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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by itwizard View Post
    Don't expect a playoff team in the future coming from Happy Valley.

    FRANKLIN: "Yeah, I think we had a decent amount of turnover on our staff this off-season, and overall, short-term and more importantly, long-term, I feel really good about the people that we got sitting in the seats that they are in and feel really good about that from a long-term perspective."

    How can he feel good when they can't beat rank teams? Out of the top 20 now and how can Franklin feel good.

    To bad all of that wasted talent getting screwed.

    Will get a suck of a bowl bid this year.
    Oh, plan on The Pinstripe or Citrus .... for sure. He cant take criticism.... thin skinned. If people want to give him a pass on 2014 and 2015, fine. However, we went to bowls those to years despite sanctions so I cant accept that excuse. The closet wasnīt exactly left empty by Joe Pa and OīBrien those 2 years.
    Keep on losing big games, and supporting Ricky Rahne and 4/5 star recruits will become 3 and 2 star recruits ina couple of years.

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  3. #62
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    Coach franklin press conference: Wisconsin

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: First thing, obviously, summary of the Michigan game. The critical stats, we did not do a good job with: We turned the ball over three times. We did win the penalty battle, drive/start battle. We did not win the explosive play battle.

    Interesting thing is when you go back and you watch that game, obviously we played a really good team, a very talented team on the road and didnít play well. Seems like whoever has been the home team the last couple years in this series has had a lot of success.

    Itís amazing when you kind of look back at that game, I think with like a minute to go in the third quarter, it was 14-0, and then we just made some mistakes that allowed the game to go the way it went. We had some opportunities with the blocked field goal and made a critical mistake there that would have tied the game up at 7-7 but we just didnít play well. We did not play well.

    We have to take responsibility for that. Weíve got to man up to that. We have to watch the film and make corrections, which we did on Sunday. Give Michigan a bunch of credit because they are a very good football team, and obviously move on to Wisconsin. We did that on Sunday. Felt like we made some good progress there, and obviously yesterday was off and then todayís our first day back to practice.

    Looking forward to the opportunity against Wisconsin. You know, kind of talk about Wisconsin a little bit. Paul Chryst obviously does a really good job. Heís got tremendous history with that program, obviously growing up in that town and coaching there for a number of years. Great situation with him being able to come back home and has done a great job representing that program and coaching that team.

    17 of their 22 starters back. Obviously it starts with their offense and what they are able to do up front with their offensive line and their running back. They are a multiple formation, based around the tight ends and personnel groups. 75 percent runs on normal downs. They are going to try to establish the run. Thatís who they are. They are going to run the ball. They are going to run the ball. They are going to run the ball again and then complement it with play-action pass.

    Guys that we have obviously been impressed with, Taylor, a kid from New Jersey that weíre aware of. Not only is he going to be able to get four to six yards a carry but he also has the ability to go 70 behind that offensive line.

    Danny Davis, the wide receiver, who seems to make a bunch of big plays for them. And then obviously their offensive line, with 170 career starts with that unit.

    Defensively, Jim Leonhard, second season there as defensive coordinator, third season overall. Big, physical, strong, what you would think of a Wisconsin defense. I would say they base out of odd personnel, three-down personnel, but depending on what personnel group and formations youíre in, you can get even spacing. So they will play for of a four-down front with three-down personnel.

    Base, they are going to base in some type of two-high coverage, either quarter, quarter half or quarters.

    Obviously looks like they wonít have their nose guard, which I think in a 3-4 odd-front defense, thatís a big part of what they do is that position. It kind of all stems around that position. Weíve been very impressed with the middle linebacker, number 53, Edwards seems like heís been playing there for ever.

    DíCota Dixon, No. 14, strong safety, and Ryan Connelly No. 43, who I think was actually named a finalist for the Butkus Award. That will be a real challenge for us.

    Obviously Chris Herring is their special teams coordinator. Has done a really good job for them, as well. Very balanced. You look at their kickoff guy, heís crushing the ball right now. 84 percent of his kicks go for touchbacks. I donít know how many opportunities we will get there.

    Aron Cruickshank is a kid out of Brooklyn that we recruited at wide receiver. Kick return guy who can run and make plays for them, a bunch of big plays, a couple have been called back for penalty.

    Chris Orr, who starts for them on three units and does a really good job for them.

    A couple other notes I just thought I would mention. Obviously this week is the THON game. Charlie Shuman came to us representing THON and talked about us putting a sticker on the back of our helmet. I donít think weíve ever done that before. Our guys are excited about that.

    Obviously our team embraces the THON and what THON has done for this community, what THON has done for Penn State and most importantly what THON has done for those families and those kids. Our guys really embrace it.

    Then having honorary captains Devon and Leah [Still] back is cool, as well, because of their connection to THON and university and our program. They have a kid on their team from Fond du Lac, as well. I thought they went to the same high school, but I guess Fond du Lac has two high schools in it.

    Iíll open up to questions.

    Q. Do you feel that you guys have played or coached up to your standards this season?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: No. Obviously our standards and our expectation is to win every game we play. So we have not done that for a number of reasons. I mean, I think you can list them all out but at the end of the day, we have not played up to the standard that we have because our standard is to go out and put ourselves in the best position to win every single game, and we havenít done that.

    So you know, we will not be satisfied until weíre in that situation. But yeah, you know, we have very, very high standards and expectations of who and what we want to be.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about Miles Sanders and the run game, your thoughts on the last couple of weeks?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Last week, obviously that was a big story line in the game was up front, especially their D-Line and linebackers against our O-line and tight ends and we did not play well enough there. We did not put our players in the best position enough. So weíve got to get our running game established.

    Miles has shown that he can be a big play back in this conference and that he can carry the load and get you the tough yards, as well as the big plays. Itís going to be very important that we find a way to establish the run game, again, so thereís not so much on the shoulders of Trace McSorley.

    Q. What stood out most to you about John Reid with how heís progressed and dealt with recovery and the rust that came with that early on?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think early on, youíve got the physical aspect of coming back from the injury and you also have the mental aspect of coming back from the injury. I think weekly, heís grown and gotten better and gotten more confident and those types of things.

    We believe in John. Got a lot of confidence in John. Heís a tremendous leader for us. Heís a tremendous teammate. Has the ability to be a big time playmaker for us, as well. Weíre expecting him to have a great game this week.

    Q. Last week in response to a question, you discussed experience and stability counting with regard to coaching staff. How has your offensive staff handled the changes made in this off-season and how have they approached that stability and experience component throughout the course of this year?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously when you lose at many staff members as we lost from one side of the ball, it has an impact. It has an impact. Obviously being able to get Tyler Bowen, who really kind of understands our culture and has been involved in this offense for a number of years, that helped.

    But yeah, thereís a transition there. So I think at times, weíve done some really good things and at other times, we havenít. Thatís really kind of at all three phases: Offense, defense and special teams. Itís going to be important that we just continue to grow and continue to evolve and get better this week, and build on it. You know, keep taking steps in the right direction, and thatís players, thatís coaches, thatís all of us together.

    Q. Your pass game operation, what do you think would be one thing thatís the biggest issue or whatís your most disappointing, and at this point in the season, how can you fix that or get that better?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, I think one of the issues that weíve been battling all year long is drops. Weíve had too many drops. I think thatís obviously been stated a number of times in here, people asking me that question.

    You know, last week, we had protection issues. So a combination; a combination of those two things. Weíve got to be more consistent in the throws we make. Weíve got to be more consistent in catching the ball; when we have an opportunity to make a play, weíve got to make a play, and weíve got to be able to give our quarterback as much time as he needs to go through his progression and his reads.

    Itís a little bit of all of it and thatís how weíre going to have to approach it. I donít expect us to just get dramatically better in one area. Weíve just got to get a little bit better in each area and do that weekly.

    Q. You had mentioned after the game Saturday that the guys, your team is really hurting in the locker room. When you saw them on Sunday, were you pleased with the response they showed, or did you feel they were still a little bit down?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think obviously, the losses hurt. Thereís no doubt about it. But I also want to make sure that weíre doing a good job of managing those losses and how we approach them and how we talk about them and how we recover and move on to the next win -- or the next game, excuse me. That is critical, to give us the best opportunity to go out and get a win.

    I think the meetings were good. All the feedback I got from the coaches were really good. The team meeting was really good. The offense, defense and special teams meetings were really good. I thought the messages were great. I thought the questions were really good.

    I see all the signs weíve had the last couple years when weíve had success. We just have to consistently make more plays and be more detailed.

    Q. Your first go-around with the new redshirt rule, how do you feel like youíre managing that and have there been any surprises about that? Has that gone about the way you wanted it to?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think so. Obviously Jahan is a guy that weíre playing and probably had planned on trying to kind of hold his redshirt, but back to the point we were just discussing about, you know, needing a little bit more production in the passing game and a little bit more consistently catching the ball, heís a guy thatís done that. Whenever we throw the ball in his direction, he seems to find a way to come down with it. Thatís probably the one thatís gone a little bit different than what we had kind of planned for.

    But I would also say that part of the plan for -- production and other things, we would evolve and change as things went. In a perfect world, youíd love to be able to hold those guys if you could but it didnít necessarily play out that way.

    Q. How do you compare and contrast the style of the two Wisconsin quarterbacks, and how does it change things preparation-wise for you guys when youíre not sure about the health of the starting quarterback for the other team?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, I would say for us, we always kind of go about things that we plan for the starters, no different than last week. Weíre going to plan that the starter is going to be there and those types of things.

    I would say, though, that in todayís day and age with concussions and things like that, when you know a guy is in a concussion protocol and heís been in it a couple times this year, I think thatís challenging. I think weíd better be prepared for not only the starter, like we always do, but also the backup.

    I think at the end of the day, with them, I donít know how much it will factor in because I think it will start with the run game. Itís going to go with the run game through the second and third quarter and itís going to be the run game in the fourth quarter. It starts and ends with the run game for them, and then obviously they are going to compliment it with play-action pass.

    So weíve got to be prepared for those things, but I donít really see the style of the game changing based on the quarterback that they have in there.

    Q. Away from football, but with the election being today, how important do you see your role as a leader of young men when it comes to civic duty, social issues, political issues and the importance of voting?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think itís really important. I think a lot of times as coaches and as football coaches, especially during a season, you kind of go into the submarine and a lot of times, you donít know whatís going on in the world. You donít see sunlight; you get in early in the morning and you donít leave until late at night, so that can be challenging. Obviously I think thatís something thatís very, very important.

    One thing I think weíve done a good job as coaches, but more so in the last year, weíve hired some off-field positions that are dealing with these things and they are dealing with them 24 hours a way, 365 days a year, whether itís internships, whether itís job fairs, whether itís voting, whether itís all these types of things.

    I think one of the things thatís really good is making the process as easy as possible for our guys so that a large percentage would go and do it. So making sure our guys knew what all the options were on-campus, off-campus, things like that. I think itís really critical.

    I read something early this morning about, I think it was Coach Peterson at Washington and they were having a discussion about everybody talking about political issues and arguments and heated debates and things like that. Asked for guys to raise their hand who voted and very few had voted, and said, well, how can you have a real strong opinion if youíre not involved in the process.

    You know, I think itís a big part of what we do and how we do it. I think obviously, you know, for us and for the players and for fans, we understand the importance of the wins and the losses but in college football, we also have a very, very strong responsibility of making sure that weíre educating our guys beyond just the game; that football and college athletics is a complimentary piece of what they are learning in the classroom, and then on top of that, you know, that weíre also having discussions about all these other social issues and challenges and things that we also have responsibilities for.

    I think one of the things that you guys may or may not know that we do, that kind of falls in line with that, is we have a guest coach program where we have a professor travel with the team during home and away games. I think thatís been a real positive of building those relationships on campus, and our players being able to develop those relationships and also the faculty members see maybe a lot of the things that go on behind the scenes that they werenít aware of.

    I think all these things are important in college athletics; that we are all working together for our campus and we are all working together for our communities, but also, for society. Thatís what weíre supposed to be doing in athletics and thatís what weíre supposed to be doing specifically in college athletics and on college campuses.

    Q. Going back to Mikeís question about red shirts. Youíve been able to bank a lot of games for your true freshmen. Do you plan on using some of these kids in the final three games and can you address specifically Justin Shorter?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, that was our plan is to make sure that we had the Bowl game available for guys and also try to be strategic as the season goes.

    Itís hard to say, youíre going to play guys in these two games because of injuries. So we started out trying to get some guys experience when we could early in the season and then we wanted to save some games for injuries or for late in the season in general.

    We try to maximize those games out as much as we possibly can, with those players, and specifically, Justin -- now, if a guy is not ready to play, weíre not going to play him just to play. Itís those guys that are right on the bubble and I think Justin is a really good example of that.

    I could see those guys with the number of games that we have left, I think youíre going to end up seeing some of these guys over the next few games.

    Q. Do you think Justin is on the bubble, being ready to play?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, heís done some nice things. He had some injuries early on that slowed him down. In fact -- he wanted to meet with me about some things. Heís looking at his college experience very similar to his high school experience, where he started out maybe a little bit slow and worked himself into being one of the best receivers in the country, if not the best receiver in the country.

    I think youíre going to see a similar development with him here just because of his approach and his attitude. His mom and dad have been awesome. Heís been great. I think a lot of times, when you get these high-profile recruits like, this they donít always handle this stuff well. Him and his family have been unbelievable. No different than the recruiting process. No. 1 receiver in the country; he commits, never goes on another visit. Never, you know, talks to anybody else. He shuts it down and itís over. No drama. None of it.

    They have been unbelievable, really, since day one.

    Q. How does Jonathan Taylorís style compare to --

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think in some ways heís similar but I would say heís probably got the best combination of body type, balance, vision, speed. Weíve gone against some guys that you know are going to get you the tough yards, you know, six or four yards or eight yards. Weíve gone against some guys that can take it the distance. But itís hard to find a guy that can do all those things.

    You know, he has the ability to do all those things and itís magnified because of the type of offense he plays in and because of the type of line that he plays behind. So itís going to be a real challenge for us. I donít think thereís any doubt about it, you know, for our defensive line and for our liners and for our secondary.

    Like always, itís going to start and end up front. Our defensive line has a tremendous challenge against their offensive line, and then I think the experience that we have gained with Jan and Micah and guys like that, I think is really valuable. Koa has obviously played a lot of football. Cam Brown has played a lot of football for us. But Janís development, and even Ellis. Ellis Brooks is really doing some good things now. I think that helps in this type of game.

    Q. We saw Tommy get in to provide a spark. Do you think thereís an opportunity for him to get in a series or two at quarterback over this final stretch?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, weíll probably continue approaching it the way we have with being able to mix him in in some of the packages that weíve used him with either two quarterbacks or have him in for a receiver or tight end or a running back.

    Weíll probably continue to approach it that way, which is a way to get him some experience, but also, allow Trace to get in a rhythm and for our offense to get in a rhythm, which is important. Thatís the thing we havenít done a great job of the last couple weeks is weíve got to be better on first and second down.

    Q. Did you vote? How were the lines?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I actually did not. Planned on voting this morning. Something came up. My wife went. Something came up that I wasnít kind of able to get out, so still -- I voted last year, and still trying to get over there but something came up that the time I had scheduled to go, I wasnít able to go.

    Q. Last year you had four receivers, four pass targets get 50-plus receptions and no one is to 30 yet. We saw K.J. get fired up on the sideline. There are frustrations boiling with those guys individually whether itís their inability or a scheme situation where the production has not been there through nine games?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, they are frustrated with us not having the team success last Saturday. Thatís kind of where our guys are at. Our guys want the team to be successful. They want to contribute towards that success. But you know, I think thatís really kind of been the approach and how those guys have handled it.

    Q. If you have a player that has possibly lost confidence, is there a way that you can maybe manufacture success or positions where they can be in to succeed that could boost that confidence, or how do you good about rebuilding that in a player that may not be playing to what they are capable of?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think itís conversations and things you talk about and things you say.

    I think how you interact and how you talk to players is really important, especially at times like that. I think thatís really important. I think being able to use the sports psychologist is important, as well.

    And then I think some of the things you talked about; putting our guys in advantageous positions in practice. How we talked about managing Jake Pinegar early on, putting him out there for field goals we think he had the best chance to make and either going for it on fourth down or punting and other situations. Itís part of that, as well.

    I think itís a combination of all those things and then I think the biggest way to build confidence is to be able to have repeated success, and that doesnít necessarily always have to be in games. Thatís in practice. Thatís through preparation. I think people are more confident the more prepared they are.

    Itís a combination of all those things. I think one of the things that I talked about a little bit last week was I see a little bit with us is everybody else is waiting for someone to make the play and then weíre going to rally behind that person. And what I talked about is every single one of them was brought into this program to make that play, not to wait for everybody else to do it.

    I think thatís something thatís really, really important is those guys are understanding that they were brought here to make the plays; they are capable of making the plays and they need to go dos them. I think right now we are kind of waiting for someone else to make the play and when that happens, everybody gets excited and rallies behind him, where I think our approach needs to be: Youíre going to make the play and when the opportunity presents itself, youíre going to take advantage of it.

