September 2012 Archives

FEATURE: Mauti Not Going to Be Denied

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Michael Mauti is having more fun playing football right now than he ever has during his career at Penn State.

The motto of the Nittany Lion defense is to play like your hair is on fire.  Mauti lives for slogans like that.

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That's the way he lifts weights in Craig Fitzgerald's weight room.  That's they way he practices every single day.  And that's the way he plays on Saturdays.

The inspirational leader of the team set the tone early in Saturday's 35-7 thumping of Illinois with two big hustle plays on special teams. 

Mauti did not get credit for a forced fumble on Penn State's first punt, but Illini returner Tommy Davis heard footsteps and his presence led to a muffed return and turnover before Penn State's first touchdown.  On the Lions' second punt, Mauti lowered the boom on Davis with a big hit after being the first man to race down the field, as he routinely is on every punt.

His performance at Illinois was dominant from start to finish.  Finishing with six tackles, half of a sack and two interceptions, Mauti's stat line doesn't do his effort at Illinois justice.

"Two interceptions is big-time, and he had an awesome game," fellow linebacker Gerald Hodges said.

He and the Nittany Lion defense shut Illinois out three times in the red zone.  The Illini got close to becoming the first team to score a touchdown in the first half against Penn State on Saturday, but Mauti had something to say about that.

The senior stepped in front of a Nathan Scheelhaase throw at the goal line and ran 99 yards before being tripped up just shy of the goal line.  The team gave Mauti a hard time in the locker room after the game about slowing up at the end of the run before falling just shy of a touchdown.

"Yeah, 99 yards without a touchdown, that one's going to hurt," Mauti joked after the game.  "That's going to haunt my dreams, especially because we didn't get any points out of it."

The senior class is full of great leaders, but Mauti's peers recognized how special Mauti's effort was on Saturday and what he means to the team.

"Mike Mauti brings it every play, every game.  He brings it at practice every day," senior quarterback Matt McGloin said.  "He is a very rare player - you don't come across a Mike Mauti very often.  I am happy to be a teammate of his.  I am happy to be a friend of his.  And it is just awesome to watch him play."

The Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week is tied for fourth in the Big Ten in tackles (48), tied for first in the conference in forced fumbles (two) and is tied for fourth with two interceptions.  Mauti and the Lion defense get better with each passing week.  The unit is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 13.6 points per game heading into Saturday's game against No. 22 Northwestern (5-0).

"To me, they are a typical Penn State defense," Coach O'Brien said on Saturday.  "They are doing a great job - and Michal Mauti is one of those guys who played an excellent game."


The Big Ten Network's show "The Journey" could not have picked a better week to highlight the senior linebacker.  The Journey had all access to Mauti last Thursday at his apartment and in the Lasch Building, and they focused on the senior leader at Illinois on Saturday as part of a feature that will air during the show's premiere episode Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The fire in Mauti's hair isn't going anywhere any time soon, and he will show no mercy between now and the final game of his career on Nov. 24.  You can count on that.

"We only have a fixed number of games, so we're going to be just as rowdy and just as jacked up for every game," Mauti said.


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VIDEO: Postgame Player interviews - at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - GoPSUsports.com interviews with several Nittany Lions following Saturday's 35-7 victory at Illinois.  Hear what senior linebacker Michael Mauti had to say about his two-interception day and the 99-yard return.


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VIDEO: Postgame Locker Room & Bill O'Brien Interview - at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Head into the Penn State locker room following Saturday's 35-7 victory at Illinois.  Also, hear from head coach Bill O'Brien following his first career Big Ten victory.


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Week Five In-Game Blog - Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.  Check back often for running updates as the action unfolds.

The Nittany Lions open Big Ten play at Illinois today in Memorial Stadium.


Halftime - Penn State 21, Illinois 0
The Nittany Lions punted on their first offensive drive, but an Illinois fumble on the return set up Penn State's first of two touchdowns in the first quarter.  Fresh off a 94-yard performance against Temple last week, running back Zach Zwinak plunged into the end zone to make it a 7-0 game.  After stopping Illinois on the ensuing drive, the Nittany Lions went right back to work with an eight-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Matt McGloin.  Illinois missed a short field goal in the first quarter, and the Nittany Lions answered shortly before the half.  Zwinak set the Nittany Lions up with great field position after a series of running plays.  McGloin and tight end Matt Lehman capped off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown connection with 3:11 to play in the half.  From there, Illinois marched inside the Nittany Lion 10-yard line.  On fourth-and-goal, linebacker Michael Mauti stepped in front of a Nathan Scheelhaase pass on the goal line and raced 99 yards before being tripped up.  The return was the longest interception return in Penn State Football history.  Despite the 21-0 lead, the Lions had opportunities to put the game even further out of reach.  Nonetheless, Penn State played a good half on the road to open the Big Ten season.

10:22 3rd Quarter - Penn State 21, Illinois 7
Illinois took full advantage of the field position game during the first three possessions of the second half.  After pinning moving the chains to mid-field, Illinois pinned the Lions inside their 1-yard line.  Penn State punted out of its end zone.  Illinois then marched into Nittany Lion territory before a trick play resulted in a score.  Illini tailback Josh Ferguson found a wide-open Spencer Harris for a 22-yard score to make it a 21-7 game.

3:15 3rd Quarter - Penn State 28, Illinois 7
An 18-yard completion to Brandon Moseby-Felder and a 16-yard connection with Kyle Carter fueled Penn State's fourth touchdown drive of the afternoon.  McGloin visited the end zone for the second time on the afternoon with another 1-yard QB sneak scoring play.  The senior quarterback now has 14 total touchdowns in 2012, including four rushing.

FINAL: Penn State 35, Illinois 7
The Nittany Lions capped off their third-straight victory with a second touchdown from sophomore running back Zach Zwinak.  Zwinak finished the day with 100 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.  Defensively, the Lions were led by a standout performance from their heart and soul leader, Michael Mauti.  Mauti was all over the field, finishing with six tackles and two interceptions.  Head coach Bill O'Brien was pleased with the team's effort in Saturday's 28-point victory, but he talked after the game about leaving too many points on the field.  The Lions did not play their best game, but a 35-7 road victory in Big Ten play speaks volumes about the team's preparation for Saturday's clash for Illinois.  The team was amped up to play the Illini all week, and Saturday's effort will continue to build the team's confidence heading into the Northwestern game next week.  Defensively, the Nittany Lions have limited their opponents to just 15-of-42 on third down during the past three games.  Additionally, Penn State has forced 11 turnovers in five games to open the season.  The team's confidence is growing with each passing day, but the Lions still have a great deal of potential.  Penn State welcomes unbeaten Northwestern (5-0) to Beaver Stadium on Saturday for a noon kick.


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Pregame Reading:
- The Nittany Lions arrived at Memorial Stadium just before 8:30 a.m. CT this morning.  It is shaping up to be a perfect weather day for the Big Ten opener.  Temperatures are expected to climb near 75 degrees with sunny skies.  Kickoff will be just after noon ET on ESPN.

- Coming off a 491-yard offensive performance, the Nittany Lions are set to face off with a talented Illinois front four.  Led by Nagurski, Bednarik, Lombardy and Hendricks Awards candidate Michael Buchanan, Illinois' defensive line will challenge the Nittany Lion offensive line.  Penn State will welcome the return of sophomore running back Bill Belton on Saturday, to go along with a deep stable of running backs - Derek Day, Zach Zwinak, Curtis Dukes and Michael Zordich.

- On the defensive side of the ball, Penn State's front seven wants to stop the run first and foremost every Saturday.  This week won't be any different.  Defensive line coach Larry Johnson told GoPSUsports.com this week that stopping the run is atop the gameplan against Illinois.  One dimension of the Illini rushing attack the Nittany Lions need to account for is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

- One side note leading up to kickoff, 10 Illini beat writers in the local Champaign newspaper picked Illinois to win today's Big Ten opener.




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Gameday Photo Blog: Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Welcome to the GoPSUsports.com Gameday Photo Blog for Penn State's Big Ten opener at Illinois.


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Illinois Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Open Big Ten Play

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Illinois Week Gameday Central

Illinois Week Q&A with Defensive Line Coach Larry Johnson

VIDEO: Illinois Week Practice Interviews

FEATURE: McGloin Defines Hard Work


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State will open its 20th Big Ten football season on Saturday at Illinois (2-2) when the Nittany Lions (2-2) clash with the Illini at noon (ESPN).

The Lions enter conference play with momentum following back-to-back wins at Beaver Stadium.  Last week, Penn State tallied 491 offensive yards and limited the Temple offense to just 237 yards in a 24-13 victory over the Owls.  Senior Matt McGloin registered a career-high 318 passing yards in the victory.

Now, the Nittany Lions open Leaders Division play against the Illini inside Memorial Stadium in Champaign.  Penn State has eight more opportunities to run onto the field in 2012 and all eight games will be against Big Ten foes.  The "second" season begins on Saturday at Illinois.  Welcome to the gameday preview.


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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1.  Coming off a 491-yard offensive performance, the Nittany Lions are set to face off with a talented Illinois front four.  Led by Nagurski, Bednarik, Lombardy and Hendricks Awards candidate Michael Buchanan, Illinois' defensive line will challenge the Nittany Lion offensive line.  Penn State will welcome the return of sophomore running back Bill Belton on Saturday, to go along with a deep stable of running backs - Derek Day, Zach Zwinak, Curtis Dukes and Michael Zordich.  The Lions' play in the trenches will be key in not only establishing the running game but also pass protection against the quick, athletic group of Illinois defensive linemen.

2.  On the defensive side of the ball, Penn State's front seven wants to stop the run first and foremost every Saturday.  This week won't be any different.  Defensive line coach Larry Johnson told GoPSUsports.com this week that stopping the run is atop the gameplan against Illinois.  One dimension of the Illini rushing attack is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.  The junior signal-caller is an athletic, dual-threat player with good speed.  Limiting his ability to scramble will be a key area for the defensive line and the linebacker corps of Michael Mauti, Glenn Carson, Gerald Hodges and Mike Hull.

3.  The Nittany Lions have been dominant in the first half of each game in 2012, out-scoring their opponents 55-9.  Coach O'Brien noted earlier this week that a quick start on both sides of the ball is crucial every week, but sustaining that effort for 60 minutes is essential during a road game in Big Ten play.  Penn State played its most complete game on both sides of the ball last week against Temple, and the Nittany Lions want to continue taking a step forward with a complete game for four quarters on Saturday.  That begins with a fast start.

What to Watch For - Illinois
1.  Illinois' defensive line is the top unit on the defensive side of the ball.  Led by Buchanan, seniors Glenn Foster and Justin Staples, along with junior Akeem Spence, the Illini have the personnel to make big plays on any down.  Illinois will be looking to get into the backfield to disrupt the timing of the Nittany Lion passing game on Saturday.  Keep an eye on the matchup in the trenches when the Lions have the ball.

2.  Illinois will be looking to keep the Nittany Lion defense off balance on Saturday, much like Ohio did during the season-opener.  With an elusive quarterback capable of moving the chains with his legs, Illinois' running game will play a big role in setting up plays down field in the passing attack.  Penn State wants to stop the run, but Illinois' rushing attack with Scheelhaase and running backs Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young will likely play a big role in deciding the outcome.

3.  The Fighting Illini will be looking to bounce back from a 52-24 setback to Louisiana Tech.  With it being an 11 a.m. CT kick, Illinois will be looking to come out of the gate fast.  The Illini can ill afford an early deficit following last week's outcome.  Scheelhaase and the veteran members of the Illini squad need to set the tone early in a very big game for the home team.


Gameday Rundown
Kickoff: 11:01 a.m. CT
TV: ESPN - Dave Pasch (PBP), Brian Griese (Analyst), Jenn Brown (Sidelines)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network - Steve Jones (PBP), Jack Ham (Analyst), Loren Crispell (Sidelines)
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (60,670) - FieldTurf
Coaches: Bill O'Brien - 2-2, 1st season
Tim Beckman - 2-2 (23-18 overall), 2nd season at Illinois (4th season overall)
The Series: 20th meeting


The Final Word:
Penn State will open its Big Ten season on the road for the 12th time in 20 years.  The Lions have taken steps forward during each of the four games already played, but Coach O'Brien has stressed all week that the team still has a lot of work to do.  Although Penn State has played superb football in the first half of games this year, O'Brien is looking for a complete four quarters game at Illinois.  Offensively, the Lions will have a stable of healthy running backs to use against the Illini.  Establishing the run is always critical when the Big Ten season begins, and Saturday's contest will be no different in Champaign.  Matt McGloin leads the Big Ten in passing yards and Allen Robinson leads the conference in receiving yards, but the offense will be looking for a strong day on the ground and a consistent effort from the offensive line.  On defense, Penn State has improved significantly on third down in the last two games, limiting its opponents to just 26 percent of their third down conversion chances.  Getting off the field on third down will again play a big role in Saturday's game.  Additionally, stopping the run and tackling well in space are two key areas for the Nittany Lions.  The weather forecast is predicting a superb day for football as the Nittany Lions kickoff Big Ten play for the 2012 season.  Tune in at noon.



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Gadowsky, Players Look Forward to Inaugural Season

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The journey for the Penn State NCAA Division I hockey team took one step closer to opening night with the unveiling of the team's new jerseys at the Penn State All-Sports Museum on Sept 11.

8129777.jpegSophomore forward Tommy Olczyk and sophomore transfer forward Max Gardiner were on hand for the unveiling of the jerseys, and both are very excited to get the season underway.

"It's pretty surreal that this is all coming together," said Olczyk. "The jerseys are just the beginning of it. We've done some team bonding and we couldn't have asked for a better freshman class. Our freshman class is really skilled and can skate. All the returning players are great as well."

Max Gardiner is no stranger to Division I hockey. Gardiner transferred from the University of Minnesota before taking a year off to play for Dubuque in the United States Hockey League. He brings some experience and is excited to join the up-and-coming program.

"It's going to be pretty awesome to be the first Division I team here at Penn State," Gardiner said. "It's an honor. We're really excited to get going here with all the other players on the team."

Olczyk said that the hard-working identity of the team would not change from last year, especially on the backcheck. Both are things are heavily stressed by head coach Guy Gadowsky.

"Coach Gadowsky is always harping on us to work hard," Olzcyk said. "We're going to be the hardest working team in the NCAA, and that is going to come with practice and with good practice habits.

"Backchecking will be our strength. Backchecking leads to turnovers and chances offensively."

Coach Gadowsky brought in recruits that cater to the way he envisions the team playing on the ice. He encourages speed and creativity but also wants his players to be the hardest working team on the ice. The team got bigger up front, as well as on defense adding four players 6-foot or taller.

Max Gardiner is 6-foot-3 and provides a big frame to go along with a tremendous skill set as a playmaker. Casey Bailey is also 6-foot-3 inches and possesses a powerful shot to go with his physical mentality. Jonathan Milley is 6-foot-4 and brings a physical presence the corps of forwards, and Mark Yanis brings his 6-foot-3 frame to the Nittany Lions' blue line.

"We want to emphasize speed and creativity," Gadowsky said. "I think you are going to see on the back end, we wanted to get a little harder to play against. That's where a Mark Yanis comes into play. He really has a presence. He is someone that we identified as someone who will give our back end a bite and make us a little tougher to play against."

Despite adding size and grit to the roster, Gadowsky said that the identity of the team does not change.

"We should be a very hard team to play against especially in the gritty areas and that's where the size comes in," he said. "It doesn't change how we play, but maybe enhances it."

Aside from the new additions to the team, Gadowsky stressed the importance of the returning players from last year's club team, especially next year when the Nittany Lions join the Big Ten Conference.

"The guys coming back are huge," Gadowsky said. "We are going to be in the Big Ten in a year. I think we had a lot of time to develop the foundation and we started that last year."

Gadowsky has already circled a few games on the calendar that he thinks will be good tests for the first year program.

"Wisconsin and Michigan State, even though we are playing them next year," he said. "It's hard to not have that pop out at you. We really look forward to that. Union also is a program that went to the Frozen Four last year. I have great respect for [Union's] coaching staff and how their team plays so that's going to be a tremendously hard test for us."

The Nittany Lions open their season on Oct.12 at home against American International.

Defense Logs Record Streak, Focuses on Fast-Paced Hoosiers

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - Twenty-three days. A lot of things happened during the time period of Sept. 2 to Sept. 25. Penn State football played four games, replacement referees were the talk of the National Football League and the No. 20 Penn State men's soccer team (6-2-1, 1-0) didn't allow one goal in 505 minutes and 56 seconds of game time. No, that last one is not a typo.

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The streak, which is the longest shutout streak this year in the Big Ten, started in the 53rd minute against Georgetown on the second day of September and ended in the 89th minute of Tuesday's 1-0 loss against Lehigh.

Bob Warming's team has acknowledged their streak with hopes of re-starting it on Saturday against Indiana.

"Those are some great numbers," said senior defender Brian Forgue, who played every minute of the streak. "Unfortunately Tuesday we didn't get the stat that counted, which is the win, but we will start streaks like that again against Indiana on Saturday."

The Nittany Lions shut out West Virginia, Albany, Adelphi and Wisconsin during the streak, going 3-0-1 while scoring a combined five goals. Warming credits his back line, but also the team as a whole for playing complete team defense.

"We defend with 11 players. We attack with 11 players," said Warming. "We wouldn't be in this kind of streak that we had without the great pressure our forwards put on. Its all credit to the 10 players in front of the goal keeper and what they are doing."

Three of the four defenders that make up the back line for Penn State were not starters last year, including Forgue, junior Martin Seiler and freshman Shane Campbell. The lone returner, John Gallagher, played every minute except one during the streak.

Gallagher is the veteran of the back four, but has seen his role emerge as more of an attacker in the 2012 season, which has left the three newcomers to take over and anchor the back line for Penn State.

"I think they have made a lot of progress as a group," said Warming. "They are great when they get criticized in film and don't take it personally and use it as something they want to get better on."

The improvement has been clear since the 2-1 loss to Georgetown and the development of not only the Nittany Lion back line, but also the team as a whole has played a big part in their defensive successes.

Seiler believes that the team's improvement began when the decided to adjust their style of play and became comfortable with keeping the ball on the ground, instead of in the air.

"At the beginning of the season we kicked a lot more balls up top and in the air," said Seiler. "Now we are focusing on building the game from our goal keeper playing the ball to our center backs and outside backs and getting it through the middle."

Communication has been a focal point for Forgue and the defense since day one, and he said that the development of their mentality of working as a group has allowed them to focus on the simple things of playing good defense.

"There is no individual on the back line," said Forgue. "You work as a unit, as a group. You can't have any individuals and that is really apparent right now."

Seiler, Forgue and Warming all stressed the importance of continuing their defensive success against No. 10 Indiana (6-2-1, 1-0) on Saturday, but they know Indiana is a completely different team than those they have played in the past.

Indiana has scored 15 goals this season, which leads the Big Ten; led by sophomore Eriq Zavaleta's seven. Penn State will have to adjust to the 4-2-3-1 system that the Hoosiers will bring to Jeffery Field.

"There is only one true guy up there," said Warming. "You can't let that one guy determine where you set your back line. Have to keep the back line connected to the midfield. It will be a big challenge for our guys but we are really looking forward to it."

Penn State and Indiana have split their last 10 meetings, including a 1-0 victory for the Hoosiers last season. The Nittany Lions and their defense hope to avenge that loss Saturday at 7 p.m. at Jeffery Field.

Illinois Week Q&A with Asst. Coach Larry Johnson

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions open their 20th season in the Big Ten on Saturday with a noon kick (ESPN) at Illinois.

As the team puts its final touches on the gameplan, GoPSUsports.com sat down with defensive line coach Larry Johnson to talk about Illinois preparations.


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GoPSUsports.com: You have a lot of hard-working guys in your group right now.  What do you like about coaching this particular group?
Johnson
: "We have a bunch of guys who are overachievers.  They work hard.  They listen.  I really like their spirit.  They practice hard.  They have a good understanding of the history of our room.  It has really been a blessing to walk into the room every day and see these guys, and then get a chance to see them work hard on the field."

GoPSUsports.com: What's the biggest thing you feel like your group has improved on since the start of camp?
Johnson
: "I think being consistent.  You can see from game one to the point we are at right now how consistent we are starting to be."

GoPSUsports.com: You've had a couple injuries, but that has opened the door for some younger guys to step in and play a lot for you.  What has that done to the overall depth of your unit with the quantity of guys who have stepped in and played this year?
Johnson
: "It is a great.  It is a two-fold.  It helps us this year, but it will even help us next year.  That has really been a big part of our success.  We have some young guys get playing time, and then they come back next year and will be that much better.  In that sense, having young players play early is really good.  They have all done a great job.  I have been really pleased with the way each guy has stepped in."

GoPSUsports.com: What is Jordan Hill like to coach?
Johnson
: "I will tell that he is once in a lifetime guy to get in the room, not only football stuff but he has great character and he is a great kid.  He is a great believer in you.  If you believe in him, he believes in you.  He trusts you.  That says a lot about him.  I think he is a special player.  When you can have those kinds of qualities, you just wish the best for him in everything he does in life.  He deserves a chance to be successful because he works at it.  In the classroom and off the field, he cares about people.  He cares about his teammates.  He is just a special guy to be around."

GoPSUsports.com: The first thing Coach O'Brien mentions with Jordan is his motor.  When you have a leader who works as hard as he does, what does that do for the younger guys?
Johnson
: "When you turn a videotape on, you want your senior players to be the yardstick for your younger players to look and say, 'this is how it is supposed to be done.'  And it is nice to be a coach because you can always find a piece on Jordan and say this is how you are supposed to do it.  This how hard you are supposed to work.  He has been around some great players, and he has played with some great players.  So, he has learned that way also.  He's got the yardstick, and he is moving it.  Now, the younger players are watching him."

GoPSUsports.com: Talk about the way Deion Barnes has evolved.
Johnson
: "I think Deion has probably been a surprise.  He had some brightness during his freshman year, but he just wasn't quite strong enough to put in the rotation, so we decided to redshirt him.  With what he has brought to the table now, we are just trying to make Deion a complete player - to play the run, to play the pass.  And that is the challenge for young players until they get developed.  He has done a great job, though.  He has stepped in and been in some battles.  The future is really bright for him.  He just needs to continue working and continue to be consistent.  But I am pleased with how he has done so far."

GoPSUsports.com: What do you like about the way the collective defense has strung together three good games in a row?
Johnson
: "I think it has a lot to do with our leadership.  We have great leadership at all three ends.  We have great leadership in the secondary.  Obviously, we have great leadership with the linebackers.  And we have great leadership with the front four.  When you have a great leader in each of those groups, it kind of pulls it together.  It is a very close-knit group, and they lover playing with each other.  They really love to play on the field with one another.  When you have that kind of energy, you play harder that way.  It makes it exciting to watch.  I think that is why they are playing so well."

GoPSUsports.com: When you look at Illinois' offensive front on tape, what do you see from that group?
Johnson
: "They are big.  They are your typical Big Ten offensive line guys.  They are long, athletic.  They've had some injuries, but they will put the five best guys on the field.  It will be a very high-energy game.  They are coming off a loss and we are coming in on a high, so they are going to be ready for us.  It will be a challenge for us.  This is the first tall, long front we have seen, so it will be challenging."

GoPSUsports.com: What are the keys to the game?
Johnson
: "We have to stop the run.  We have to stop Nathan (Scheelhaase) if he is the starting quarterback.  We can't give him scramble yards.  Those are the things that kill you.  You have everybody covered and then he runs 15 yard for a first down.  We have to do a great job containing the quarterback.  Once we stop the run game, then we can get at the passer.  Going into the game, stop the quarterback and the scramble part of the offense, stop the run and then play consistent."


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VIDEO: Maddie Martin & Deja McClendon Interview Coach Aird

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The top-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team heads on the road this weekend with matches at Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Outside hitters and broadcast journalism majors Maddie Martin and Deja McClendon interview assistant coach Steve Aird to preview the weekend's road matches.


