their tendencies and how they are calling the game?

    So, we're trying to find that out as quickly as we possibly can to adjust how we are calling the game and how we are trying to attack them in really all three phases. I think we can do a better job of probably diagnosing those things a little bit faster, but you know, we have played really well in second halves and we've played sporadic early on.

    But as we continue to play better and better competition, like we're getting with Kent State, each week, we've got to make sure that we're not, you know, starting out slow in the first quarter or second quarter, things like that. You can't do that. For us to beat the types of teams we want to beat consistently, we have to play at a pretty high level, not only every rep, but for all four quarters.

    Q. When you have a kid like Ricky Slade, who struggles, how do you balance getting the message across that you need to about fumbling, while realizing you don't want to kill his confidence as a young guy?

    JF: I think it's what you just said. You have to be aware of that. There's got to be a clear understanding and standard that it's not acceptable, because it's preventable.

    You know, I think that's critical, but also, not taking it too far. I thought our coaches and our players handled it really well in the locker room, and you know, he's going to have a great career here and he's got a very bright future. But you know, typically that's an issue with young backs; it's pass protection and holding on to the football because they are getting hit harder than they have ever gotten hit in their life and they are getting bigger, stronger guys trying to rip the ball out more than they ever had in their entire life.

    I think the other thing is, you know, they are just better than everybody in high school. Going against guys that are as good or almost as good as them and the margin of error is so small, all those things matter. He'll learn from this and grow from this and be better from this experience because of how he's handled it and how our team handled it and I think how our coaches handled it.

    Q. What differences did you see in Micah Parsons from week one to week two?

    JF: Micah just continues to get more confident and get more comfortable. As you guys know, he hasn't really played the linebacker position, so it's still all new to him, but he does have a knack for finding the ball. He's got really good instincts from that perspective.

    There's a lot of things from a fundamental standpoint that he's got to get better at, even just stance and start. He stands way too up right in there and needs more knee bend, so he can be more efficient with his movements and things like that. But I just see him getting more confident and more comfortable with all of the responsibilities that come with playing the linebacker position.

    Q: What are your impressions of [Jo-El] Shaw, the Kent State running back?

    JF: Obviously we go way back with him, as we were recruiting Miles. Him and Miles played together and were really on a really good high school football team, so we know kind of all about him and his background.

    Got a lot of respect for him. I think him and Miles both rushed for a hundred yards last week, so you know, it will be a good challenge.

    Q. What's your evaluation of the tight ends through two weeks?

    JF: I think we got to be a little bit more consistent in the running game. I think we've been better in the pass game. I think Jonathan Holland has done a really nice job and I think [Danny] Dalton has done a really nice job and I think [Pat] Freiermuth has earned the right to get reps and has done a really good job in the run game. He's a big, strong, physical guy and he's playing like it.

    I think we've got a really nice complementary package of guys there, but I do think we've got to be more complete. Mike [Gesicki] was freakishly athletic, as we all know, in the passing game. I don't know with any of these guys, and it's no knock on them, because I think they all have a chance to be really good tight ends and have great careers, but I don't know if any of them have the freakish physical characteristics that Mike did, but I could also make the argument, because of where they are at in their careers and where we are as a program, that maybe they have a chance to be more complete in college.

    Obviously, Mike's doing great things right now in Miami and I think he's going to end up being the total package. My point to you is, at the same point where these guys are, where Mike was, I think they can be further along in the running game. So that's going to be important for us the next couple weeks to continue to see him involve there. Freiermuth is pushing those guys, and it's good. It's going to bring out the best in all of them.

    Q. There's a lot of talk about how you lost a lot of offensive weapons last year, with Mike Gesicki being one of them. Have defenses attacked your offense the way you expected coming into this year? Do you think the play so far of Miles Sanders will affect that going forward?

    JF: I think so far, I would say people have defended us how we expected. There are a couple different philosophies that we see and this is a copycat business. So, people see one defensive coordinator have success with a few different elements of how to defend us, it shows up on tape, and then people copy it.

    There's about two or three pretty consistent things that we see and then it's no different than chess. We've got the counter-move to make some of the things that they are trying to get done, more challenging.

    So yeah, about what we thought. I think obviously, as Miles continues to grow in confidence and play-making ability, and the same thing at the wide receiver position, that the last couple years has been; what's been challenging on defenses is when you have someone at each position that can hurt you, multiple guys at wide receiver, tight end, the running back, a quarterback, that makes it challenging to stop.

    So as much as our scheme has caused challenges for people, the personnel has had a big part in it, as well.

    Q. With John [Reid] not out there against Pitt, Donovan Johnson saw a lot of time at the nickel. What have you seen out of him, especially with his speed?