    Q. How have you been managing the timeouts

    --HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, you know, obviously thereís been some situations; that one on Saturday that we did not manage well. I think what happened was it was the first time that we had good field position, and my gut was saying that we needed to do something to spark the team there and maybe take on some risk and go for it.

    Obviously, you know, called the timeout and then after doing it, realized that wasnít the right thing to do, so punted the ball. I donít think that situation really impacted the game a whole lot. But thatís kind of what was going through my mind.

    No different than the kickoff return. At that point we didnít have a whole lot of offense. Wanted to put the ball in K.J.ís hands and give us a chance to kind of spark some things. So yeah, after the fact, thereís no doubt about it, when things donít go well, you second guess those things.

    Weíve made some decisions in the past that have been maybe somewhat unorthodox that have been very beneficial to our success, but yeah, on Saturday, obviously that was one that I did not handle well.

    Q. You guys havenít really been in this situation for, you know, 30-some games, where youíre coming off at least a lopsided final score. Is the role of the coaches and everybody magnified in a regrouping mode? And also, wondering about Miles, his state of mind and the exchanges there because thereís been some really untimely fumbles?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: That was a big one. That one wasnít Miles. It was indecision in the hole.

    You watch it, the ball is on his hip, not in the pocket when we let it go. So thereís no doubt about it. Thereís been a couple of those that weíve got to get cleaned up.

    But yeah, you know, I would make the argument, thereís no doubt about it, that Saturday was a tough one for all of us to swallow, but Iíd also make the argument, weíre one of the few programs in the country up to that point that had not had a lob sided loss. Weíve had some tough losses in tight games, but we had been one of the more competitive programs over that stretch in the country.

    So weíve got work to do. Thereís no doubt about it. And thereís nobody in the building right now, you know, that is comfortable with where weíre at. Thatís coaches, thatís players and thatís everybody, and weíve got an opportunity to get a win against a really good program, a storied, historic program in this conference thatís had a lot of success like us here recently. And weíre going to have to play well.

    Weíre going to need all the fansí support. Mother Nature is not being as cooperative with some of the parking being shut down but weíre going to need the fans. Weíre going to need the fans there supporting us, supporting our players, supporting Penn State because weíve got a real challenge. Most importantly, weíve got to find a way to get a W against a great program on Saturday.

    Q. Mentioned Dotson earlier as a guy thatís played well enough that it warranted you burning his redshirt but that takes reps away from KJ Hamler. How are they both going to factor in going forward?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: That was a big challenge. That was a big part of the discussion of redshirting him, based on that discussion, thereís no doubt about it. But the reality is, K.J. canít play every rep. He canít play every single rep in the game.

    So we want to make sure that when he taps, that Jahan will be able to go in there and make some plays for us, and then that also allows us to move some other guys around, too, like Mac Hippenhammer, who has done some good things for us, too.

    Thatís going to be an important part of this week is kind of finding out whatís going to be the best lineup to get those guys on the field and give Trace as many options to make plays from as possible.

    Q. Upon evaluation, what would you have approached that differently, a few days later in retrospect? You talked about making that decision, maybe Trace should have been taken out earlier, get Tommy in there. Do you adjust the timeline as a staff going into this next game?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: What do you mean, adjust the timeline? The specifics --

    Q. Do you keep a tighter eye on Trace and try to make a more decisive call early in the game, rather than get to the point where thereís regret about not making it earlier?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I guess thatís where I struggle with is itís very easy after the fact when something doesnít go well to go back and say, should have handled things differently and we do that. We look at those things very well.

    I think at the time itís hard to say what weíre going to do this week because thereís a thousand variables that go into making those decisions; how the game is going, how guys are playing, all of it; health. Thereís a lot of factors that go into it.

    To sit here to try and predict that, I donít think that makes a whole lot of sense. I understand youíve got to ask the question, but after the fact, when something doesnít go well -- thereís decisions that I watch every single Saturday in our games on TV or on Sundays on film. If the call doesnít go well, itís going to be critiqued. I get that. Thatís why you play the game and why you take all the information you possibly can ahead of time based on practice and game plan and you make the best decision at the time.

    It may not always seem to everybody that doesnít have all the information, maybe doesnít make sense sometimes, but thatís what itís about, and I get that comes with critique. I get that.

    Q. You held them to three quarters of the game --

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Really, four quarters.

    Q. Seems like the way Wisconsin plays where itís a slow burn offensively, so by the end of the game it looks different than what it might have at the second quarter. How do you evaluate how your defense did through that and how might you feel about that going into a game versus a team that has a similar style offensively?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think thatís a great question and I think thatís very fair. When you see the final score, it would probably tell you something different if you had not watched the game or if you had not studied the game. Our defense really did some nice things. There was obviously times youíd love to get him off the field and obviously some times youíd like to be able to swing field position and things like that.

    But overall your point is a great one. Thatís one of the things I led the press conference is with very little time left in the third quarter, it was 14-0 and it really should have been 7-7. Should have been 7-7. I think we had some opportunities to make it a very competitive game against a team on the road and we didnít do that.

    Brent Pryís response and the defensive staffís response is always going to be, we didnít do enough and I get that, but I think thereís also some really good things that were in there, too.

    Q. Before the season, you said you thought this would be the best offensive line you had and it would be the strength of the team. At this point in the year, do you think thatís held true and how do you think those guys have done?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously based on last week, no. And some of those guys are dinged up and fighting through some things. I felt early on, we were doing that. Last week we did not. Obviously Michiganís done that to a lot of people, and they are the No. 1 defense in the country for a reason in multiple categories.

    So yeah, obviously that question coming after last week, itís really hard for me to answer it any other way than, you know -- but itís hard for me to answer that right after this past game.

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    PSU Running Backs Series: Curtis Enis

    Curtis Enis 1995-1997

    Enis was born in Union City, Ohio. He attended Mississinawa Valley High School in Union City, where he was named a Parade magazine high school All-American, and voted Ohio's Mr. Football Award by the Associated Press. He was a three-time all-state selection at linebacker, and Most Valuable Player of the 1994 Big 33 Football Classic. He spent one year at The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania.
    Originally recruited as a Linebacker by Coach Paterno. Enis made the transition to add depth at Running Back after the departure of Ki Jana Carter. Enis attended Pennsylvania State University, where he majored in recreational management and played for coach Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions football team from 1995 to 1997. Following his junior season in 1997, he was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American. Enis is currently #6 All Time on the Nittany Lions Leading Rushing List. Enis was a first-round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the NFL's Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns.
    After retiring, Enis was hired by ABInBev as an Operation Manager. Enis was head football coach at Bradford High School in Bradford, Ohio from 2010 to 2013. He resigned from that position in August 2014.

    Stats at Penn State

    1995Ė113 attempts, 683 yards, 4 Touchdowns
    1996-224 attempts, 1210 yards, 13 Touchdowns
    1997-228 attempts, 1363 yards, 19 Touchdowns
    Totals: 565 attempts, 3256 yards, 36 Touchdowns


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    Penn state vs. Wisconsin: Preview



    No. 20 Penn State vs. Wisconsin: Game Preview

    (#20)Penn State (6-3, 3-3) vs. Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2)

    Kickoff: Noon, Beaver Stadium, State College, PA

    TV: ESPN- Mark Jones (play-by-play), Duffy Dvoracek (analyst), Molly McGrath (sideline)

    Weather: Cold but dry, with temps hovering around freezing at kickoff with a high of just 35.

    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 42-20, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 66-35, 8th Year

    VS. WISCONSIN: 1-0


    Paul Chyrst:

    WISCONSIN RECORD: 40-10, 4th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 59-30, 7th Year

    VS. PENN STATE: 0-1



    NOW THE FUN PART....

    WISCONSIN OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE

    This is Wisconsin, which naturally means the offense centers around a stud running back churning out yards behind a massive offensive line. This year is no different, as the Badgers boast the nationís leading rusher in Jonathan Taylor. The sophomore was a preseason Heisman favorite, but has seen his candidacy drop off with a lack of national attention to Madison as the Badgers have fallen out of the polls following three losses. It certainly doesnít mean that Taylor isnít one of the nationís best players, however.

    Taylor is a patient runner who can also be gone in a flash when he sees a lane. He has the size and durability to be a workhorse back and wear down a defense throughout the afternoon. In nine games, Taylor has racked up 1,363 yards and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Heís also reached the end zone 11 times, and is coming off a 208 yards performance with three scores against Rutgers. Taylor isnít used in the passing attack often, but does has seven receptions for 52 yards on the year.

    Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is an experienced and efficient leader for the Badgers offense, but is listed as questionable as he continues to deal with concussion symptoms from the Oct. 20 game against Illinois. He missed the following game against Northwestern, only to return and then be forced out of action against Rutgers on Saturday.

    If Hornibrook is unavailable on Saturday, sophomore Jack Coan will be ready to start in his place. Coan performed well in his only start of the season, completing 20 of 31 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against a tough Northwestern defense. He was five of seven for 64 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in limited action against Rutgers on Saturday.

    Both quarterbacks are able to take advantage of Penn Stateís lapses in coverage in the short passing game, and find ways to dink-and-dunk down the field. Stopping the Badgers on third downs will be absolutely crucial as Wisconsin has the ability to extend drives and wear down a defense.

    Hornibrook and Coan also have several options at receiver who each demand attention. Tight end Jake Ferguson is good for a few big catches a game, and leads the team with 25. Receiver A.J. Taylor is right behind him with 24, and is more of a big-play threat, averaging 17 yards per catch with three touchdowns on the season. Sophomore Danny Davis III is another frequent target, and has seen his productivity increase during the last few weeks as he continues to emerge as the Badgers top receiver.


    PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. WISCONSIN DEFENSE

    Thereís both good and bad news for Penn State when looking at the Badgers defense. The 2018 unit isnít nearly as dominant as some of the stingy defenses weíve seen come out of Madison recently. However, they are still formidable enough to slow down a sluggish Penn State offense.

    While the Badgers typically have one of the top run defenses in the nation, they are merely middle-of-the-pack by allowing just under 160 yards per game. The pass defense is slightly better, coming in at 30th nationally by yielding 193 yards per contest.

    Leading the way for Wisconsin is Ryan Connelly, a jack-of-all-trades at inside linebacker. The senior is rarely out of position, and leads the defense with 65 tackles. He is also has the speed to get in the backfield in a hurry, collecting seven TFLs and two sacks this year. The Badgers have another playmaking senior at the other inside linebacker spot, as T.J. Edwards leads the team with 8.5 TFLs, three sacks and two interceptions. Both Connelly and Edwards, along with junior outside linebacker Zack Baun, are used in a variety of ways in the Badgers 3-4 defense to create confusion and get after the quarterback on passing downs. Penn Stateís offensive line will need to communicate and play smart to keep Trace McSorley and/or Tommy Stevens upright.

    Speaking of which, thereís a chance Stevens could be seeing more time under center on Saturday. They donít come much tougher than McSorley, but he is clearly being hindered by a couple nagging injuries. A healthy Stevens likely gives Penn State itís best chance to move the ball, and will give him valuable experience as he looks to lead the offense in 2019.


    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone is accurate from within 40, nailing seven of eight attempts in that range on the year. He does struggle from deep, hitting only one of his three attempts beyond 40 yards. The Badgers have also struggled in the punting game. Junior Connor Allen took over duties in week nine, but is averaging 37 yards per punt with a long of 44. This should give Penn State an advantage in the field position battle, as Blake Gillikin is coming off one of his best games of the season during a busy afternoon in Ann Arbor where he averaged 46.3 yards per punt and blasted a career-high 74-yarder.

    True freshman kicker Jake Pinegar has started to turn the corner by hitting his last six field goal attempts after a rocky start, but did not have a field goal try at Michigan.

    The Badgers do not have a necessarily explosive return game. Wide receiver Jack Dunn is steady as a punt returner, averaging 9.9 yards per return with a long of 15. Freshman receiver Aron Cruichshank is averaging just under 20 yards on kickoff returns with a season-long of 34.

    Penn State's Keys:

    1. Win the red zone battle. Penn State and Wisconsin have two of the best red zone offenses in the Big Ten. The Lions have scored on 35 of 37 red zone possessions with 30 touchdowns. The Badgers are right on Penn State's heels, scoring on 32 of 34 possessions with 26 touchdowns. The Lions can't settle for field goals in the red zone.

    2. Build the pass game around the receivers you can trust. Drops have been an issue for some Lions skill players. However, young wideouts KJ Hamler and Jahan Dotson and tight end Pat Freiermuth have shown promise the last few games. Hamler and Freiermuth have combined for nine touchdown catches and Dotson has four catches for 50 yards in Penn State's last two games.

    3. Expand Tommy Stevens' role. The Lions are short on playmakers and Stevens has accounted for a touchdown in each of PSU's last three games -- one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns. His presence can help take the pressure off Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders.

    4. Prepare for two Wisconsin quarterbacks. The Badgers may be without their starting quarterback, Alex Hornibrook. He is questionable after suffering a concussion against Rutgers. Backup Jack Coan has been effective in a limited role, completing 65.8 percent of his passes with a couple of touchdowns.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 08-11-2018 at 18:36.

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    Tribute to wally triplett: Nittany lions legend

    Wally Triplett, one of the first African-American men to be drafted and play for an NFL team as well as the first African-American starter at Penn State, died Thursday at age 92.

    Wallace ďWallyĒ Triplett III was the first Negro starter for the Penn State varsity football team. He was also the first Negro to earn a varsity letter (1946) and the first Negro Penn Stater to be drafted by the NFL (1949). Following his first appearance on the field against Michigan State in 1945, Triplett learned the team was scheduled to play against the University of Miami, a segregated school. Miami did not allow Negro athletes to play with white athletes, and it was common for the opposing team to leave their Negro players at home. In a team vote, Penn State decided to cancel the game and set a new precedent.

    Triplett was taken in the 19th round of the 1949 draft by the Detroit Lions as a running back and returner -- one of three black players to be taken in that year's NFL draft. Of those three, he was the first to appear in a game.
    In a 2015 story on MLive.com, Triplett described what it was like watching the NFL draft now and how it compares to the year he was drafted.

    "When I look at this thing they call the draft now, I laugh at it with tears because to be drafted now means you're automatically in a group with people that are going to get paid for doing nothing," Triplett told MLive in 2015. "You're going to get paid before [you] play, and so you get some degree of assurance right away as opposed to, when we were drafted, you were just put on a list.
    "If you make it, you make it. If you don't, you don't."

    "Wally is one of the true trailblazers in American sports history," the Lions said in a statement released Thursday announcing his death. "He resides among the great men who helped reshape the game as they faced the challenges of segregation and discrimination. His contributions date back to his days at Penn State as the Nittany Lions' first African-American starter and varsity letter-winner, highlighted by his appearance in the first integrated Cotton Bowl."

    While at Penn State, Triplett was a tailback and linebacker for the Nittany Lions. He was part of the team that helped bring the "WE ARE," chant to the university as part of how they overcame racial discrimination. He was one of two black players to play for Penn State in the Cotton Bowl against SMU in 1948. Triplett grabbed the game-tying touchdown on a 6-yard reception in the third quarter as the Nittany Lions tied Doak Walker-led and third-ranked SMU, 13-13, in the 1948 Cotton Bowl. Triplett also played an outstanding defensive game. The 1947 Nittany Lions finished 9-0-1 and ranked No. 4 in the final AP poll, pitching six shutouts and allowing an average of just 2.8 points per game.

    In a 2009 story in the Centre Daily Times, Triplett recalled SMU wanting to meet with Penn State about not playing Triplett and African-American teammate Dennie Hoggard. One of their teammates, guard Steve Suhey, said they wouldn't even take the meeting.
    "We are Penn State," Triplett remembered Suhey saying, according to the Centre Daily Times. "There will be no meetings."
    Triplett was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2018. In his time at Penn State he had a career punt-return average of 16.5 yards and has the fourth-longest punt return in school history, at 85 yards.

    In the 1947 season, Triplett averaged 4.0 yards per carry (137 yards on 34 carries) and 28.2 yards per reception (141 yards on 5 receptions) with two touchdowns in nine regular-season games. Playing for Coach Bob Higgins, he tallied five total touchdowns in 1947.

    As a senior in 1948, Triplett had 424 rushing yards, 90 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. He also averaged 26.8 yards per punt return (134 yards on 5 returns) and had three interception returns for 62 yards. Triplett ranks second in Penn State history with a 16.5 punt return average (280 yards on 17 returns).

    Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 19th Round, the 5-foot-11, 173-pound Triplett spent two years with the Lions and two years with the Chicago Cardinals, appearing in 24 games with 70 rushes for 321 yards and one touchdown along with catching 17 passes for 175 yards. He started nine games in his career, all for the Lions.

    He also had 34 career punt returns for 401 yards and a touchdown and 18 kick returns for 664 yards and a touchdown.
    On Oct. 29, 1950, Triplett set a then-NFL record with 294 yards on four kick returns, including a 97-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams. The record stood for 44 years before being broken in 1994 and remains the third-highest mark in league history.
    He averaged 73.5 yards per return that day -- still an NFL record.