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VIDEO: Illinois Week Practice Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach and cornerback Stephon Morris following Wednesday's practice during Illinois week.  The Nittany Lions open Big Ten play at Illinois on Saturday at noon (ESPN).


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Depth Drives Women's Soccer with Ohio State Ahead

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eighth-ranked Penn State women's soccer, a perfect 3-0 in conference play, has set its sights on rival Ohio State for a Thursday night game in Columbus, Ohio.

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The Nittany Lions (8-2, 3-0 Big Ten) are coming off of a statement weekend where they defeated Northwestern and Illinois handily on the road, outscoring their opponents by a count of 8-1.  Junior forward Maya Hayes led the way with three goals and an assist through both games, followed by senior Christine Nairn, who scored twice against Illinois.  The defense tallied its fourth shutout of the season.

The players returned to Happy Valley pleased with their performance, but promptly turned their attention to the Buckeyes as soon as practice began.

"I think our team confidence is pretty high, but I think that we all know that we have much higher goals this year for our team," said sophomore defender Kori Chapic.

"These guys are flying," said head coach Erica Walsh on the team's confidence.  "They're enjoying the season, but they're taking one game at a time."

Penn State faces a third consecutive road test at Ohio State (7-3, 2-1 Big Ten), a team that is an undefeated 6-0 at home.  The Buckeye defense has allowed just five goals through the first ten games with six shutouts and the offense is headed by Tiffany Cameron, who has found the back of the net nine times thus far.  Regardless, the Nittany Lions are excited for the challenge

"It's Ohio State," said senior midfielder Christine Nairn.  "We like our matchups with them and we know they are a good team, a strong team and we're looking forward to the game."

Ohio State has yet to face an offense as dynamic and prolific as Penn State's. The Nittany Lions have scored 31 goals by 10 different players in 2012, compared to the Buckeyes' 14, and haven't been held scoreless once this season.  The team is confident and understands that the key to overpowering their opponent will be to play their style of soccer.

"I think if we focus on us and focus on the details and our shape and finishing, I think we'll be fine," said Nairn.  "This game is going to be a huge game, it's a huge rivalry, but if we stick to what we're good at I think we'll be alright."

The desire to win will also be crucial, as the Nittany Lions will face a hostile environment and a daunting defense, but if the players meet the challenge head on, then they will be tough to defeat.

"I think that this game is really going to be who wants it more," said Chapic.  "We're going to have a lot of adversity to deal with and I think that, as a team, when we step up and overcome that, we're a very difficult team to beat."

Depth has been instrumental to Penn State's success of late.  Injuries plagued the Nittany Lions early on with losses on defense in the forms of senior starter Lexi Martin and sophomore starter Jackie Molinda.  Offensively, Penn State has yet to see junior forward Taylor Schram take the field, who is still suffering from concussion symptoms.

Fortunately, the Nittany Lions have a talented roster from top to bottom.  Chapic and sophomore defender Whitney Church emerged as leaders on defense and freshmen Mallory Weber and Corey Perrson have enhanced an already capable attack.

"We have a lot of people stepping up in very important positions," said Chapic.  "All making huge impacts right off the bat."

"[Depth] could be the single most important factor in our confidence right now in that there's so many interchangeable parts," added coach Walsh.  "They're doing a good job of learning how to play the game rather than learning how to play their position right now."

Penn State's greatest strength lies in its one team mentality.  The players know they can trust each and everyone of their teammates to come through in a critical situation.

"I like our unit," said coach Walsh.  "I think that's our strength right now is I don't see a weakness in our core and I think that extends through our roster right now."

The Nittany Lions travel to Ohio State for an 8 p.m. start time Thursday night, followed by a home game against Minnesota on Sunday.

VIDEO: Derek Day & Mike Hull Q&A - Illinois Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior running back Derek Day and sophomore linebacker Mike Hull leading up to Saturday's contest at Illinois.

Derek Day



Mike Hull




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Week 5 Presser Roundup - Coach O'Brien Previews Illinois

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following two-straight victories, the Nittany Lions will open their 20th Big Ten season on Saturday at Illinois.

Head coach Bill O'Brien met with the media on Tuesday to preview the conference opener.  Take a look through some of his key remarks.

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Focus on Illinois
Coach O'Brien said on Tuesday the team's focus is solely on preparing for Saturday's Big Ten opener in Champaign.  The Nittany Lions practiced on Monday afternoon in shells to kick off game week.  O'Brien wants to see the team continue to step forward.  Winning two-straight games sends the team into conference play with confidence, but Coach O'Brien stressed on Tuesday that there is a lot of work yet to be done.

"The biggest thing is that this is our first Big Ten game," O'Brien said.  "Our players are very focused on the Big Ten schedule.  I believe that our players are really focused this week on building on what they did well in the Temple game and improving in areas where we really need to improve as it relates to the Temple game.  They're not concerned with anything other than playing a tough road game in Champaign against a good Illinois team."

Nittany Lions Getting Healthier
Penn State will head into the Big Ten season with relatively healthy roster.  Sophomore running back Bill Belton practiced on Monday and is expected to play.  The same is true for fellow running backs Derek Day (shoulder) and Curtis Dukes (thigh).  Michael Zordich (bruised knee) is also expected to return to the practice field on Tuesday.  Coach O'Brien labeled defensive end Sean Stanley (back) as probable for Saturday and defensive end Pete Massaro will likely not play this week.

In addition to the four running backs listed, Zach Zwinak turned in the best performance of his career on Saturday, tallying 94 yards.  When asked what the running back rotation will look like at Illinois, Coach O'Brien had this to say:

"It's tough to use all five.  I definitely see us using two or three," O'Brien said.  "Depends how they practice during the week.  So, again, I went into their meeting yesterday and told them, Hey, look, guys, we got five guys that are good players, tough guys, love coaching them, so let's go out and practice well and decide then we'll as a coaching staff who's going to play on Saturday."


Quick Starts
Penn State has out-scored its opponents 55-9 during the first half this season.  Coach O'Brien noted the importance of quick starts in games, but also ensuring the team comes out of the locker room following halftime with the same intensity level.

"I know that we stress trying to get off to a fast start," O'Brien said.  "We've done a decent job of that.  On the flip side of that now, when we go in at halftime we got to come out and do a better job in the second half, especially getting off to another fast start.   We are thinking about different ways to get ourselves kick started in the second half, because it's a four‑quarter game.  It's great to start the game well, but it's really how you finish the game.  So we've got to do a better job in the second half."

Defensive Third Down Improvement
Penn State's defense has improved each week, just like the collective football team has.  One of the big areas of improvement Coach O'Brien stressed on Tuesday is the defense's play on third down.  During the first two weeks, Penn State's defense allowed its opponents to convert on 61 percent of their third downs.  In the second two games, Penn State has allowed its opponents to convert on just 26 percent of their third down opportunities.

Big Ten Road Openers

The Nittany Lions will open the 2012 Big Ten slate on the road in Memorial Stadium.  This season's clash at Illinois marks the 12th time in 20 seasons that Penn State will open the Big Ten schedule with a road game.  The Nittany Lions will also open the 2013 Big Ten season on the road at Indiana.

Adjusting as New Head Coach
One thing to keep in mind as the Nittany Lions enter week five of the 2012 campaign is that Coach O'Brien is just five weeks into his first season as a head coach.  He talked in detail on Tuesday about how the learning process is going thus far in his transition from offensive coordinator to head coach.

"It's a huge difference," O'Brien said.  "When you're an assistant coach, an offensive coordinator, the offense goes out there, you either score, you punt, or you turn it over.  Hopefully you don't punt or turn it over, but you come to the bench and make adjustments with your offense.  As a head coach, you have to understand one thing is game management.  How is the game being played?  How is your defense playing?  That's going to affect how you call plays on offense.  What is going well on offense?  You want to stick with that.  What can you do that will put the defense in conflict based on what you're doing well offensively?  You're thinking about the whole game more.  As an assistant coach you don't call the timeout in the game.  You don't think about the clock as much as you do as a head football coach.  So game management, you know, all the different things that go into that.  I'm involved with the special teams.  As assistant coach you're not involved with special teams at all.  So it's a big difference.  Just like everybody else in our football program, I'm trying to improve every week and trying to get better."


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Blog - Kendall Pierce, Sept. 25, 2012

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The last time I was asked to write a quick blog, was all the way back in summer. It was then, that the women's volleyball team had an event with the Special Olympics for a day full of fun. I now am reporting to you officially fiveweeks into my freshman year. It seems as though it's been much longer than only five weeks, but the truth of it is that it has been.

We all started training early into the summer. Since then, I can respectively say that the Pierce_Kendall (H-12-MS) 6853_.jpgattitude has not changed one bit. We all came in ready to go, ready to sweat, ready to work hard, and ready to work for that end of the year goal. As this goal relentlessly sits in the back of our minds however, we realize that we must take care of what is laying in front of us first. We had a solid preseason, followed by some good preseason tournaments. And before we knew it, Nebraska was starring us right in face. It was extremely exciting to start up the Big Ten season, and we were amped and ready to rumble.

Coming off of a great win over Nebraska we got back in main gym to prepare for Iowa. We knew Iowa was not a team to look past, and our coaches reminded us the importance of playing and maintaining that high level of volleyball, however it was evident that sometimes it is easier said than done. We ultimately did pull out the W, however each and every one of us knew that we did not play as well as we should have. Immediately following the game, we met as a team and made an agreement that we would learn from this, take no team lightly, and get back in the gym to grind it out.

We now are back in south gym, practicing and preparing for our next couple of big weekends on the road. This Friday we take on a solid Wisconsin team, and an equally as tough Minnesota the next day. Without a doubt, both teams will work tirelessly to knock us out, and their crowd will test our composure.

In conclusion, I would like to ask for whomever is reading this to say a little prayer for a dear friend of the team. Jay Thomas, a big fan of the sport and team was always such an inspiration cheering us on at every game and a couple of our practices. He was always handing out high fives and putting smiles on our faces. Truly an inspiring kind of guy.

Playing hard for you this weekend. Rest in Peace, Jay

-Kendall Pierce #3

 

FEATURE: McGloin Defines Hard Work

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Confidence has never been a problem for Matthew McGloin.

Tell him that he cannot do something, and McGloin will set out to prove you wrong.

Every day, the signal-caller walks onto the practice field or into the film room wanting to be the best.

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His scholastic career is living proof of that.  McGloin was a three-sport standout at West Scranton High School, earning 10 varsity letters before graduating.  On the gridiron, he threw for 5,485 career yards with 58 touchdowns.  He was a three-year starter on the basketball team, scoring more than 1,300 career points.  McGloin was also a three-year starter as an infielder and pitcher on the baseball team, batting over .400 and tallying a 7-0 mark on the mound as a senior.

Despite throwing for more than 5,000 yards, the road into the ranks of college football was not going to be easy for the decorated prep athlete.

"I was a good athlete in high school, but I didn't really have anything in terms of offers," McGloin said.  "I was looking I-AA schools or even Division II schools.  I was being recruited by a few schools, like Pitt or Temple, but I didn't have any offers.  I knew that I didn't want to play at a place with just a few hundred people in the stands."

Growing up in a place where football is engrained into the culture, you were "either a Notre Dame fan or a Penn State fan", McGloin said.  So, being a Nittany Lion was always on his radar, but it was not until he received a phone call from former offensive line coach Dick Anderson did an opportunity present itself.

McGloin received an offer to be a preferred walk-on for the Nittany Lions before the 2008 season.  He visited Happy Valley, never had any regrets, and he decided to enroll at Penn State.

Being a walk-on, McGloin knew he was going to face an uphill climb every step of the way in Happy Valley.  As a true freshman during his redshirt season, McGloin was on the scout team offense going against a defense that finished the season ranked No. 9 in the nation.

"It was definitely frustrating at times," McGloin said.  "You think about whether or not you made the right decision.  At times, you felt like you wanted to pack it in and go home."

That being said, McGloin was never going to quit.  If you know anything about him, the bigger the challenge, the more he wants to prove he belongs.

"I always thought that if I packed up and went home, I was letting other people win," McGloin said.  "That's what motivated me early on in my career.  I always wanted to work harder than ever and never give other people the satisfaction or let them believe that they beat me."

It goes without saying that being a scout team quarterback is not easy, though.  Day in and day out, McGloin was in charge of engineering the offense of the week's opponent while going against the first team defense and some of the most talented defensive Penn State players in the past decade.

"That first year when you are on the scout team, it is definitely frustrating, but at the same time you are trying to prove yourself," McGloin said.  "When I was on the scout team, Aaron Maybin was over there, Sean Lee, Josh Hull, Ollie Ogbu.  They weren't taking it easy on you, either.  I was getting hit.  I was just trying to make myself better going against one of the best defenses in the country."

Following his first season in the program, McGloin played in the 2009 Blue-White Game.  He went 9-for-13 for 111 yards and two touchdowns.  His efforts at practice on the scout team and during spring practice did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff and he was rewarded before the 2009 regular season began.

After a practice near the end of training camp in August, McGloin received a phone call from head coach Joe Paterno.  Coach Paterno notified McGloin that he would be on scholarship for the 2009 season and beyond.  As a backup to All-Big Ten quarterback Daryll Clark, McGloin saw action for the first time against Syracuse on Sept. 12, 2009.

"Once you get a taste of being out on the field for the first time you want it constantly," McGloin said.  "From that point forward, I knew that I was going to have to work harder than ever to stay out there."

Move ahead to his senior season.

On June 1, McGloin earned the trust of head coach Bill O'Brien as the starting quarterback heading into the 2012 season.  The hard work from the previous four seasons paid off, and McGloin entered the summer knowing he was in charge of the offense.

At the time, McGloin was just five months removed from the first time he had met O'Brien.  The two immediately forged a bond.

"After that first meeting in January, there was no doubt that this is type of guy you wanted to play for," McGloin said.  "I am very fortunate to have Coach O'Brien and Charlie Fisher in my life right now as coaches and mentors."

McGloin and O'Brien are cut from the same mold.  Both are fierce competitors with fiery personalities.

"We have a ton of fun together; it's a great relationship, but at the same time we both know where the line is between having fun and working hard," McGloin said.  "You don't really see that too often in life where you have a relationship that good with someone who you just met."

Being a quarterback in O'Brien's offensive scheme is no small task.  The quarterback is in charge of orchestrating all facets of the pro-style attack, not to mention learning an NFL playbook.  McGloin worked tirelessly through spring practice trying to learn the new offense, often asking himself when things were going to click.

But as time wore on, he became more and more comfortable running the show on offense and things started to become like second nature to him.  He said that by the time spring practice ended, he stopped thinking so much about what he was doing and just focused on playing football with confidence.

"This is my fifth year.  I understand what to do out on the field. I understand where to go with the football.  I understand when to take a shot and when to get the first down.  In terms of being a leader and confidence level, it all comes with experience," he said.

Coach O'Brien would be the first person to tell you that McGloin has made tremendous progress since the start of spring practice.

"Matt has a really good grasp of the offensive operation and how to run the show," Coach O'Brien said.  "He has worked incredibly hard since spring practice in the film room to get better."

And McGloin's competitive personality fits O'Brien's style to perfection.

"This is a guy that the more you're around him, the more you enjoy coaching him," O'Brien said.

While the two have a tremendous amount of respect for one another, the fiery competitive personalities are bound to clash in the heat of battle.  Right?

"It has been close, but I have held back," McGloin joked.  "It will probably happen later in the year.  No matter what happens, though, it is a great relationship...I think we are too alike to get into an argument."

His journey to the starting quarterback job at Penn State has taught McGloin more than he can ever imagine.  He will reflect on it one day, but right now he has work to do.

"I have a job to do, and if you don't get it done you aren't going to be out there too long," McGloin said.  "I don't really think about anything else.  I don't stop and look around.  I go out there and play the game."

Heading into Big Ten play, McGloin leads the conference in passing yards (251.5 ypg) and is tied for the Big Ten lead with nine touchdown passes.  The senior threw eight touchdowns during all of 2011.  He will head into the conference season off of a career-best 318-yard outing against Temple.

The on-field growth he has made since arriving in Happy Valley as a preferred walk-on is immeasurable, and the journey has not been easy.

Adversity is something McGloin will always talk about when he is asked about his time at Penn State.

From receiving zero scholarship offers after a stellar career at West Scranton to playing quarterback for a coach who guided the likes of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, McGloin's journey in Happy Valley has featured lifetime of lessons in a five-year span.

It is a time No. 11 will never soon forget, and his time at Penn State is something he will cherish forever.

"In the future, when life throws adversity after you, you know that you can handle it because of the things you went through when you played college football," McGloin said.


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With Season Underway, Fischer Eyes Nationals

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Last year, the Penn State men's cross country team finished the season with a bad taste in their mouths, after they didn't qualify for the NCAA Championships.

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It is a feeling that redshirt sophomore Matt Fischer is not intent on repeating for the second-straight year.

"The biggest thing for us is to make it to Nationals as a team," said Fischer. "Its something that we missed out on last year, unfortunately."

Fischer and the team hopes to build on a strong outing at home earlier this season.

After sitting out the squad's first meet at Lock Haven, Fischer led the lions with a second place finish at the Harry Groves Spike Shoe Invitational, a performance that he expected from himself.

"I expected to do well," said Fischer.  "It's a small field and it came against guys that we race against pretty often so I knew what to expect."

With the Nittany Lions set to race again next Saturday at Louisville, Fischer stressed how excited he is to get back to competition.

"Its definitely exciting," said Fischer. "We get a chance to score some at-large points for later in the season."

One aspect about the remainder of the season that Fischer is particularly excited about is the opportunity to compete on a larger scale.

"It's exciting to get out there and see some bigger meets," said Fischer. "It's a fun way to start up the season again by traveling."

While Fischer has gotten off to a hot start this year, he maintained that he is looking to continue this type of performance for the rest of the season.

"I want to keep a level performance throughout the season," said Fischer. "I felt I was a little inconsistent last year."

While Fischer's redshirt freshmen campaign consisted of him finishing in the top seven for the Nittany Lions in every meet he competed in, he still feels as if he has made major strides entering this year.

"I have a lot more confidence this year," said Fischer. "I definitely have a better handle on the way to train."

Fischer was quick to attribute his ability to compete to the training he put forth this summer.

"Last season I trained too hard during the summer but this season I figured out how to have a better summer," said Fischer. "There's a fine line between quality and quantity."

Now entering his second competitive cross country season, Fischer feels as though he has a firm grasp on how to toe that line.

"You don't want to go too hard in the summer but you do want to keep your mileage up," said Fischer. "I think I did a good job keeping my training steady this summer."

Training was just one element that Fischer had to adjust to when he made the decision to redshirt his freshmen season.  Looking back, he feels as though he has come a long way.

"It's a whole different atmosphere with longer distances in college," said Fischer. "You just have to build on it every year and stay consistent and it'll take you to a higher level."

Along with making his own adjustments, Fischer credited head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan for the influence she has had on both him and his teammates.

"She brings a great atmosphere that reverberates to the rest of the team," said Fischer. "We build off of what she preaches."

This atmosphere has created what Fischer believes is a brotherhood among the cross country runners.

"I can't imagine any team in the NCAA being closer than we are," said Fischer. "We're just like a family."

Moving forward, Fischer believes the Nittany Lion's can be successful not just this season, but also for many seasons to come.

"We want to create a culture where we can compete at the National Championships every year," said Fischer. "We want to be the team that starts that tradition."

Though he wants to excel individually, Fischer is completely focused on the goals of the team, not his own personal ones.

"I just want to do whatever I can for the team to be as good as we can be," said Fischer.

However this season eventually turns out, Fischer is glad that he is a Nittany Lion.

"Penn State is the greatest," said Fischer. "I couldn't imagine going to any other school."

Nittany Lions Look to Improve Following Iowa Win

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions took their second consecutive conference win as they defeated Iowa in four sets in Rec Hall on Saturday night. The win improves Penn State's overall record to 12-1 six weeks into the season.

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But head coach Russ Rose was less than impressed with the effort from his young squad, and attributed the better performance of the night to the visiting Hawkeyes.

"We were fortunate that we were at home and I would have expected us to play a little bit better and play a little bit harder but I thought that Iowa had a lot to do with that," said Rose. "I thought Iowa served really tough and they played hard."

Coming into the match at 8-5 overall, the Hawkeyes and Iowa head coach Sharon Dingman left it all on the court after each and every set. Rose said that he recognized Iowa's tough demeanor and that his team showed considerably less emotion during the match.

"The people that traditionally do some things well didn't play as well for us tonight as we would have liked," said Rose. "But it's a match that, if you're fortunate enough to win, maybe you learn a lesson and you go on from there."

And from there, the head coach said that his team needs to put a stop to the mistakes.

At times in 2012, the Lions have been plagued by attack errors and service errors. In the match against Iowa, the Nittany Lions rendered 21 hitting errors and eight service errors.

So when Rose needs his players to step up and eliminate these errors in order to win a match, he gives them a very simple command.

"Do better."

Though the phrase is a short and quick one that Rose uses over and over again inside the time constraints of a single match, his players said that the instruction is one that rings loud and clear.

Junior outside hitter Deja McClendon said that her head coach has nothing to hide when it comes to telling her and her teammates what they need to fix.

"Nothing is a secret with coach - definitely not," said McClendon. "He tells us a million times at practice so everyone knows, or should know, what they need to do. "Especially in a game, you know you feel when you're off and you feel when you mess up."

McClendon registered a match-high 18 kills and 18 digs against the Hawkeyes and provided the consistency that the Lions needed to finish off the conference win.

"We can't start off too lax," said McClendon. "I think that's our problem - and if we start out lax it doesn't ever go well for us so that's what I'm disappointed about."

But the junior said that she and the rest of her fourth-ranked Lions know that they have what it takes to compete and will continue to work on eliminating the silly mistakes and the important ones. At the end of the night, McClendon was just happy to get another win.

"No one's ever going to be perfect," said McClendon. "It's another 'W' in our column."

Unity and Fundamentals Propel Lion Field Hockey

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The similarities between last year's Penn State field hockey team and the 2012 squad are striking.

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After 10 regular season games, the Nittany Lions find themselves with one more win than they had at the same mark during last year's campaign. 

For head coach Charlene Morett, the similar successes can be attributed to a focus on fundamentals and an existing chemistry among her team that carries over from last season.

"This program has always been built on team chemistry and togetherness," said Morett. "You hear coach Bill O'Brien talk about what a special group of players he has--well we feel the same way about our team."

This season's squad returned all but four members of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament Championship team, and only added three newcomers.

"This team is so similar to last year's," said senior Kelsey Amy. "We brought back pretty much everyone so I think working with each other from last year has carried into this season and has really united us as a team."

In 2011, the program defeated Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament title game in Happy Valley, but ended up dropping a close contest to Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But the question lingers--how can this group of Nittany Lions avoid last year's NCAA Tournament fate and get the program back to their first Final Four appearance in five seasons?

Stay united and execute on fundamentals as the season winds down.

"There are a lot of things that have to happen before we get back to that point again," said Morett in reference to a return to the national semifinals.

"If we can do our job in the defensive end of the 25, not give up unnecessary shots and execute on offense--we will be ok."

The Nittany Lions faced four top-10 teams in the first half of the season--a tough schedule that has primed them for the rigor of Big Ten play.

"We can go back to those games and see why we were successful against some of those high quality opponents and know that's the type of effort we need to bring into the Big Ten," said Morett.

Penn State has certainly brought the effort into conference play since joining the Big Ten in 1992.

They lead the conference in inter-conference victories at 106, and are tied with Michigan for the lead in Big Ten Tournament titles at five apiece.  The Lions are already off to a strong start to conference play, picking up wins over No. 24 Indiana and No. 17 Michigan over the weekend.