    JF: He's a really talented guy. He's one of the guys last week, when I came in here, I said I didn't feel like we played as fast as we're capable of playing. I think Donovan is a great example of that. He's one of our faster, more explosive athletes on our team and that first week he played cautious, but he learned from it, he grew from it; he took coaching, and I saw him make a big jump on special teams and on defense.

    We're going to need him. We're going to need him to continue to grow because I think he's got a chance to be a big-time player for us.

    You look, him and KJ [Hamler], both out of Michigan, both out of the Detroit area, are having a significant impact for us. That's an area that we had not traditionally got a lot of guys out of, but we expect it to continue to be a great area for us.

    Q. You mentioned 9/11. You guys appear to be one of the few teams that doesn't have the flag decal on the helmet, although late last year, you did. Just curious, is that something that is discussed much, and where do you weigh in on that?

    JF: To be honest with you, if it's something that our administration brings up or if it's something that our players bring up, then we discuss it and then make decisions that we think are in Penn State's best interest.

    As you guys know, we don't change a whole lot. A lot of people change a lot of different things and uniforms and we'll do things from time to time, but I think the most important thing that we want to do is make sure that we're thinking about those families and the lives that are lost and pay respect and also appreciate how fortunate we are to live in this country.

    So I think some of those things are really nice, and we're open to those things, as well, but more than anything, it's having discussions and being thoughtful and those types of things, which I think are probably more important and more impactful.

    Q. How fair of a barometer are the 2016 and 2017 seasons in terms of what you're expecting out of the offense? There's a perception, fair or not, that Ricky [Rahne] and Trace [McSorley] are still here, so suddenly everything is going to be the same, but I would say through two games, not a lot of data. Are people measuring this against the wrong thing? How much are you expecting it to look like what it used to? How much are you expecting it look like what it is?

    JF: I would say No. 1, obviously, when you stay in-house, for a number of reasons, because Ricky has earned the opportunity, and also because your quarterback has had a lot of success in that system, you don't stay in-house and then expect it to look different.

    We want it to look similar, but even from year one to go into this offense to year two, it changed. And then obviously, although we are staying in the same system, you've got a different personality now calling the plays with different backgrounds and things like that.

    So we are going to be constantly evolving. It's no different than our program. Our core values and our core beliefs will not change. But you'll see aspects around that nucleus that evolve and grow and adapt and we have to. In this game, if you're not growing and you're not adapting and you're not evolving, you're not going to last very long.

    So each week, we're going to learn. Each year, we're going to learn. And then on our personnel will also factor into it. When you have a guy like Mike Gesicki, there's going to be aspects of your offense that are magnified. Mike's skill-set is going to be different than Freiermuth, for example.

    Our system will tweak a little bit based on our personnel, based on our staff, but the core nucleus of who we are and how we operate and how we do things, will stay the same. I think a big part is you didn't really see 12 personnel a lot in the past, and you're seeing more of that right now.

    Why is that? Well, because I felt like we could be better in some of our short yardage and some of our low red zone stuff. While that's great, if you don't have the personnel to do it, why are you going to put two tight ends on the field and take one of those guys off, if your personnel doesn't demand that? So, it's a combination of all those things.

    I think we look probably how I expected us to look based on all the conversations we had all off-season. One of the things I've thought Ricky has done a really nice job of is not only being involved in everything the last couple years, but also, once he did take over, he had a very clear picture in his mind and image of how he wanted to do it.

    And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a head coach or as a coordinator, is you get into that role and then you try to be like the person that was there before you.

    Like as you guys know, Bill [O'Brien] is a really good friend of mine. We lived in the same neighborhood at the University of Maryland. We've got a very similar background, but how Billy coaches and how Billy leads is very different and I can't come in and try to be Billy.

    And it's the same way with Ricky. Ricky has got a very different personality than Joe [Moorehead]. And I want to surround myself with players and coaches that are very comfortable in their own skin and own who they are.

    I think that's why you see guys like Marcus Allen, his personality, because that's who Marcus is, but also, we embrace that. You know, you see that with Ricky. You see that now with KJ Hamler. I see that with Mike Hazel. I see that with Kris Petersen, my staff.

    I don't want to be surrounded by all the same personalities and all the same opinions and a bunch of yes-men. I want to be surrounded by a bunch of different people with different perspectives, diversity, diverse backgrounds, diverse perspective, diverse ideas, because that's the only way I'm going to make the best decisions for Penn State is to hear all those things and see all those things and say, okay, great, this is great, I've got all the information; now, here's the direction we're going.