    His two years with the Lions and two years with the Cardinals bracketed two years of service in the Korean War with the 594th Field Artillery Battalion.

    Triplett was born in La Mott, Pennsylvania, on April 18, 1926, and played football, basketball and baseball at Cheltenham High School. He is survived by three children, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

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    We ARE Penn State!! Great article!

    If you ain't a Gator, you must be................ Gator Bait !!
    Big CHEERS To All Streamers! Geaux Saints!


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    Penn state vs. Wisconsin: Recap



    RECAP: No. 21 Penn State 22, Wisconsin 10



    That felt good, eh?

    Penn State played its best game since Ohio State in all facets and came away with a comfortable 22-10 victory over the visiting Wisconsin Badgers.

    The game started out unceremoniously for the now 7-3 Nittany Lions. They opted to receive the opening kick off and, despite picking up one first down and driving out near midfield, were eventually forced to punt the ball away.

    It didnít take long for the Badgers (6-4) to take the lead.

    All-American running back Jonathan Taylor ripped through the Penn State defense for a 71-yard touchdown to make the score 7-0 inside of the first 4 minutes.

    The Nittany Lions responded well, however, as Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders matriculated the ball down the field for a touchdown drive capped by a 14-yard pass from McSorley to Thompkins.

    From that point on, the Penn State defense was dominant.

    The Nittany Lions forced a fumble on the ensuing drive and the offense put up a 49-yard field goal to grab a 10-7 lead.

    The Badgers then had back-to-back three-and-out drives and Penn State capped a 60-yard drive with a Miles Sanders touchdown plunge to make it 16-7 after a Jake Pinegar missed point after attempt.

    Penn State had a chance to add onto the lead late in the half before Trace McSorley was sacked and forced to leave the contest.

    Tommy Stevens led the team into field-goal range but Pinegarís 43-yard attempt was blocked.

    Wisconsin started the second half with the ball and drove the ball deep into Nittany Lions territory but the defense held firm to force 28-yard field goal that made it 16-10.

    McSorley returned on the following drive and Penn State answered with a field goal of its own as Pinegar split the uprights from 42 yards making it 19-10.

    The Nittany Lions added another field goal in the fourth quarter and the defense, as it did all day, held steadfast to salt the game away.

    McSorley finished the game 19 of 25 for 160 yards and a touchdown in tough conditions. Sanders, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, carried the rock 23 times for 159 yards and a score and four different receivers had at least 30 yards.

    On the defensive side, Micah Parsons once again led the team with 7 tackles and Shareef Miller and Yetur Gross-Matos were downright unblockable. Miller had a pair of sacks, a number of hurries and a fumble recovery while Gross-Matos finished with a sack, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

    All things considered, it was the most complete game Penn State has played since September and a welcome change from what weíve seen recently.

    The mistakes are still there, but were clearly lessened. Meanwhile, young players like KJ Hamler, Jahan Doton, Pat Freiermuth, Micah Parsons and Yetur-Gross Matos continue to impress.

    Brent Pryís unit, against an albeit hampered Wisconsin offense, allowed just 269 yards and over 100 of those came in the first quarter.

    Ricky Rahne showed some new formations and creative ways of getting Hamler the ball, and even Phil Galianoís gang looked pretty good.

    Penn State is now well on its way to a 9-3 season with just Rutgers and Maryland standing in its way.


    Three Key Takeaways from Penn Stateís win over Wisconsin


    Ricky Rahne Reads BSD (The offense looked better):

    The offense wasnít perfect on Saturday but it was an improvement to say the least. Overall, the game plan by Ricky Rahne was strong and he is obviously a reader of Black Shoe Diaries.

    Throughout the last few weeks, weíve been clamoring for KJ Hamler to be more involved in the offense. On Saturday, Rahne finally did so, getting him involved extensively on the first drive of the game. Hamler ended up finishing with five receptions for 35-yards.

    Outside the heavy amount of KJ Hamler in the game, Rahne also got running back Miles Sanders heavily involved against Wisconsin. Sanders had his fourth 100-plus yard game on the ground for the season. For the day, Sanders rushed for 159 yards on 23-carries. It was just the second time this season that the former five-star recruit carried the ball 20 or more times in a game.

    The offense still struggled to finish off drives against the Badgers, but it was still an improvement over past performances. Rahneís unit has easier matchups in each of the next two weeks with Rutgers and Maryland remaining on the schedule.

    JUST START MICAH ALREADY

    Whoops, I didnít mean to scream that but at this point itís ridiculous that Micah Parsons is not starting at outside linebacker. For the last few weeks it feels like the same story over and over again. Koa Farmer gets the start, has a few a bad plays throughout the first half, and at some point or another, Parsons takes over and Farmer is sentenced to riding the bench for the rest of the game. Against Wisconsin, that was the story once again.

    Parsons was the team leader in tackles on Saturday with seven, pushing his season total to a team-leading 58. Now that we got that out of the way, letís look at the bigger picture on the defensive side of the ball.

    Defense has much-needed performance

    Todayís defensive performance was much-needed, to say the least. After allowing 42 points and over 400 yards of offense against Michigan a week ago, the defense bounced back and allowed just 10 points and 269 yards. Wisconsinís lone touchdown came on the Badgersí first drive, a 71-yard touchdown run by star running back Jonathan Taylor. From that drive on, the defense allowed just 138-yards on the ground.

    Through the air, Wisconsin wasnít expected to be much of a threat and those expectations were proven to be correct. The Badgers passed for just 60 yards on the day as backup quarterback Jack Coan completed less than 50% of his passes. Itís the second-time this season that the Nittany Lions defense kept an opponent to 100 yards or less through the air.


    5 Postgame Thoughts: Wisconsin

    1. With backup quarterback Jack Coan at the helm, the Badgers were forced to become one-dimensional. Brent Pry responded by loading the box, and the unit did a great job bottling up Wisconsin's running back, save a few plays. When the Badgers did attempt to pass, they looked all sorts of out of rhythm. Four sacks by the defense and a few drops by Wisconsin's receivers led to just 62 yards through the air for Coan. It was the kind of performance the defense needed after getting walloped in the Big House.

    2. We have absolutely zero clue why the Tommy Stevens package was rolled out during what should have been a clock-killing drive. Just a really questionable decision by the coaching staff, which led to a terrible fumble and life for Wisconsin.

    3. Penn State's defensive ends are real, y'all. Shareef Miller and Yetur Gross-Matos continued their excellent play, just wrecking everything Coan and the Badgers tried to do. They're an elite pair.

    4. Balance, balance, balance. McSorley had a nice day passing, and Miles Sanders went over 1,000 yards on the season with 159 yards rushing and a score. The Nittany Lions' star back was also involved in the passing game.

    5. This was the one to get the taste of the Michigan embarrassment out of the way. The Lions have a shot for 10 wins and face atrocious Rutgers next week. It wasn't pretty, but Penn State was never REALLY threatened by Wisconsin.

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    Coach franklin press conference: Rutgers

    Opening Statement: A quick summary of the Wisconsin game. I think that the biggest thing is kind of like we talked about after the game, we were able to win the critical stats that these stats usually equate to success on the field and team success.

    We won the turnover battle. We won the penalty battle. We won the drive start battle. We won the sack battle and we won the explosive play battle, although we didn't completely reach our goal. We still had more explosive plays than they did.

    I thought those were the biggest factors in the game. Players of the game were Miles Sanders on offense and Robert Windsor on defense. Some overall notes: I thought one of the positives in the game was a big part of their identity, time of possession.

    Whenever you're able to take someone's identity and how they do things and able to flip that stat in your direction, it's helpful. It's very helpful. So we were able to do that. A big part of that was third down. Our offense was 40 percent. Their offense was 26 percent.

    Wisconsin's 10 points, fewest points scored since seven points against Michigan in 2016. We held Wisconsin to the fewest passing yards since having 46 against Nebraska in 2014.

    I thought we played really well on the defensive side of the ball and we were able to get four turnovers. Yetur Gross-Matos, Amani [Oruwariye], Shareef [Miller] and Nick Scott. So that was really good.

    A couple other things that kind of jumped out to me. We're doing a really good job in the red zone. We've done that all year long. We scored in all three trips inside the 20-yard line. We're 38-of-40 on the year and have 33 touchdowns. We've got to get a little bit better in what we call the fringe area. So that area really just before you get into the red zone.

    Going back and just kind of studying, doing some self-scouting studying, I have felt all year long that our running game has been improved this year. The stats back it up. Last year we were averaging 4.9 yards per rush, which was I think was 32nd in the country. This year averaging 5.17, which is 24th in the country.

    I think the biggest difference there, and we've talked about this, is tackles for loss. There were too many times in the past where the ball would be handed off and they would have a free edge rusher, usually from the field, and we'd have tackles for loss.

    So last year, 11.36 percent of our plays were tackles for loss, which was 111th in the country. This year we're at 23rd in the country. So, we've made a dramatic improvement there.

    Obviously there's other areas where we've got to improve. Protection, we've got to be better and drops we've got to be better. I think once we can get those two things going, I think it's going to give our offense a chance to really take the next step.

    So a little bit more information than I normally give, but I thought I'd share it with you because I just got done going over the stuff with our staff.

    Obviously the game this week, Chris Ash and Rutgers, really looking forward to this opportunity. We've got a bunch of players on our roster from New Jersey. We've got a huge alumni base there, lettermen, all those types of things. Really good opportunity.

    They have 15-of-29 starters back this season. You look at them offensively, John McNulty, who I've gotten to know pretty well. He's a Penn Stater, their offensive coordinator. He's from Scranton and spent a lot of time in the NFL. He was at Rutgers with Coach [Greg] Schiano when they were having a bunch of success and is now back there.

    They had five starters returning on offense going into this season. They're multiple personnel, multiple formation, West Coast offensive-based-type team. They use the controlled passing attack, very similar to the West Coast approach. They love screens, they love naked's.

    Rasheem Blackshear is a guy that jumps out to us. He's leading them in both rushing and receiving. A young man that we know very well went to Archbishop Wood, same high school as [Jake] Cooper and [Ryan] Bates. Doing a nice job for them. The other kid is a true freshman, Isaih Pacheco, who is doing a nice job for them in the running game and an offensive lineman Tariq Cole. They're big and physical up front. That will be a challenge for us.

    Defensively, you've got Jay Niemann. But I've done a bunch of reading this week and I know Coach Ash has got much more involved in the defense over the last three weeks.

    They're doing a really good job statistically against the pass. They've got a good-looking team. They're another team that is going to play both an odd front as well as an even front, the way they slide their front in the three technique, base out of two high, playing some quarters. They'll mix in some cover one.

    Guys that stand out to us are No. 95, Jon Bateky, middle linebacker No. 6 Deonte Roberts, and No. 5, the Will linebacker, Trevor Marrs, good-looking guy.

    Special teams, doing a real good job. Vince Okruch has been in the league for a long time, in our league in the Big Ten. They've done a really nice job.

    Couple guys that jump out to us are Tyshon Fogg, a kid that we recruited, a linebacker for them, starts on all four units. And then also their DB, Kessawn Abraham, is a gunner. He's got four tackles, has done a nice job for them. A real good challenge. I know our guys are looking forward it. We've got practice later on this afternoon. We had a really good practice on Sunday. Had a great day of prep on Monday and looking forward to getting out there.

    Q. What would it take for you to consider 2018 a successful season? Is it within your reach?

    JF: Yes. It's hard for me to say that right now, because the season's not over and we're talking about the season. We're focused on Rutgers. So at the end of the season, when it's all over, we played all our games, I think there's a lot of things to be proud of. I think there's a lot of things that we can build on.

    But, yeah, we'll have time to discuss those things after the season. I really don't want to start talking about season accomplishments when we're focused on Rutgers. But I get the question.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about your decision to flip-flop Ryan Bates and Will Fries. What went into that? How do you think they did against Wisconsin?

    JF: This is one of these questions that you guys ask me that I'd love to just answer completely, but it's not the right thing to do for our program and from a competitive advantage against Rutgers. But mainly based on a lot of information, we just felt like the best opportunity for both Ryan and Will to play their best football and give us the best opportunity to protect our quarterback consistently would be to move Will to left tackle and Ryan to right tackle.

    A lot of it stemmed around Bates, making sure that he was comfortable with it and okay with it, but like always, Bates, there's another example of a guy that's just going to do what's best for our team.

    So it probably did not pan out as well as we would have liked. But we'll obviously look at it again this week and see what we think is in our best interests moving forward.

    Q. You mentioned some better third down success against Wisconsin. How much of that was a factor of not being in so many third-and-long situations? What do you think is the key to getting more of those third-and-three, third-and-four situations?

    JF: Yeah, I think that definitely was a major contributing factor. I think we're running the ball better right now and I think we've got more of a commitment to doing that, especially with Miles. Getting the ball into his hands, trying to have some schemes where people can't do things to force us to pull the ball and throw it on the edge or pull the ball and have Trace carry the ball.

    That's always going to happen. There's a lot more runs called in the game. And depending what the defense does, it puts us in a situation where Trace will pull it and run himself or we'll throw. Usually when that happens, it creates some pretty advantageous situations. Sometimes they've done a good job as well from a scheme perspective.

    But I think us making sure going into each week that we got some runs, that we can hand the ball off to Miles and allow him to get downhill, also helps our offensive line from a number of different perspectives. But I think that was the biggest difference. We had more manageable situations.

    Q. How has Juwan Johnson approached the past few weeks of not playing? How has he handled this season in general? When might you expect him back?

    JF: Yeah, you know Juwan, obviously, is fighting through some things. Juwan's been through things like this, kind of, throughout his career and throughout his life and our team has been awesome with him. Very talented guy. He's flashed some brilliance at times.

    But we've got to get him healthy. Once he's healthy, he'll be able to go out there and contribute at a very high level and we need him. But like I've talked about all year long, we've got a tremendous faith in Juwan, got a lot of love for Juwan. But we've just got to get him 100% healthy so he can go out and be the type of player we know he can be. When will that be again? I'm not going to speculate.

    Q. I wanted to ask you about Miles Sanders. At this point in the season what has impressed you the most about him as a runner, how he's handled his carries? Is there a next step for him going forward?

    JF: I think overall, I've just been so impressed with his overall development. The type of teammate he is, the type of leader he has really grown into. How thoughtful he is. How supportive he is. Not just when things are going well, but when times get tough.

    He's been really good. He really has. I see him take an active role with our offensive line, loving those guys up as well. But he's done a really good job. He's done a really good job in knowing who he is and getting north/south, which I think has also been a big factor in us eliminating the tackles for loss that put us and him in a tough situation.

    I think probably the next step for him, I think we can still be a little bit better from a ball security standpoint. We were fortunate on Saturday, the one they waved off. I think like any running back, that's a critical piece of it. So, this isn't something I'm saying to you guys that we haven't discussed as an offensive staff, and specifically, with Miles as well. Don't get me wrong, I think overall he's been pretty good. I'd like to see him get in a situation where we're talking about record number of carries without putting the ball on the ground.

    Q. Are you pleased with the improvement your team has shown on a week-to-week basis from September 1 until now?

    JF: Yeah. I think, obviously, we were doing, I think, a pretty good job at that early in the season and then we hit some adversity like a lot of programs do all over the country and I think we're headed back in that direction as well. Excuse me, we're headed back in that direction again.

    So I'm pleased with that. Obviously, there was some time there during the season that I didn't think we were doing that. That's something that I've taken great pride in throughout my career, as a program that individually and collectively gets better.

    I think we're back on that track right now. I think last week was an example of that and we need to do that again this week.

    Q. It seems like your team is relatively healthy. Is there anything that you have learned about managing workload, injury prevention, recovery, those kinds of things that you think might have contributed to that?

    JF: A couple of things. We spend a lot of time managing these types of things. We spend a lot of time having challenging and difficult offseasons to build ourselves for these things. I think Andy Mutnan and our training staff have done an excellent job with that as well.

    The other thing is, I don't talk about it with you guys. It's the next man up. I think sometimes it's really good from a competitive standpoint. I think sometimes that's bad. Because there's questions that you guys ask that if you knew everything what was going on from a medical perspective, I think it would clear some things up for you guys.

    But again, I want our guys focused on the next-man-up mentality. I want our guys focused on finding a way to be successful. I don't want to give what I think is a competitive advantage to teams that we're playing.

    So I think we are in a pretty good place. But there's obviously a handful of issues that you guys aren't aware of that factor in. That factors into some of the things that shows up on Saturdays. I still feel strongly that this is the right thing to do for our program.

    Q. After the game, you said Sean Clifford did some things on the sideline that you found impressive. Is there an example you can provide with him? What kind of things do you look for from younger players, who maybe aren't playing a lot, that make you realize that they're maximizing their development when they're not playing?

    JF: I think that's a really good question. So obviously it's things that we see in practice every single day. It's how they are in meetings. It's how they are in terms of taking their tests.

    Sean is one of the more competitive guys that I've been around. I think I mentioned to you guys before. He's very competitive, very prideful, which early on it made him difficult to coach sometimes. Tommy Stevens was like that as well. Because they feel so strongly about what they're doing. They've got conviction, which I think is a great thing. So, it's that fine line.