Now, as the Nittany Lions prepare to face three more top-25 opponents in the final six games of the season, they look back to the season's beginning and learn from what they've achieved so far.

In the first five games of the campaign, all but two of the contests were decided by just one goal. As the team started to become more fundamentally sound and form an even closer bond, those margins of victory jumped to an average of five goals per game leading up to the beginning of conference play last weekend.

The fundamentals--passing, scoring on penalty corners and playing consistent defense have all been coachable aspects of the game for Coach Morett, but the true driving force behind this 10-2 team is their togetherness.

"This is the closest team I've ever been on and I have been here for five years," said fifth-year senior Hannah Allison.

Not only does this team stay close and communicate on the field, but they stand right by one another in matters that aren't even related to field hockey.

"We are closer than ever this year," said goalkeeper Ayla Halus. "We have a lot of fun on and off the field--especially going to watch other teams play."

"We are all one team here at Penn State."

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with several Nittany Lions in the locker room following Saturday's 24-13 win over Temple.


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VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Speech & Interview - Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the locker room following Penn State's 24-13 win over Temple on Saturday to hear what head coach bill O'Brien had to say to the team.  GoPSUsports.com also talks with Coach O'Brien about the victory in an exclusive one-on-one interview.


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Week Four In-Game Blog - Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.

Take a look through the in-game blog from Saturday's 24-13 win over Temple.

 

1st Quarter: 00:06 - Penn State 7, Temple 0

Allen Robinson capped off a four-play, 46-yard drive with a 41-yard touchdown reception. Facing fourth-and-five from the Temple 41-yard line, McGloin pumped once and then found Robinson down the middle of the field in between coverage.

 

End of the 1st Quarter - Penn State 7, Temple 0

Although Penn State scored late in the quarter, the opening frame belonged to both defenses. Matt McGloin and the offense executed a few big plays prior to the Robinson touchdown, but the Temple defense has employed a very successful pass rush that has disrupted the Nittany Lions' rhythm. The Penn State defense has been very impressive on the other side of the ball, surrendering just 40 total yards of offense.

 

2nd Quarter: 10:29 - Penn State 7, Temple 3

Brandon McManus connected on a 33-yard field goal to get the Owls on the scoreboard. With Temple driving down the field, linebacker Michael Hull made the play of the drive for the Nittany Lions, as he sacked Chris Coyer on a key third down to force the field-goal attempt.

 

2nd Quarter: 0:22 - Penn State 14, Temple 3

Matt McGloin's one-yard touchdown rush ended a three-play, 35-yard drive that began with 1:10 remaining in the half. After the Penn State defense forced a three-and-out, McGloin connected with tight end Kyle Carter on a pair of receptions for 13 and 20 yards to set up the one-yard sneak. The rushing score was McGloin's first since the Nittany Lions' game against Michigan in 2010.

 

Halftime - Penn State 14, Temple 3

The Penn State offense has looked very sharp at times gaining 278 yards; however, a red-zone turnover and key penalties have left points off the scoreboard. Matt McGloin has connected with eight different receivers and Michael Zordich has already collected a career-high 62 rushing yards. On the other side of the ball, the Nittany Lion defense has been outstanding, limiting Temple to just 96 yards. Linebacker Michael Mauti leads all players with seven tackles.

End of the 3rd Quarter - Penn State 21, Temple 6
The Nittany Lions have dominated the stat sheet throughout the afternoon.  McGloin is a large reason why that has happened.  The senior quarterback scored his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon, and third overall, in the third quarter to give the Nittany Lions a 21-3 lead.  Temple added a field goal to set the score at 21-6.  The Lions have out-gained Temple, 401-141, through three quarters.  McGloin is 23-33 for 289 yards and a touchdown through the air.  Penn State's tight ends have played a superb game, with Kyle Carter, Matt Lehman and Garry Gilliam combining for eight catches for 122 yards.  Give a tip of the cap to a stout effort from the entire defense.

FINAL: Penn State 24, Temple 13
Statistically, the Nittany Lions played their best game of the season.  The final sore differential may was 18, but the Lions dominated on Saturday afternoon on both sides of the ball.  Offensively, a big day from Matt McGloin through the air (318 yards) and 173 rushing yards, including 94 from Zach Zwinak and 75 from Michael Zordich fueled the Nittany Lions to a 491-yard outing.  Defensively, the Nittany Lions limited Temple to just 237 offensive yards.  Penn State did a much better job getting off the field on third down this week, limiting Temple to just 3-of-12.  Nine penalties for 100 yards and one turnover kept the Owls within 11 points, but it was a dominant effort from the Nittany Lions on Saturday.  Big Ten play begins on Saturday at Illinois.

 




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Pregame Reading:

- The Nittany Lion offense took a big step forward against Navy.  Penn State sustained drives (two over 70 yards), made big plays and improved in the running game.  Matt McGloin has tossed eight touchdowns with just one interception this season.  Allen Robinson has been on a tear with 24 receptions, 107 ypg and four touchdowns through three games.  The offensive line has only allowed three sacks in three games to open the season.  Collectively, the Bill O'Brien-led offense made significant strides from week one to week two to week three.  The unit wants to continue that trend on Saturday against a talented Temple defense that will bring pressure from every angle.  The Lions will see several disguise blitz looks from the Owl front seven.  Establishing the running game and making big plays in the passing game when windows of opportunity present themselves will be key on Saturday when the Lions have the ball. 


- Penn State has forced four turnovers in two-straight games.  Additionally, the Lions have not turned the ball over since the season-opener.  Penn State ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +1.67.  The Lions continue to work hard at practice forcing turnovers.  Will the Nittany Lions likely get four turnovers each week? No, but the turnover margin figures are a huge boost.

- The weather conditions are warm and cloudy with a chance of showers leading up to the 3:35 p.m. kick, but the precipitation chance will drop as the day wears on.  Look for breezy conditions throughout the game, as well.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Gameday Photo Blog: Temple

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to the GoPSUsports.com Gameday Photo Blog for the Temple game.


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Morett's Milestone Representative of Program's Unity

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Speechless.

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For what many describe to have been a first in her 29-year coaching career, field hockey head coach Charlene Morett was at a loss for words following her milestone victory over Indiana.

The dominant, 7-1 thrashing of the Hoosiers served as Morett's 400th career victory as the head coach of the Nittany Lions--a feat that has only been accomplished by three other coaches in NCAA history.

"It is an honor and a privilege for be to be a coach here and to represent all the other coaches here and everybody that has been a part of the Penn State athletic family," said Morett.

Morett began her collegiate field hockey career at the place that she likes to call home--The Pennsylvania State University.

As a Nittany Lion, she netted 50 goals in four years, and became the only player in Penn State field hockey history to be named a First-Team All-American three seasons in a row.

Her phenomenal scoring abilities and leadership earned her the role of team captain of the undefeated 1978 team, and propelled her to a career at the international level as she became a two-time Olympian.

Morett's 26 seasons at Penn State are a testament to her loyalty and determination--qualities that were even evident in her career as a player.

After her playing days in Happy Valley were over, she remained a member of the Nittany Lion team as a graduate assistant and stayed with the squad during her Olympic training.

Her loyalties weren't only extended to Penn State--but her country as well.

In 1980, when Morett was scheduled to make her first appearance on the Olympic stage, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games, and the team didn't see any Olympic action.

This didn't stop her. She continued to train and traveled the world to play in numerous international matches to ready herself for her next goal, the 1984 Olympics.

She went on to win bronze in '84, and 27 years after the 1980 boycott, was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.

After her playing days ended, she became the head field hockey and lacrosse coach at Boston College. In just three seasons with the Eagles, she resurrected the program and earned herself the ticket she had been waiting for--a ticket back home.

In 1987, Morett returned to Happy Valley and was named the head coach of the Nittany Lion field hockey team, filling the shoes of her former coach and mentor Gillian Rattray.

"So many people made my experience at Penn State as an athlete so wonderful and rewarding that I wanted to come back and give back to the program," she said.

In 26 seasons leading the program, she has given back in many forms. But most recognizably in the form of 24 winning seasons, 36 First-Team All-Americans, two Final Four appearances, and of course--400 wins.

But this milestone isn't all about statistics and isn't even solely about Morett. It is about the Nittany Lion family.

"I have the greatest job in the world because I am coaching at a university that I love and coaching with my best friend," said associate head coach Lisa Bervinchak-Love.

Bervinchak-Love, referred to as "LB" by Morett, has been an assistant on the Penn State sideline for 18 seasons and played for the Nittany Lions for three seasons.

The trend of player becoming a coach at the same university hasn't been a rare occurrence in the Penn State field hockey program.

Morett and LB are joined in this list by current volunteer assistant coach Jen Long, who was a standout for the Nittany Lions from 2005-2008, and former assistant coach and player Tara Maguire, among others.

So what is it about Happy Valley that brings these Nittany Lions back and retains them here for so long?

For LB and Morett, it's the unity of the entire university, the athletic program, and the community that surrounds it.

"It's too hard not to love this place," said Bervinchak-Love. "I couldn't see myself anywhere else. I love being a part of the Penn State family."

The unity and loyalty that has been displayed by the coaching duo and by so many other Penn State student-athletes and coaches isn't something that is necessarily coached--but something that is acquired and inherited while playing under the shadow of Mt. Nittany.

"A lot of credit goes to the athletes that come here and that they understand the tradition of success," said Morett.

This year's squad has a clear understanding of the Penn State tradition of success and the importance of togetherness. Even after a monumental win for their coach and their season, the focus remains the same.

"Coach is just a great person and she consistently tries to make us better on and off the field," said junior Lauren Purvis. "Today's game was a great way to open up against the Big Ten and we have a big game on Sunday."

So just like that, 400 wins and a 7-1 victory aside, this squad is heading back to work and focusing on what lies ahead--a tough conference schedule and an exciting postseason opportunity.

VIDEO: Deja McClendon Catches Up With Megan Courtney

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fresh off defeating No. 3 Nebraska, the fourth-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns home on Saturday for a Big Ten contest against Iowa.

Continuing the new video feature for the 2012 season, junior outside hitter Deja McClendon took some time to talk with freshman Megan Courtney about her first season an initial Big Ten match against Nebraska.


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Temple Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Meet the Owls

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Temple Week Gameday Central

Temple Week Q&A with Quarterbacks Coach Charlie Fisher

VIDEO: Temple Week Practice Interviews

FEATURE: Installing the Gameplan


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One week after knocking off Navy, the Nittany Lions return home Saturday to take on in-state foe Temple (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2) inside Beaver Stadium.

All fans in attendance are encouraged to wear blue on Saturday to support PCAR and victims of child sexual abuse.  Fans will have an opportunity to make a contribution to PCAR at the Beaver Stadium gates on Saturday.  The public gates open at 2 p.m.

Last week, the Nittany Lions played their most complete game to date in 2012.  The Lions scored touchdowns on each of their first three offensive drives, and the defense forced four turnovers for the second-straight week.  Penn State kept Navy off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter en route to a 34-7 victory.  This week, the Lions will look to build on head coach Bill O'Brien's first career victory.  Welcome to the gameday preview.


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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1.  The Nittany Lion offense took a big step forward against Navy.  Penn State sustained drives (two over 70 yards), made big plays and improved in the running game.  Matt McGloin has tossed eight touchdowns with just one interception this season.  Allen Robinson has been on a tear with 24 receptions, 107 ypg and four touchdowns through three games.  The offensive line has only allowed three sacks in three games to open the season.  Collectively, the Bill O'Brien-led offense made significant strides from week one to week two to week three.  The unit wants to continue that trend on Saturday against a talented Temple defense that will bring pressure from every angle.  The Lions will see several disguise blitz looks from the Owl front seven.  Establishing the running game and making big plays in the passing game when windows of opportunity present themselves will be key on Saturday when the Lions have the ball.

2.  The Nittany Lion defense aims to slow down the opponent's rushing attack every week.  One week after playing Navy's triple option, the Nittany Lions will again face a dynamic quarterback in Chris Coyer and a veteran running back in Matt Brown.  Limiting the production from those two is an important part of the Penn State defensive gameplan.  Defensively, Michael Mauti has been lights out for two-straight weeks.  Look for another big outing from the senior linebacker.  Additionally, Jordan Hill, DaQuan Jones, Deion Barnes, Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson and Mike Hull will play a big role in trying to limit the production of Coyer and Brown in the running game.

3.  Penn State has forced four turnovers in two-straight games.  Additionally, the Lions have not turned the ball over since the season-opener.  Penn State ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +1.67.  The Lions continue to work hard at practice forcing turnovers.  Will the Nittany Lions likely get four turnovers each week? No, but the turnover margin figures are a huge boost.  Holding onto the football is a key on Coach O'Brien's gameplan every single week, and turnovers will again play a big factor in Saturday's game with the Owls.

What to Watch For - Temple
1.  Temple has played the Nittany Lions tough during each of the past two seasons.  That being said, the Owls will be a confident football team when they arrive in Happy Valley.  Adding to the motivation, Temple has not beaten Penn State since Oct. 18, 1941.  There is no question that Owls will be up for clash with the Nittany Lions, as they are every season.

2.  Temple's senior defensive ends Marcus Green and John Youboty are two players to watch.  The Owls use several different disguise blitz packages to get into the backfield and disrupt the timing of the opposing quarterback.  Green and Youboty, along with the junior tandem of Kamal Johnson and Levi Brown in the interior, need a big game against Penn State's offensive line.

3.  The Temple offensive scheme is similar to Steve Addazio's offense during his time at Florida.  Coupling that scheme with quarterback Chris Coyer, who stands at 6-3, 230 pounds, and senior running back Matt Brown, the Owls have the tools to be a physical offensive unit.  The duo carried the ball 59 total times in the first two games of 2012.  Coyer will spend a lot of time with the ball in his hands, but look for Temple to throw the ball more than it did during the first three games. He is 12-for-29 for 239 yards and three touchdowns this season.


Gameday Rundown
Kickoff: 3:35 p.m.
TV: ABC (ESPN2 outer market) - Mike Patrick (PBP), Ed Cunningham (Analyst), Jeannine Edwards (Sidelines)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network - Steve Jones (PBP), Jack Ham (Analyst), Loren Crispell (Sidelines)
Stadium: Beaver Stadium (106,572) - Natural Grass
Coaches: Bill O'Brien - 1-2, 1st season
Steve Addazio - 10-5, 2nd season at Temple
The Series: 42nd meeting


The Final Word:
Penn State had a very good week of practice leading up to this week's clash with Temple.  Tallying a win last week against Navy certainly gave the squad's confidence a boost, but the focus level has been great since day one of training camp.  This week was no different, and the Nittany Lions have another opportunity to get better before heading into Big Ten play next week at Illinois.  The team and staff are expecting a battle against a talented Temple team on both sides of the ball.  Taking care of the football on offense will again be very important for the Nittany Lions on Saturday.  Keep an eye on the first quarter.  Penn State has been dominant thus far in 2012 during the first period, out-scoring its first three opponents by combined margin of 28-0.  A quick start is always important, but the Lions will be looking to play a complete game.  Coach O'Brien has stressed all week the importance of execution for 60 minutes on Saturday against the Owls.


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Blog - Maddie Martin, Sept. 20, 2012

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All during preseason we were looking forward to the start of Big Ten season and the home opener against Nebraska. This was a game that was highly anticipated by both teams and by volleyball fans everywhere.Martin_Maddie (H-12-MS) 8992_A.jpg

 

We spent the days leading up the match this week preparing as team, watching film and practicing hard. Nebraska is a great team full of talented players, so we knew going in it was going to be a tough match.

 

I couldn't be more proud of my team after the victory Wednesday night. There are still some things we need to get better at as a team, but I ultimately think we fought well as a whole. Long rallies kept the Penn State faithful on the edge of their seats. Consistency is definitely something we need to work on, but Wednesday was the first big step towards our goal of reclaiming the Big Ten title. Go State!

 

Temple Week Q&A with Asst. Coach Charlie Fisher

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions host Temple on Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2).

As the team puts its final touches on the gameplan, GoPSUsports.com sat down with quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher to talk about Temple preparations.


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GoPSUsports.com: Matt McGloin is off to a very good start statistically with eight touchdowns and one interception. What is your evaluation of the way he has played?
Fisher
: "Matt has really progressed from spring practice, throughout camp and these past three weeks.  He's worked hard.  He is a smart kid.  He likes to compete.  I think every week, he has gotten better.  And Navy was his best game."

GoPSUsports.com: The first thing Matt always talks about is decision-making.  How has he improved in that area?
Fisher
: "He is much better.  He is a smart kid.  He understands football.  He loves football.  He works at it, and he has gotten a lot better.  This is a complex offense with a lot going on, and it takes a lot of hard work to be good.  He has made very good progress, and hopefully that continues."

GoPSUsports.com: What have you seen from Temple's defense on film as you prepare for Saturday?
Fisher
: "They are a pressure defense.  They want to see if you can handle their pressure.  They will zone blitz.  They will man blitz.  They are going to find out how bad the quarterback wants to stay in the pocket and deliver the ball.  They have good athletes.  They are well coached.  I saw them when I was at Miami (Ohio) a year ago.  It is the same scheme.  They have good players and they play hard."

GoPSUsports.com: With that being said, what is the biggest thing Matt needs to do well on Saturday?
Fisher
: "He is going to have to deliver the ball with a lot of noise from the pocket.  There are going to be a lot of people flying around him.  We have talked all week about it.  He is going to have to deliver the ball and look right down the gun barrel in the pocket and throw the ball on the money."

GoPSUsports.com: Switching gears, talk about the way freshman Steven Bench has progressed.
Fisher
: "He is doing well.  Steven comes from a really good high school football program.  Football is important in South Georgia.  He likes football.  He works at it.  He has gotten better.  With any young guy, it is a work in progress, so he is going to have days when he is better and some days when he is trying to figure it out.  He has a lot of talent.  He is going to be a good player here.  I am looking forward to seeing how he progresses."

GoPSUsports.com: In this offense, how much work does the quarterback do when he steps to the line of scrimmage?
Fisher
: "Quite a bit.  We talk a lot about organization - getting us out of the huddle, getting is into the right play and checks.  It is a pro-style offense so there is a lot going on with the quarterback.  He has to be on his game and see defenses, see blitz pressures, all those things to get us in the right direction.  Matt has come a long way in that area.  He does a good job, and I hope he continues to master it.  It's a big part of what we do."

GoPSUsports.com: What area have the quarterbacks improved most in since the beginning of training camp?
Fisher
: "I think in our pass-game decision making.  We have done a good job of getting the ball out on time and to the right guy at the right time based on the coverage reads.  It takes time, particularly when you are running a complex offense.  They have done better, and Matt just continues to improve in that area."

GoPSUsports.com: How much does last week's win help with the confidence level?
Fisher
: "Any time you win, it helps bring energy and focus.  But our guys have been focused.  They have practiced hard since they got here at the start of camp.  They give us great effort every day.  We stubbed our toe a little with two-straight close games.  We had our chances, but we didn't quite get it done.  For our players, they have continued to work at practice.  And that is where you win.  You win on the practice field.  When you get your first win that is the biggest one of the season.  It just builds confidence.  We are excited (this week).  Temple is an in-state game.  It is a big game, and we are looking forward to it."

GoPSUsports.com: What are your keys to the game for the offense this week?
Fisher
: "I know you hear this every week, but you have to be able to establish some form of run.  We have to be able to run the ball.  We have been able to get better at that each week.  Temple's not going to let you run easily.  They are going to out-number you in the box.  A really big key is that you need to make big plays throwing the football on them.  There will be opportunities where you get one-on-one matchups outside.  You just need to take advantage of them.  You have to be able to handle their pressure and deliver the ball with people around you.  And that's really going to be the big key, can you make the big plays when they are there."


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FEATURE: Meet Max Gardiner

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By Pat White, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There is much to look forward to with the inaugural season of Penn State NCAA Division I hockey quickly approaching, and one player in particular is sophomore forward Max Gardiner.

8100154.jpegGardiner (Deephaven, Minn.) comes from a hockey family in Minnesota. His brother, Jake, played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin and now plays in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His dad and uncle also played hockey, with his uncle playing at Bemidji State. Gardiner attributes much of his success to playing with his brother when they were younger.

"My brother and I played together outdoors everyday," Gardiner said. "We both helped push each other, and it's been a lot of fun along the way. My uncle and my dad both played hockey, so I've been around [the game] and I've had a love for the game since I was a little kid."

Gardiner brings with him an impressive résumé to go along with his hockey pedigree. Gardiner played at Minnetonka High School in Minnesota and recorded 17 goals and 26 assists in only 17 games his senior year. After graduation, Gardiner went on to play for the University of Minnesota. He collected one goal and two assists in 17 games with the Gophers.

He forwent his sophomore season at Minnesota to play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He played in 50 games, tallying 12 goals and 14 assists, good for ninth on the team in points.

One of the most exciting moments for Gardiner came in 2010 when he heard his name called by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft. It was an exciting night for Gardiner, but he knows that his journey to the NHL is just beginning.

"It was pretty surreal," said Gardiner. "It was an honor to be drafted by them, and pretty awesome to have that much respect from an NHL program. It was a great night, but it doesn't mean anything. I've got to work hard to make it to that level."

Gardiner is listed at 6-foot-3 , providing the Nittany Lions with another big body at the forward position. The exciting part about Gardiner is that his big body comes with a tremendous amount of skill and playmaking abilities. He uses his size to shield the puck well in the offensive zone and drives the net hard.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky said that new strength and conditioning coach Robert McLean will assist Gardiner with his development toward becoming a better player, and possibly an NHL player.

"He has some sweet hands," Gadowsky said. "He's a goal scorer, he thinks the game extremely well and he's a big guy. I think that Rob McLean will be the most important person in his career development, because he is a young guy and can get more explosive. We wanted his skill and creativity mostly and it just so happens that comes with a 6-foot-3 frame."

Gadowsky likes what Gardiner brings on the ice, but he said it was Gardiner's personality off the ice that really impressed him as well as other team members.

"I think he has something unique to offer this team because of who he is, not where he came from," Gadowsky said. "I think he's obviously talented being a third-round draft choice of the St. Louis Blues, but he's a tremendous guy. I think he really impressed the guys on his recruiting trip. We asked the players what they thought of the recruits, and they had an overwhelming response to him as a person. That's the most exciting thing to me."

Gardiner said that the transition to Penn State has been easy and he is excited to be a part of the Penn State community. He also said that getting to know his teammates and coaches have been an easy and fun experience.

"It's awesome out here and I love it so far," Gardiner said. "Everything is top of the line from the athletic facilities to all the coaches. I love my teammates, classes have been great, great professors. Everything has been pretty smooth. Penn State is my focus right now and I'm trying to get better."

Gardiner and the Nittany Lions kick off their season on Oct. 12 at home against American International.

Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Team Dynamics

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Walking onto the pool deck of McCoy Natatorium on any given day, there will be five coaches and two managers standing over the lanes of the men's and women's teams. Some programs have separate practice times and schedules for the men and women, but the program at Penn State benefits from having a combined team where they all train and travel together.

Head Coach John Hargis has designed a program that can manage a team of 66 swimmers - 35 men and 31 women. Everyone starts out together at the beginning of the year, but later into the season, Hargis assigns everyone to a group based on their individual events and the style of training that works best for them. He manages such large numbers by having sprint, short-middle distance, long-middle distance, and distance groups. This allows for the coaches to have a chance to make a more individualized training environment.

"I only see positives out of having a combined team," Hargis said. "There's obviously a difference in males and females work load and the training styles can be different, but it's up to the coaches to recognize that and make those changes. We do have more staff that allows us to spread the work out."

Combining the two teams creates a variable of competition that otherwise would not be as strong.

"It ups the intensity of practice," Hargis said. "Girls go faster to catch the guys and the guys go faster because they don't want to get beat by the girls. Anytime you put athletes together they're going to push each other and make a better environment."