    And that's GAs. We talked about it this morning: Our GAs speak up more in our offense and defensive staff meetings than any place I've ever been, but when they speak up, they are bringing value. They are not just talking to talk.

    So I think that's one of the challenges when you look at an organization is: is there hierarchy? Yeah, there's got to be hierarchy.

    But have you created hierarchy that the GAs don't feel comfortable talking to the assistants and the assistants don't feel comfortable talking to the coordinators and the coordinators don't feel comfortable talking to the head coach? Have you really created an environment where guys will challenge me in front of the staff in a staff meeting? Where guys also come into my office one-on-one and challenge me?

    I think we've done a pretty good job of creating that environment, and I think in any portion, that is critical.

    Q. You mentioned the explosive play benchmark. What was the weekly number you had in mind, or does it fluctuate from week-to-week?

    JF: I think we were at; we don't do it by play number anymore. We do it by percentage, because obviously if you get 60 plays on offense one week or on defense, or 88 plays on offense or defense one week, it won't be consistent.

    So we're doing it by percentage. I think we came up with 14.06 percent on offense this week. Our goal is 16 percent or more per game, and we do the same thing in practice.

    On defense, we were at 5.71 percent, and our goal is 10 or less. So, we met our goal on defense, but did not meet our goal on offense.

    It's funny, you watch that game and we gave up some big plays early on, but overall, the entire game, we were in pretty good shape.

    Q. You mentioned playing so many linebackers until someone grabs a position. What is a benefit of doing that and also some challenges of rotating so many guys in there?

    JF: Obviously the benefit is, throughout your program, you're creating depth, which is something we always want to do. We work really hard to create depth so that if you do have to make a change, whether it's because of production or whether it's because of, you know, a bump or a bruise or something like that, that next guy is ready to play. There's not a significant drop-off.

    The other end of it is, yeah, the more you can get the same 11 guys on defense or the same 11 guys on offense or the same 11 guys on special teams, playing together, and building that chemistry and that cohesion, that's really important. It's that fine line of balancing that. We've got to get our starting unit better. We also have to create depth. And also, the starting unit, we have to make sure that we have not only the right people on the bus, but those guys are sitting in the right seats on the bus, as well. That's really important.

    Q. Looked like your linebackers struggled to get off blocks. How big a concern is that moving forward?

    JF: I think it's interesting. It really depends. Obviously, we want to get off blocks. I'll give you a perfect example: Mike Hull never got off blocks, ever. We moved him to Mike linebacker and everybody says: Why are you moving him to Mike linebacker, why are you moving Mike Hull to Mike linebacker? It doesn't make sense.

    Well, Mike's greatest strength was not getting off blocks; mot getting blocked in the first place. In the old deal, you take on a block you, take on half a man, you strike him, you peak over his shoulder, you disengage, go make the play.

    That wasn't Mike. Mike was, give you a little nod, slip, dip, reduce the surface area, go make the tackle and he did it over and over and over again. I think where you have to be careful is, there's a lot of ways to play the positions.

    Trace McSorley as our starting quarterback, the game is going to look very different with Tommy as our starting quarterback, with Sean Clifford, because they have different elements.

    And same thing at the linebacker position and same thing at every other position. You have to play to guys' strengths.

    So yeah, we've got to do a better job of getting off of blocks, but we also have to do a better job of sometimes not even getting engaged in the first place.

    But is Jan Johnson going to play a very different style of football than Mike Hull? No doubt about it. But that's where playing on an edge, if you run down the middle of some of these 6-4, you run down the middle of Steven Gonzalez, you're doing exactly what he wants you to do if you're a linebacker.

    We saw the clip that Matt Limegrover posted of C.J. Thorpe finishing a block. The last thing you want to do is run down the middle of C.J. Thorpe. So really physical guy, really, really talented guy.

    So my point, playing that linebacker position, it's going to look different and Jan and Jesse and Ellis and those guys, Ellis is probably more like Mike Hull. He's a slip-up block guy, compared to those other guys, but what you can't do is go down the middle. You have to be on the edge, so now you can get off, and you're beating half a man rather than trying to go through the whole body.

    Q. Sean Lewis is 31, the youngest coach in the FBS. What kind of coach were you at 31 and how have you changed? If you could give advice to your 31-year-old self or Sean Lewis, one bit of advice what would it be?

    JF: First of all, I think it's awesome he's the head coach at 31 years old. I think it's great. Sometimes we get caught up in a lot of things that don't matter when we go through the hiring process.

    At the end of the day, you want to hire people because they are ready and that they have the characteristics that you desire, and I think a lot of times we eliminate people for a lot of reasons, and I like kind of the direction we're going.