    One of the things that we talk about all the time is embracing your role. He was doing some things on the sideline from a leadership perspective. One of the guys kind of was jabbing at him, kind of poking fun and he kind of turned around and snapped at the guy, "I'm maximizing my role; I'm going to do everything that I can to help this team" and he was deadly serious locked in. That's kind of how he is with everything. If it's a race, he wants to win the race. If it's academics, he wants the highest GPA. It's all of it.

    I'm very pleased with his makeup. I'm very pleased with our quarterback room in general. It's been really good like that. I think, obviously, Coach [Ricky] Rahne has had a big part of that, but I think Trace in general has had a big part of teaching the young guys in the room and guys behind him; he's going to leave a legacy from that standpoint. We talk about that a lot. Leaving a legacy in how you prepare, how you work, how you train, how you treat people, all those types of things.

    These veterans that we have, they've done that at a very, very high level. Obviously, Trace tied the all-time win record as a starting quarterback in Penn State history and there's no more important stat for a quarterback.

    So I think those guys have been fortunate. I know it's not always fun sitting behind someone, but I think a guy that's done it at such a high level, both on and off the field, there's tremendous value in that, too.

    Q. Do you think your defense has gotten the credit that it deserves this season? You were mentioning some of the stuff against Wisconsin earlier. What areas specifically do you think Brent Pry has done a good job this season?

    JF: I think the thing that I would say about our defense, and coach, is we got guys that aren't selfish. Offensive coaches. Defensive coaches. Special teams. You have to be careful. Sometimes you get in a situation where coaches are making decisions based off of stats. They want to be able to say that we have these stats.

    They want to be able to, on Sunday, whether you won or lost, to be able to focus on these stats. And I think we've got a group of men -- I think Brent's a great example -- that it's about winning.

    There are some things and choices and decisions that are made that probably go against stats. Go against having really strong stats offensively, defensively, special teams, and we're making decisions that we think are in the best interests of the team and winning football.

    It's funny, sometimes I'll go in to reinforce a point with stats. I'll bring up something about player rotation and how this guy's leading us in tackles and things like that, and Brent's not concerned about those things. He obviously takes the feedback and likes the feedback, but, again, for him it's about him watching the tape with the coaching staff and what we're doing well, accountability and trust and discipline and those types of things.

    I think our defense puts a priority on winning, not being selfish and doing what's in Penn State's best interests and doing what's in our kids' best interests.

    So that's the thing that I know as a head coach that I really value and, obviously, me and Brent go way back. We've got a lot of history. A lot of history to his first year coaching at East Stroudsburg when I was still playing and his dad being my offensive coordinator. He knows me inside and out, probably better than I'd like him to. I know him inside and out probably better than he'd like me to.

    We go way back. Both the good and the bad. I've got tremendous respect for him and our entire defensive staff and they've done a tremendous job for us and will continue to.

    Q. Five of your six receivers in the last game were either first or second-year players. How do you think they did, especially [Jahan] Dotson and [Justin] Shorter. Is [Brandon] Polk in the same situation as Juwan Johnson, if you can say that?

    JF: Jahan, we talked about him a decent amount already. He continues to do good things. I thought the thing he did last week, which was really impressive, is moving to another position. That shows that he was learning concepts rather than just memorizing plays at a position and routes at a position and responsibilities at a position.

    He was studying and understanding concepts, which I think is critical in our game, that you're teaching concepts so you understand how it all fits together.

    So I thought that was really impressive. And he continues to do good things for us. Shorter has shown some real flashes and it's allowed us to kind of build on that with him. We expect that to happen again this week. He gained a little bit of time last week and did some good things. We'd like to build on that this week.

    And then I think obviously K.J.'s [Hamler] doing some great things. We've got a decent amount of youth there, but so far so good. You guys have heard us being excited about it and then we've got some veterans that are working through some things. So hopefully we'll get those guys back, and now have gained some experience of some young players which is going to pay dividends for us not only the rest of the season but also next year, and then also you get some of these vets back, and we can take the next step.

    It's hard to say the same, because there's a hundred variables that go into it but similar. There's some similarities there, yes.

    Q. When you look at Rutgers' Raheem Blackshear, I think he leads the team in rushing and receiving, what kind of challenges does he present for you guys?

    JF: He does a great job. He's explosive. He's quick, plays with a lot of confidence. Obviously, being a PA guy and playing Penn State is going to be motivation there. There's no doubt for us, going into it, you know their running back position in general has been very productive for them. So that's going to be our biggest challenge in the game is their running backs and obviously the O-Line and the running game and their running backs the way they're using them out of the backfield. Blackshear, they'll line up in the slot and do things like that. We'll have to be aware.

    So as I try to do is, we talk scheme, which scheme is important, but then what I try to do is come in with you guys and identify the guys that we think jump out on tape and could be problematic. We need to have an awareness of who those guys are, where they are, how they try to use them in their offense or defense, where they line up and he falls in that category.

    Q. With Micah [Parsons] on Saturday leading the team in tackles, where have you seen him make the most growth in the last few weeks? Is there anything more he can do to earn a start at outside linebacker?

    JF: Yeah, I think Kris sent me a quote the other day, I don't know who said it, but I think it was a really strong quote that, you know, he is now not just relying on his athletic ability and his natural instincts, which is what he was doing early in the season. He's now using the techniques and fundamentals and keys and things like that that are allowing him really to take his game to the next level and also build that trust that his role continues to grow. I think you've seen that all season and specifically last week. He'll just continue headed in that direction.

    This week is a new week and we'll make the decisions after Thursday's practice and Friday morning and what's going to be the best situation for us to be successful on Saturday. There's so many factors that go into it. Kind of back to that point that we just got done talking about, about stats. It's more than just the stats. It's all of it.

    Q. I was curious if you could assess Tommy's ability to read the defense, what you're seeing from him. He's run the ball 22 times the last three games and only thrown eight times. Is he too quick to take off? Would you like to see him throw more?

    JF: I mean, obviously, you guys the last couple of years have got a chance to see him throw and throw really well. The same thing in practice. He throws for a high percentage and is a really good decision-maker and has grown.

    The reality is from a game plan perspective, especially when we lost Mark Allen and we had some young guys that got a little nicked up, we were trying to take some runs off of Trace and really Miles. So that was the way to manage some of that in some ways we were using him as our backup running back. So that was strategic.

    So we're very pleased with his development as a quarterback. That's a full commitment that we make in practice all the time. Obviously, being able to get him in the game and do some of those things whether it's designed runs or whether it's RPOs or whether it's just some drop-back passes, we're very pleased with his development.

    I know there was some frustration with Trace's injury and he's kind of on the seesaw. He's in one minute, he's back out, he's back in and that's natural. That is natural. As you can imagine, he's handled all these things really well over the last three years, all things considered there.

    There's tremendous confidence on our team and Tommy. I also think you guys also understand that Trace McSorley has kind of earned the right to tell us kind of what he thinks, when he thinks he can go. It's a balance of what the doctors are telling us, the trainers are telling us, and you look at Trace McSorley and his eyes, we've been in that situation for a long time with Trace. If he feels like he can go and you think it's the right thing from a health and team perspective, you're going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Q. Jake Pinegar told a story before he enrolled about you and [Phil] Galiano and some assistants taking him into Beaver Stadium, getting in his head, running him through the rigors there before you gave the offer to him. What did you see that that day? And now to send him out for seven 40-plus-yard field goals in the past two home games, obviously seeing something there as well. What's your evaluation of him?

    JF: I think he's done a nice job. Obviously, we had a specialist camp. Not only did we see him here but also at one of the travel camps. I think where the camp experience is really important, both for us and the parents and the kid is, everybody thinks they're going to Penn State. Then you come to camp and you work with a bunch of guys at the same position and that's a wake-up call a lot of times.

    It's really helpful for us because you can compare and contrast apples to apples. Sometimes I think it's great for the parents that all think that their babies are the best and they're not and then they see them against other players and it becomes obvious.

    I think sometimes for the prospects as well. It shows them what they need to work at. Because if they're on their high school team and they're obviously the most dominant player on their high school team at that position, it's hard for them to kind of compare and contrast. So, I think there's a lot of value in that.

    So for us, that day, he looked different. There were four or five specialists there that had offers, scholarship offers, and he looked different than them. That's how it should be, to be honest with you.

    It should stand out. He looked different kicking the ball. When the ball hit his foot, it sounded different and it looked different. And on that day, he kept hitting the ceiling and nobody else was.

    It was banging off the ceiling, which is a good sign. So, yeah, we always thought he had ability and for him, when you have that leg strength, you know, it's really not about the distance. It's about the consistency of the movement, the muscle memory, and what he's trying to do. Because the reality is if you're doing it right, whether you're kicking a 30-yard field goal or a 45-yard field goal, it shouldn't look any different.

    It's like that old expression in golf, and I don't golf, but I've heard people say "Let the club do the work." It's kind of the same way. When they're kicking an extra point or 45-yard field goal, it should be the same.

    So for us, the distance doesn't really factor in with us for him a whole lot because he's got a very strong leg, it's is his plant foot correct? Is his contact on the ball consistent? Is our operation time good? Is he following through? Is he pulling his head out early? Those types of things.

    So just basic fundamentals of the position. We've got a lot of confidence in him, but it's more about getting him comfortable and consistent and then building his confidence of doing it in a stadium like Beaver Stadium with big-time football. That's something you never truly know until you get out there.

    Q. You mentioned Saturday night about the fumble, with Tommy and Miles, that you wanted to watch it on film. What did you see there? Can you use that as a teachable moment since you guys got out with the win?

    JF: Obviously, it's four-minute offense. I really liked our plan. We did not execute the motion well, obviously. I know people are saying 'why are you running that style of play anyway'. That's not really the issue. The issue is in the execution. I know people would love to see a lineup and four-minute offense and go two tight ends, one receiver, two backs and hunker it up in there. But that's not who we are. I know sometimes that's difficult for people to kind of grasp in their mind. I'm going to be honest with you, it was hard for me to grasp at first.

    When you go to this style of offense, you can't go to four-minute and then try to become something you're not. You've got to run your offense.

    We've spent a lot of time now on four-minute and saying what's going to give us the best chance, both run and pass. We have really changed our approach to four-minute offense this year in terms of how we prepare for it.

    So at the end of the day, although that didn't look good, it really came more down to our execution of what we're trying to do because on film, we had what we expected and what we were looking for. We did not time up the motion correctly.

    The last thing I'll say and I'll move on, this is a long answer, snapping the ball to Tommy and running the ball is one thing. But when you can give the defense something else to worry about, a hand-off to someone on the perimeter, some eye candy, something that's going to give them a little bit of misdirection, there's tremendous value in that.

    We see it day in, day out.

    Q. Way back when Ricky Rahne was announced as offensive coordinator, he said one thing he wanted to bring to the offense was that he wanted to be a tough, physical, gritty team. As a whole, do you think you've accomplished that so far this year? Where do you think the offense's identity has gone since then?

    JF: I think we have done that for a number of reasons. I think the stats that I talked about in the beginning of this press conference about us running the ball better, I don't think there's any doubt we're running the ball better. I think the two areas that we need to be better at is protecting the quarterback more consistently, which we're not doing right now well enough, and consistently catching the ball.

    If we do those two things at a little bit better rate each week, our offense will explode. And that's been kind of the theme all year long. We have run the ball better. We have not consistently thrown the ball better.

    When I say throw the ball better, I'm talking about all of it. Too many drops and too many sacks. So obviously that's been a big focus point for us. On Sunday, we discussed it again, literally about an hour, before it just came over some things that we can do better in managing some of the things we're talking about in terms of personnel, all of it. So that's kind of how we've gotten to this point and kind of where we're at.

    We've also discussed in here and as a staff how that's affected our defense with play counts and things like that, being able to be more efficient on third down helps our defense, because it keeps them off the field. But just like last week, it wasn't just our offense being better on third down, that dramatically changed the play count. It was our defense getting off the field, complementary football, which Mike was asking me about last week.

    We did a better job of that last week, managing all those things, complementary football, winning the important stats, and although the score, even though it wasn't a dramatic score, when you watched the game, it felt like we were in control for most of the game because of those things that we just discussed.

    Q. You said earlier stats aren't everything. With Amani, with 14 passes defended, tenth in the country, second on defense. What do you see out of him this season, how he's held up?

    JF: Don't take it the wrong way. I'm not one of these guys that are completely against stats. They're a piece of information. They tell a story. There's no doubt about it. But a lot of times there's more to the story than just the stats, is what I'm saying.

    Amani has been great. He's had a great career here. He's been a great teammate. He's been a great leader, done real well academically. I could not be more proud of him to see the success.

    He's another guy, although he's played a lot of football, this is his first year kind of being the starter. He's played a lot of football on a complementary role and things like that. I think last year he led us in interceptions and wasn't technically a starter, although we viewed him that way. I'm really proud of him. He's a guy that's really trusted the process. He's worked really hard, developed on and off the field, in the weight room, all those types of things.

    Got a really strong core group of supporters and friends, a guy that obviously came from a little bit farther to come to Penn State. He's got an unbelievable support group and unit. He's really been successful. He's been successful in his previous role and now, with a little bit more on his plate, he continues to be successful.

    So I'm very proud of him. He's got a very bright future. I think he's going to finish out this year really strong. It's funny because he came up to me, I think it was on Friday or Saturday morning, and said, "You know, I'm feeling it today." I said, "Good, I'm glad. I'm glad you're feeling it today."

    So he's just got real good mojo. He's got a lot of confidence, got a lot of belief in himself. I think he's another guy. He's been a great example for the young players in our program.

    Q. Over the past few weeks, the pass defense has been really good, even against Michigan only gave up about 140 yards. How much of that is the front seven getting a lot of pressure? How much is the secondary playing really well? Do you find they're maybe even a little underrated?

    JF: I think it's a little bit of both. I think at the end of the day, you guys have heard me talk about this, and I feel stronger and stronger and stronger about it every day, is offensive line is going to dictate your success. And defensive line is going to dictate your success. It's not even close. If you don't have those units playing at a high level, you can be the best play caller in the country, best running backs, best quarterbacks, all that stuff, doesn't matter. The same thing as secondary.

    If you have those pieces and they are dominant, everything else kind of flows from there. So for us, investing in that development of those positions and how we train those guys in the offseason is so important. How we recruit at those positions is so important. I think that's what you see right now with our defense. We came into the season having major questions at defensive tackle depth and at linebacker.

    I think what you're seeing right now is you're seeing our linebackers gain confidence and experience and you're seeing our defensive tackles gain confidence and experience and then you're seeing the defensive ends, who we already felt good about, you see them taking the next step as well.

    So, you know, we've got a lot of production out of those guys. Right now, you think about what Yetur has been able to do and Shareef's been able to do and you think about what Windsor has been able to do, and the guy that's not getting a whole lot of love is Kevin Givens, but Kevin Givens for us is killing it. He's doing his job consistently.

    Sometimes when you do that, other guys shine, but as a coaching staff and as a team, we know the value that Kevin's bringing. And then although we've had a number of injuries, again that we don't spend a whole lot of time talking about, you're seeing other guys having to step up and make plays for us as well, which has been great. I thought PJ Mustipher played by far his best game last week.

    And, again, it doesn't always necessarily show up in the stats sheet, but his impact allowed other guys to have success, too. We're getting better, which is exciting.

    Q. You mentioned Tommy essentially in the backup running back role. Wondering how you managed that message with the running back room where you have three guys that probably feel like they have an argument there? Is it just the fact that Tommy still has to make reads that these guys, they don't have to do because they're not practicing at quarterback? How do you manage the backup quarterback as kind of a backup running back?

    JF: Again, this is one of those questions you ask me that I can't really completely answer, but it's not a difficult discussion when the running backs know why we're doing it. My point is, I think I've stated this before, so I'm comfortable stating it again. There was a time where we lost Mark Allen and then [Ricky] Slade jumped in and did some pretty good things. And I think I've already mentioned he got nicked up. Then we're trying to bring Journey Brown along. So, when you're in that situation, you know, it wasn't a tough conversation to have because there really wasn't a whole lot of other options.

    It was Journey who started to come on and it was Tommy. I think when it's challenging is when you do that and the other guys are being limited and they don't understand why. It was pretty obvious to everybody inside the program. The challenging one is what you're talking about and that wasn't the scenario we were in.

    Q. In the last six games, in third quarter you've only scored 22 points. Why has it been so difficult making the halftime adjustments?

    JF: I guess I wouldn't necessarily look at it that way. You would look over our time, we've been pretty good at halftime adjustments. I think, again, I don't look at things in small snippets of time. I look at the whole spectrum.

    There was one year here where we didn't even play first halves of games. We just came out and, like, won second halves and made it exciting and dramatic. At that point, the question was 'how are we going to play better early in games?'

    So I think there's just kind of natural ebb and flow of games but I'm very confident in our staff's ability to make those adjustments and things like that. Again, part of that is we play pretty good competition. I think Kris sent me a stat the other day. I think we've played the seventh toughest schedule in the country. We had a stretch there that was pretty challenging.