Since most club teams across the country have teams with men and women, the recruits that visit are used to this aspect of the sport. Having a combined team makes the adjustment into college easier because it is something they are already familiar with.

"The recruits come from age group programs that have combined teams so they are used to the environment," Hargis said. "Occasionally you will get an athlete who is looking for a single-sex program, but it's very rare. I always tell recruits - the swimmers can tell you this too - that we are a big family and that you always have big brothers and big sisters to push you through."

Although the men and the women train together and travel together throughout the year, when it comes time for championship season, there are two separate Big Ten Championship meets. The women's championship is one week before the men's and usually at separate locations.

"The way it is now gives both teams an individual championship and they don't have to share that focus," Hargis said. "With the numbers we have of 12 women's teams and 10 men's teams a combined championship would be too big. It could be fun to combine but it would be very long, very crowded and lots of heats. They would have to reduce the travel squad and I'm not in favor of that."

When Junior Mackenzie Powers would compete during her high school season, she had separate teams and would only be around women. She has had the opportunity to experience both types of atmospheres. Since coming to Penn State, she has enjoyed being in a combined team setting.

"I do like having a combined team because it gives you more opportunities to push yourself and creates more competition since there are more people to race," Powers said. "The boys balance out the girls well and keep the environment fun."

When it comes to how well the coaches manage all of the swimmers and their different needs, Powers feels that the coaches do a really good job of handling it all.

"They have the same expectations for the girls and the boys," Powers said. "Being able to have five coaches and four different groups creates an atmosphere that gives the swimmers more attention and allows the coaches and swimmers to get to know each other better."

Freshman Jon Seiferth has only been around the team for a month, but can already tell the strong bond that the two teams share.  He also notices that despite having two different rosters, the school theme "One Team" describes Penn State swimming and diving well.

"Training together brings the team together as a whole," Seiferth said. "You can build new relationships, you have more training buddies, and you push each other. The guys don't want to lose to the girls and everyone is cheering for each other."

A major difference between club swimming and swimming at Penn State is the amount of coaches that are on deck. Seiferth has enjoyed having the extra coaches, allowing the team to split up into different groups.

"When we split up into groups, the coaches help to make it much more individualized and they know what you can do," Seiferth said. "It's a big motivator knowing that they are at the end of your lane and cheering you on during sets."          

VIDEO: Preseason Interview with Coquese Washington

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a Big Ten regular season title and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16, Lady Lion head coach Coquese Washington is understandably excited to kick off the 2012-13 season.

The Lady Lions returned from a European tour in France and Italy just before the fall semester started.  Now, the team is closing in on the first day of practice in October.  We sat down with Coach Washington to talk about last season and what's in store for the team in 2012-13.  Take a look at some great insight on the Lady Lions as they close in on the season.



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FEATURE: An Unforgettable World Cup Experience

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State junior forwards Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram had the rare opportunity to compete with the U.S. National Team at the U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan where they entered as one team with one purpose and emerged as champions.

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"It's kind of hard to grasp still, almost two weeks later, that we won the World Cup," said Hayes.  "It's just amazing to overcome everything.  We learned a lesson in every single game and I think that was the difference maker."

When it came time for the National Team to make its selections, Hayes was practically a lock.  She had played with the team before and had arguably the best season of soccer for a sophomore in Penn State history. Schram, on the other hand, was a different story.

After a concussion removed her from the sport she loved for seven months, the Canonsburg, Pa, native had the opportunity to practice with the team in late July, the last month of camp.  When Schram was informed that she had been chosen to join the National Team she couldn't believe it.  Her first thought was to tell her mother the good news.

"The first thing that came to my mind was 'I need to call my mom,'" said Schram, recalling the moment.  "I called my mom and we both cried on the phone because I couldn't believe it.  It's been a dream since I was five years old and I couldn't believe it had actually come true.  It's amazing."

Representing their country on the international stage would be a humbling experience, but Hayes and Schram learned their part well from a culture that preached Success with Honor and respect for those who played before them.

"We always say to be humble when you put the crest on and to know that every time you put that crest on you're representing those that came before you and everything they represented," said Hayes.  "Every time you step out on that field you play as if it's your last time and you give it all."

When the team arrived in Japan, Hayes and Schram were immediately struck by the warm welcome the Japanese provided them.  They were in an entirely different part of the world and the culture was as pleasantly different as the detailed architecture.

"All they know is we're American and you would've thought we were their best friends and I think that was the coolest part about it," said Hayes.  "They were just so welcoming and so gracious to have us there."

Hayes and Schram spent most of their time preparing and training for the challenges ahead, but when they were free, and not doing homework or watching movies in their hotel room, they were exploring.  They visited downtown Tokyo, the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb memorial, the Japanese Gardens and even the US ambassador to Japan's home where they marveled at the Japanese culture.

"Everything in Japan is so intricate and detailed," said Schram.  "They're such perfectionists and everything they do is perfect, their cleaning, their architecture, everything is so particular and it was really cool to see that."

Though they kept busy, neither Hayes nor Schram forgot their true family back in Happy Valley.  They constantly updated their Nittany Lion teammates on what they were doing and even sent back a special video from the entire U-20 women's national team as a reminder that Penn State was always in their thoughts.

"The [U-20] team would stand behind us and me and Maya just said a little message to our team and then we said 'We Are' and then the whole U-20 team said 'Penn State' and we sent it to the team, which was cool," said Schram.

On the soccer field it was business as usual, especially for Hayes, who scored a hat trick in game one against Ghana.  She tallied four goals in her World Cup appearance and helped lead the U.S. team through group play and inevitably into the championship match against Germany.

"At the end of the day we just came through as a team and that was my focus going into it," said Hayes on her performance.  "Whatever happened, happened from there.  Obviously you have your own goals, but you always put the team goals before yours."

The U.S. had lost to Germany during group play, 3-0, and was an unmistakable underdog against the defending world champions, who had yet to concede a goal in their 2012 World Cup run.  In the end, the U.S. shocked Germany with a 1-0 victory and earned the gold.  Hayes and Schram could barely express how they felt when time expired.

"It was unbelievable to say that I was part of a team that's the best in the world," said Schram.  "Not many people get to say that and it's just incredible."

Nearly two weeks after the upset victory, the concept of world champions still hadn't sunk in.  Schram joked that some of her fellow U-20 teammates would message the group on Facebook, reminding them that they had just won the U-20 Women's World Cup, and the players would all respond with hysterical disbelief.

"It still hasn't even hit me yet," exclaimed Schram.  "We're just all in shock and it's just one of the coolest experiences ever and I'm so blessed that I got to be apart of it."

When reflecting on the experience in its entirety, Hayes and Schram each conveyed a different message they took from their time abroad.  Schram learned to accept the role she was given as a reserve, whether she saw play time or not, and used the opportunity to improve herself as a player and a teammate.  Hayes learned to enjoy the here and now, rather than dwell on the past or look too far into the future.

"I think that going to Japan and sitting on the bench was one of the most valuable lessons I could learn as a player," said Schram.  "I just learned to embrace my role and give everything that I have in my heart for my team and it'll pay off."

"Coach's last words to Schram and I before we left and what she said to us was: 'Live in the moment, enjoy the journey and don't for a second look past that,'" said Hayes, in response to what she took from her World Cup experience.  "That's the biggest thing I took away from it."

Penn State travels to Northwestern and Illinois this weekend.  The game against the Wildcats is slated for Friday night at 8 p.m. and the match at the Illini will take place Sunday afternoon.

No. 4 Lions Knock Out Cornhuskers in Conference Opener

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's volleyball team will tell you time and time again that it heads into every match that it plays with the same goal, the same attitude and the same expectation.

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But if you sat in Rec Hall on Wednesday night among 3,374 other screaming fans and watched the Lions rally back to knock off third-ranked Nebraska, you might make the argument that the conference-opening match felt a bit more important.

The Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers displayed what looked more like a postseason volleyball matchup as each team put it all on the line in the Big Ten season opener. After dropping the first set 25-23, Penn State found momentum and powered back to win three straight sets and take the match 3-1 over Nebraska.

Even Penn State head coach Russ Rose, who was a coach at Nebraska 36 years ago, noticed the intensity during the midweek match.

"That was a hotly-contested match and I thought we did some things really well and I thought we did some things that were characteristic of how we've played lately," said Rose. "It's a nice win against a terrific opponent."

Despite his recent concerns for his team's ability to stay organized and communicate well on the court, Rose said that he was pleased with the team effort that he saw during the match. The head coach recognized that winning against a team that was the number one squad in the country a week ago is something to be noted.

"When you get a couple of heavyweights sometimes it looks like a pillow fight and sometimes it looks like a brawl," said Rose. "It just means that we're capable of playing with some of the better teams and that's good for us to know that."

Up two sets to one heading into the fourth set, the Cornhuskers took a 9-1 lead that looked like it could be the start of a messy game. But the Lions went on an eight-point run to tie it at nine and took the lead five points later to make it 12-11 in their favor.

He said he wouldn't consider his actions a result of being happy, but Rose even clapped in approval of his team's comeback.

"Well we were down 9-1 and we got ourselves the lead," shrugged Rose.

Junior Katie Slay said the comeback did more than just make her and her teammates happy at the time.

"It makes a big difference in the match obviously because you get back into it," said Slay. "But it also brings the crowd back into it which just fires up the whole gym, fires us up and we're really appreciative that we had such a big student section tonight and they brought a lot of energy."

The middle hitter tallied 10 kills on a .600 attack percentage and agreed that the team's one was a joint effort from start to finish.

Junior Ariel Scott had the hot-hand on the evening, ripping 23 kills on .360 hitting and contributing a timely service ace too. The right-side hitter said that her setter, Micha Hancock, was another big part of the team's win as she seemed to have a good vibe with most of the Lion hitters all night.

"Micha and I had a good connection tonight so hopefully we can continue that throughout the Big Ten season," said Scott.

The win over the Cornhuskers puts Penn State at 11-1 this season and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The Lions will continue their conference start-up with another match in Rec Hall against Iowa this Saturday at 8 p.m.

Slay said that there will be no time to rest before her team's next match.

"It's always good to come away with a win but we know it's just the very beginning," said Slay.

VIDEO: Temple Week Practice Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from tight end Kyle Carter and linebacker Mike Hull following Wednesday's practice during Temple week.  The Nittany Lions take on the Owls Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2) in Beaver Stadium.


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VIDEO: Deion Barnes Q&A - Temple Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week Deion Barnes for his thoughts leading up to the clash with Temple.


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VIDEO: Nittany Lion Wrestling Preseason Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The two-time defending national champion Penn State wrestling team is less than two months from its first dual of the 2012-13 season.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with junior David Taylor, sophomore Nico Megaludis and senior Quentin Wright for their thoughts following the summer and heading into the season.


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VIDEO: Matt Stankiewitch Q&A - Temple Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior center Matt Stankiewitch for his thoughts leading up to the clash with Temple.


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Big Ten Season Opens in Rec Hall Showdown

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - If you've looked at the calendar view of the Penn State women's volleyball schedule for this season, you've probably noticed that it is about to start looking a lot different.

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Instead of playing two or three matches in a weekend against multiple opponents in round robin tournaments and sponsored invitationals, the Nittany Lions will begin to play more mid-week matches and primetime weekend matches.

And it's all thanks to the start of the Big Ten season.

The fourth-ranked Lions will take on No. 3 Nebraska at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Rec Hall. The match will feature the first two Big Ten teams to compete this season.

The Cornhuskers held onto the top-ranking in the Division I AVCA Coaches Poll for the past two weeks, but were recently knocked down as they weathered their first loss of the year to Iowa State last Saturday. The loss dropped Nebraska to an 8-1 mark heading into conference play.

Penn State head coach Russ Rose knows that his team's first conference opponent is nothing to overlook. Rose said that the high rankings of Nebraska should be a good indicator to his athletes of just what they are up against.

"That should be enough motivation for the players to get themselves together and be ready to go," said Rose. "If the players get themselves together and do what they're supposed to do then maybe we have a shot."

In their first season as a part of the Big Ten conference in 2011, the Cornhuskers split with the Lions, winning their opening match last September but falling in Rec Hall last October. Nebraska went on an impressive run in conference play and finished its 2011 season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after losing to Kansas State.

For Penn State, with a 10-1 record heading into the midweek match-up Nittany Lion middle hitter Katie Slay said that she and her teammates are anxious for the start of conference competition. But the junior recognizes that the outcomes of the Big Ten matches have a bit extra riding on them.

"Once you get into Big Ten season it's go-time," said Slay. "Every game counts toward the Big Ten Championship and that' definitely our goal so we have to play hard every night."

Rose said that he was unhappy with the way that his team played the last two weekends, and needs to see steady improvement if his athletes want to compete against conference powerhouses like Nebraska.

"Every team you play is a little bit different," said Rose. "The key is to get better throughout the season and the players need to really come to grips with what they want out of the experience."

Blog - Lara Caraway, Sept. 18, 2012

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This weekend we were privileged to host the Penn State Classic where we faced Duquesne University, University of Portland and Eastern Illinois University here at Rec Hall.  It was a beautiful weekend in State College and a great one for Penn State.  Football, men's soccer, women's soccer and women's volleyball all won their games at home in front of our loyal Penn State fans.  The campus was buzzing with excitement.

  

There is always something special about playing at Rec Hall in front our home crowd.  Before this year, I had been to Rec to watch matches and I had a great time along with everyone there.  However, seeing the crowd and hearing the band playing from the court made me even more grateful for the opportunity to be a Nittany Lion. The support we receive is something really special.  This was my second weekend getting to play in Rec Hall and my first time getting on the court.  Honestly, I was not really nervous but thrilled for the opportunity to become a part of the volleyball tradition here at Penn State.  Playing in the gym this weekend was amazing.  I don't think there is anyone on the team who ever takes for granted how blessed we are with the support we receive at each match.  We truly have the best booster and fans.  After our game on Saturday night we had an after game meet and greet with our boosters. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging.  

 

Every time we step on the court and compete we learn more about ourselves as a team and individuals.  This weekend was no exception.  We continue to take what we learn and work hard in the gym to improve and prepare for the matches ahead.  We are looking forward to Nebraska coming to visit us on Wednesday and beginning the Big Ten season.  It will be a great match.  

 

Hope to see you there!

 

Nittany Lions In the Stat Rankings - Three Games into 2012

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions close out the non-conference season on Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. clash against in-state rival Temple in Beaver Stadium.

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With three games in the books, let's take a look through some of the stats and rankings as Penn State begins its second quarter of the 2012 season.

Team:
- Penn State leads the Big Ten in turnover margin, thanks to back-to-back superb defensive games.  The Nittany Lions have forced eight turnovers in the past two games.  Offensively the Lions have played two-straight turnover-free games.  Penn State is +5 in turnover margin for the season (+1.67 per game).  The Lions are also tied for 11th nationally in turnover margin.

- The Nittany Lions rank second in the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed.  Through three games, Penn State has allowed just three sacks.  Michigan leads the conference with two sacks allowed.

Individual:
- Allen Robinson is off to a stellar start to his sophomore season for the Nittany Lions.  Robinson leads the Big Ten in receptions per game (8.0) and receiving yards per game (107.3).  Additionally, the Michigan native ranks 10th in the NCAA in receiving yards and is tied for 10th in the NCAA in receptions per game.

- Senior linebacker Michael Mauti is also off to a superb start to the 2012 campaign.  Mauti tallied 12 tackles against Navy, giving him 33 for the season.  He currently ranks third in the conference in tackling with 11.0 tackles per contest.  For his efforts on Saturday, Mauti was named Big Ten Player of the Week.

- Redshirt freshman defensive end Deion Barnes has three sacks this season, which is tied for the second most in the Big Ten.  Barnes is also tied for first in the Big Ten with two forced fumbles in 2012.  The athletic defensive end notched a sack-fumble on Saturday against Navy to go along with five tackles.  For his efforts against Navy, Barnes was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week.

- Senior quarterback Matt McGloin is first among Big Ten quarterbacks with eight touchdowns through three games.  McGloin ranks fourth in the Big Ten in passing at 229.3 yards per game.


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Minutillo Returns as Nittany Lions Sweep Weekend

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being without one of the most important pieces of its offense, Penn State (5-1-1) welcomed transfer junior Mikey Minutillo back to the soccer field on Friday against Albany (2-4-0).

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Minutillo made his presence felt right almost immediately has he set up the teams' leading goal scorer Julian Cardona for his fifth goal of the season in the 24th minute.

"Julian has only scored goals when Mikey is in the game," said head coach Bob Warming. "Mikey does so much work in the top and his runs are so intelligent and he pressures so well defensively."

Cardona's goal surpassed his career high of four and he has only played seven games thus far this season. It was his last goal since Minutillo went out with a knee injury on August 27.

The goal was set up by Minutillo, but also a great fake from senior forward Minh Vu allowing Cardona to put a move on the only defender covering him at the top of the box.

"Mikey had the ball, took a guy to the end line and played the ball back and outside of the split and I saw him coming so I stayed behind the defense," said Cardona. "I yelled to Minh to dummy it and he had a sick dummy and took a defender with him. I got the ball faked with my left and turned to my right and luckily it went in."

Warming's squad played fast in the first half against Albany in their first game action in over a week. In what Warming called some of the best soccer the team played all year, the passing was what made the team successful in the first half.

In the second half, however, the team slowed down, but by no means was it because they weren't well rested.

"If anything we weren't game sharp by having that much time off," said Warming. "We faded in the second half and we had a few cramps."

Less than 48 hours later, Penn State had to put the cramps behind them as they hosted Adelphi (1-6-0) right after the women's team defeated ranked Wisconsin at Jeffery Field.

It only took just under 27 minutes for the Nittany Lions to get on the board, and once again Minutillo, Cardona and Vu were all involved. This time however, it was Cardona setting up Minutillo for his first goal in blue and white.

"It was fitting today that Julian won a tackle to put Mikey in for the goal," said Warming. "Julian won that tackle, got the ball through to Mikey and he got a great goal out of it."

Minutillo was short for words about his first career goal, but credited his teammate Cardona for setting him up for the goal to give his team a 1-0 lead.

"It feels awesome," said Minutillo. "I have to thank Julian for it, he set me up pretty nice."

The day featured a lot of firsts for Penn State. Warming subbed in 12 different players, which is a season high, including Kelton Cheney who scored his first goal of his young Penn State career.

Cheney, a State College native, was emotional after the game has his parents and grandparents were in attendance to see his first career goal. The goal came off of an assist from fellow freshman Kyle MacDonald, who recorded his first career point.

"It has just been fun playing and getting my first goal," said Cheney. "Kyle gave me a great ball and I was able to score."

His coach knew how big of a goal it was for him to get at home, especially since this moment was over ten years in the making.

"Here's a kid that grew up in State College started coming to games when he was seven years old and here he is a decade later and gets a chance to score his first goal. I am just so happy for him."

Penn State's two wins this weekend kept them undefeated at home, but they won't return back to Jeffery Field until September 29 as they head to Wisconsin on Friday for their first Big Ten match of the season.

Update: Construction of Pegula Ice Arena on Schedule

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By Pat White, Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As players and fans alike anticipate the inaugural seasons of Nittany Lion hockey, the steel structure is beginning to take shape in preparation for the fall 2013 opening of Pegula Ice Arena, the future home of Penn State Hockey.

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Pegula Ice Arena will house both the men's and women's NCAA Division I hockey programs in the 2013-14 season. Current Buffalo Sabres' owner and Penn State alumnus, Terry and wife Kim Pegula, donated $102 million to fund the birth of NCAA hockey in Happy Valley.

Joe Battista, the associate athletic director of the ice arena and hockey development, along with others, traveled to other collegiate hockey facilities across the country to piece together a brand new design for the arena. Minnesota Duluth and Notre Dame were the two main modern arenas that influenced the design of Penn State's new facility. Battista said that while they wanted a modern design, they also wanted an old-fashioned feel.

"We also looked at the traditional hockey barns," Battista said. "Michigan, Boston College, Yale, Michigan State, and we tried to get a good sampling."

Construction of the new arena began beside Holuba Hall, where the former outdoor intramural tennis courts and lacrosse field were located.  The construction crew began clearing the site on Jan. 23, and began excavation in the spring of 2012.

Pegula Ice Arena's Project Manager, Steve Laurila, said that time went very quickly in the seven-month process from an old lacrosse field to what is now almost half of the structure.

"[During the] first week of June, we had enough concrete out of the way to start steel erection," Laurila said. "So essentially, we had [some] of the structure up."

However, there was one minor setback in the beginning stages of laying the concrete foundation.

"The biggest hiccup we had was unforeseen rock conditions on the site," Laurila said. "There were supposed to be rocks that we could pour concrete footings on and as we dug down to low-grade elevation we found out the rock wasn't there."

Despite the one-month foundational setback, the crew was still able to begin erecting the steel structure only one week behind schedule. According to Laurila, that was a crucial part of staying on schedule.


"The goal was getting the steel started," said Laurila. "The steel started about a week later than we wanted it to, but it wasn't a month like the concrete foundations. That essentially got us back on track which led to the elevated decks, and that leads to the interior work being where it is now...We had to work overtime, some seven days a week, six days a week, 10-hour days. That's how we got the steel started."

By the end of September, fans can expect to see the beginning of the brickwork and the erection of steel trusses to support the roof.  What they may not be able to see is the progress being made within the interior of the arena.


"You will really start to see the shapes of the roof take place," Laurila said. "Right now the inside of the building, we are starting to build a lot of the walls, the mechanical piping ventilation, duct work is starting to go in in the event level...Within the next week, you'll start to see the makings of the seating."

Battista said that Pegula Ice Arena will have a few features that fans are sure to enjoy. The student-section seating was designed at the steepest angle allowed by building code and the stadium will promote a loud atmosphere, as they don't plan on installing noise reduction panels. Battista reiterated that one of the many things Pegula wanted for the new facility was for it to be the loudest arena in college hockey.

"It's going to be loud right behind the visiting team goalie for two out of three periods," Battista said of the student section. "In the words of men's head coach Guy Gadowsky 'the loudest, rockingest arena in college hockey.'"

At the current pace, the crew expects the arena to be fully enclosed in the beginning months of 2013. Laurila said that having the structure dry during the winter is critical so that interior work such as plumbing, drywall and ductwork can begin. The goal is by next spring to have a fully enclosed arena complete with side panels around the building.

Right now the construction crew is taking the process one step at a time and remaining optimistic about finishing on time.

"You always have to manage the schedule," Laurila said. "You always have to be concerned because there are always ups and downs, but the goal is keeping the trades that have to come next on schedule. So far we have done that. There are no concerns in being done in a year."

The crew expects the Pegula Ice Arena to be completed by Sept. 5, 2013, just in time for the second year of Penn State hockey.

The Nittany Lion men's squad opens this season at home against American International on Oct. 12. The women's season opener will be Oct. 6 on the road against Vermont.

Simko Uses Olympic Trials as Springboard for Success

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In collegiate athletics, when an athlete goes from competing against the best in her conference to the best in the country, it is not surprising for the jump in competition to strike a chord with the athlete.

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That is why junior cross country runner Rebekka Simko, who had the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Trials in the 800 meters this past summer, knew her experience competing against the best the United States had to offer would be a life changing one.

"It was a phenomenal experience," said Simko. "Just being there around world class athletes is unbelievable."

Although she had just set Penn State's school record in the 800 with a 2:03.09 during the outdoor track season, the Ohio native believes the trials completely increased her motivation after she placed 27th in the field. 

"It put everything in a different perspective," said Simko. "Running against the best gives you completely new goals and aspirations."

The experience not only revamped her desire to train for cross country season, but also her anticipation for it to begin.

"It really gave my summer training a boost," said Simko. "I couldn't wait for the first cross country meet."

Although Simko had grown accustomed to training for 800-meter races during track season, she maintained that the transition to the 6,000-meter for cross country has gone smoother than some would think.