    You see maybe non-traditional hires happening more often, not just in football, but in every aspect of life and I think that's important for a number of different reasons.

    Where I was at the 31 years old, I would assume I was at the University of Maryland. I think at that point in my career, I think I told you guys before, Dwight Galt came and talked to me about the importance of being a relational leader. I was coaching guys so hard at that point in my career and I wanted everything exactly right and detailed and thorough and all the things you read that are important. But I wasn't connecting with my players the way I needed to connect with my players.

    For me, that was the important kind of moment in my career, which is funny, because like Coach Galt had said, that's kind of my strength. That's kind of who I am as a person. Once that happened for me, then, you know, my career changed.

    So I can't really give Coach Lewis any advice, nor do I want to before playing him, but if I was going to give myself advice, that's what it would have been, maybe a little bit earlier in my career.

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  37. #19
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    PSU Running Backs Series: Lydell Mitchell

    Lydell Mitchell 1969-1971

    Lydell attended Salem High School where he was an outstanding athlete. This brought him to the attention of many colleges. He accepted a football scholarship from Penn State University where he played for legendary coach Joe Paterno. A College Hall of Fame member, Mitchell earned All-American status at Penn State in 1971 when he set three NCAA records at the time for rush touchdowns (26), most touchdowns (29) and points (174). That campaign, the Salem High grad ran for 1,567 yards and finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. Heís still the all-time leader in touchdowns for a season (26), 2nd in career (41), and 9th in all-time yds with 2,934 in Happy Valley. Heís 9th on the schoolís all-time scoring list with 246 points. Mitchell got picked 48th overall in the 1972 draft by the Baltimore Colts. His professional career lasted nine seasons, the most fruitful of which were 1975-1977. Mitchell was a Pro Bowl pick in each of those years. In 1974 and 1977, Mitchell led the league in receptions. In 1978, he joined the San Diego Chargers for a pair of seasons before a final season in 1980 with the Los Angeles Rams. He finished his football career with 6,534 total yards and 30 touchdowns.

    Mitchell was a teammate of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers while at Penn State, and many actually thought the Steelers were going to draft Mitchell instead of Harris before the draft. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Mitchell earned a bachelor of science in secondary education from Penn State University in 1972. He lives in Baltimore, where he and his Nittany Lion teammate Franco Harris own Super Bakery, a company that produces nutrition-oriented foods for schoolchildren. He and Harris also partnered to rescue the Parks Sausage Company in Baltimore, the first African-American owned business in the U.S. to go public. Mitchell is also active in lecturing students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Mitchell is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

    Lydell Mitchell was a Freshman in 1968, and due to NCAA Rules at the time he was ineligible to play.

    Stats 1969-1971

    Rushing

    1969 ... 113 att/ 616 yds/ 6 tds
    1970 ... 134 att/ 751 yds/ 6 tds
    1971 ... 254 att/ 1,567 yds/ 26 tds

    Total ... 501 att/ 2934 yds/ 38 tds

    Receiving

    1969... 13 rec/ 206 yds/ 0 tds
    1970... 9 rec/ 110 yds/ 0 tds
    1971... 16 rec/ 154 yds/ 3 tds

    Total... 38 rec/ 470 yds/ 3 tds


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    Penn state vs. Kent state: Preview



    No. 11 Penn State vs. Kent State: Game Preview

    (13)Penn State (2-0) vs. Kent State (1-1)

    Kickoff: Noon, Beaver Stadium, State College, PA

    TV: FS1- Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analyst), Holly Sanders (sideline)

    Weather: Currently it looks like a pleasant afternoon with temps in the mid-70s, but it could become soggy depending on the direction of Florence late in the week.

    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 38-17, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 62-32, 7th Year

    VS. KENT STATE: 1-0


    Sean Lewis:

    KENT RECORD: 1-1, 1st Year

    OVERALL RECORD: Same

    VS. PENN STATE: First Meeting

    NOW THE FUN PART....

    Finally, a breather for James Franklin's program. At least, that's the way it looks on paper. Here are my keys for Penn State's third consecutive victory to open the 2018 season ...

    1. Keep it simple. The Lions are more athletic and deeper. Throw the ball early and run it late. The visitors will struggle to stop Miles Sanders running behind Penn State's improved offensive line.

    2. Take advantage of the mismatches. Can Kent State cover big wideout Juwan Johnson or single-block defensive end Shareef Miller?

    3. Get the ball to KJ Hamler in space. Sounds simple but you it's important to get the redshirt freshman wideout involved early.

    4. The more snaps for the true freshmen, the better. The Lions have some first-year players who can be difference-makers once the Big Ten season starts. Linebacker Micah Parsons and running back Ricky Slade need the work.