    So sometimes it's us that we've got to be better. There's no doubt about it from a scheme and from an execution standpoint on offense, defense and special teams. But part of it, too, we played some of the better teams in the country over a four-week period.

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    Penn State Running Backs Series: Larry Johnson

    Larry Johnson 1999-2002

    The path Larry Johnson has taken to where he is in life today has been anything but linear. Johnson has reached some of the highest of highs, as well as the lowest of the lows. Now, 16 years on from his standout career at Penn State and seven years removed from NFL stardom, Johnson is working to ensure young kids are able to avoid many of the troubles he says ailed him throughout his career.

    Johnson grew up Pomfret, Maryland and moved to State College in 1996 when his father, Larry Johnson Sr., took a job coaching under Joe Paterno. He was a starting running back at State College High School from 1995 to 1999. After his senior year, he had scholarship offers from across the country and, while Penn State was ultimately the choice, it wasnít necessarily an easy choice.

    ďI grew up in Maryland and all of my friends were at Maryland, so I really wanted to go Maryland because all of my friends were at Maryland,Ē he said. ďAnd I also wanted to go to North Carolina because who wouldnít want to go be a part of the Tar Heels, those uniforms are sweet. Then Northwestern was recruiting me heavily.

    ďSo it was between those three schools and then my dad really dropped a bomb on me and said Ďif you go to different schools, I would never be able to watch you play.í So I chose Penn State and he had the best seat in the house.Ē

    Johnson had middling numbers in his first three seasons for the Nittany Lions, but it wasnít until his senior season in 2002 that he introduced himself to the college football world.

    ďWe used to joke with the offensive lineman and say letís go for 1,000,Ē he said. ďBut I really wasnít emotionally prepared for what was going to come.Ē

    Johnson dominated in 2002, rushing the ball 271 times for a school-record 2,087 yards and 20 touchdowns en route to an All-American selection, the Doak Walker Award award for the nationís best running back and a third place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting.

    ďI was like, all I need to get is 1,000 yards to solidify my place among Penn State running backs,Ē Johnson said of the season. ďI never in my life thought that it would 200 yards, 300 yards, to multiple touchdowns, to being able to win awards and being third in the Heisman voting.Ē

    Despite the success, Johnson says he never really took the time to enjoy everything.

    ďI was so focused on ĎI want more,í Ē he said. ďI needed more. I felt like I couldíve been doing this my junior year, and my sophomore year. So I was just focused on the next level of my career which was the National Football League.Ē

    Johnson entered the NFL Draft following his senior season and was selected in the first round, No. 27 overall by the Kansas City Chiefs and Head Coach Dick Vermeil.

    Vermeil initially stated that he wanted to draft a defensive player rather than Johnson and the two often clashed during their time together.

    ďI worked through it because I wanted to prove everybody wrong,Ē Johnson said of his relationship with Vermeil. ďItís very different when you have your head coach telling you Ďyouíll go to the Pro Bowl, but youíll never do it while Iím head coach.í And then karma came back on him when Priest (Holmes) went down and I stepped in and the last nine games I kind of ran amok and before he retired he ended up seeing me go to the Pro Bowl.Ē

    Johnson reached back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006 under Vermeil and then under Herm Edwards.

    In the following offseason, Johnson held out of training camp before receiving a new contract worth $45M over six years that saw him become the highest paid running back in the league.

    Injuries took the back half of the 2007 season from Johnson and after a head coaching change that saw Todd Haley take the helm in Kansas City, Johnson never regained the form that saw him become one of the leagueís best backs.

    ďI handled stardom well, but I couldnít handle setbacks,Ē he said. ďAfter Herm left and Todd Haley came in, I felt like we werenít trying to put together a team to win, we were just getting by. And I failed in certain games because we just didnít have the tools to be successful and I didnít know how to handle that.Ē

    After a number of suspensions and legal issues over the next two years, Johnson was waived by the Chiefs on Nov. 9, 2009 and finished his career in Kansas City just 75 yards shy of Priest Holmesí franchise rushing record.

    ďI didnít know how to handle that,Ē he said of the setbacks. ďMy biggest flaw was to say Ďlet me go and drink to try to forget about ití and I would get myself into these domestic violence situations at the end of my nights when I would just go off at the end of the night when I thought I could just drink my issues away and drink my problems away and they would resurface.Ē

    Johnson bounced around the league from Cincinnati, to Washington, to Miami before being released by the Dolphins after playing one game in 2011. In all, he rushed for 6,223 career yards and 55 touchdowns in a nine-year career.

    Johnsonís history of domestic violence cases is well-documented and he doesnít shy away from the issue.

    He has been arrested six times since 2003, five of which involved various assault charges against women, four of which came while he was an active NFL player.

    ďI couldnít separate, I had a tough time separating sports from social life,Ē he said. ďEverything ran into one bubble with me. So if I was disappointed in a game, it would stay with me and I didnít know how to let that go.Ē

    Johnsonís troubles with anger and alcohol followed him off the field, however, and he was arrested most recently in 2014 after punching a man in a Miami Beach club.

    ďAt the end of the day, the situation was always something that I caused,Ē he says of his arrests. ďIt was always me and a club and me intoxicated, it was always the same scenario of me somewhere I shouldnít be. If they wouldíve seen me away for three or four years I wouldnít have even been upset. I would have gotten what I deserved. I was just blessed that they didnít send me away.Ē

    Johnson, who now lives in South Florida, credits his 7-year-old daughter Jaylen with giving him the inspiration to turn his life around.

    ďI was in a space where my daughter was becoming more aware of what was going on,Ē he said. ďIf I wasnít around she was aware. If my attitude or my anger would come out she would notice. I saw that and kind of looked at myself and said ĎI have to get out of this funk that Iím in.Ē

    Heís served the last of his probationary periods and has not been involved with law enforcement since the incident in 2014. Most recently, he was approached by Ian Welch, the CEO of a nonprofit organization called Motivational Edge, to be an ambassador for the group. Motivational Edge aims to use the arts as a means to inspire and empower at-risk youth in South Florida.

    ďThe Motivational Edge teaches these kids how to be vulnerable and not to hold back their disappointments and failures, but to live through them,Ē Johnson said. ďI went through my issues in my mid-to-late 20s, but these kids are going through issues in their teens and preteens and I realized I relate more to some of these kids than I do adults. I want them to be better prepared than I was to handle the emotional and mental struggles that theyíre facing.Ē

    Most recently, Johnson was the focus of Washington Post article in which he discusses his struggles with anger and impulse control which he fears are the result of suffering from CTE.


    STatistics at Penn State 1999-2002

    1999: 43 carries, 171 yards, 1 td
    2000: 75 carries, 353 yards, 3 tds
    2001: 71 carries, 337 yards, 2 tds
    2002: 271 carries, 2087 yds, 20 tds

    Totals: 460 carries, 2953 yards, 26 tds


    Photo Gallery








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    Penn state vs. Rutgers: Preview



    No. 14 Penn State at Rutgers: Game Preview

    (#14)Penn State (7-3, 4-3) vs. Rutgers (1-9, 0-7)

    Kickoff: Noon, HighPoint.com Stadium, Piscataway, NJ

    TV: BTN- Chris Vosters (play-by-play), Shaun OíHara (analyst)

    Weather: A pleasant day for mid-November, with sunshine and a high near 50.

    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 43-20, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 67-35, 8th Year

    VS. RUTGERS: 4-0


    Chris Ash:

    RUTGERS RECORD: 7-27, 3rd Year

    OVERALL RECORD: Same

    VS. PENN STATE: 0-3



    NOW THE FUN PART....

    RUTGERS OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE

    The Rutgers offense is led by freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski, a 6-foot-5 pocket passer with a strong arm. As expected, Sitkowski has looked like a freshman often and is going through the growing pains typical of a quarterback playing so soon. His completion percentage is just under 50 percent on the season, and has just four games where he surpassed the 50 percent completion mark. Even worse, Sitkowski has thrown just four touchdowns to 16 interceptions.

    Sitkowski is not a very mobile quarterback and will not likely be used on any designed runs. He has -35 yards rushing on the season, and just three games with positive rushing yards. With Penn Stateís defensive line getting consistent pressure with a four man front, it seems as though they will be able to force Sitkowski into some poor decisions on Saturday.

    Junior running back Raheem Blackshear is easily the primary playmaker for the Scarlet Knights, leading the team in both rushing and receiving yards. Blackshear relies on explosiveness and being elusive, and is not a workhorse Big Ten-style back at 5-foot-9 and 192 pounds. He has yet to receive 20 or more carries in a game this season, and his productivity has worn off throughout the year. In the first five games of the season, Blackshear rushed for 328 rushing yards, but in the most recent five contests that number has dropped to 150.

    A big part of this dropoff is the emergence of freshman Isaih Pacheco, who is coming off a 142-yard rushing performance against Michiganís vaunted defense that included an 80-yard touchdown scamper to keep Rutgers in the game for much of the first half. Pacheco has a season average of 5.5 yards per carry, while Blackshearís is 4.3.

    As mentioned, Blackshear is the teamís leading receiver with 40 receptions for 332 yards. He recently had a huge day against Wisconsin, catching eight passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. It will definitely be something to look for on Saturday with the Nittany Lion defenseís struggles against the screen this season.

    Sophomore Bo Melton is another frequent target, with 25 catches for 216 yards on the season.

    PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. RUTGERS DEFENSE

    Penn Stateís offensive line had its best game of the season on Saturday against Wisconsin, helping pave the way for Miles Sanders to rush for 159 yards with a 6.9 yards per carry average. Sanders and Co. could be in for a bigger day this week as Rutgers is among the very worst run defenses in the nation, giving up 230.2 yards per contest. Penn State should look to exploit this match-up early and often, setting up for Trace McSorley then move the ball through the air.

    This will be more of a challenge though, as the Scarlet Knights secondary has done a solid job this season, giving up just 188 yards per game. Some opposing quarterbacks have had some successó Michiganís Shea Patterson tossed for 260 yards and three TDs last week, while others have been able to limit passing attempts to focus on punishing the Scarlet Knights with the ground game.

    Rutgers does have a playmaker in outside linebacker Trevor Morris, The King of Prussia-native leads the team in tackles by a wide margin with 91. Heís an effective blitzer as well who can provide consistent pressure off the edge. Defensive ends Mike Tverdov and Elorm Lumar have improved over the year and shown the ability to be disruptive at times.

    As you can imagine for a 1-9 team, Rutgers has been prone to giving up points, allowing 34.3 per game. The Scarlet Knights were gouged for 52 by Ohio State, 42 by Michigan and Buffalo, and most shocking of all, allowed 55 points to Kansas. Yes, Kansas.

    Trace McSorley has been battling injuries the past several weeks, but looked sharp against Wisconsin. However, his mobility is limited and he may not be able to run the ball like his usual self.

    McSorley targeted KJ Hamler several times in the opening drives against Wisconsin, which helped open up the rest of the offense. It was a sound strategy that could work again to try to get the Nittany Lionsí most explosive playmaker the ball in space, and help set him up as a decoy to spread the ball around.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Rutgers has a reliable kicker with a big leg in Justin Davidovicz, who is 8-of-10 on the season with a long from 52 yards. Heís also connected on all 15 extra point attempts. Punter Adam Korsak has also been impressive. The Australian-style punter is averaging 42.3 yards per punt and regularly flips the field with punts of 50-plus yards. His season long is a massive 79-yarder against Northwestern.

    The Scarlet Knights do not boast a strong return game. Pacheco is a suitable kick returner, averaging 19.4 yards per return with a long of 34. Freshman cornerback Avery Young has only returned four punts with an average of 4.8 yards per return.


    Penn Stateís 4 keys:

    1. Lean on Sanders. Miles Sanders produced 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against Wisconsin and the Rutgersí run defense is suspect. Another 20-carry day should lead to another 100-yard game for Penn Stateís feature back.

    2. Donít forget about KJ. Hamler, the Lionsí dangerous receiver, was involved early against Wisconsin. He finished with five catches for 35 yards and was given a rush attempt. The Lions need to get Hamler 6-8 touches against Rutgers so there will be no more games like Michigan (one catch, 20 yards).

    3. Force Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski into mistakes. Sitkowski has thrown 16 interceptions and only four touchdowns. The Michigan defense held the quarterback to 40 passing yards on 19 attempts last week.

    4. Donít let Isaih Pacheco get loose. Rutgers has a dual-threat in running back Raheem Blackshear, who leads the Scarlet Knights in rushing and receiving. But it was another running back, Pacheco, who caused the Wolverinesí defense problems. He carried 16 times for 142 yards and scored on an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

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    Penn state vs. Rutgers: Recap



    Another Ugly Win: Penn State 20, Rutgers 7



    As is tradition with Penn State football, it couldnít be easy. It was a little slow, a little sloppy, but despite all that, was there ever any doubt? The Nittany Lions took care of business earlier this afternoon, laying waste to Rutgers 20-7.

    A week after Trace McSorley looked to have rediscovered his rhythm in the passing game, No. 9 reverted back to what we saw for much of October ó that is, a lot of ďmeh.Ē McSorley was just 8-for-22 in the first half, and while his wide receivers didnít help him a ton, much of the struggles were on McSorley himself. The accuracy wasnít there, and because of it, Penn State let a couple scoring chances go by the wayside.

    Fortunately, Rutgersí offense is very bad, specifically, starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski. Before being benched, the true freshman tossed two interceptions, doing his part in helping the Nittany Lions to a 13-0 lead at halftime.

    The second half was more uninspiring play from the Nittany Lions. With Rutgers going with backup redshirt senior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno, the Scarlet Knights actually had some success moving the ball, to the point where they were faced with 4th and goal from the two-yard line. As Rutgers does though, it went Full Rutgers as Rescigno dropped a pass in the end zone on the Scarlet Knightsí version of the ďPhilly Special.Ē

    The Nittany Lions didnít score in the third quarter, but found the end zone right away in the fourth with McSorley finding a wide open streaking (down the field, clothes were on) Pat Freiermuth for the duoís second score of the day. Rutgers answered back with a long drive of its own, and for the first time since 2014, the Scarlet Knights scored a touchdown against the Nittany Lions, making it 20-7 at the midway point in the fourth.

    There was no comeback to be had, though. Penn State engineered a long, clock-draining fourth quarter drive with multiple third down conversions to effectively end the game. Although, as always, the Nittany Lions shot themselves in the foot to end the drive thanks to a Miles Sanders fumble on third down.

    As the title says: it was another ugly win. I feel like I am Bill Murray in Groundhog Day ó itís the same sloppiness every Saturday. Whether itís the play calling or the execution, the Nittany Lions just canít seem to get on the same page this year.

    A win is a win, but 11 games in, and this Penn State team continues to lack any cohesion.


    Three Key Takeaways from Penn Stateís Depressing Victory over Rutgers


    The offense was flat out atrocious

    34.3 points. Thatís how many points Rutgers allowed on average entering Saturdayís game. The Scarlet Knights also gave up an average of 413 yards per game. But somehow, Penn Stateís offense made Rutgers actually look like a top-tier FBS defense. A program that has been in shambles for years kept one of the most talented teams (on paper) to just 20 points and 322 yards.

    The worst part about it is that for Penn State the game plan shouldíve been pretty simple. Run the ball. Run the ball to the left, run it to the right, run it up the middle. Just run the ball. Why? Because thatís where teams have punished the Rutgers defense throughout the season. Entering Saturday, they allowed 230 yards on the ground per game.

    Penn State was able to run the ball perfectly fine against a much more talented Wisconsin team but it appears Ricky Rahne thought throwing the ball was the best decision. The play calling didnít become run heavy until late in the fourth quarter as they tried to kill the clock. It was an embarrassing offensive effort, and Penn State will have problems if this is the offense that shows up next week against Maryland.

    Iím not going to get into Traceís performance. He was able to recover nicely in the second half but the first half was simply a disaster. Itís not an overstatement to say that he was a liability for parts of the game.

    At least the defense showed up

    Another week, another strong building block for Penn Stateís defense. The defense kept Rutgers to just 7 points and 234 yards. While they struggled in the second half when Rutgers opened up their run game a bit, it still was a strong performance for the defense.

    The defense was lead by Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson on defense with 8 tackles each while Shareef Miller led the team with 2.5 tackles for a loss. They had 11 total tackles for a loss and 4 sacks. Was more desired from the defense at times? Absolutely, but in the end, Penn State needed a strong day out of the defense and they got just that. Brent Pry has done a phenomenal job with this group lately and outside of the second half of the Michigan gameó otherwise, itís been a great stretch for them on defense.

    Next week wonít be easy

    This may be cheating as itís not a takeaway from Penn Stateís game, and I was originally going to talk about the freshman here, but Iíll save those thoughts for the redshirt report on Wednesday. But as Penn State struggled against Rutgers, the Fighting Matt Canadaís of Maryland gave Ohio State everything they could handle, losing in overtime on a well-called (but poorly executed) 2-point conversion attempt.

    If Penn State plays like they did against Rutgers, there is a significant chance that they lose to Maryland on Saturday. Youíll have to wait for my prediction this upcoming week as Iím pretty 50-50 right now on who will win next weekendís matchup.