"The training isn't too much different," said Simko. "There's just more miles and tempo runs instead of speed work."

Now more than two weeks into the season, Simko has wasted no time displaying how much her training has paid off, winning the Nittany Lion's first meet, and finishing fourth in their second.

"She's been doing great," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "She stepped into cross country this fall with a whole new confidence and level of ability."

Sullivan believes that Simko's performance last year during the outdoor track season, when she earned Second Team All-American Honors, has paved the way for her success at cross country.

"She really caught her stride last spring during the outdoor season," said Sullivan. "It's all really come together for her."

Simko agreed with her coach's sentiment, and stated that she expected this type of performance from herself.

"I have high expectations for myself," said Simko. "I hoping that I would do well."

Another role that Simko has embraced along with being a star runner is the role of team leader.

"I feel like my attitude coming in everyday has been better," said Simko. "It's been really fun helping everyone out."

Sullivan said that she expected Simko to be one of the team's leaders, and that she could not be more proud of her for stepping up.

"I told her to be herself and that kids would follow her because she's just a tremendous young person," said Sullivan.

One of the qualities that Sullivan believes makes Simko such a special leader and teammate is her sense of humor.

"She's just a wonderful girl but she's really funny," said Sullivan. "She has a real honest sense of humor."

Simko, for her part, has credited Sullivan's coaching as one of the biggest factors of her improvement and success.

"I have complete faith in Coach Sullivan," said Simko. "I give her all the credit and I trust everything she tells me to do."

Along with the guidance of Coach Sullivan, Simko also credits her teammates for the camaraderie that they have provided her.

"Training with these girls everyday has had an unbelievable impact on me," said Simko. "We all have different strengths and weaknesses so pulling for each other makes a huge difference."

Now two meets into the schedule, Simko stressed how excited she is about the rest of the season.

"I can't wait for the meets to start kicking up in intensity," said Simko. "It should be really fun."

Already having been named Big Ten Athlete of the Week for her opening meet performance, Simko believes that both her and teammates can achieve loftier goals this season if they keep up their dedication.

"As a team we want to win the Big Ten and get to Nationals," said Simko. "Individually, I'd like to be All Big Ten and All Region."

Simko and her teammates return to competition on Sept 29, when they race at Louisville at the Greater Louisville Classic.

Lions Oust Wisconsin, 2-1, On Alumni Weekend

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No.11 Penn State women's soccer (6-2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) battled for 90 minutes to defeat 13th-ranked Wisconsin (6-2-0, 0-1 Big Ten), 2-1, on Jeffery Field to cap off an inspiring alumni weekend in Happy Valley on Sunday.

 

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Junior forward Taylor Schram may have said it best when she predicted last week that the game against Wisconsin would be a war both mentally and physically.   The Badgers brought their all-too-familiar physical style of play to the field, which has caused Penn State problems in the past.  It was important for the players to match their opponent's physicality, while keeping their cool.

"We knew that coming in that it was going to be a rough game," said sophomore defender Whitney Church after the game.  "It's kind of a game of two games, one on the physical and one on the soccer, and we knew that we were going to have to come out and at least match their physicality."

The first half set the tone for an even matchup as both teams fought hard to gain an advantage over the other.  The Nittany Lions put the pressure on and had a number of opportunities including a penalty kick in the 38th minute that was saved by Wisconsin senior goalkeeper Lauren Gunderson, who tallied six saves in the losing effort.

In the 44th minute, the momentum shifted in Penn State's favor when freshman midfielder Raquel Rodriguez breached the Badger defense with a header off of a free kick from Church, giving the Nittany Lions 1-0 advantage heading into halftime.

The message to the players during intermission was to keep playing their game and not let the physical battle get in their heads.

"We just got to continue to play our game and I think that's exactly what we did," said junior forward Maya Hayes.  "At the end of the day, putting the ball in the back of the net is the only way to make a statement."

Hayes, who recently returned from Japan after winning the U-20 Women's World Cup with the U.S. national team, put the Nittany Lions on top 2-0 in the 48th minute when she received the ball in space, dribbled past a defender into the box and rifled a shot in off the right side of the net.  It was her first goal of the season and would eventually prove to be the game-winner.

"Coach puts me out there because I like to score goals," said Hayes.  "That was the only thing going through my head: get to the goal."

"She's a spark," adds senior midfielder Maddy Evans.  "You know what you're going to get from Maya and she's going to score some goals and it's great having her back."

The junior superstar was meant to take a secondary role in her first game back, but found a way to impact the game and make her coach proud.

"We've been very careful in managing [Maya Hayes] this week and she was great today, so good to see her score," said head coach Erica Walsh.

Wisconsin, seeking a dramatic comeback, scored in the 81st minute, but the defense held the 2-1 advantage and Penn State emerged victorious.

It was a special day for the Nittany Lions as they welcomed a host of former players and alumni back to Happy Valley.  The energy on the field was apparent and the support made the win even sweeter for the coaches and players, who were honored to play in front of their extended Penn State family.

"It's absolutely incredible," said Evans.  "You look up in the stands and you see people you've played with, people you know who've played here in the past and it's really inspiring to see them all come back.  We're a true family here."

"At the end of the day we play for those who came before us," said Hayes.  "It's awesome to have them here and to honor them and to have them watch us play."

Carmelina Moscato, a Penn State legend in her day, returned as an assistant coach for Wisconsin after winning the Bronze Medal in the 2012 Olympic Games with the Canadian National Team.  She expressed her excitement to be back at Penn State for the matchup.

"I'm just excited to see some old faces and rehash some old memories," said Moscato.  "That's always going to be something special, it was a great part of my life."

The game also meant a lot to coach Walsh, who earned a statement victory on her mother's birthday.



No. 4 Lions Roll Over Non-Conference Competition

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Rec Hall played host to six matches, 21 sets and more than 7,000 volleyball fans during this past weekend's Penn State Classic.

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Three of those matches and nine of those sets belong to the Nittany Lions as the fourth-ranked squad went undefeated in their last weekend of non-conference play.

Penn State swept all three of its opponents in the weekend, including Portland on Friday night, Duquesne on Saturday morning and Eastern Illinois on Saturday night. The Lions' offense tallied a .440 hitting percentage for the tournament thanks to a strong passing game and a few hot hands.

Junior middle hitter Katie Slay attacked with confidence in all three matches and racked up a .720 attack average of her own. But Slay said that the most impressive player in blue in white all weekend was a teammate who didn't do a lot of attacking.

"I think Micha [Hancock] was just doing a really good job of setting the ball high," said Slay. "We knew we had shorter blockers so we could get ourselves in a good position to take good swings."

Hancock stayed in system with her hitters throughout the weekend and enabled the offense to be spread between several athletes.

"It was nice to see Megan [Courtney] and Deja [McClendon] and Maddie [Martin] and Ariel [Scott] and myself at the net so much," said Slay. "It's encouraging to me and helpful to Micha to have a lot of options and I think it was good to see that from match to match."

But after two matches in the same day on Saturday, Penn State head coach Russ Rose said that he still sees a few issues on his team's side of the floor.

"I would say we shouldn't be tired," said Rose. "I think serving is bad, I think communication is bad - I think all of those things are big problems."

At the end of their three matches the Lions garnered 34 service errors. Redshirt middle hitter Erica Denney said that the numbers speak for themselves, and that sometimes flaws are a good thing.

"Our biggest focuses, I think one is obviously serving," said Denney. "That's kind of an individual thing and we really need to focus on that so make each other better. We need to be confident behind the service line and I think just work into a rhythm. If we could just really get a flow going it would really help us out."

And the Nittany Lions are hoping to get a flow going sooner than later as they open up the Big Ten season with their first conference match on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.

Rose said that the start of conference play not only changes the look of his team's schedule on a weekly basis, but also adds a few extra expectations to the formula.

"It changes things," said Rose. "You train in the preseason to be strong and healthy and ready to go and that's part of the equation, being strong physically, but you've got to be tough mentally."

Penn State will have Monday off to take a rest, and then practice Tuesday and Wednesday before facing No. 1 Nebraska for the midweek match-up.

Slay said that ultimately, the start of conference play means that she and her teammates have one extra reason to compete for.

"You take every opponent seriously and you respect every opponent but once you get into Big Ten season it's go-time," said Slay. "Every game counts toward the Big Ten championship and that's definitely our goal so we have to play hard every night."

Robinson Off to Blazing Start for Nittany Lions

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VIDEO: Postgame Locker Room Player Interviews - vs. Navy


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore wide out Allen Robinson looked like the type of player who could have a break out season during spring practice.

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During training camp, the story was the same.

The Michigan native stepped into the No. 1 receiver role with nothing but confidence on the practice field.

That's why Robinson's outstanding start to the 2012 season comes as no real surprise to the coaching staff, Robinson or the rest of team, largely because they expected it.

Nevertheless, Robinson is quickly evolving into an elite receiver by anyone's standards.  With 24 receptions and a 107-ypg average through three games, the true sophomore is leading the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation in both categories.

Robinson had a cumulative total of three receptions for 29 yards in 2011.  This season, he has led the team in receiving during each of the first three weeks.  After a 10-reception outing at Virginia last week, Robinson stole the show in Saturday's 34-7 victory over Navy with five catches for 136 yards, including a trio of touchdowns from Matt McGloin.

The always calm, cool and collected Robinson is a humble receiver who talks about the collective offense first before addressing any individual accolades.  He attributed Saturday's big performance to the effort Penn State put forth on the practice field during the week.

"Coach O'Brien does a great job of game planning," Robinson said.  "We saw a few things they did defensively and we were able to capitalize. There were some other receivers open as well and Matt [McGloin] connected with them as well.  I think it was all about game planning."

Through just three games, Robinson is halfway to the school record in receptions for a sophomore.  Bobby Engram (1993) and Deon Butler (2006) set the sophomore mark at 48.  Penn State's all-time season mark for receptions is 63 held by O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Engram (1995).

"He has had a really good year through three games," O'Brien said.  "I just think that he is a great kid who works extremely hard.  Everything he is doing is because of the way he is coached by Stan Hixon and all of the hard work that he puts into it."

Hixon, who spends more time than anyone on the coaching staff with Robinson in the film room during meetings with the receivers, has watched Robinson grow from day one.

"Obviously he's made a big improvement from the spring, and from the spring we saw that he has potential to be a really good receiver," Hixon said.  "Each and every day, he's getting better and better at running routes, coming out of routes, and also, a much better job catching the ball in his hands.  He has done a good job getting separation in certain routes, like we ask him to do, and he's been a really good student of the game."

Robinson's emphasis during the offseason focused on becoming a better route runner.  He and McGloin worked together all summer long on the practice field, and the results speak for themselves.

"He is very, very tough to cover because he does a great job of running routes," McGloin said.  "That's probably his best attribute of being a wide out - the routes that he runs.  It makes my job a lot easier."

Robinson is the type of player every head coach wants to mentor.  Physically, the 6-foot-3 wide receiver is a gifted athlete, and that was obvious on Saturday when he raced into the north end zone during his 45-yard touchdown catch, but it is the little things that Robinson works on that separates him from other players.

"He's just a really good, young receiver," O'Brien said.  "He works extremely hard at the game, studies the game.  He's a fantastic kid; he's always got a smile on his face.  Really, really enjoys playing here. He's just a fun guy to coach, like a lot of these guys."

He may be quiet when he speaks, but Robinson's game speaks loud and clear.



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VIDEO: Postgame Player Locker Room Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Hear from several Nittany Lions in the locker room following Saturday's 34-7 victory over Navy.



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VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Locker Room Interview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Bill O'Brien talks about Saturday's 34-7 victory over Navy in the locker room after addressing the team.



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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Coach O'Brien Postgame Locker Room Speech

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the locker room for an inside look at Coach O'Brien's speech to the team after picking up his first career victory on Saturday afternoon against Navy.



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Week Three In-Game Blog - Navy

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.

Look back at Penn State's 34-7 victory over Navy.

 

1st Quarter: 11:25 - Penn State 7, Navy 0

Freshman tight end Jesse James recorded his first career touchdown with a two-yard reception, capping off a seven play, 72-yard opening drive. The Nittany Lions used a 12-yard catch by tight end Gary Gilliam and a 45-yard reception by Allen Robinson to bring the ball to Navy's two-yard line. It was a great opening drive by the Nittany Lions as Matt McGloin went 3-for-3 for 59 yards.

 

1st Quarter: 6:40 - Penn State 14, Navy 0
Allen Robinson recorded his second 45-yard reception of the day and this time took the ball into the end zone. On the touchdown play, McGloin did a great job looking off the coverage to the right before finding a streaking Robinson down the left side of the field. The Nittany Lions have taken advantage of the big play as Robinson's 45-yard catch capped off a four-play drive.

 

End of 1st Quarter: Penn State 14, Navy 0

There was a lot to like in that first quarter from the Nittany Lions. The Penn State offense scored on both its possessions and utilized a pair of 45-yard receptions from Allen Robinson in key situations. After Penn State's second score, Navy responded with a methodical drive down the field, but the Nittany Lion defense came up big when needed as Gerald Hodges intercepted Trey Miller's pass at the 10-yard line.

 

2nd Quarter: 8:59 - Penn State 20, Navy 0

Matt McGloin executed a perfect play-action pass to Allen Robinson for a two-yard touchdown strike. The Penn State ground game also was a big factor in that drive as Michael Zordich and Curtis Dukes rushed for a combined 45 yards. Zordich, who has seen some action at tailback, has rushed six times so far today. Coach O'Brien said that Zordich is such an important part of the team that he wanted to get him more involved in the offense.

 

Halftime: Penn State 20, Navy 0

Penn State played very well on both sides of the ball in the opening half. The offense utilized several big plays, with Allen Robinson recording a pair of 45-yard receptions. Matt McGloin effectively moved the ball down the field, going 11-for-16 for 196 yards and three touchdowns. The Penn State defense limited Navy to just 130 yards in the first half. Gerald Hodges recorded an interception, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong registered his first career forced fumble and Michael Mauti led all players with eight tackles.

End of 3rd Quarter: Penn State 27, Navy 0
Penn State's defense has played well all game, but it stepped up with two big stands to set the tone in the third quarter.  Senior Michael Mauti has more than 10 tackles for the second time this season.  His sack on fourth down during Navy's second possession during the quarter set up the Nittany Lions with very good field position at the Navy 44-yard line.  From there, Mauti's roommate, Zordich, rumbled to the Navy 25 with a trio of hard runs.  McGloin then found an open Trevor Williams across the middle.  The ball deflected off of Williams right into the hands of Allen Robinson, who hauled in his third touchdown reception of the afternoon.  Penn State will take a 27-0 lead into the fourth quarter, thanks to a huge day from Robinson and a stifling afternoon from the defense.

4th Quarter: 14:13 - Penn State 34, Navy 0
After forcing four turnovers at Virginia and three during the first three quarters today, the Nittany Lion defense was long overdue for a big play off of a miscue.  Sophomore Mike Hull answered with a 74-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.  Hull scooped up a loose ball on a fumbled exchange from the Midshipmen.  Hull's fumble recovery for a touchdown was the first since Navorro Bowman accomplished the feat against Eastern Illinois in 2009.

FINAL: Penn State 34, Navy 7
Boosted by big games from McGloin and Robinson on offense and a dominant outing from the Penn State defense, head coach Bill O'Brien earned his first career victory on Saturday afternoon.  The Nittany Lions turned in a complete performance on both sides of the ball.  McGloin tossed four touchdowns, including three to Robinson.  On defense, the Nittany Lions forced four turnovers for the second-straight game.  Mauti led the way with 12 tackles, including 2.0 hits for a loss and 1.0 sacks.  After relentless work in the offseason from O'Brien, the coaching staff and each member on the team, Saturday's victory was earned in every sense of the word.  The Lions will look to build on Saturday's victory next week against Temple, but this day belonged to the entire team.  Penn State caught some well-deserved breaks and executed well when it needed to on Saturday.  Congratulations to Coach O'Brien on his first career victory.



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Pregame Reading:- The Nittany Lions entered the stadium shortly after 12:50 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.  The weather conditions are nearly perfect.  Temperatures will climb to near 70 degrees with light winds and sunny skies.  Penn State will honor the men and women in the armed forces throughout the pregame festivities.  Senior fullback P.J. Byers, who is active in the Navy, was named one of three game captains for today's game.

- The Nittany Lions will turn to Michael Zordich, Curtis Dukes and Zach Zwinak as the primary ball carriers on Saturday.  Zordich is no stranger to the backfield, but he has taken a lot of reps this week at the tailback position for the first time in his college career.  The senior back is a downhill runner with good hands out of the backfield.  Dukes and Zwinak are both coming off of two very good weeks of practice.

- Navy's unique triple option style is a challenging offense to prepare for.  Penn State's defense needs to account for several players on every down.  Ensuring that the quarterback, fullback and pitchman are all covered on every play is what Ted Roof and the defensive staff have stressed all week.  That task is easier said than done against a team like Navy that practices the triple option every day.  Being disciplined on defense and working against Navy's cut-blocks is crucial for the Nittany Lions.

- Under head coach Ken Niumatalolo Navy has a 27-4 record when it scores first.  When its opponents have scored first during that span, Navy is 5-18.  Additionally, Navy has lost its last eight games when the opposition has scored first.  Those stats speak volumes about Navy's ability to execute its offense without being forced to throw the ball. 


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Gameday Photo Blog: Navy

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to the GoPSUsports.com Gameday Photo Blog for the Navy game.


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Navy Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Host Midshipmen

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Navy Week Gameday Central

Navy Week Q&A with Secondary Coach John Butler

VIDEO: Military Appreciation Week - DE Brent Smith

VIDEO: Military Appreciation Week - FB P.J. Byers


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions return home Saturday to face off with Navy (0-1) on Military Appreciation Day in Beaver Stadium (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2).

Penn State will pay tribute to the men and women in uniform, including a pair of current Nittany Lions who have direct ties to the armed forces.  Senior fullback P.J. Byers is an active member in the Navy while playing football for Penn State.  When he graduates, Byers will become a Navy officer.  Fellow Nittany Lion Brent Smith is a "run-on" defensive end who served in the Marines for eight years, including two tours of Iraq.  Offensive graduate assistant Steve Williams also has ties to the military.  His mother, Sandra Perry, served 26 years in the Air Force.

On the field, Penn State is seeking its first win under head coach Bill O'Brien following a hard fought 17-16 setback at Virginia last week.  The Nittany Lions forced four turnovers and controlled the game, but fell short on the scoreboard.  Following a good week of practice, the Nittany Lions head into Saturday's clash against Navy with a great deal of confidence.  Welcome to the gameday preview.


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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1.  Coach O'Brien indicated late in the week that the Nittany Lions will turn to Michael Zordich, Curtis Dukes and Zach Zwinak as the primary ball carriers on Saturday.  Zordich is no stranger to the backfield, but he has taken a lot of reps this week at the tailback position for the first time in his college career.  The senior back is a downhill runner with good hands out of the backfield.  Dukes and Zwinak are both coming off of two very good weeks of practice.  Coach O'Brien wants to establish the running game against Navy's defense, but look for Matt McGloin to use success in the running game for deep shots down the field to the weapons in the receiving corps.  Allen Robinson enters the game as the top receiver in the Big Ten with 19 receptions through two games.

2.  Navy's unique triple option style is a challenging offense to prepare for.  Penn State's defense needs to account for several players on every down.  Ensuring that the quarterback, fullback and pitchman are all covered on every play is what Ted Roof and the defensive staff have stressed all week.  That task is easier said than done against a team like Navy that practices the triple option every day.  Being disciplined on defense and working against Navy's cut-blocks is crucial for the Nittany Lions on Saturday.  Additionally, Penn State will be looking to take Navy out of its comfort zone and force the Midshipmen into third and long situations.  Ideally, Navy wants to see manageable third downs on every possession to avoid throwing the ball.  One-on-one tackling is another area to keep an eye.

3.  Two areas Coach O'Brien wants to see improvement in this week are special teams and red zone offense.  Special teams play has been an integral part of every practice since training camp began on Aug. 6.  This week was no different for the Nittany Lions.  Repetition in all facets of special teams play is what the kicking operation worked on throughout the week.  In the red zone, look for the tight ends to play a bigger role in the attack on Saturday.  Execution in the red zone starts with consistency from the offensive line.

What to Watch For - Navy
1.  Under head coach Ken Niumatalolo, Navy has a 27-4 record when it scores first.  When its opponents have scored first during that span, Navy is 5-18.  Additionally, Navy has lost its last eight games when the opposition has scored first.  Those stats speak volumes about Navy's ability to execute its offense without being forced to throw the ball.  When the Midshipmen play with a lead and dictate the tempo they are a different team.  Quarterback Trey Miller is the catalyst of the Navy offensive attack.  The junior carried the ball 20 times in the season-opener against Notre Dame.

2.  Continuing with the same theme, Navy's ability to make Penn State play its game will play a huge role in the final outcome.  As we mentioned, the Midshipmen will need to keep third downs at a manageable distance throughout the day.  Avoiding turnovers and giving the Nittany Lions a short field is essential to Navy's success on Saturday, as well.

3.  Defensively, Navy will have its hands full getting into the backfield against the size of Penn State's offensive line.  Nonetheless, the Midshipmen need to find a way to get off the field on third down against the Nittany Lions.  Limiting the number of Penn State's big offensive plays is another big area for the Navy defense.


Gameday Rundown
Kickoff: 3:35 p.m.
TV: ABC (ESPN2 outer market) - Mike Patrick (PBP), Ed Cunningham (Analyst), Jeannine Edwards (Sidelines)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network - Steve Jones (PBP), Jack Ham (Analyst), Loren Crispell (Sidelines)
Stadium: Beaver Stadium (106,572) - Natural Grass
Coaches: Bill O'Brien - 0-2, 1st season
Ken Niumatalolo - 32-22, 5th season at Navy
The Series: 37th Meeting


The Final Word:
Despite an 0-2 start to the season, Penn State's confidence level has not wavered one bit.  Members of the senior class walked around the locker room immediately following last Saturday's game against Virginia to tell the team to keep battling.  This group of Nittany Lions knows how to face adversity, and this week has been no different than the previous two.  Penn State practiced with great enthusiasm and was sharp on the practice field throughout the week.  Navy presents a unique challenge unlike anyone else on the schedule.  As secondary coach John Butler said this week, the Midshipmen try to minimize the athletic advantage their opponents have with disciplined football for 60 minutes.  The Nittany Lions are well prepared for Navy's attack, but it is difficult to mimic the speed of the triple option until the game starts.  Penn State made significant strides from week one to week two.  Coach O'Brien is looking for more of the same progression on Saturday with better execution on both sides of the ball and on special teams.  Pay close attention to the team's play in the red zone.  Navy will play hard for the duration of Saturday's game, and the Nittany Lions are motivated to play well at home.


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Fourth-Ranked Lions Set for Packed Classic

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Recreation Building serves as the host site for its 20th Penn State Classic since 1987 this weekend. The Division I volleyball tournament and the Nittany Lions welcome Portland, Duquesne and Eastern Illinois to State College for a six-match tournament schedule.

Penn State head coach Russ Rose has prepared his teams each year that the competition comes to town, but he said that his game-plan for this weekend is a bit different than usual.

"In the past I've spent a lot more time in match preparation of other teams and I've decided this year to spend less time doing that," said Rose. "I'm trying to get our team to be a little more organized and together."

Rose said that in past years he was concerned with watching hours of opponents' game film and tried to find every angle of play that his team needed to defend. But with a starting line-up that has been featuring a freshman, three sophomores and three juniors, Rose is more concerned with getting his Lions in order first.

Penn State will play on their home court three times over the weekend beginning with Portland at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Lions then take-on a two-match day as they will face Duquesne at 10 a.m. on Saturday and wrap things up against Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. that evening.

The Nittany Lion coach said that all three of his team's opponents are teams that he expects to play a lot of athletes that he has never seen before. In order to defend a largely unknown group of competition, Rose said that his players all need to be ready to go.