    KENT STATE OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE

    You havenít been able to say this in some time, but the Flashes have some firepower on offense. Kent State is led by Woody Barrett, an Auburn transfer who looks to be the programís best quarterback since Josh Cribbs. While he needs to improve on protecting the ball, Barrett has outstanding athleticism and playmaking abilities. Through his first two games, Barrett has connected on 41 of 68 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions. He can also hurt a defense with his legs, and ran for 117 yards and a touchdown in the season opener at Illinois. At 6-2 and 236 lbs., heís tough to bring down thanks to his pocket presence and quickness.

    Possession receiver Mike Carrigan is Barrettís most frequent target, although itís typically on short passes with Carrigan averaging just 5.9 yards per catch. He also looks to running back-receiver hybrid Raekwon Jones. Barrett does a nice job of spreading the ball around, connecting with 11 different receivers for the Flashes through the first two weeks.

    Justin Rankin is the primary ballcarrier for the Flashes, and has a broad skillset and is coming off a monster game against Howard where he rushed for 147 yards on just 12 carries. He can also be used out of the backfield, and is averaging 9.3 yards per reception on his three catches of the season. Jo-El Shaw, a big-bodied running back and high school teammate of Miles Sanders, is also coming off a 100-plus yard effort.

    Brent Pry continues to make tweaks to a Penn State defense tasked with replacing nine starters from 2017, and this will be another opportunity to put them into the best position possible heading into conference play. The defensive line looked completely different with Kevin Givens back in the lineup, and the deep rotation completely wore down Pittís offensive line in the second half.

    Penn Stateís linebacker situation is certainly worth watching this week. While Jan Johnson and Koa Farmer remain starters at linebacker, true freshmen Jesse Luketa and Micah Parsons have been seeing plenty of action, and could ultimately work their way on to the first time at some point this season.

    In the secondary, keep an eye out for John Reid and Tariq Castro-Fields. Reid sat out last weekís game at Pitt as he attempts to return to form following a knee injury that forced him out of action a year ago. Castro-Fields, a true sophomore, is continuing to improve and looks to develop into a special player.

    PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. KENT STATE DEFENSE

    After years of speculation and hoping, Penn Stateís offensive line finally looked like....wait for it....a STRENGTH against Pitt. We will see if this trend continues on Saturday as the O-Line looks to jell and find its way before facing off with some of the best defensive lines in the nation later in the season. Will Fries is now listed as the full-time starter at right tackle, where he bookends Ryan Bates, one of the best tackles in the nation.

    One major surprise so far this season is the emergence of KJ Hamler, while Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins have struggled with drops and have not played a large part of the passing attack as expected. Hamler is proving to be an absolute star-in-the-making, leading the team in receiving yards, touchdown catches and yards per reception. Heís a flat-out playmaker, and look for Ricky Rahne to continue to find ways to get the ball in the hands of the lightning-fast redshirt freshman.

    McSorley has been looking to get the new faces at tight end more involved, with Danny Dalton, Jonathan Holland and true freshman Pat Freiermuth all proving to be reliable targets thus far.

    This could be the second consecutive week of playing in sloppy conditions, so the aerial attack may not be as crisp as weíve come to expect from an offense led by Heisman candidate Trace McSorley. Either way, it should be another big day for Miles Sanders, who is coming off his first 100-yard plus rushing effort, with many more likely on the way.

    Kent State has an experienced defense that will look to slow down the Nittany Lions. Senior linebacker Matt Bahr, who is a Wuerffel Trophy nominee along with McSorley, leads the team in tackles with 18, along with 1.5 TFLs and a forced fumble. Senior Theo Eboigbe is dangerous off the edge, and has two sacks with a forced fumble. Junior Jamal Parker is a physical corner who has no problem stepping up in run support, playing much larger than his 5-8, 177 lb. frame.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Kent State has a freshman kicker in Matthew Trickett who has connected on his first two field goal attempts, from 27 and 34 yards. Heís also 10 of 10 on extra points. Punter Grant Urenovitch is averaging just 34.1 yards per punt, but had a 58-yard punt in week one.

    Penn Stateís own freshman kicker Jake Pinegar is seven-of-seven on extra points, and one of two on field goals- although the miss came in sloppy conditions during the Pitt game.

    After two games, Kent State has little to offer in the return game. On the other hand, Penn State may have the most dangerous return game in the nation. Both KJ Hamler and DeAndre Thompkins are a threat to score with each return, as Thompkins proved again with a 39-yard touchdown to seal the game against Pitt on Saturday.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 14-09-2018 at 01:21.

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