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    Surprise CFP Ranking for the Lions #12? They don't look like and play like a 12.


    We are Penn State Go Lions.

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    Coach franklin press conference: Maryland

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: First of all, like all, want to thank everyone for coming out, especially this week, want to wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving.

    I know weíve got a bunch of players out today doing community service over at the village and at a bunch of the local elementary schools.

    So a great opportunity and great time to spend some time with family and take a moment and appreciate what we are all thankful for and what weíre blessed for.

    Looking forward to having a bunch of guys at my house on Thanksgiving for dinner, as well as we have a team Thanksgiving meal here, as well, after practice. Thought I would lead with that.

    You know, kind of reviewing the Rutgers game real quick. You know, really, just like we talked about after the game, the critical stats we won. We won the turnover battle. We won the penalty battle, the drive-start battle, the sack battle, and then the explosive play battle, we won it. We didnít meet our goals, but we won it in terms of had more explosive plays than them.

    Players of the Week on offense was Pat Freiermuth. Defense, we really didnít want to single one guy out, so we went with the defensive line, and the entire defensive line is playing at a really high level now and on special teams, Blake Gillikin.

    Some kind of general last points about that game, positives: Defense is doing a great job creating turnovers right now. Really should have had one more in the game. We had the strip sack fumble. Should have had another one there.

    Defense is doing a really good job of getting off the field right now. Had five three-and-outs, and they were 67 percent on third down, and then our offense did a much better job on third down, as well.

    And then I thought protecting our quarterback. We had zero sacks in the game and we were able to get four, so I thought those were kind of big, deciding factors in the game.

    Opportunities for growth. Weíve got to eliminate the critical errors and penalties, so we had an unsportsmanlike penalty, that would have been fourth and 24. We give them a first down. We canít do those things. Then we had another personal foul on a second down run, would have been third and 11 and we gave them a first down. We have to get those things cleaned up.

    And then offensively, we have to finish drives. I think we had two drives on Saturday that went for 12 plays or more, and we werenít able to finish the way we should finish. So those are the things that really kind of jumped out after watching the game and making some corrections.

    You know, going on to Maryland this week, and what Coach Canada has done there, pretty impressive. I know that place obviously very well. Been there for eight years. Coach Canada has done a really nice job. Heís very respected as an offensive coordinator. Heís obviously doing both, both responsibilities right now, doing a nice job. They have got 15 players back returning starters in their program. You look at what they are doing offensively; itís Mattís offense and what they are doing.

    They do a great job, all the way back to when we played them when he played him when he was the offensive coordinator at Pitt: Motions, shifts, unbalanced, tackle over -- unbalanced motion with the x off the ball. They really try to create conflict that way. A lot of people are doing that through the RPO type offense. These guys are doing it causing conflict with their motions and shifts and trades and speed sweeps and fake speed sweeps and inside zone, pin-and-pull schemes. They do a nice job. They create a lot of conflict. They have an absurd number of explosive runs and thatís going to be challenging.

    Obviously Anthony McFarland the last two games has rushed for over 200 yards and last week over 300 yards. We know Anthony really well. Heís a Dematha kid. Heís got over a thousand yards, 8.4 yards per carry, and he can run. I mean, he can flat-out run. I mean, you watch him on tape, he is fast, and makes a bunch of big plays for them.

    Then they have a receiver, Jeshaun Jones, freshman receiver is doing a nice job for them, as well, both in the receiving game and in the running game.

    Defensively, Andy Buh, as well as Matt Barnes, I think itís kind of a combination of those two guys. Matt Barnes calling the defense from what we understand, six returning starters. High motor, physical unit that flies around. A lot of speed in that area and it shows up on their roster.

    Base front. They are going to play four-down as well as an okie (ph). They are going to base out of one-high, but youíll see also combinations of quarter-quarter-half, as well as quarters coverage and then they pressure a decent amount, as well.

    I think the thing that jumps out about them defensively is turnovers. They rank fourth in the Big Ten and 14th overall and I think they have got 18 interceptions on the year, so thatís going to be the real challenge in the game.

    Impressed with Jesse Aniebonam, the kid out of Silver Spring, a kid that we are familiar with as well through the recruiting process. Plays defensive end. Been very productive, as well as the linebacker, No. 25 Antoine Brooks, and then Darnell Savage, the safety, who seems like heís been playing there for ever, a kid out of Delaware, doing a nice job for them.

    And then special teams, Matt Barnes had that title. The way they have reconfigured their staff, I would assume they broke special teams up at this point, but he had the title going into the season; is doing a nice job on special teams, as well, especially in the return game. They got explosive guys in the return game, multiple touchdowns, kickoff returns, and things like that, not only from this year but from previous years.

    Javon Leake, the running back, has a long of a 97-yard return for a touchdown. Ty Johnson, long with 98-yard return for a touchdown, and then linebacker Chance Campbell is very productive, as well as wide receiver Taivon Jacobs, who I have known his family for a long time. Thereís been a bunch of the Jacobsí boys.

    Thatís about it. Again, hope everybody has a wonderful Thanksgiving; the callers that are going to call in, as well as the people that made it into town this week.

    Last point, I would say itís a great opportunity for our players go get a bunch of rest this week, to catch up academically this week with them not having classes. So our guys are doing community service, they are getting extra sleep and they are watching more film.

    So in some ways, this is one of the few weeks we get where our guys are almost like NFL players.

    So open up to questions.

    Q. Do you remember the first time you saw Trace play in person or on film, and what did you see that prompted you to recruit him?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I donít know if it was one thing that necessarily jumped out to us when we watched him.

    I think it was -- typically, when you kind of write down all the factors -- when we recruit quarterbacks, we watch the tape and thatís one thing.

    Trace, we were fortunate because we were able to watch him, which isnít typical nowadays. You got to see him play on both sides of the ball, on the defensive side of the ball and safety, as well. His transcript was impressive. Mom and Dad was impressive. We got a chance to watch him throw in person. We were impressed by that.

    But for me, itís a lot of other things, too with that position. It was what was his win/loss percentage in high school. You know, state championships, completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    To me, when youíre trying to evaluate the quarterback position, youíd better look at all of that and then when you look at all of that, you know, I think youíd better be careful because the guys that have a few checks, but those checks are really strong: Really strong arm, you know, great body, whatever it may be, but they are missing a lot of the other checks. Those guys in my time, they donít really pan out.

    You want to get a guy who is very well-rounded, and has been able to produce at a high level for a long period of time. If not, youíre taking on risk. For us and Trace, you know, the one thing that he didnít pass was the eyeball test. You know, heís not 6-3, heís not 6-4, but I think we also see now in todayís football, thereís a lot of guys in the NFL and college that are playing at a high level that donít fit the old cookie cutter presentation that people used to have probably at the quarterback position.

    Q. What are some of the keys to coaching defenders to diagnose misdirection plays and all those pre-snap shifts and motions?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think in a lot of ways, itís like option football. You may be responsible for the A gap, but then you see the motion fly by and the guy fake it and you start to kind of drift out of your gap. Then all of a sudden, here comes that ball screaming through your A gap and weíre not sound.

    So itís guys being disciplined enough to say, Iím going to do my job and Iím going to trust my teammate is going to do his job. So if Iím the force player or if Iím the contain player, or whatever it may be, A gap, B gap, C gap, whatever it may be, Iíve got to do my job and Iíve got to do it consistently.

    What they try to do with all those things is create a little doubt, create a little hesitation and then that hesitation, usually with that motion shift, is formulated or planned out to try to create leverage on blocks.

    So now you hesitate on the back side, and now all of a sudden that guard-and-center combination or that guard-and-tackle combination are able to work up and get a piece of you, because the motion or the shift made you hesitate.

    So now the blockers up front get better angles and leverage and now they end up, you know, having a running back who averages almost nine yards per carry.

    Q. Do you know about how the speculation between you and the USC job got started, and how would you like to address it?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, first of all, I guess itís that time of year where all this stuffs happens. Itís that time of year. Itís the crazy, mad time of year, where these type of things happen.

    So as you guys know, like always, weíre focused on Maryland completely, 100 percent. I donít even think itís fair or right to even be talking about that job from, everything I understand about it, but weíre completely focused on Maryland.

    Q. About Trace. I know this year in a lot of ways has been harder for him than, maybe, say last year, the injuries, the receivers. What has impressed you most about how heís handled the second half of the season, and how do you think heís going to do Senior Day for you?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: The way I kind of look at Trace is -- I donít know if Trace in some ways, you know, weíre kind of kindred spirits and souls; I donít know if anything has ever come easy to Trace. Heís had to battle and work for everything heís gotten his whole career.

    I think heís made for this. I think heís built for this. Itís kind of like we talked about on Saturday after one of those touchdowns. I just said to him, ďHey, weíre just going to grind through it. Weíre just going to work through it.Ē

    I think thatís kind of how Trace has been. Heís earned everything heís gotten in life. No oneís given him anything. He hasnít been in a situation -- I think different than this his entire life.

    So I think heís built for these type of things. I think thatís why thereís so much confidence and trust in our locker room and coaches with him, because all he knows how to do is walk in a room with a chip on his shoulder and prove people wrong and overcome adversity.

    I couldnít be more impressed, but Iím not surprised by it. Iím not shocked by it whatsoever. He is built for this, and heís a self-made man in a lot of ways.

    Q. I know the goal is always to go 1-0 every week, but this week is there any emphasis on the fact that going 1-0 could get you into possibly a New Yearís Six Bowl and keep you alive for a third consecutive ten-win season?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: No, not at this point. But I will tell you this, this senior class, you look at what they have been able to accomplish at Penn State. They came to Penn State at a very tough time, we all did, and really battled and worked like crazy to work through it.

    You look at their record, the senior class, I think all things considered, maybe one of the most impressive senior classes in school history, all things considered.

    You look at what this senior class has been able to do in the Big Ten era. If you just take the Big Ten era, you look at what weíve been able to do and what they have been able to do over the last three years, this year and the previous two years in the Big Ten era, pretty impressive.

    Weíre going to take it 1-0, thereís no doubt about it. But I do think that thereís an awareness and thereís an appreciation for what this senior class and what these guys have been able to do over their time here. Some of them are four-year guys. Some of them are five-year guys. Itís pretty impressive.

    When you take all things into consideration, which, you know, I donít know if a lot of people do all the time, and I think they should with these guys.

    Q. The personal foul penalties, hasnít been that much of a problem for you, but is it harder to coach that now where you want players to be aggressive not to the point of violence but thereís targeting and a lot about the rules that tempers or hinders that. Is it harder to coach than it used to be?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think since weíve been here, weíve been a pretty disciplined team. We had a stretch for a couple weeks where we werenít, but overall -- I think last week we had three penalties, so weíve done a good job of it. Weíve just got to eliminate the ones that are drive-changers, you know, that keep people on the field and those types of things.

    Yeah, I think the rules are the rules. So youíve got to embrace them and youíve got to coach within the rules, but you can still be as aggressive as you used to be. You just have to lower your target. You just have to lower your target which is easier said than done, I get that.

    We want our guys to be as aggressive as they have ever been. The penalties Iím talking about are the ones that are controllable, stuff after the play that we shouldnít be doing. You know, thereís going to be penalties that happen during a game that youíre going to live with because they are aggressive penalties.

    We have talked about the targeting rule. I think we had one, it was at Indiana, where I think I said in the press conference afterwards, I donít know what else I could have told the kid there. Iíve talked to the defensive coaches and the officials. If the running back is lowering his shoulder and head and heís 18 inches off the ground, I donít know how else you get to him.

    There comes a point where you canít get that low. I mean, try to do it yourself, in the living room or here in the press conference. Try to stand up and get that low to the ground. At some point your head has to go down.

    I think itís the right rule for football. I get it. But those are ones weíre going to live with. The guys that I think are leaving their feet and launching upward and using their helmet as a weapon, thatís a different story and I think everyone wants that gone from the game.

    But Iím not one of these guys that like when that happens, and it gets called, I get it. Thatís what we need to do to protect the game and to protect these student athletes. Youíve got to live with it. So I get that.

    But I want our guys to play as aggressive as they ever have, but thereís no doubt, thereís a lot of time taken talking about how to do that under todayís rules.

    Q. Seems like a good percentage of seniors will go through the tunnel on Saturday. What does their level of commitment over a four-year span of the program say about them?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, itís hard to put it into words what these guys have done, and obviously like the point you just made, especially the guys that have done it for four years, three years; a two-year commitment is still a lot.

    You think about some of these guys and what they have been able to do to allow us to practice the way we want to practice. Some of these guys have actually earned significant time in games and that has been huge for us. Some of the guys are the guys in the locker room that are bringing energy and bringing perspective.

    I think thatís one of the great things about college athletics and specifically football is you get 120 guys in the locker room from all different backgrounds, from all different perspectives, different ideologies, all these things, and you learn. You learn about yourself. You learn about them. You learn about their backgrounds. You learn about their families. I think itís really important for our players that they hear other people that maybe had challenges or adversity or guys are able to go home with other people for Thanksgiving. Weíve got a bunch of guys taking other guys home for Thanksgiving because they are able to do that and other guys arenít.

    I think itís the greatest melting pot in the world, is a college football locker room. I think thereís tremendous value in that, probably more than ever right now in our society. Those are the things that go on.

    And youíve got scholarship players, youíve got walk-on players, youíve got urban kids, youíve got rural kids, youíve got all these kids that sacrificed in different ways to allow the program to have the success that itís had.

    Thatís kind of what Saturday is for me; the last time these guys will run out in the greatest stadium in college football, and give me an opportunity to spend 30 seconds with them and pay my respect to them, and then also do that in the locker room in front of our whole team.

    Q. Zach Simpson is listed among those playing his final home game. Can you discuss his development there for you and the growth that heís made?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, we love Zach. Zachís a great example. Mom and Dad have been awesome. They come to practice. I always see them walking into the games, and heís a guy that legitimately has been in the two-deep for a couple years now. Heís a guy who has earned everybodyís respect; that the coaches have confidence putting in the game if we need to.

    You know, heís really done a nice job for us. In a lot of ways, weíd love him to come back. So a lot of these conversations -- they are somewhat strange conversations that you have to have because some guys have eligibility left and you have to ask them, are you planning on walking or are you planning on coming back and weíve developed really good relationships with them. I think they understand that if they are not going to come back next year, that they have earned the right to go out and walk and have that experience.

    So you know, I couldnít be more proud of him, the way heís worked, how much heís contributed on special teams. Heís been fantastic. We love him, love his family and been a big contributor to our program.

    Q. A guy like Koa Farmer, heís been in an interesting situation where heís ahead of the kid that everybody wants to see. How has he handled that situation, and can you talk about the impact heís had with the program with coming from California early in the process to where he is now?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Koa has been unbelievable. His mom, his dad, his sister -- his sister is part of our program. She runs track at Hampton and is in an MBA program, a five-year MBA program. Itís the whole family. They have been fantastic. I know Coach Pry has a really strong relationship with Koa and the family, as well. Thereís open communication.

    But yeah, I think obviously Koa has done a great job in leading Micah since he showed up on campus and teaching Micah. Our guys are good like that. Thereís some programs Iíve been a part of where a guy is trying to get some of your reps and I donít want to help him a whole lot, which I also get that, but itís not the right thing for the program.

    Koa has handled everything extremely well. I think part of it is how Coach Pry has handled it, and I think Micah looks up to all those guys. Micah sees that, as well.

    I think itís been a real positive situation because Koa has earned the right to play and do what heís been doing, and itís allowed us to kind of slowly work Micah into a new position and kind of figure it out.

    And I think, you know, I think you guys heard from Coach Pry the other day is heís now starting to play like a linebacker instead of just a great athlete running around on the field. I think itís been a really nice complementary kind of, you know, pieces right there for each other.

    Koa has been fantastic. Heís been one of our leaders off the field, really, from very early on. Heís one of our leaders on the field. Heís maximized his Penn State experience in terms of heís got a really strong group of friends that he came in with. Heís done unbelievably well academically. Heís had great support from mom and dad; have made the sacrifice coming from California to support him whenever they could.

    Thatís a great story. You think about all the way back to when we recruited Koa, and he got off the plane in Philadelphia and his flight to State College got canceled, and there was nine inches of snow and had to get a car and drive up here. I was like, thereís no way in heck weíre getting this kid, and then he said yeah. Itís been really cool, all the way back to our time at Vanderbilt.

    These guys hold a special place with me, the senior class, because obviously a lot of these guys were either already committed to Penn State when I got the job, or, or, were committed to me at Vanderbilt and came with.

    So itís an interesting group. Whatís weird, next year will be the first year where the entire team is guys that we recruited. This is the last class of kind of a split. Johnathan Thomas was a guy who was committed and we fell in love with Johnathan when we got here.

    Itís been unbelievable. Itís been kind of a neat mix of the old and of the new, and these guys have been kind of the glue that have held this thing together.

    Q. Going off the mix of the old and the new, what do you remember about those moments where you had to make those phone calls to guys like Trace and say: Hey, Iím not at Vanderbilt anymore, and what do you remember now about how they responded to that?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, itís funny, because we do the shares. We do the shares now where the guys get up and talk. I guess I did know it but I forgot. A lot of those guys were really mad because they were committed and then we left and then we came here and that was at a time where a lot of things were changing here on our campus.