"For us to be successful a lot of people have to go in there and do good things," said Rose. "From my standpoint it's, you can give people opportunities but they need to take advantage of the opportunities. I don't ever put a kid in thinking they're going to screw up. I put a kid in thinking that they're going to make a positive impact on that rally or the outcome of the match."

One student-athlete that Rose has been particularly impressed with is the diving and digging sophomore defensive specialist Lacey Fuller.

"She just plays really hard," Rose said of Fuller. "She practices hard and when she's all in it's a great part of her make-up."

Fuller has come to be known for her bright, red hair and love of the sport of volleyball. She is also quite the talker.

"I like to talk a lot and keep the energy going in drills because sometimes it gets a little bland," admitted Fuller.

The back-row specialist said that she agrees with her coach's decision to focus more on organizing the team this season. She said that when it comes down to it, she and her teammates are the ones that make the plays on the court and need to figure out how to optimize their play before they can defend an opponent.

"I think that in practice especially there will be drills where we're the ones that have to keep ourselves in it and [Rose] has no control," said Fuller. "We need to be focused all the time and make less errors and be more consistent."

And as they do after every practice, the Nittany Lions gather at the net for about five to 10 minutes and just talk it out. Fuller said that Penn State has a team first attitude and that is its main focus this weekend.

Hayes and Schram Arrive For Big Ten Opener

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the start of Big Ten play against 13th-ranked Wisconsin looming, No. 11 Penn State women's soccer welcomed the return of junior forwards Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram, who are back in Happy Valley after winning the U-20 Women's World Cup with the U.S. National Team.

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The Nittany Lions (5-2-0) are looking to rebound following a grueling 3-1 loss at BYU last weekend in which the Cougars used a pair of second half goals just two minutes apart to break a 1-1 tie and put the game out reach.  Despite the setback, head coach Erica Walsh remains confident in the improvements her team has made through seven games thus far.

"We're getting better every week right now and that's exactly our focus," said coach Walsh.  "We've just finished game seven, going into game eight, and we've got some areas that need to be cleaned up and that's where we're at."

The focus in practice this week will be to integrate Hayes and Schram, their top two goal-scorers from last season, into an offense already full of talent.  The dilemma couldn't be better for coach Walsh, who now has the opportunity to play a game of pick your poison with four capable forwards in Hayes, Schram, freshman phenom Mallory Weber and junior Tani Costa.

"I think we have a lot of good pieces and this just provides us with a different variety," said coach Walsh on the return of Hayes and Schram. "If a team throws something at us, we've got different ways to solve that now."

The addition of the dynamic duo from 2011 will provide a different element to the offense with Schram's lethal headers in the box and Hayes's remarkable ability to score virtually every time she touches the ball.

"Schram's aerial ability is unparalleled," praised coach Walsh.  "She is one of the best in the country in the air.  Maya's finishing ability is unique in that she gets one chance and she scores it, so right there you've got some different pieces."

Both Hayes and Schram understand that they've been gone a long time and in their absence the team has forged ahead, which means they will have to earn a spot in the starting lineup.  Regardless of whether either of them sees playing time on game day, they know the team comes first.

"It's like coach said whenever we left that we're going to have to earn our spot back," said Schram.  "We need to play hard and play together and whatever it is at the end of the day, we just want what's best for the team."

The concept is as straightforward as it gets: if you're good enough to be a starter, then you will play.

"If you're performing and you make yourself a starter, we're going to figure out how to get you on the field," said coach Walsh.  "If we have twelve people in good form, that's a great problem to have."

Even with an offense as potent as the one Penn State has, beating Wisconsin will be no easy task.  The Badgers are historically one of the most physical opponents the Nittany Lions will face.  They have a seasoned head coach in Paula Wilkins, who once led Penn State to nine of its 14 consecutive Big Ten championships.  Whatever the numbers on paper, Wisconsin will challenge Penn State in every facet of the game.

"[Wisconsin's] a good team," said coach Walsh.  "We're also a big game on their schedule, so they get up for us and I give them all the credit in the world.  They give us a great game every year."

"I think that we need to match the physical battle they bring," adds Schram, regarding one of the keys to defeating the Badgers.  "This game is going to be a war and we need to be ready for it mentally and physically."

The fact that it's alumni weekend will only add to the hype already surrounding the game.  Both coach Walsh and the players are excited to play in front of those who are at the heart of the Blue and White pride.

"One of the big reasons why we play at Penn State is because of the tradition," said Schram.  "We play for those who played before us, so stepping on Jeffrey and embracing the legacy that they presented is an honor."

"We try to talk a lot about the history of this program in a way of respect of where we came from," said coach Walsh.  "Just to realize where we are and where we came from and that we've got the best place in the country to play college soccer."

Among the alumni returning is former Penn State legend Carmelina Moscato, who has joined the Wisconsin coaching staff after winning a Bronze Medal with the Canadian National Team at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

The game is set to begin at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Senior Uses Experiences Off Field, To Help Excel On Field

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In today's day and age in sports, seeing junior college (JUCO) athletes transfer to division one programs isn't too uncommon. However, to have a player that is a JUCO transfer that attended a two-year mission trip to Brazil, is married and went from bench player to starter at a division one school is unheard of. Welcome to the life of senior midfielder Daniel Burnham.

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Burnham, native of Boise, Idaho, joined the Nittany Lions in 2010 where he only started two games all season. Two seasons later, he is a starter and one of the main catalysts of the Nittany Lion offense.

"When Coach Warming came in and took over I didn't realize how much I needed to improve," said Burnham. "He was the one that helped me do that. He wants you to excel and through my sophomore and junior year I worked on passing and retention of the ball and when I came in senior year I had more confidence and was ready to play."

The 25-year-old senior credits his success not only to his coach, but also to his wife.

"The mission trip helped me know what I stand for as a person and helped me know who I am as a person," said Burnham. "A little over a year ago I got married and my wife has helped me become a better person, soccer player, and student."

Burnham said that through all of his struggles, his wife was the one that kept him going and kept him on a path of success.

"Every time I come home with doubts and with thinking that I want to not try as hard, she has always built me back up and told me this is what I am supposed to be doing," said Burnham. "I would attribute my improvement to my wife and she's been the one that has told me to keep going."

On the field, his teammates and coaches see him among one of the leaders of an upstart Nittany Lion team that is currently 3-1-1 in the early 2012 season. Fellow senior John Gallagher credits the person Burnham is to his ability to be a good leader on and off the field.

"If you are a good person people are going to respect you," said Gallagher. "If he tells you to do something on the field, all the younger guys respect him and listen to him and it translates to him on the field being a good leader because he is a good person off the field and a good person on the field."

His coach acknowledged the importance of having a leader like Burnham on the field, especially with younger players. Burnham has been the first one to practice and the last one to leave, even throughout his senior season.

Warming said by having a guy like Burnham on the team, it gives freshman no excuse to not work just as hard if there is a senior putting in the maximum effort to help the team succeed.

"I feel like I just want to go out and be a leader and be there when they need me and on the field do anything to score goals and play defense," said Burnham. "We all know we can be a great team if we do those things."

Looking back, Burnham and his coaches and teammates know it took a lot for his game to develop at the division one level. Still, he credits his coach for preparing him for a stellar senior season.

"Biggest thing for me with my relationship with him is that he (Warming) showed me he cared about my successes and after last season I got support from him as a coach. He wants all of us to succeed whether they are starters, bench or not playing," said Burnham.

Warming, however, disagreed and said he had little to do with the success of Burnham, it is just the maturity and dedication of his senior forward that has elevated his play.

"In my experience with the guys that I have had that have made that kind of improvement, 99.9 percent it is because of them," said Warming. ""For me, its really maturity that he has. Even if he doesn't become what he wants to be, he is going to enjoy the process."

Off the soccer field, his teammates know that not only is he a good player, but he is also a good person and his leadership goes beyond the grass of Jeffery Field.

"He is just a great guy, real into his religion and everything like that so it is awesome. He is just an overall good person," said Gallagher. "If you ever need advice he is always a good person to go to."

Burnham and the Nittany Lions have their first of two weekend home games starting Friday against Albany at 7 p.m. and Sunday against Adelphi at 3:30 p.m., both at Jeffery Field.

Navy Week Q&A with Asst. Coach John Butler

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are set to host Navy on Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2).

As the team puts its final touches on the gameplan, GoPSUsports.com sat down with secondary coach John Butler to talk about Navy preparations.


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GoPSUsports.com: Talk about the progress your group in the secondary has made from week one to this point?
Butler
: "I think that we are playing hard.  I think we are executing at an above average level.  I think our biggest problem right now is being able to get off the field on third down.  That really comes down to our ability to finish and make plays on the ball in the air.  In the passing game, it is a comprehensive situation where it's the full coverage, it's the linebackers, it's the secondary, it's the pass rush, but from a secondary standpoint, there have been opportunities for us to get off the field and contest a throw with a ball in the air that we haven't done well enough.  Part of it is that some of our techniques need to improve.  The biggest thing, though, is that we just have to better at attacking and playing the ball.  We will keep plugging away, but that is an area we have to get better at."

GoPSUsports.com: How do you work on that at practice?
Butler
: "You try to simulate it.  In our team and unit drills when the ball is in the air, you have to play the ball.  You have to get used to undercutting the ball, catching the ball in the air and work on physically trying to break up passes.  Too many of our guys play the body.  When the ball is in the air, they want to go make the tackle.  They have to play the ball.  A lot of that is natural instinct.  But you can develop it and make it a point of emphasis."

GoPSUsports.com: Looking at Navy, how much different is the preparation for a triple option offense than it is for other teams, from a secondary perspective?
Butler
: "From a comprehensive defense perspective, it is totally different.  You can't be any more different than when you prepare for Navy.  It is night and day.  It is the total opposite end of the spectrum.  Everything changes from a how we play the game standpoint.  You aren't getting as much pass.  You aren't getting as much true running.  You are having to make multiple reads on the run.  It is a challenge.  And it is certainly challenging when it is one game mixed in with all of your other standard offenses.  We have a good gameplan, but ultimately, you can never mimic the speed of the game and how fast the triple option offense is and defending the cut-blocks.  That is something they will have to pick up as the game goes on."

GoPSUsports.com: How important is what the 'dirty show' has done on the practice field to help get the defense ready?
Butler
: "It is important.  It gives us the picture, and it allows us to see the formations and conceptually how they are going to attack us.  But they can't mimic the game speed.  A guy trying to cut you at 50 percent is a whole lot different than a guy trying to cut you at 100 percent.  This is what Navy does every day for 365 days a year.  This is what they do.  Obviously, too, their lifestyle is focused on discipline and execution and doing the right thing all the time.  Not to say that our kids don't, but Navy is in a different environment than us every day.  They try to beat their opponents with execution and toughness and discipline."

GoPSUsports.com: You played against Navy last season when you were at South Carolina.  How has that helped with the game preparations?
Butler
: "It's helped me communicate things.  The kids knew we had a top five or six defense in the country last year, and Navy rant the ball for almost 250 yards on us.  We had nine NFL players on that defense and they were still able to get yards.  It came down to some of our guys not being as disciplined or executing.  It's not about the players as much as you have to be disciplined and execute your scheme.  If you don't they are going to make you pay.  Their offense is to try and minimize the athletic advantage the opponent has on you and maximize their execution advantage they have on you.  It was a dogfight last year.  I have told everybody - we had the best season in South Carolina history and one of the best teams in the country and it was 21-17 in the fourth quarter with them ahead.  It's going to be tough."

GoPSUsports.com: With all that being said, what are the keys to the game for the defense?
Butler
: "We've got to get lined up and execute.  It is critically important for this game.  For example, if you are supposed to tackle the dive and you don't, everybody else is playing something else.  It's not like in base defense where they run the ball and get to the second level and the safety is there to make a tackle.  The reason why the fullback busts through sometimes is that the guy who is supposed to take the fullback doesn't take him.  Everybody else is taking the quarterback and pitch.  So, we have to execute.  The safeties and the secondary have got to keep an eye on their keys.  Once we catch up to the speed of the game, we have to keep doing what we have been doing on defense.  We have to play really hard, get off blocks, run to the ball and maximize our athletic advantage we may have on them.  And make our share of plays.  When the ball is on the ground, capitalize.  They had five turnovers against Notre Dame, and Notre Dame got four of them.  So, we have to capitalize on those opportunities."


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VIDEO: Military Appreciation Week - FB P.J. Byers

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On many different levels, P.J. Byers' path to the Nittany Lion football program is incredible.

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A native of Harrison City, Pa., Byers graduated from Penn Trafford High School in 2003.  At the time he knew that he wanted to be in the military, so he enlisted in the Navy.  Byers was put into a delayed entry program and decided to attend Marietta College in southern Ohio.

With a keen desire for competing on the gridiron, Byers played football and ran track at Marietta College for one season before shifting his focus solely on the Navy.  He had aspirations of being a Navy SEAL, but Byers' eyesight did not pass the mandated requirements.  So, he joined the Navy to be a diver.

Byers was stationed at Peal Harbor in Hawaii for three years before moving to San Diego, where he served for just about two years.  As a diver, Byers has done demolition work with explosives, underwater repair work on submarines, conducted hyperbaric chamber training, searched for underwater mines and experienced rebreather diving, which is done with a breathing set that provides breathing gas containing oxygen and recycled exhaled gas and leaves behind no bubbles.

While in the waters off the coast of San Diego, Byers also helped train Navy dolphins.  Diving became his passion, but Byers also wanted to become a Naval officer.

Byers applied for a competitive officer program and earned a selection.  From there, he had the option to pick any school that he wanted, so he came to Penn State in 2010.  The Navy is partially paying for his education, and upon graduation, Byers will be commissioned as an officer.

While at Penn State, Byers is part of the Navy's ROTC program.  His proper name on campus is Officer Candidate Byers. 

He is also a senior fullback on the Nittany Lion football team set to play the Navy as an active member of the Navy on Saturday.  We talked with Byers earlier this week in honor of Military Appreciation Day.  Learn more about his incredible experiences in the Navy and more.


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VIDEO: Deja McClendon Interviews Dominique Gonzalez

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fourth-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team returns home on Friday to kick off a trio of matches in Rec Hall.

Continuing the new video feature for the 2012 season, junior outside hitter Deja McClendon took some time to discuss the libero position with sophomore Dominique Gonzalez.  Take a look at an informative conversation between two Nittany Lion starters.


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Nittany Lions Spread the Wealth in Win

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Finishing on offense. It's a concept that field hockey head coach Charlene Morett and her team stressed at practice leading up to Wednesday's matchup with Lock Haven.

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But how do you finish and find the back of the cage?

The answers drawn up at practice were simple for the Nittany Lions--and during Wednesday night's decisive 5-0 victory over Lock Haven, it became evident that the team had found these answers.

Vision, selflessness, and scoring from the field.

"It was awesome--there was just so much more fluidity," said sophomore Laura Gebhart, who registered a goal and an assist against the Lady Eagles.

"We just opened up and were there for each other. We had a lot of support passes and just built up for each other."

Gebhart scored the first goal of the game for Penn State and was one of five Nittany Lions who put a goal on the board in the contest.

"I thought during the Cornell game we were a bit too individual," said Morett.

The Nittany Lions certainly weren't too individually minded in Wednesday night's shutout of Lock Haven.

Not only did five different Penn Staters tally a goal, seven players recorded a point (goal or assist) and 11 members of the squad registered a shot.

Among the players making a big impact in the victory was junior Whitney Reddig, responsible for two assists against the Lady Eagles.

"I thought we did really well and I didn't think there was any changes when subs came in," said Reddig. "We did keep our heads up and we possessed [the ball] pretty well."

Reddig's two assists came via her specialty--inserting a pass during a penalty corner.

The first was a beautiful insert directly to senior Kelsey Amy who fired it into the back of the cage. The second got even more Nittany Lions involved as Reddig rocketed the pass into Gebhart, who stopped the ball in its tracks and set up a Hannah Allison shot and goal.

"We have really great shooters at the top of the circle and really great stoppers," said Reddig.

Reddig's impact was certainly felt for Penn State, as she was on the field for all five of the Nittany Lion's goals.

"She just has such a strong insert," said Morett. "When she is not in the game we are very mindful of that."

Penalty corners are a focus of the Coach Morett's strategy and are the source of many Penn State goals. Following Wednesday's victory, the Nittany Lions totaled 38 more combined penalty corners than their opponents.

As for what makes Penn State's penalty corner strategy so effective compared to opponents--a lot of Lions getting a touch on the ball.

"It all starts with getting the foul first and then Whitney's hit out and then the shot on cage," said junior Ashtin Klingler, who also registered a goal against Lock Haven.

The team veterans weren't the only influential factors in the game for Penn State. Given the sizeable lead, Morett was able to display some of her younger talent.

Among the talented youth for the Nittany Lions getting in-game action was freshman Ally Lauth. The forward, praised for her speed and competitive nature, displayed an impressive amount of hustle late in the contest.

"Ally is just a great competitor and she will dive after everything so she can be so dangerous," said Morett. "She has that spark."

Getting some playing time in the cage was redshirt sophomore Kylie Licata, who entered the contest about midway through the second half.

In 21 minutes of action, Licata registered three saves and allowed no goals.

"It was just great to see Kylie get some action and get some saves," said Morett.

The Nittany Lions will take the field again on Friday when they head to Bethlehem to take on Lehigh. Game time is slated for 6 p.m.

VIDEO: Navy Week Practice Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions have reached the mid-point of Navy preparations on the practice field.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with junior running back Curtis Dukes and junior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones following practice on Wednesday for an update on how practice is going leading up to Saturday's contest against Navy.


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VIDEO: Military Appreciation Week - DE Brent Smith

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman "run-on" defensive end Brent Smith is not your typical true freshman student-athlete.

Not only is a 26-year-old in his first semester with the Nittany Lion football team, Smith spent eight years in the Marines.  After graduating high school in January of 2004, Smith joined the Marines just months later.  He made two trips to Iraq, one in 2005-06 and again in 2007 for nearly the entire calendar year. 

To say Smith has seen it all would be an understatement.  The Hughesville, Pa., native engaged in first-hand combat during his duty in Iraq.  After eight years in the Marines, Smith is now at Penn State taking classes, and he joined the football program during training camp.

An incredibly hard worker on the "dirty show" scout squad defense, Smith brings a unique leadership perspective into the locker room.  In honor of Military Appreciation Day for the Navy game, take a look at a video interview with Smith to hear about his time in the Marines and his journey to Penn State.



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VIDEO: Pete Massaro Q&A - Navy Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior defensive end Pete Massaro for his thoughts on what it takes to get ready for the unique triple option offense of Navy.


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Week 3 Presser Roundup - Coach O'Brien Previews Navy

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's game against Navy.

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Take a look through some of the key remarks from the Navy week press conference.

Challenge of Playing Navy
Navy's offensive style is unique.  The triple option attack requires a complete overhaul of defensive preparation for coordinator Ted Roof.  Everything about preparations for Navy is different because of its style of offense.  Playing well against Navy's offense comes down to being very disciplined on every play.

"Navy is so good at what they do, they're attacking your discipline, and they're attacking your toughness," O'Brien said.  "Now, we've got a tough defense.  In my opinion we have a tough football team.  We have a tough defense.  But what we've got to do defensively is we've got to play responsibility football.  And these guys, what was good about the Virginia game is you saw guys playing responsibility football against Virginia.  They've got to do that and up that another notch against the Naval Academy."

Preparation on the practice field is very challenging for Navy.

"It's very difficult to practice it because you're talking about cut blocks and triple option and triple option play action," O'Brien said.  "What we do is we get our 'dirty show' offense team out there a little earlier and they run through the plays they're going to run with our defense.  So hopefully it's executed when they come out for practice and they can see a picture of what they're doing.  It's a difficult team to play against.  I didn't schedule Navy.  Just kidding (laughter)."


Kicking Game
The kicking game will always be a point of emphasis for Coach O'Brien and the staff as it prepares for a game.  The team spends a great deal of time on special teams work during the week.  This week will be no different, and execution on special teams comes down to repetition.  Penn State missed four field goals and failed to convert on an extra point at Virginia.  With that being said, Coach O'Brien has confidence in sophomore placekicker Sam Ficken, and the kicking unit will work to be more consistent moving forward.

"It's repetition with the units," O'Brien said.  "We do it every single day...I think really what's important for all kickers and starting with Sam (Ficken) is to think about his what we call the plant foot.  And wherever the plant foot is pointed is where that ball is going to go.  So we've done a lot of work starting yesterday and continuing on today and tomorrow and the rest of the week of just working technically with him on his plant foot and understanding that hey, it can't be pointed in a different direction every single kick.  It's got to be the same direction as it relates to where we're trying to kick the football.  So it's 11 guys doing a better job of protecting and Sam getting better at his overall technique."

Converting in the Red Zone
The Nittany Lions will spend a lot of time working on red zone offense leading up to the Navy game.  Coach O'Brien said on Tuesday that he wants to see an improvement inside the red area.  He was asked to evaluate the team's play in the red zone, play-calling and if the Lions would take more chances on plays to the end zone when it gets inside the 20.

"I felt like I always want to try to run the ball in the red area," Coach O'Brien said.  "I think the one run I called where I called basically a lead play, wasn't a great call.  I wish I could have that call back...Most of the other calls I felt were good calls, but we've got to do a better job executing.   And then you're right, from the 20 to the 15 you got a chance to take a shot in the end zone.  Maybe we do that a little more.  But there's some calls I would take back and some things I want to try to improve on this week, no question about it."

Injury Update
Sophomore running back Bill Belton (ankle) and senior Derek Day (shoulder) are both day to day this week leading up to the Navy game.  Coach O'Brien said on Tuesday that he is not sure either player will be available.  If neither player is capable of playing on Saturday, Curtis Dukes and Zach Zwinak will see increased roles.  Additionally, Coach O'Brien noted that senior fullback Michael Zordich could see more time at tailback.

"We've got six guys there that all can play and run the football and protect and catch the ball in the back field," O'Brien said.  "So that's not a position that's lacking for depth, and I thought that on Saturday Derek Day ran very, very tough.  Curtis Dukes went in there and ran tough.  Zwinak did some good things.  So that's a pretty solid position, and we just got to keep grinding away with those guys."

Military Appreciation Day
Penn State will honor the men and women in uniform on Saturday with Military Appreciation Day at Beaver Stadium.  It is always special for teams to play one of the academies, but this week's game takes on some extra meaning for two members of the team.  Senior fullback P.J. Byers is currently active in the Navy, in addition to playing football for the Nittany Lions.  Byers is seeking to be a dive specialist, and he will become an officer upon graduation from Penn State.

Additionally, 26-year-old freshman defensive end Brent Smith was in the Marines for eight years, including two tours in Iraq, before attending Penn State.  Those two Nittany Lions bring a unique perspective to the locker room.  Look for video interviews with both players later this week, but here is what Coach O'Brien had to say about Military Appreciation Day.

"You're talking about a very special week for a lot of guys in our program and we have so much respect for the military and what it means to our country and so much respect for the Naval Academy and the work those guys put in, and we're looking forward to playing the game on Saturday," O'Brien said.

Navy Strong When Scoring First
In Ken Niumatalolo's five seasons as head coach at Navy, the Midshipmen have been a tough team to beat when they score first.  Under Niumatalolo, Navy is 27-4 when it scores first.  When its opponents have scored first in the Niumatalolo era, Navy is just 5-18.  Additionally, Navy has lost its last eight games (over the last three years) when its opponent has scored first.  With Navy's triple option attack, getting ahead by more than a touchdown takes the Midshipmen out of their comfort zone of being able to run the ball on first and second down on every drive.


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Nittany Lion Defense Takes Step Forward at Virginia

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof challenged his unit following the season-opener against Ohio.

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The Nittany Lions allowed 499 yards of offense against the Bobcats, something senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill said that he was not going to let happen again after the game.

After week one, the defense knew it needed to play more consistently and force turnovers at Virginia.

Led by a dominant performance from senior linebacker Michael Mauti, Penn State answered with a strong defensive outing in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon.  One week after the Lions did not force a turnover against Ohio, they created four at Virginia.  Additionally, Penn State limited the Cavaliers to just 295 total offensive yards.

"I'm pretty happy with our defensive effort," Mauti said.  "Obviously, we always have areas to improve on, but we made a big improvement from where we were last week.  I was very proud of our defensive effort today."

Mauti led the team with nine tackles on Saturday afternoon.  He also forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and knocked down a pass.  The senior outside linebacker also played an instrumental role on special teams, providing a big hit on a Virginia punt return.

For Mauti, turnovers were the big key to the defense making strides on Saturday.

"All week, we were harping on turnovers," Mauti said.  "We wanted to get our hands on the ball, and I think we did a good job of that.  We got four turnovers, so that is a big improvement.  Anytime you have four turnovers, it is going to set you up in a good position to score points.  Now, we just have to keep working hard."

Hill made an acrobatic interception on a superb defensive read during a Virginia screen pass attempt.  He rushed nine yards following his first career interception, but Hill wants more when the defense gets its hands on a turnover.

"We made a lot of strides on defense," Hill said.  "We forced turnovers, but we have to look to score on them too.  I had an interception, but I need to go get a pick six out of it."

Head coach Bill O'Brien echoed Mauti's remarks about the improvement on the defensive side of the ball at UVa.  It was not a perfect performance, and the team will continue working on getting off the field on third down this week, but there were a lot of positives.

"I thought the (defense) played their tails off and they did a lot of things really well," Coach O'Brien said after the game.  "They got a bunch of turnovers, a couple third and longs here and there, but they played very well.  We spend a lot of time with turnovers in practice.  Coach Roof and the defensive staff there do a great job of emphasizing getting the ball out, batting the ball down, and they practice it every day. I think a lot of it has to do with those kids and good practice habits."

Aside from a couple key third down conversions, the Nittany Lion defense took a big step forward on Saturday afternoon.  Navy's option attack will be a unique challenge for the Lions to prepare for this week, but the unit has a lot to build on following Virginia.



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Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Tackle Tussey Mountain

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When fans come out to the Natatorium for competitions to see the hard work that the swimmers and divers have put in, most spectators understand that the practices involve repetitive laps of swimming back and forth and that the divers practice dive after dive on the boards. What many do not realize, however, is that the Penn State Swimming and Diving teams incorporate an intense dryland program early in the season to ensure the athletes are in the best shape.

The coaching staff took a new approach towards getting the swimmers and divers back in shape. To create a team-bonding atmosphere this past week, the athletes spent Thursday morning running up and down Tussey Mountain.

After early alarm clocks went off and a short commute to the mountain, the swimmers and divers were ready to start this new adventure at 6 a.m. Standing in front of Tussey Mountain, which has an elevation of roughly 2,700 feet, everyone was ready to conquer the task at hand. Mental toughness became a factor when they realized they were going to be running it four or five times.

Freshman Kevin Glenn was not sure what to expect going into this practice, but pushed through the difficult practice with the help of his teammates.

"Our mentality when we got to Tussey was that we were going to do this challenge no matter what and we were going to get through it together," Glenn said. "Afterwards we knew we had all tried hard and it felt good knowing that I helped push others to be able to run up the mountain five times. Coming together as a team like this is one of the biggest differences between club swimming and college swimming."

Senior and captain of the women's team, Amy Modglin had a similar take on the whole experience and thought this practice showed how much the women's team supports each other and will help the team in the future of this season.

"Overall, it was a great experience as a team," Modglin said. "Knowing that your teammates are always behind you is what climbing a mountain together showed us. It will definitely help us at the end of the season and will give us a lot of confidence going into the season."

As opposed to past years, the divers have been joining the swimmers in dryland practices to create more unity between the two teams. Sophomore diver Meredith Harbison has enjoyed the unity factor over the past couple of weeks.

"In past years, the divers and swimmers were separate," Harbison said. "We had our own circuits and dryland, but this year we are more of one team and are doing everything together. We are getting in good shape and everyone has been really supportive."

Harbison also noticed a strong team bond form after running the mountain with the swimmers.

"Some of the girls ran the mountain four times while the faster runners went up a fifth time to support the girls that were falling behind," Harbison said. "It really showed our team bond of not leaving anyone behind and we all cheered to try and keep everyone motivated."       

Grzywacz's Penalty Strokes Give Lions the Edge

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A quick glance at the stat sheet would give the impression that the Penn State field hockey team enjoyed a comfortable win over Cornell on Sunday.

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The Nittany Lions recorded 32 shots compared to Cornell's three, but the contest was much closer than the uneven spread would suggest.

Giving the edge to Penn State in the low scoring affair was junior Brittany Grzywacz, whose two penalty stroke goals in the first half served as the only two scores in the Nittany Lion's 2-0 victory over the Big Red on Sunday.

There was no question for head coach Charlene Morett and the Nittany Lions as to who would take the penalty strokes--Grzywacz had established herself as the team's own penalty stroke specialist.

"I think she really stepped up when we needed her," said senior captain Hannah Allison in regards to Grzywacz's penalty strokes. "She practices those strokes every day and clearly came through in the clutch."

Grzywacz's two goals brought her tally to six on the season, four of which have come from penalty strokes.

Her perfect success rate from the charity strike isn't by chance--for she has been shooting, and scoring, to that same lower left corner of the cage all season.

"It's the same spot that I've been going to since I've been stroking," said Grzywacz. "It is just repetition and practicing it over and over again."

The two Nittany Lion scores came within the first eight minutes of the contest against the Big Red, leaving 62 minutes of scoreless hockey and missed opportunities by both squads.

"We need to finish," said Allison. "We are getting the shots, we are getting the corners, but it's all about finishing now and I'm sure that will be in the practice plan this week."

For Coach Morett and the Nittany Lions, finishing on offense and finding the back of the cage is just a matter of generating as many opportunities as possible.

"I really thought that we weren't drawing enough corners which is really our bread and butter," said Morett. "In the first half I thought we were just missing our mark and we weren't keeping possession."

Despite the scoring difficulties, Morett and the Nittany Lions were pleased with how they moved and possessed the ball in the second half.

"We did a really good job of getting the ball down the field and into the circle," said Grzywacz. "We talked at halftime about trying to draw a foul in the circle to get more corners."

Following the conclusion of the low-scoring affair, Penn State players and coaches stuck around the Penn State Field Hockey Complex to host a youth clinic.

"I give our players a lot of credit for staying out here and being enthusiastic," said Morett. "Field hockey is a great sport and if we don't promote it ourselves we can't ask others to do it."

Sunday's game against Cornell marked the third game in four days for the Nittany Lions, but the squad won't have long to rest as they prepare to host Lock Haven on Wednesday evening.

The team will get a break from practice on Monday, but will return to the film room and the field on Tuesday to draw up a game plan for the last home game before entering conference play.

VIDEO: An Interview with Patrick Chambers (Part I)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers sits down for a two-part interview with GoPSUsports.com to talk about the team's progress in 2011-12, improvement during the offseason and a preview the 2012-13 hoops season.  The Nittany Lions kick off the exhibition season on Nov. 3 against Philadelphia University.

Take a look at part one of the video interview.


Perri and Fischer Lead Lions, as Women Take Top Spot, Men Finish Third

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - As rain poured down at the Blue and White Golf Course Saturday morning, the Penn State women's cross country team surged to a first place finish in team standings at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, while the men's team took third place.

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Competing against a selection of schools that featured Princeton, Navy, West Virginia, Ohio, Delaware, Georgetown, Rutgers, Geneseo State, St. Joseph's, and St. Francis, the women's team placed five runners in the top ten to edge out Princeton 25-52 in points, while the men's squad finished behind Princeton and Georgetown in points at 25-57-78.

Afterward, head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan remained very positive about not only the winning performance of the women, but also the grittiness displayed by the men.

"The women really showed up today and had a great day," said Sullivan. "On the men's side we weren't perfect by any means, but we held our own."

Junior Tori Perri and Sophomore Matt Fischer led their respective squads with second place finishes, while the women's team also got top ten finishes from Senior Natalie Bower (third), Junior Rebekka Simko (fourth), Senior Brooklyne Ridder (sixth), and Sophomore Leigha Anderson (10th).

"Matt Fischer really had a breakout day," said Sullivan. "On the other side just great racing from Tori, Bekka, Natalie, and Brooklyne with Leigha really stepping up."

Perri, who finished second overall to Ohio's Julie Accurso with a time of 21:20, seemed to think her high finish was somewhat unexpected.

"I was pretty surprised," said Perri. "Everyone's in really good shape this year, so I wasn't sure which one of us was going to be up front."

One thing that Perri did attribute her strong showing to was the amount of dedication she showed in the offseason.

"I trained better this summer than I had before," said Perri. "The training is finally catching up with me."

Fischer, who made his season debut and finished second to Princeton's Alejandro Yamin with a 26:07, seemed confident in his ability to place high.

"I felt like I could do pretty well and give a good performance today," said Fischer.

After opening the season with a pair of victories against Lock Haven last Saturday, both squads knew they'd be in for a different kind of challenge competing against an assortment of schools instead of just one.

"In a race like this you really need to be able to run your team strategy and compete together," said Sullivan.

Although the meet was different from the one they had run a week ago, runners such as Perri felt as though the larger scale environment was a good experience for the team to encounter.

"This is more of what college racing is all about," said Perri.  "I like that we can get used to it early in the season and see what we can do."

Another prospect that both squads had to face was the rain, which began shortly after the women's race began, and ended midway through the men's race.

While the rain certainly didn't make anything easier, both teams maintained that it did not affect their performance.

"I honestly didn't even notice it," said Perri. "I was so in the mind set of racing that it wasn't a factor at all."

Fischer agreed that the weather was not a hindrance to the team.

"Rain really doesn't matter," said Fischer. "We workout in this rain and mud all the time so its kind of fun."

Not only were the squads unfazed by the weather, but they also enjoyed being back on their home course.

"Our knowledge of the course really paid off," said Sullivan.  "We had a nice home opener and I was very pleased."

The Nittany Lions do not race again until Sept. 29, when they travel to Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews at Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Hear from quarterback Matt McGloin, linebacker Michael Mauti, offensive guard John Urschel, wide receiver Allen Robinson, safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and defensive tackle Jordan Hill after Saturday's 17-16 setback at Virginia.


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VIDEO: Bill O'Brien Postgame at Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Watch head coach Bill O'Brien address the media following the 17-16 setback at Virginia on Saturday afternoon.


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Week Two In-Game Blog - Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.  Check back often for running updates as the action unfolds.

Take a look back at Penn State's 17-16 setback to the Cavaliers on Saturday...

Halftime - Penn State 7, Virginia 3
The first half in Charlottesville featured a little bit of everything.  Penn State marched 75 yards in 17 plays on its opening drive to claim a 7-0 lead.  Matt McGloin found Kyle Carter from eight yards out, which capped a 6:27 drive.  The Nittany Lions then caught a break on Virginia's first offensive play when Michael Mauti forced a turnover, setting up the offense with a first down at the Virginia 17 yard line.  The drive ended with a missed field goal.  The Lion defense created another turnover on a superb defensive play from Jordan Hill.  Hill's interception handed the Nittany Lions a first down at the 19 of UVa.  The end result proved to be the same, though.  Penn State failed to connect on a field goal attempt.  Virginia manufactured one field goal drive to cap the scoring at 7-3.  The big story for Penn State, though, was Matt McGloin.  The senior quarterback took a helmet off his throwing elbow in the first half.  True freshman Steven Bench, who became Penn State's first true freshman QB to appear in a game since Rob Bolden in 2010, played on the final drive in the second quarter with McGloin nursing the bruised nerve in his elbow.  Penn State's defense played very well in the first half, limiting Virginia to just 95 yards in the first half.

Third Quarter - Virginia 10, Penn State 7
Virginia received the opening kickoff of the second half and scored a touchdown following 77-yard drive.  The Cavalier score set the score at 10-7, UVa with 9:22 to play in the quarter.  Penn State answered with a 72-yard drive, which was fueled by a pair of McGloin completions to Alex Kenney (23 and 24 yards).  The Nittany Lions were stopped at the 3 yard line, but missed the short field goal.  Virginia handed the ball back to the Nittany Lions on a fumbled exchange between Rocco and his center.  Gerald Hodges hopped on the loose ball, but the Lions were not able to capitalize on the short field.  The score remains at 10-7, Virginia, as the teams head into the fourth quarter.

Final: - Virginia 17, Penn State 16
The Nittany Lions jumped on top of Virginia after a spectacular diving touchdown catch from sophomore wide out Allen Robinson.  Robinson's score put the Nittany Lions up 13-10, but the extra point was blocked.  Sam Ficken added a field goal on Penn State's next drive, which started deep inside Virginia territory after Deion Barnes notched a sack-fumble.  From there, Penn State had the ball one more time and punted.  Virginia took over possession at the 8:04 mark in the fourth quarter.  The Cavaliers used 6:36 and covered 86 yards before scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 1:28 on the clock.  With the score set at 17-16, Cavaliers, Penn State had one more chance to win.  As the Lions have done time and time again at practice, McGloin marched the offense deep inside Virginia territory while operating the 2-minute drill.  Nonetheless, Sam Ficken's 42-yard field goal attempt as time expired sailed wide left, sealing a one-point win for Virginia.

 

Statistically, the Nittany Lions took significant strides forward on defense.  Penn State held UVa under 300 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers and tallied 7.0 tackles for loss.  The defense will still work on its ability to get off the field on third down, but the unit made good progress on Saturday, led by a stellar day from Michael Mauti.  Offensively, the Nittany Lions obtained possession inside Virginia's 40-yard line four times, but came away with only three total points.  Additionally, the Lions missed four field goals and had an extra point blocked.  The team showed signs of good progress and competed for a road victory, but execution will continue to be a point of emphasis on the practice field this week as the Nittany Lions prepare for Saturday's contest against Navy.

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Pregame Reading:

- Good morning from Scott Stadium in steamy Charlottesville.  The Nittany Lions arrived at the stadium just before 9:30 a.m. this morning in preparation for today's noon kick with the Cavaliers.  The weather will be hot and humid throughout the contest with temperatures reaching the mid 80s.  There is a chance of thunderstorms late in the game, so we will keep an eye on that.

- Senior running back Derek Day will start at running back this afternoon in place of the injured Bill Belton.  Belton did not make the trip as he continues treatment on his sprained ankle.  Coach O'Brien said that the Nittany Lions will also use Zach Zwinak and Curtis Dukes in the backfield today.  You could also see freshman Akeel Lynch in the backfield, as well.

 

- The Nittany Lions will be looking to sustain offensive drives by converting on third down.  Additionally, the same is true on defense, as the Lions will be looking to get off of the field on third down.  That was a point of emphasis throughout the week of practice.

- Virginia junior quarterback Michael Rocco is an efficient player with good arm strength and sound decision making ability.  The son of a former Nittany Lion quarterback, Frank Rocco Jr., Rocco tallied a 311-yard outing in Virginia's week one victory over Richmond.  Rocco has several weapons in the receiving corps, but keep an eye on his ability to complete short passes to move the chains on Saturday.  Penn State needs to find a way to put some pressure on Rocco this afternoon.

 

- Stay tuned throughout the day for updates.  We will be on the field during the first half, so look for an update at halftime recapping the first half of action.




Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Gameday Photo Blog: Virginia

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Welcome to the GoPSUsports.com Gameday Photo Blog for the Virginia game.  Take a look through some images of the first road game of the 2012 season.

Gameday

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Travel Day

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Virginia Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Head on the Road

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Virginia Week Gameday Central

Virginia Week Q&A with Running Backs Coach Charles London

VIDEO: Wednesday Practice Interviews


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions head on the road for the first time in the Bill O'Brien era on Saturday with a matchup at Virginia (Noon on ABC).

Penn State took a 14-3 halftime lead in front of an enthusiastic Beaver Stadium crowd last week against Ohio, but the Bobcats rallied in the second half for a 24-14 victory.  This week, Penn State is set to take on Virginia for the first time since 2002.  Additionally, Saturday's contest marks Penn State's first trip to Charlottesville since the 2001 season. 

The Nittany Lions moved the ball well during the season-opener last week, and Coach O'Brien talked throughout the week about the many positives the team took away from the Ohio game.  Read through a list of things to watch for in week two.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
1.  Close games often come down to execution during a few key plays.  Last week, the Nittany Lions came up short on a handful of opportunities.  And Ohio made big plays when it needed to, which proved to be the difference in the game.  Making plays on both sides of the ball has been a point of emphasis throughout the week on the practice field.  The Nittany Lions are expecting a battle with a very good Virginia team, and big plays could again decide the outcome on Saturday afternoon.

2.  Senior quarterback Matt McGloin set a career high with 27 completions in the season-opener against Ohio.  Sophomore wide out Allen Robinson also had a career day with nine catches for 97 yards.  But the first thing both players would say about the season-opener is that the offense needs to do a better job sustaining drives and converting on third down.  Penn State manufactured two drives of 10 or more plays in the season opener that did not result in points.  The Lions are looking to change that on Saturday afternoon by moving the ball and converting drives into points.  Look for senior running back Derek Day to play a big role on the offense against Virginia.

3.  Going hand-in-hand with making more big plays is the Penn State defense's ability to force turnovers.  The Nittany Lions did not force a turnover in the week one setback to Ohio.  Meanwhile, the Bobcats forced three Penn State miscues.  This week, the entire defense has spent a great deal of time creating turnovers on the practice field.  Virginia's offensive line is a superb unit with great size.  Keep an eye on the matchup between Penn State's front four and Virginia's offensive line, as well.  Getting off the field on third down is also crucial.

What to Watch For - Virginia
1.  Junior quarterback Michael Rocco is an efficient player with good arm strength and sound decision making ability.  The son of a former Nittany Lion quarterback, Frank Rocco Jr., Rocco tallied a 311-yard outing in Virginia's week one victory over Richmond.  Rocco has several weapons in the receiving corps, but keep an eye on his ability to complete short passes to move the chains on Saturday.

2.  Virginia fields a veteran front seven on defense, which includes four seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup.  The defensive line is a big, talented group that will be looking to stop the Penn State rushing attack.  The Cavaliers need a big afternoon from a young, inexperienced secondary, which features four sophomore starters.  Keep an eye on the matchup between the Cavalier defensive backs or linebackers and Penn State tight ends Kyle Carter and Matt Lehman.

3.  Coach O'Brien is no stranger to being an opposing coach at Virginia.  In his ACC coaching days, O'Brien competed at Scott Stadium on six different occasions.  Throughout the week, he has told the team and media that Scott Stadium is a very loud place to play.  The Lions have practiced with loud music at practice all week, but Virginia wants to use its home crowd as an advantage.  Head coach Mike London will have his team ready to play, and the Cavaliers will be fired up to play the Nittany Lions and will be looking for a quick start on offense.


Gameday Rundown
Kickoff: 12:01 p.m.
TV: ABC - Mike Patrick (PBP), Ed Cunningham (Analyst), George Smith (Sidelines)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network - Steve Jones (PBP), Jack Ham (Analyst), Loren Crispell (Sidelines)
Stadium: Scott Stadium (61,500) - Natural Grass
Coaches: Bill O'Brien - 0-1, 1st season
Mike London - 13-13 at Virginia (37-18 overall), 3rd season at Virginia
The Series: Eighth Meeting


The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions head to Virginia looking to build some confidence as the non-conference season reaches the halfway point on Saturday.  Without question, the senior leaders were disappointed with the week one outcome, but one game does not define a season.  Penn State enters week two with 11 more opportunities to get better.  The Lions had a good week of practice, but the trip to Virginia will be a stiff test.  A large portion of Penn State's roster has not played a lot of football on Saturdays, let alone on the road.  With that being said, focus level is going to be crucial for the Nittany Lions.  As it does every week, the game will come down to execution on both sides of the ball and on special teams.  Look for the Lion offense to have a few new wrinkles as it works to turn sustained drives into points.  The weather forecast is predicting a warm, humid afternoon with a chance of showers.


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Wolverton Notches Shutout as Lions Tie West Virginia

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With 10 minutes to go in regulation Penn State knew Big East foe West Virginia was going to turn on the heat through the air. After making adjustments to counter the Mountaineer air attack, the Nittany Lions had numerous opportunities to break the scoreless tie late in the second half.

Within 2:30 of game time, Penn State had three golden chances to score, but they could not connect.

Julian Cardona had a one on one opportunity denied by Mountaineer goal keeper Pat Eavenson, followed by two header chances from Kelton Cheney and Owen Griffith that went wide and high respectively.

Then, the pressure shifted to the Penn State defense as West Virginia changed the pace and pressed goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton, who was starting his first match after an injury that kept him sidelined for most of the first four matches this season.

Wolverton first stopped a Shadow Sebele shot in the 84th minute and then helped the defense force another Sebele shot high to force overtime at Jeffery Field.

"Always as a goalie you don't really touch the ball for 78 minutes and then you are asked to make a big save and its just part of the game as a goalie and you just have to focus all the time," said Wolverton.

In the first and second overtimes chances were limited for both sides, but it was Wolverton once again that came through for Penn State by stopping a header attempt from Craig Stephens with less than three minutes left in the second overtime.

Wolverton credited a strong start in the first half to be prepared for a tight second half.

"You have to start strong in a game to get your confidence up especially with an injury and that really helped with the team and their confidence and they know I'm back to hopefully 100 percent," said Wolverton.

With the match ending in a draw, neither side was happy with the outcome, but head coach Bob Warming was satisfied with the team's effort in the second half and recognizes the job they did against a tough West Virginia team.

"In the second half I thought we played really well, we created a lot of chances and we got behind them more and got more crosses," said Warming. "All the credit to West Virginia, they are going to be a hard out this year."

Warming also touched on the play of Wolverton and how his coaching staff has helped the sophomore keeper return to full form after a long time away from the field with his injury.

"I think the big thing with Wolverton is that it's not like he was any faster than he was last year, it is just that Bo (Oshoniyi) is a great coach and has him playing high off his line so instead of starting inside the six yard box to get those balls," said Warming.

"He was starting at the penalty spot and a little bit higher and he had 6 or 7 less yards of ground to cover and he was getting on the end of all of those and making plays for us."

Penn State has the week off before a weekend two-game homestand against Albany on Friday at 7 p.m. and Adelphi on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

Lions Make Momentous Surge, Fall in Overtime

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Fourteen minutes and 16 seconds. When fans, players, and coaches look for those clutch, crunch-time moments in a game, they usually think that there is much less time remaining on the clock than nearly a quarter of an hour.

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Not for Penn State field hockey head coach Charlene Morett--because 14:16 is what the clock showed when she decided that her team needed to gain back some momentum in a heated defensive battle and 3-2 overtime loss to the Princeton Tigers on Thursday night.

At this key moment, Morett called a timeout--and had a clear message for her team. Be organized.

"We were getting a little tired and disorganized on the field," said Morett. "I thought I'd bring them back in, pep them up a little bit, and organize them better with our formation and our structure."

Prior to the timeout, the Nittany Lions had just surrendered a tie-breaking goal to the Tigers and were now more in need than ever to capitalize on one of their many goal-scoring opportunities.

In enters sophomore Katie Andrews off the bench for the Nittany Lions.

What was on her mind? Capitalize.

"Right spot at the right time. I just got in and got it finished," said Andrews in regards to the game-tying and eventually overtime-forcing goal that she scored after the crucial timeout.

"The build up was awesome. A lot of our forwards touched the ball but I was just lucky to get that last touch on it."

The Nittany Lions' bench erupted after Andrews found the back of the cage. It was as if 45 minutes worth of frustration of not being able to find the cage, after so many close opportunities, was lifted off their shoulders.