    So literally, the entire staff, we couldnít be in the Lasch Building. I remember I go over to the Lasch Building, like the only person there. They wouldnít let the assistants over because they had not cleared HR yet. It was madness.

    We couldnít call recruits for a certain period of time until we cleared because we couldnít be calling on behalf of Penn State.

    So we didnít talk to these guys from the time we left Vanderbilt to the time we actually cleared here for like a week and a half or so, and now they are mad at us, because they are like, they are kind of left out, stuck in between all of that.

    I remember sitting in, I guess it was the Penn Stater, and we were all kind of stuck in that room for however long it was, and you know, fortunately when we were able to get these guys on the phone and kind of explain the situation, most of them were really good.

    But some of them, it was a battle, and feelings were hurt and things like that, but itís hard to explain to a 17-year-old kid about HR and clearing the paperwork and those type of things from a compliance standpoint, as well as a university standpoint.

    To be honest with you, I donít know if every place does it that way. They just start calling. So you know, it was interesting. Thereís no doubt about it, but thereís a lot of stories that are told from the staff, that was all here during that time. It was a complete scramble, complete scramble.

    I think, what was it, January 18th or something like that, somewhere around there, 16th, 14th, something like that, and signing day obviously was February. So it was a complete scramble.

    Q. Taking you back to the Iowa game, an observation. It seems like there have been more new formations or new plays over the last couple of weeks, maybe three or four weeks. Is that a fair thing to say? And then, how has that story gone of adding new plays to the offense and Ricky Rahne, or the offensive staff, in general, do you feel they have taken more ownership of it and tried to make that grow versus what it was before?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I would say itís probably very similar to how itís been for the last three years. Weíre going to have our base things that we always do.

    And then each week, weíll major in something more than the other, based on what the defense does and opportunities that presents itself, and then weíll always have a few new wrinkles that arenít a whole lot different for us, but we think will cause a little bit of conflict on the defense. Weíll always have a little bit of that in.

    Now, depending on how the game goes and you run those things and have success with it, you do more of it, or not. You know, some plays and some designs are made up for different segments of the field, so this is for the fringe zone; once we get to that area where we feel like we have a first chance to score points and once you work to the red zone and things like that.

    A lot of it deals with timing and kind of the flow of the game, as well. But we typically for the last three years have always had it kind of set up that way where hereís a couple wrinkles that we havenít shown, here is our base offense that weíre going to run, and here are things weíre going to major in based on what they give us.

    A lot of times they are breaking down formations and when you break down the formations, itís interesting. This formation, the efficiency is higher than this formation so we probably should major in this formation because plays in this formation seem to give them more problems. Why, because of leverage or angles or green grass or whatever it may be, and same thing with personnel groups.

    When youíre coming up with a game plan, thatís how it always comes and you try to study people that run a similar offense that you do because they are probably going to try to defend it in a similar way. Itís not a whole lot different than what we have done in the last three years. It probably has just seemed like that but itís not a whole lot different.

    Q. Trace said back in April that it was weird to look across the ball in spring practice and not see guys like Jason and Marcus and Grant out there. Is it going to be weird for you -- you have two more games with them but is it hard to envision Penn Stateís offense without Trace?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways, yes, especially on game days. But you know, there was a transition before Trace and I told you guys that we had a lot of confidence in Trace and what the future held for him.

    And I think, you know, thereís still a very similar feeling that way with Tommy and Cliff. Those guys have done some really good things and Levis is kind of in that direction, as well.

    Yeah, I think whenever youíve had a guy start as many games as he started, itís going to be a transition. Itís going to be different, thereís no doubt about it. But I do think weíve seen enough evidence in games and enough evidence in practice. I think thereís a lot of confidence and excitement for the future, as well.

    Q. Is there anything about Marylandís offense or about Anthony McFarland that has allowed him to be so prolific in the last couple of weeks to have the back-to-back big games that heís had?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think the things that I kind of already stated with their offense. They do a really good job with the misdirection in terms of the trading, shifting, fly sweeps, fake fly sweeps, inside zone.

    They try to give you a little bit of misdirection. Try to get you hesitating for a second so now their offensive line and tight ends and get leverage on their blocks, and all of a sudden he comes screaming out of there and he can run. I think heís a legitimate 4-3 guy.

    So the combination of what they do and they have got a playmaker carrying the ball, itís problematic. I donít think thereís any doubt about it and now they have got the quarterback starting who is also a guy that can make plays with his feet, as well, itís challenging, and they have done this. They have done this against a number of opponents.

    Itís going to be a challenge and what we have got to be able to do is boil is down for our guys that they are confident with the responsibilities and donít get caught up with the drapes or the paint or the shiny things that try to get your attention and really try to focus on what they are actually trying to get accomplished.

    Q. Could you talk a little about Senior Day and what it means to you and the players?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Okay. Senior Day is obviously a special moment that we get to recognize these guys as their last time playing in Beaver Stadium.

    Obviously these guys, whether they have been here four years or five years, been through a lot, came in here at a challenging time in Penn Stateís history and put the program on their back and just went to work, you know, with so many other people, coaches and people in this community, and lettermen and people that work on campus and in the athletic department.

    To think about what these guys have been able to accomplish in their time here and again, I think when you look specifically to the Big Ten era, I think itís pretty impressive what these guys have been able to do. You look at the data, just the raw numbers and they are impressive, but also how these guys have conducted themselves.

    Iím really proud of how our guys have done in the classroom, how our guys have been in the community, all of it, academic All-Americans, academic all-region. Guys that got drafted in the NFL, guys that didnít get drafted in the NFL, free agent made the practice squad and had to earn their way around, guys that are working in Corporate America.

    Thereís a lot of stories; 21 stories are going to walk through that gate on Saturday for the last time, thatís one of the things I mentioned after the game, Iím hoping, I know weíve got some parking issues -- and I donít want to get into that because trust me, Iíve gotten a lot of messages about it. I donít want to get into the parking thing.

    But I think these seniors deserve that stadium to be sold out and rocking to pay respect to them, and weíre going to need it, as well. Weíre going to need it to go 1-0 and get another win this week.

    Q. Half this team wasnít here when Trace was, you would say, at his best or was doing the sorts of things that Trace sort of built his legacy on. When we do you sometimes think people have, for all of the skill guys youíve had and the flashy guys youíve had, have sometimes overlooked the value he has brought to the table over the three years he has started?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think early on, I think you got a combination of both. I think early on, you had Mike Gesicki making these wild plays and DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall and Saquon Barkley and so on and so forth. Weíve had a bunch of guys that did some spectacular things.

    I think early on, he probably didnít get enough credit, but when you talk to other college coaches, when I see college coaches on the road recruiting, when I see college coaches at the convention, they will always say, this guy is special. This guy does this well. This guy does -- but it starts and ends with your quarterback.

    I think people within the business that we talk to, I think get it, and then all those guys leave, and Trace for a good portion of the year, while those guys are trying to get adjusted and figure things out, heís carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, probably too much weight.

    I think early on, he probably didnít get enough credit, and probably now, heís probably getting too much criticism. Thatís kind of the life of the head coach and of the quarterback.

    But heís been just spectacular. Heís been fantastic, as a kid, as a player, as a leader, his whole family, they have been phenomenal.

    I think when itís all said and done, I know how that stadium will react for him on Saturday. I know how heíll be looked on in this program for years to come. I think legacy is as strong as it gets, my opinion. Iím biased, but in my opinion, I think as strong as it gets.

    Q. I feel bad Iím the only one not asking questions about Senior Day, but I wanted to ask you about Antoine Brooks. What have you seen from him on film?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Heís problematic, I donít think thereís any doubt about it. You look at what heís been able to do: Explosive, powerful. Thatís kind of how I look at these guys: Powerful, explosive, twitchy, and productive, and they play really, really hard. Thatís the thing that really kind of showed up on film this past week, played really, really hard.

    So I think thatís one of the things that you have to be careful as coaches is not all these guys come in the same package. Not all of them look like Yetur Gross-Matos. Youíve got Shaka; youíve got all these different body types, but youíve got guys that have got a chance to be successful playing to their strengths and coaches taking advantage of those strengths.

    Q. You guys are one day shy of the early signing period being a month away. How you feel like youíve balanced it, having gone through it a year, maybe have the rhythm down a little bit better since it was new last year?

    HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Iíd prefer to talk about Maryland right now.

    But yeah, I think last year there was a lot of unknowns about how that was going to go and in our mind, there really was only going to be for the most part one signing day, which was the first signing day and it pretty much played out that way. I think weíll have a similar situation this year.

    I think weíll probably have a better idea after this year ends and be able to look at the last two years and kind of come up with some philosophies about it.

    But I think after one year, itís kind of difficult to say how itís going to go consistently. But I think weíve got a pretty good feel for it.

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    PSU Running Backs Series: Tony Hunt

    Tony Hunt 2003-2006

    Tony Hunt was a standout two-way player at T.C. Williams High School outside of Washington, D.C. Originally a committed to USC, Hunt decided on Penn State after Reggie Bush's commitment to the Trojans. It ended up being a good decision for both Hunt and the Nittany Lions.

    Hunt rushed for 3,320 yards from 2003-2006 at Penn State, with only Evan Royster, Saquon Barkley, and Curt Warner having run for more. He was a key part of the great 2005 team that won the Orange Bowl, and made the program's transition from Larry Johnson much easier than it should have been.

    Hunt would go out on a high note in his senior season. In the 2007 Outback Bowl, Hunt was named most valuable player. He would also be named most valuable player at the Senior Bowl All-Star Game in the lead up to the NFL Draft. Hunt would eventually be taken in the third round (90th overall pick) of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately, Hunt was unable to break through on the Eagles depth chart behind Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter. While his NFL career may have been disappointing, Hunt will always be remembered for his impressive contributions to Penn State's teams of the mid-2000s.

    Statistics at Penn State

    2003: 34 att; 110 yds; 1 td
    2004: 169 att; 777 yds; 7 tds
    2005: 174 att; 1074 yds; 6 tds
    2006: 277 att; 1386 yds; 11 tds

    Totals: 654 att; 3320 yds; 25 tds


    Photo Gallery






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    Penn state vs. Maryland: Preview



    No.12 Penn State vs. Maryland: Game Preview

    (#14)Penn State (8-3, 5-3) vs. Maryland (5-6, 3-5)

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

    TV: ABC- Mark Jones (play-by-play), Dusty Dvoracek (analyst), Molly McGrath (sideline)

    Weather: A wet and cold afternoon, with an ice/rain mix and highs hovering around freezing.


    COACHES:

    James Franklin:

    PENN STATE RECORD: 44-20, 5th Year

    OVERALL RECORD: 68-35, 8th Year

    VS. MARYLAND: 3-1


    Matt Canada:

    MARYLAND RECORD: 5-6, First Season

    OVERALL RECORD: Same

    VS. PENN STATE: First Meeting



    NOW THE FUN PART....

    MARYLAND OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE

    If thereís one thing consistent about Marylandís program, it is the inability to keep its starting quarterbacks healthy. Freshman Kasim Hill is the latest victim of this curse after tearing his ACL against Indiana in week 11. In his place is sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome, who has seen limited time under center throughout the season for the Terps. Pigrome has been used similar to Tommy Stevens, to get him on the field and take advantage of his athletic ability. He had a solid game against the Hoosiers after Hill went down, connecting on 10 of 13 passes for 146 yards, a touchdown, and most importantly, no interceptions. In his first game as a starter, Pigrome was six of 13 for 181 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions against the Buckeyes.

    That stat line is surprising considering the Terps put up 51 points in a near upset of the Buckeyes, but Maryland rode its run game in the hopes of toppling Ohio State. The Terps have a deep stable of backs, with four different running backs having 100-plus yard games on the season. The main attraction, however, is freshman Anthony McFarland. During the last two games, McFarland has rushed for 508 yards against Indiana and Ohio State. His performance against the Buckeyes on Saturday was especially a masterpiece, as he was just under 300 yards rushing n the day on 21 carries, good for 14.2 yards per rush. McFarland is a smaller back, but has great lower body strength and always keeps his feet moving. He also has incredible quickness and can easily be gone for six when a hole opens up.

    Senior Ty Johnson has also been a standout, but has been battling injuries during the second half of the season. He warmed up prior to the Ohio State game but did not receive a carry. Sophomore Tayon Fleet-Davis is a big back who can get the job done in short yardage situations, and has the power to gain extra yards against a tired defense late in the game.

    With Pigromeís lack of experience, expect the Terps to pound McFarland and co. and hope for the best against the Penn State defense, which has shown major strides in stopping the run during the second half of the season. Marylandís offense focused primarily on running the ball with Hill under center, and that will especially be the case now that Pigrome is now in the lineup. Keep an eye on freshman Jeshaun Jones, however. The lanky freshman receiver has come on late in the season and has been receiving more looks, and has three touchdown catches in the last four games.

    PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. MARYLAND DEFENSE


    It wonít be a simple task for Trace McSorley to go out with a bang in his final game at Beaver Stadium. The Terps have a solid secondary, giving up 206.1 passing yards a game while amassing 18 interceptions on the season - tied with Utah State for the most in the FBS.

    Marylandís run defense isnít as formidable, however, as the Terps allow more than 200 yards on the ground per contest. Along with the potentially sloppy and frigid conditions, this suggests a healthy dose of Miles Sanders on the way for Saturday (and hopefully Trace McSorley should his knee allow for it).

    It should be noted that Marylandís defense has dropped off towards the latter half of the season. They gave up 52 (45 in regulation) in a wild shootout against the Buckeyes, allowed 34 in a loss to Indiana the previous week, 24 to a lethargic Spartans offense and 33 to a poor Illinois offense to round out a problematic four-game stretch.

    You will hear Tre Watsonís name plenty on Saturday, as the senior linebacker seems to be everywhere for the Terps defense. He has an outstanding case for first-team all-conference honors with 110 tackles and five interceptions on the season. Safety Darnell Savage is a playmaker as well, picking off four passes and regularly blowing up plays in the backfield. The Terps secondary is overall very aggressive, and are used in a variety of ways to bring pressure from unexpected places. Penn Stateís offensive line will need to stay on the ball and communicate to avoid negative plays, something that they have struggled with throughout the season.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Maryland has a very accurate kicker in Joseph Petrino, who just missed his first career field goal on Saturday. The freshman is 11-of-12 with a long of 40. The Terps rarely put him out of his comfort level with long attempts, and his career-high is 40 yards. Junior Wade Lees is an Australian-style punter with a big leg He averages 41.1 yards per punt and has blasted multiple punts for more than 60 yards.

    Running backs Ty Johnson and Javon Leake give the Terps two equally explosive kick returners. Johnson averages 27.2 yards per return while Leake isnít far behind with a 25.6 average. Both have return touchdowns on the season.


    Penn State's 4 keys:

    1. Minimize missed tackles. The Penn State defense faces a big test in the form of Maryland feature back Anthony McFarland. The redshirt freshman has posted back-to-back 200-yard rushing games and McFarland torched Ohio State for 298 yards on 21 carries. The Lions can't let him get in space too often.

    2. Feed the big guy. Penn State true freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Trace McSorley in the Lions' 20-7 win over Rutgers. The 6-5, 258-pound Freiermuth leads the Lions in touchdown receptions with six. Drops have not been a problem for the first-year player.

    3. Slow the Terps down in the red zone. Maryland boasts some impressive numbers when entering the red zone. The Terps have scored points on 28 of 29 possessions with 19 touchdowns. The Lions must make Maryland work for its points.

    4. Commit to running the quarterback. The Terps have been outscored 104-27 in their last two meetings with Penn State and the Maryland defense hasn't had an answer for Penn State's running quarterbacks. Trace McSorley ran for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' 38-24 win in 2016 and Tommy Stevens shredded the Terps' defense for 113 yards and three touchdowns in PSU's 66-3 win on the road last season.

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    Penn state vs. Maryland: Recap



    Recap: Penn State Uses Running Game and Defense To Muscle Past Maryland 38-3

    This was fun, right?

    Despite the adverse weather conditions and a sparse crowd, the Nittany Lions opened up a cold and wet senior day at Beaver Stadium with an excellent opening drive.

    Trace McSorleyís first pass was completed to KJ Hamler, who picked up 34 yards on the opening play. Miles Sanders then broke several tackles and scooted outside down the far sideline to the five. On second and goal, McSorley rolled out to his left and scrambled in for six, giving Penn State the early 7-0 lead just 1:36 into the game.

    The Terrapins picked up one first down thanks to the ground game of Anthony McFarland, but the Nittany Lion defense stiffened on third down, forcing the Maryland receiver to come down just out of bounds.

    Penn State went three-and-out on the next drive, giving Maryland the ball at the Terrapinsí 39. On third down and long, Tyrrell Pigrome found Brian Cobbs deep downfield to the 13. However, a false start on third down led to a field goal attempt, making the score 7-3 Nittany Lions with 4:53 left in the first quarter.

    McSorley, Ricky Slade, and Tommy Stevens dominated the next drive, going 75 yards in eight plays, with a 20-yard touchdown run by the fifth-year senior quarterback capping off the drive, and giving Penn State the 14-3 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

    The Terps again pushed into Penn State territory on the ensuing drive, led by McFarland and Javon Leake, but Pigromeís third down pass was wide of its target.

    Backed up to the six on Penn Stateís next offensive series, Sanders and McSorley got the quarterback some more room out to the 25. Number 9 then set the record for career completions at Penn State (originally held by Christian Hackenberg with 693) with a short completion to DeAndre Thompkins. The drive stalled, but Gillikin boomed a 49-yard punt to back up the Terps deep in their own territory.

    Yetur Gross-Matos exploded in the backfield for a seven-yard tackle for loss on the ensuing drive, leading to yet another punt for Maryland.

    The Nittany Lions took the ball 63 yards on the next possession, strengthened by the overturning of a Antwaine Richardson interception, as well as a 21-yard strike from McSorley to Thompkins. The drive ended there, and Jake Pinegarís 25-yard field goal made it 17-3 at halftime. Penn Stateís offense generated 15 first downs, and nearly 300 yards of offense en route to the two touchdown advantage.

    Kevin Givens started the second half with his second sack, and after a tackle for loss and a short run, it was Penn Stateís ball again.

    Starting at their own 14, McSorley fired across the middle to Jahan Dotson for 22 yards, and gave way to Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade, who gashed the Terrapin defense. Slade punctuated the 86-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run and the home team opened up an insurmountable advantage at 24-3.

    Gross-Matos made a critical tackle for loss on Marylandís next drive, eventually leading to a missed 31-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.

    The Nittany Lions werenít done scoring, as Pat Freiermuth and Juwan Johnson each had two receptions on the ensuing drive, with Freiermuthís 5-yard reception making it 31-3 good guys. Penn State tacked on another touchdown with a Slade 1-yard touchdown run to make it 38-3.

    Trace McSorley finished his final regular season game with 294 total yards and three total touchdowns, while Sanders finished with his fifth 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 128 yards on 14 carries. Defensively, Kevin Givens registered two sacks, while Yetur Gross-Matos had three and a half tackles for loss. It was an explosive offensive show for Penn State with 565 yards of offense, including 310 on the ground.

    A much-needed impressive performance on both sides of the ball for the Nittany Lions, as they improve to 9-3 and await their bowl fate following next weekís championship game action. Did they do enough to get into the New Yearís Six? Stay tuned...


    5 Postgame Thoughts:

    Trace McSorley, Take a Bow

    The senior quarterback struggled through the toughest season of his career as a redshirt senior in Happy Valley, but in the end, guided his team to another nine-win regular season. We'll have plenty more content on the winningest-quarterback in Penn State history in the coming days and months, but hats off to him for ending his regular season with a 294 total yard, three touchdown day.

    Ricky Rahne Stepped Up

    The offensive play calling against Maryland was pretty great for the most part. Had the receivers caught everything thrown their way, the overall numbers would look even better. But the somewhat-maligned offensive coordinator called a nice game for McSorley's Beaver Stadium finale that showed off the best parts of this offense. Sanders was given the ball in space, Hamler was featured on short routes, Dotson and Freiermuth were used on deep-developing crosses and posts- it was great.

    the Defense Didn't Miss Many Tackles

    One of the issues that plagued the Penn State defense early in the season was missed tackles, and boy, were there a lot of them. As the season turned over, though, the defense really started to find its way. Still, one of the constants was a deficiency in terms of wrapping up opposing ball carriers in space. Against Maryland, however, they did a very good job of making sure that the Terps were not gaining extra yardage- which is especially important against a team with their kind of rushing ability.

    The Future is Ridiculously Bright For This Team

    By the time 2019 rolls around, gone will be McSorley, Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, Koa Farmer, DeAndre Thompkins, and others. But there is an unbelievably talented young core on this roster that is going to be a problem for future opponents. Micah Parsons, P.J. Mustipher, Pat Freiermuth, Jahan Dotson, and K.J. Hamler are just a few of those names, but there are even more whose impacts have yet to be felt. Penn State fans will dearly miss this year's graduates, but there is a group that will return next year with the chance to do some truly special things.

    These Seniors Deserve Everything

    Everyone surely knows this by now, but this group of redshirt seniors committed to Penn State alongside James Franklin, and they did so thinking that they wouldn't be playing in a bowl game for their first two years. This group has meant everything to this university and have provided countless memories for fans that will never be forgotten. They still have one more chance to put on the uniform in the upcoming bowl game, but seeing them finish off their up-and-down regular season with a big-time win induced all the warm and fuzzy feelings.


    Position Grades: Penn State vs. Maryland



    Quarterback: A

    Trace McSorley was determined to end his final game in Beaver Stadium in style, running for a pair of TDís and throwing for another. Tommy Stevens saw some action after McSorley was pulled, and did a decent amount of showcasing why the offense will not skip a beat despite Trace not being under center.

    Running Back: A-

    Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade provided a soild one-two punch in the PSU ground attack. Miles led all rushers with 128 yards, but it was Slade who took a couple of carries into the opposing end zone and made folks

    Wide Receiver/Tight End: A-

    Pat Freiermuth caught a TD, while KJ Hamler led all receivers with 90 yards on three catches, including a big gain on a hook and lateral play reminscient of Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

    Offensive Line: A

    Is it really a coincidence that when Connor McGovern started at center (like he did all of last year) instead of Michal Menet, the O-line had one of their best performances of the season? Me thinks not.

    Defensive Line: A

    This unit accounted for 9 of PSUís 15 total tackles for a loss. Yetur-Gross Matos led the way, as he consistently made life difficult for Marylandís stable of running backs to get any rhythm going, accounting for 3.5 TFL. Kevin Givens also tallied a pair sacks, while Robert Windsor earned a sack as well.

    Linebacker: A

    Along with the D-line, the linebackers played a significant role in holding Maryland to less than 100 yards rushing. Micah Parsons has fully blossomed and matured into the role of linebacker, and that is where you should him starting going forward.

    Secondary: A-

    The secondary did give up a couple of deep balls, which wasnít ideal. However, they clamped down and helped in run support.
    Special Teams: B+

    The opening kickoff was damn near a disaster and kickoff coverage at times seemed spotty, but other than that, it was a solid day as Jake Pinegar nailed his lone field goal attempt and Blake Gillikin was once again, effective at punting.

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    Where Did The Time Go? Another Regular Season Is In The Rear View Mirror

    It is hard to believe that another college football regular season is in the books for Penn State. With a finish of 9-3 and a bowl game destination to be revealed in the coming weeks, there is one more chance to add a cherry on top of this enjoyable season.

    A third 10-win season would be a great way to send off three-year starting quarterback Trace McSorley. In a cold, wet stadium, the grizzled veteran led his team to an easy victory versus Maryland.

    The fans that made their way to State College and weathered the elements were just as valiant as the players on the field. Conditions were less than perfect, with temperatures hovering around freezing for most of the game, precipitation soaking everyone. While Beaver Stadium was not full to capacity, and the tailgating situation was a drag for the most part, there was enough noise coming from the stands to give the team the boost that it needed early in the game.

    It was a nice, easy win to close out the regular season. Now we will wait for the location of the bowl game to be revealed; the final chapter in the 2018 Penn State football season.

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    Penn state vs. Kentucky: Citrus bowl




    BOWL: Citrus Bowl

    DATE: January 1, 2019

    LOCATION: Orlando, FL

    STADIUM: Camping World Stadium

    TIME/NETWORK: 1:00 p.m. EST, ABC

    TEAM: Kentucky Wildcats

    RECORD: 9-3

    NOTABLE WINS: @Florida (27-16), Mississippi State (28-7)

    NOTABLE LOSSES: Georgia (34-17), @Tennesse (24-7)

    SCORING OFFENSE: 12th in SEC (26.6 PPG)

    SCORING DEFENSE: 3rd in SEC (16.3 PPG)

    PLAYERS TO KNOW: RB Benny Snell had 1305 rushing yards...WR Lynn Bowden (62 receptions) and TE CJ Conrad (29 receptions) are two solid receiving options...QB Terry Wilson not a tremendous passer, but an athletic option running the ball...Defensively, LB Josh Allen is a freak with 14 sacks and 18.5 TFLs...Strong safety duo in Darius West and Mike Edwards




    Penn Stateís offense has faced some terrific defensive players during the course of a 9-3 season that included some rugged Big Ten foes and non-conference dates with Appalachian State and Pittsburgh.

    But the Nittany Lions may face their biggest challenge to date in the form of Kentucky senior outside linebacker-rush man Josh Allen.

    PSU and the Wildcats meet in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl in Orlando, it was announced on Sunday afternoon. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. at Camping World Stadium and be televised on ABC. The Lions were No. 12 in the final College Football Playoff top-25, and the Wildcats finished at No. 14.

    Kentucky (9-3) is trying to finish off an impressive season that saw the Wildcats vanquish Florida (27-16), Joe Moorheadís Mississippi State squad (28-7) and South Carolina (24-10).

    The Wildcatsí losses this season were to Texas A&M (20-14), Georgia (34-17) and Tennessee (24-7).

    Mark Stoops, the brother of former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, is in his sixth season at Kentucky. Prior to that, Stoops served as the Florida State defensive coordinator under Jimbo Fisher.

    So Stoops knows how to build a defense and the star of the show at Kentucky is the 6-5, 260-pound Allen, who is from Montclair, N.J.

    Allen, who wears No. 41, is finalist for a slew of major awards after racking up 18.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Allen is in contention to win the Bednark Award (outstanding defensive player), the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player) and the Butkus Award (top linebacker).

    Allen is also one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year award. He is the only defensive player in contention for the award. Allen, who is a possible top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, has accepted an invitation to play in the prestigious Senior Bowl.

    The Kentucky offense is led by running back Benny Snell and dual-threat quarterback Terry Wilson.

    The 5-11, 223-pound Snell ran for 1,305 yards and scored 14 touchdowns during the regular season. He had a 175-yard rushing effort vs. Florida and gouged Mississippi State for 165 yards and four touchdowns.

    Wilson, listed at 6-3, 205, threw for more than 1,700 yards with 11 touchdowns and added 518 rushing yards and four touchdowns. In Kentuckyís regular season finale against Louisville, Wilson threw for 261 yards and three scores to lead a 56-10 Wildcatsí rout.

    The Lions are 2-3 all-time in the Citrus Bowl and Penn State and Kentucky last played in 1999. PSU defeated Kentucky 26-14 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. that season.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 12-12-2018 at 19:45.

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    Know Your Foe, Citrus Bowl Edition: Kentucky Wildcats




    The 9-3 Wildcats meet the Nittany Lions for the fifth time since 1975.

    University of Kentucky

    Location: Lexington, Kentucky
    Enrollment: 30,720 (undergraduates and post graduates)

    University of Kentucky Football Facts

    Home Stadium: Kroger Field (Capacity 61,000)
    Head Coach: Mark Stoops, sixth season, 35-39
    Conference: Southeastern Conference (SEC) (Eastern Division)
    Overall Bowl Record: 8-9 (.471)
    Conference Titles: 2
    Claimed National Titles: 1

    Series History

    First Game: October 4, 1975 (Penn State won, 10-3)
    Last Game: January 1, 1999 (Penn State won, 26-14)
    Overall: Penn State leads, 3-2
    Current Streak: Penn State, 2

    Last Season (7-6 overall, 4-4 in the SEC)

    Starting their season strong, the Wildcats won their first three games against Southern Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina, then lost to then No. 20 Florida. Kentucky went on to defeat Eastern Michigan and Missouri before losing to Mississippi State. The Wildcats then bounced back with a win against Tennessee, lost to Ole Miss, defeated Vanderbilt but ended the regular season with two losses against No. 7 Georgia and Louisville. Invited to the Music City Bowl against No. 23 Northwestern in a battle between two Wildcats teams, Kentucky lost 24-23, ending the season 7Ė6, 4Ė4 in a tie for third place in the Eastern Division of the SEC.

    Recruiting and Offseason

    The Kentucky Wildcatsí 2018 class is the nationís 36th recruiting class (11th in the SEC) as compared to Penn Stateís 2018 class, at sixth in the nation and second in the Big Ten (per 247 Sports).

    Last Game

    The 9-3 (5-3 SEC) no. 14 Kentucky Wildcats easily won their last game against the Louisville Cardinals 56-10. Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson, with 340 yards and four touchdowns, and Benny Snell Jr. with two rushing touchdowns were key in the win. Their nine wins for the season was the first time in 41 years for the Wildcats.

    Wilson completed 17 of 23 passes for 261 yards and rushed for 79. A.J. Rose ran for 122 yards with a 75-yard touchdown. For the Kentucky defense, Kash Daniel had 8 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.

    Offense

    Ranked at 100th in total offense, 115th in passing offense, 84th in scoring offense and 38th in rushing offense, the Kentucky Wildcats are going to run the ball Ė with dual-threat sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson rushing the ball or handing it off to star running back Benny Snell.

    Wilson, a JUCO transfer, was the No. 5 overall JUCO player. This season heís claimed 518 rushing yards and four rushing scores, and threw for 1,768 yards with 11 touchdowns for 171 completions of 253 attempts (67.6%).

    Junior running back Benny Snell, considered a top back in the NFL draft, leads the Wildcats in rushing, gaining 1,330 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns this season with an impressive 175 yards rushing against Florida alone. Heís also had 17 receptions for 105 yards.

    Sophomore back Asim Rose (aka A.J. Rose), third in the team in rushing behind quarterback Terry Wilson, has 433 yards and five touchdowns.

    In the very talented receiving corps, junior Lynn Bowden Jr. leads the team in receptions with 62 for 661 yards and five scores, with senior tight end C.J. Conrad second on the team this season with 29 receptions for 297 yards and 3 scores. Wide receivers David Bouvier (senior, 15 receptions, 205 yards, two scores), Tavin Richardson (junior, 11 receptions,102 yards), Dorian Baker (senior, 13 receptions, 133 yards) along with Josh Ali (sophomore, 10 receptions, 115 yards, one score) and Isaiah Epps (sophomore) round out a deep receiver unit.

    The Wildcat offensive line is one of their strongest, tallest and biggest with plenty of experience up front. With three of the five at 6í5Ē or taller, and with three seniors, theyíre going to be one of the more experienced units that Penn State will face this year. Senior left tackle E.J. Price and senior right tackle George Asafo-Adjei, senior right guard Bunchy Stallings lead the unit and are rounded out by sophomore center Drake Jackson and junior left guard Logan Stenberg.

    Defense

    Kentucky has a solid defense Ė ranked 22nd nationally in total defense, 17th in passing defense, 8th in scoring defense and 49th in rushing defense. The Wildcats will pose a challenge for Penn Stateís offense, especially with star senior outside linebacker Josh Allen leading the mix.

    Allen, who has racked up 84 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks this year, is one of the best linebackers in the nation. Heís the winner of the 2018 Chuck Bednarik Award, 2018 Lott Trophy and 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and was named as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-SEC player for 2018.

    The Wildcatsí experienced linebacker unit, one of their best in recent memory, also includes sophomore Jamar ďBoogieĒ Watson (22 tackles, five tackles for loss, five sacks), junior Kash Daniel (76 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) and senior Jordan Jones (68 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks).

    Kentucky is returning quite a few defensive backs including Mike Edwards, the senior standout safety and a key part of the Wildcats defense. Heís second in the team in tackles with 77 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. The Wildcats are also returning senior cornerbacks JUCO transfer Lonnie Johnson (19 tackles) and Derrick Baity (35 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one interceptions, seven passes defended), and round out with safety Darius West, third on the team in tackles with 76 tackles, one tackle for loss and three interceptions.

    The defensive line key players are sophomore nose guard Quinton Bohanna (17 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, one sack) who had a stellar 2017 freshman season playing in most games and starting in five --- along with senior defensive tackle Adrian Middleton (3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks) whoís been starting since his sophomore year.

    Standout sophomore defensive end Josh Paschal had a strong 2017 with 18 tackles, but this former four-star prospect was out most of the year after being diagnosed with melanoma on his foot, and after a quick recovery, returned for a game against Middle Tennessee in November.

    Listed at starter at defensive end for the Wildcats is junior T.J. Carter (13 tackles, two tackles for loss), so whether or not Paschal will start against Penn State in the bowl game remains to be seen.

    Special Teams

    The Kentucky special teams has some deep talent but theyíve struggled a little bit in their kicking game this year. Kicker Miles Butler, a senior, is perfect on extra points (37-of-37) but has hit just five of nine field goals (55.6%). Backup freshman Chance Poore, who was ranked the top kicker in the country by prokicker.com, is perfect on extra points but only 50% on fields goals (two out of four).

    Some miscues aside, theyíre talented and are joined by another top teammate, Max Duffy, the sophomore punter who is top ranked by prokicker.com, who has punted 51 times for 2,284 yards.

    Senior David Bouvier has handled most punt returns with 10 returns for 52 yards this season, with junior Lynn Bowden Jr. handling kick returns with 23 returns for 518 yards (22.5 average).

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