"I thought Katie Andrews was just outstanding," said Morett. "She's the kid who came off the bench and was just a difference maker today."

Andrew's goal came with just under 14 minutes remaining in the contest against the Tigers. It was a clutch, momentum-gaining moment, but plenty of time still remained.

As possession switched back-and-forth between the teams, the clock dwindled down until the Nittany Lions found themselves with another opportunity--this time with only two and a half minutes remaining.

Senior forward Kelsey Amy found herself racing down the left side of the field with four Princeton defenders surrounding her, and was able to get the ball into her team's offensive zone.

For the next two minutes, the Nittany Lions offense was unable to get the ball out of the corner to create another legitimate goal-scoring chance.

With just seconds remaining in the contest, the Tigers showed that they weren't quite content with overtime. The Princeton attack drove down the field, and earned a penalty corner attempt with no time remaining on the clock.

The Tigers generated a great shot attempt out of the penalty corner, but Penn State goalkeeper Ayla Halus denied the shot with a kick save.

The game entered a sudden death, 15-minute overtime period.

"Heading into overtime, we were just talking about possession and about how once we get that breakaway, go with it," said Andrews. "We have fifteen minutes to get it done."

The Nittany Lions stormed down the field in the first minute of overtime, but the Princeton defense shut down Amy's scoring attempt and forced her into the corner.

Two minutes and 17 seconds after the overtime period began, Princeton capitalized on their transition play and scored the sudden death, game-ending goal under Halus' diving save attempt.

"I think we played a full 70 minutes today," said Andrews. "It was a tough loss, but our attitude and effort was a full 70 minutes today out there on the field and it was a full team effort."

The Nittany Lions will take the field again on Saturday as they travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple at 1 p.m.

After Opening Meet Victories, Sullivan Looks Forward to Season

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By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - As her teams continued to prepare for their home opener, Penn State cross country head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan couldn't contain her excitement for not only the upcoming meet, but also for the entire season as a whole.

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"In general, I'm really excited about the season," said Sullivan. "The kids are really fit and prepared for a challenge."

Both the men's and women's squads will get their next challenge on Saturday when they open up their home schedule with the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. The meet will begin at 10 a.m. at the Blue and White Golf Course.

"This weekend will be fun," said Sullivan. "Our course is a great spectator course and it's a really fun place to see our sport."

Sullivan hopes her runners can find the same success on Saturday that they had this past weekend, when both her squads were victorious against Lock Haven University at the Dolan Duals.

Although Sullivan was very pleased with the performance of both squads against Lock Haven, she was particularly impressed with the men's team.

"We felt were going to be strong on the women's side and handle them pretty well, but on the men's side we didn't run three or four of our top guys," said Sullivan. "We took some chances but we held onto it really well."

One thing that Sullivan attributes her team's fast start too is the dedication they displayed during the offseason.

"Their summer training has really paid off," said Sullivan. "They have to do a lot of independent training and log a lot of miles and they did that."

Senior captain Brooklyne Ridder shared her coach's sentiment regarding how much the team has benefited from their hard work.

"Coming in and racing the way that we did at Lock Haven definitely showed that everyone did their summer training and is in really good shape," said Ridder.

Another reason that Sullivan feels has gotten both teams off to a hot start is the leadership being displayed by senior captains Ridder, Natalie Bower, and Lindsey Graybill for the women's team, as well as Tyler Corkedale and Thomas Luff for the men's team.

"They've stepped up their game big time," said Sullivan. "They're physically very fit but they're also great chemistry people good at bringing the best out of the group."

While Sullivan has been thrilled with the performance of her captains, they themselves have been impressed with the hard work being displayed by the new freshmen.

"The new guys have been great," said Corkedale. "Sometimes freshmen come in without having done the training but these guys have done everything that they were supposed to and are in great shape."

Ridder agreed that the freshmen on the women's team have been equally strong.

"The freshmen have been keeping up with us and have definitely come in trained," said Ridder. "They fit in great with the team and we're really glad to have them."

If their hard work continues, Sullivan thinks both squads have the potential to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

"The women will be in contention to win the Big Ten Title and they'll want to qualify for the National Championships," said Sullivan. "Our men's team will look to crack the top five of the conference and try and get to the National Championships as well."

Sullivan acknowledged that these goals are a challenge, but maintained that she is looking forward to it.

"The whole season is going to be challenging," said Sullivan. "That's something that I love that about this sport."

Virginia Week Q&A with RB Coach Charles London

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions will travel to Virginia in preparation for Saturday's matchup against the Cavaliers on Friday.

As the team puts its final touches on the gameplan, GoPSUsports.com sat down with running backs coach Charles London in his office to talk about his unit as the Lions prepare for UVa.

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GoPSUsports.com: What is your overall evaluation of the way your unit played on Saturday against Ohio?
London
: "I think the guys when out there and played hard. Obviously we had a few mistakes; we had a costly turnover on the first drive. But overall, the guys made a great effort, played hard, and I was pretty much pleased with what they did."

GoPSUsports.com: What was your message in the film room?
London
: "We just have to get better. We have to protect the football, we can't just turn it over, and we have to be a little more crisp on our pass routes. That's just one game, let's move forward, let's focus on Virginia and get the job done this week."

GoPSUsports.com
: With Bill Belton day-to-day, how is the overall depth behind Bill that will step up, if need be?
London
: "Well, if Bill's not available to go, Derek Day will be available - I thought he had a solid game the other day. He came in and it was probably the most carries he's ever had since he's been here, so he came in and did a good job. Then the other guys, someone will have to step. There's Curtis Dukes, there's Zach Zwinak, there's Akeel Lynch, so if need be one of those guys will have to step up and provide some depth. As we always talked about in that room it's next man up so we'll see who comes forward."

GoPSUsports.com
: How has Akeel Lynch progressed since he got on campus?
London
: "Akeel has done very well. He's a bright kid with good football instincts. He understands what we're trying to do in the run and the pass game. He's coming along nicely. He's going to be a good player for us here at Penn State."

GoPSUsports.com
: What types of things do you do on the practice field to make sure the players are well-rounded backs?
London
: "We ask the running backs at Penn State to do a lot. Being a pro-style offense you can't go out there and just be able to run the ball. You have to be able to understand blitz pick-ups, run good routes, and be a complete player. So we try to focus on everything during practice. We'll do specific drills to address the run game. We'll do specific drills for pass protection. We'll go catch routes with the quarterbacks. So we need well-rounded players who can do it all."

GoPSUsports.com
: What have you seen from Virginia's defense on film?
London
: "Well, they're a big, physical defense. Their defensive front's tall - 6-4, 6-5 - long guys who look like basketball players. They have three pretty good linebackers who run well. They are a little inexperienced in the secondary. They play hard and have some athletic guys. It will be a challenge for us this week."

GoPSUsports.com
: You've been to Scott Stadium in the past, what type of atmosphere can the team expect?
London
: "It will be loud. It's a pretty crazy place. It's not the biggest stadium in the ACC but certainly one of the loudest, especially being the first road game of the year. We can expect a challenge.  We practice with crowd noise and do things like that because we'll need it this week.

GoPSUsports.com: Coach O'Brien has talked a lot this week about wanting to keep a balance between passing and running. But the offense will do whatever is necessary to win, if that means running ball 50 times or throwing 50 times.  What do you think about that, in terms of doing what's necessary to win but also keeping in mind the balance?
London
: "Balance is something we've talked about a lot this week in our offensive staff room, and I think if we can run the ball effectively, it'll open up some things for us in the pass game as well. It won't put as much pressure on Matt (McGloin) and some of those guys. You have to walk a fine line. At times you have to throw it to win and at times you need to run it to win. Coach O'Brien does a really good job of trying to balance things up. I know to be successful on Saturday we're going to need a big performance from the running back group and I look forward to seeing them compete."

GoPSUsports.com
: What has Derek Day's journey been like? What type of guy is he?
London
: "Derek's great. He's great in the room, one of the older guys in the room so I tease him about that a little bit. He's solid. You know what you're going to get from Derek everyday. If I ask him on a run play - here's your steps, here's your aiming point, here's where you have to be, you know it's going to get done the way it's suppose to be coached. He's very smart and knows his pass protections. He's been around a while and played some football. He's really a special teams ace for us, he's been on all four of the special teams and does a great job on there. He's just a guy that I have no problem putting in the game at any time because I know he's going to get the job done."

GoPSUsports.com: What are you keys to the game? What does your unit need to do well on Saturday?
London
: "First and foremost we have to protect the football. We can't have costly turnover that's going to cause us to lose momentum. We need to run the ball some - we need to be effective there and make sure we're aware of their blitz pick-up and our guys and things of that sort, too. We have to be ready to play."


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nairn Elevates Her Game, Ignites Women's Soccer

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By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior midfielder Christine Nairn made it her mission to prove she could be one of the nation's elite the moment she put on her Penn State uniform freshman year.

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Move forward three years and Nairn finds herself leading the No. 8 Nittany Lions to a strong 5-1 start despite missing the team's top two goal scorers in Maya Hayes and Taylor Schram, who are playing for the US national team in the U-20 Women's World Cup, along with a defense decimated by injury.  Nairn leads the team in goals (7) and assists (4) and has consistently stepped up when Penn State has needed her most.  Head coach Erica Walsh sees her as the core of the Nittany Lion squad this year and praised the senior's performance thus far.

"She is the best player in the country right now," said coach Walsh.  "She is leading, she is making everyone around her better and that's why I feel like I can make that statement."

Nairn has solidified herself as the puppet master on offense, boasting superior ball control and incredibly accurate passing that sets the tone during an attack.  She also possesses a cannon for a leg, which has successfully scored from nearly 35 yards out and is lethal on both free kicks and penalty kicks. Her teammates are able rally around her and their support fuels her confidence.

"My confidence is always within the team," said Nairn.  "They bring out the best in me and hopefully I help to bring out the best of them every game and make everyone around me better."

During the offseason, Nairn made a personal decision, after speaking with her coaches, to take her fitness to the next level.  She then proceeded to lace up her running shoes and work out like she never had before, day after day, and the results were apparent almost immediately.  Nairn's seven goals through six games more than doubled the total number she scored during the previous season.

"I kind of had a tough conversation with the coaches last spring to get back together with my fitness and I took that with a grain of salt and just ran off with it, literally," Nairn laughed.  "It's definitely been awesome.  I can definitely see changes with my game."

Nairn and Walsh share a unique relationship, forged when the Arnold, Md., native approached the head coach and said she wanted to compete with the top players in the world.  Coach Walsh promptly informed her disciple that such a goal was no joke and if Nairn wanted to play like the best, then she would have to train like them as well.

"I think the uniqueness of our relationship stems from the fact that since the day she arrived here she told me she wanted to be the best and I don't take that lightly," said coach Walsh.  "I've been riding her for three years because it was her goal, not the one I set for her."

Though coach Walsh was never afraid to work Nairn to the limit, the senior refused to shy away from a challenge and valued her coach's toughness, which would help prepare her for the future.

"[Coach Walsh] always pushes me to that next level," said Nairn.  She knows that my end goal is to be in with the national team and that's my strive to be here every day and she pushes me to that level."

The end result was a talented, fit soccer player who understands the game, plays for the team as much as herself and is set to lead her alma mater through to the very end.  Coach Walsh couldn't be happier with Nairn's accomplishments and the athlete she became.

"I have to say, I don't know if I've ever been so proud of a player as I've been of Christine this year in terms of the transformation in every way, shape and form," said coach Walsh.

Nairn's experience taught her a valuable lesson, which she hopes to pass on to the generations that follow in her footsteps: have an appreciation for what life hands you, don't let it slip away.

"Don't ever take anything for granted," advised Nairn.  "Some of these friendships and relationships that I've had with people, with athletics and academics, they're going to be with me for the rest of my life and I'm proud to say that I went to Penn State."

The Nittany Lions (5-1-0) travel to Utah on Friday, where they will face the 4-1 Brigham Young Cougars. The game is set to start on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.


VIDEO: Deja McClendon and Micha Hancock Talk Setting

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a pair of Top 10 victories over Stanford and Texas, the second-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team travels to Chicago this weekend for matches against DePaul, Oregon State and Illinois-Chicago.

In a new video feature for the 2012 season, junior outside hitter Deja McClendon took some time to discuss the art of setting with sophomore setter Micha Hancock prior to practice this week.  Take a look at an informative conversation between two integral pieces to the Penn State attack.


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Team Learns From Georgetown Loss, Focuses on West Virginia

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time this season, Bob Warming and his team found themselves on the other side of the box score after a 2-1 loss at Georgetown on Sunday.

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Penn State (3-1) came out slow in the first half and then played an impressive second half, in the eyes of their head coach.

"It wasn't that we were that bad, it was that they were really, really good," said Warming. "The thing I enjoyed about the team was that even though they were exhausted and that it was hot, they just fought like crazy in the second half to put themselves back in the game."

Now after a three day layoff the Nittany Lions will play host to another tough opponent in No. 22 ranked West Virginia (2-2). The Mountaineers have already faced off against defending national champs North Carolina and a top 20 team in Wake Forest.

The way West Virginia has battled against both of those opponents has alerted Warming and he knows the match won't be an easy one for his team.

"We haven't beat West Virginia since 1990 and that is a long time," he said. "They played UNC Chapel Hill who is undefeated this year and UNC had one shot in the first half at home. They are a pretty tough out."

For players like senior defender Brian Forgue, they will look back on the Georgetown loss and use what they learned about themselves to prepare for the Mountaineers.

"We showed what this team is capable of in terms of keeping the ball on the ground and flow of play and not losing our cool when we are down 1-0," said Forgue. "If anything it showed resiliency and I think that is a great quality to have in a successful team."

Senior midfielder Julian Cardona also learned from the way they played against Georgetown and said that the team must play a better first half to be successful in the second half.

"We can play with anybody we just have to have the right mindset starting the game," said Cardona.

West Virginia brings a very athletic team to Jeffery Field Thursday night and the ongoing improvement on the defensive side of the ball will be important for the Nittany Lions. With four new players on the defense, including a new goalkeeper in Emmanuel Martin, the transition wasn't going to be easy, but progress is being made.

"There is always things that we can work on," said Forgue. "We will get the communication down. It is certainly starting to pick up and that is a vital thing to being successful."

Warming acknowledged that the season is early and his defensive unit will not adjust right away, but the main positive is that they have only lost one game through the first four of a very early season.

"We just can't expect it to happen right away," said Warming. "Having said that, we have lost one game in seven now including the exhibition and the guys are doing okay."

The Penn State offense, which has scored eight goals in four games has been dominant on the offensive side of the ball and the success of their goal scorers, specifically Cardona, forward Danny Burnham and midfielder Minh Vu has helped the defense transition.

"Those three guys have put in the work and they certainly help us offensively in terms of production and work rate," said Forgue. "We need that especially against an opponent like West Virginia who is big, athletic so we are definitely going to need those guys to show up and all of our guys to show up, but those three will be pretty key."

VIDEO: Virginia Week Practice Interviews

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions completed their third practice of Virginia week in shoulder pads and shorts on Wednesday.

GoPSUsports.com caught up with senior running back Derek Day and junior safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong following practice for a mid-week update as the team closes in on its first road trip of the season.


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Blog - Ariel Scott, Sept. 5, 2012

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Saying this past weekend was exciting would be an understatement. Not only was it our home opener against Stanford, we finally hosted the Nike Big Four tournament after two long years of anticipation. There's nothing better than four great teams all playing under the same roof, especially when that roof happens to be Rec Hall.

 

ariel.jpgIt was a long preseason and we were all ready to put ourselves to the test against other top-ranked teams. This is what we work for all year. None of us could wait for the challenge. Monday rolled around and campus was buzzing. The air was thick with excitement. It was the home opener for football, the pep rally, and the Nike Big Four; what more could one ask for? Home games also mean the opportunity for us to see our friends and family. For many of us we saw our parents for the first time since the start of preseason. This, in addition to the commotion around football, we had to work extra hard to stay focused on what was important. We had a week of productive practices and preparation, and finally it was show time.

 

On Friday night we played Stanford. It was a long and grueling match against a great team. This was probably the longest match of many of our careers, lasting almost three hours. It was exactly the test we were asking for. A three-hour match does not only test your endurance, but tests your mental toughness and will to win.  It is safe to say we passed that test, coming away with the W in five sets.  Our next opponent was longtime rival, Texas. Although many of us were fatigued from the preceding match, we had to stay strong and prepare ourselves for Texas. We won the first set against them, but like coach always says, one set is not the match. We knew that they would play better the next two sets. After a three set slugfest we came away with another W. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. For now, back in the gym to prepare for the remainder of preseason and the commencement of Big Ten competition! ONE TEAM!

 

Blog - Deja McClendon, Sept. 5, 2012

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The weekend before classes began we were invited to play in the Active Ankle Challenge against WKU, Moorehead State, and U of L at the YUM Center in none other than my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky. Knowing that we were going to play in Kentucky made the end of preseason that much more motivating and exciting. We packed up our bags Thursday morning and headed to the airport anxious to play our first game of the season. deja.jpg

When we arrived in Louisville we took a trip downtown to DuPont Manual, my high school where I was recognized and my jersey was retired. It was amazing to see what kind of transition I had made from the high school game to now. It was an extremely proud and exhilarating moment to be representing Penn State and to be sharing a once-in-a-lifetime experience with my teammates.

One thing that I will never forget about this trip is how it felt to win a match in the YUM Center. At the start of the Louisville match I had a steady stream of chills running through my body almost like electricity. When the lights turned off for team introductions it was nearly impossible not to imagine the national championship that will be played there in December. Ever since I stepped foot in the arena in high school I knew it would be a dream come true to play a game there. Now I have expanded my dream to playing a championship match there. And that is what we are working for every day.

 

VIDEO: Michael Zordich Q&A - Virginia Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior fullback Michael Zordich to recap week one against Ohio and preview week two against Virginia.


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Week 2 Presser Roundup - Coach O'Brien Previews Virginia

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon to preview the Nittany Lions' trip to Virginia on Saturday.

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Among the many positives Coach O'Brien took from Saturday's season-opener was the play of several young players who started or appeared in their first game as Nittany Lions.  O'Brien reviewed week one and previewed week two.  Take a look through some of the key remarks from the Virginia week press conference.

Ohio Roundup
Coach O'Brien said that the Nittany Lions have a lot to build on from Saturday's season-opener against Ohio.  There were a few plays that went into Ohio's favor because the Bobcats stepped up when they needed to.  However, Penn State moved the ball and can build on its mistakes and take a lot positive things from Saturday's game.

"Usually close football games, they come down to eight or nine plays on both sides of the ball, especially in college football where you play‑‑ in the pros it's about five or six plays because you don't have as many plays, but in college football I'd say about eight or nine plays," Coach O'Brien said.  "We turned it over, they didn't turn it over.  They converted on third down in the second half on offense; we didn't convert on our offense on third down in the second half.  We had chances to break passes up, make interceptions.  We had chances to hit guys that were wide open or catch the ball being wide open, and we did not make those plays and Ohio did."

New Lingo
Rather than call the players who walk on to the Nittany Lion program "walk-ons", Coach O'Brien wants to label the group as "run-ons" for their hard work and dedication.  He said the "run-ons" do very little walking and wants to give the dedicated group a new title.  Additionally, teams often refer to the players who help the first-string offense and defense prepare for the week's opponent as the "scout team" or "foreign team".  Using a page out of the New England Patriots book, Coach O'Brien and the staff refer to that group as the "dirty show."

"When we practice, we divide it up in different ways, so we have certain periods that are ones on ones, twos on twos, then we have other periods that are walk‑through type periods, then we have periods where we need a look, like we need the Virginia look this week, so we have the dirty show come in and do some of that," O'Brien said.

Third Down
The Nittany Lions are working this week to improve on third down on both sides of the ball.  Conversion rates on offense, as well as getting off the field on third down on defense are two key areas O'Brien said the team will need to execute in this week.

"They have to have a better awareness of the sticks, meaning understanding what the down and distance is, how much they need for a first down," O'Brien said.  "They've got to understand when we call a pressure, where they're supposed to rush and what that might trigger in the passing game when we do pressure, meaning what the hot is, what the sight adjust is, things like that.  It's just overall awareness, and our guys are going to get better at that, and it's a new system, it's a new year.  Everything is new.  So again, I would expect us to definitely improve on 3rd down as the year goes on, on both sides of the ball."


Injury Update
Coach O'Brien provided an injury update for both senior cornerback Stephon Morris and sophomore tailback Bill Belton.  Morris and Belton both suffered ankle sprains on Saturday in the season-opener against Ohio.  Neither injury is serious, and both players are currently day-to-day.

"If they don't practice by Thursday or Friday then probably they'll be out of the game, but right now I would say it's day‑to‑day," Coach O'Brien said.  "It's probable, but again, won't really know until Thursday."

Heading on the Road
Saturday will mark O'Brien's first road trip of his career, but he is no stranger to games in Charlottesville.  O'Brien has coached at Virginia's Scott Stadium six times as a member of the Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke staffs.

"I think at the end of the day we've got to be able to deal with the crowd noise, because having gone to Charlottesville many times at Georgia Tech and Maryland and Duke, it's a very loud home crowd, it's a great home advantage for Virginia, and we've got to do a great job this week of practicing with the crowd noise because that's the biggest thing, not what they're yelling but how loud they are," O'Brien said.


Virginia QB Rocco Has Penn State Ties
Junior quarterback Michael Rocco (Lynchburg, Va.) posted a 25-for-37 effort for 311 yards and one touchdown in Virginia's season-opening win over Richmond (43-19) on Saturday.  This week, he will play against a school that his family has ties with.  Rocco's father, Frank Jr., is a former Penn State quarterback, who was on the 1982 National Championship team.  Additionally, Rocco's grandfather, Frank Sr., was an administrative assistant at Penn State for 19 years.  Frank Sr. was also the tight ends coach at Penn State in 1985.


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Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Season Preview

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a former Penn State student-athlete, this season I will aim to bring all the fans an interesting and unique angle to cover men's and women's swimming and diving.

As a junior studying Journalism in the College of Communications, I am eager for the opportunity to combine my passion for writing with my passion for sports. I have always been interested in sports and at a young age I started trying them all out. I went from soccer practice to swim practice to gymnastics, making sure I experienced most of the different types of sports.

I fell in love with swimming and gymnastics and continued to balance both of those while still keeping up with my schoolwork until my sophomore year in high school. At that point, it was time to make a tough decision regarding which sport I would continue to pursue and which one would take me further - swimming it was.

Since I have taken part with USA Swimming for 15 years, I have had experience at nearly every level of the sport from just taking swim lessons at a summer club to participating at one of the highest levels where I traveled all across the nation and later had the opportunity to become a part of a competitive Division I team, which you will find at Penn State University.

This season, I will strive to help every reader understand the commitment student-athletes must make to compete at the highest level, the difference between training for sprinters and distance swimmers, the tradition of the strong relationship that has been built between the Men's and Women's team compared to other universities who do not have combined teams. I will also share any differences between this season and past seasons in addition to several other traditions that the coaches have implemented for the swimmers and divers.

With the first team meeting last Tuesday followed by several dry-land practices through out the week, both the coaches and athletes are ready to get the season underway and continue moving up the rankings in the Big Ten Conference.

The upperclassmen have spent the past week welcoming the freshmen and making sure that they are adjusting well to a new home, a new practice schedule, and a new environment of learning. Before classes started, several of the seniors from the Women's team stopped by the freshmen dorms to take them on a campus walk and make sure they knew how to get to the buildings where they have classes.

At the football game against Ohio University this past Saturday, 600 athletes got the opportunity to walk on the field before the start of the game with t-shirts that read "One Team". This gesture marked the beginning of a new era for all of the athletes associated with Penn State University.

Both the men and women's swimming and diving teams met at The Natatorium before the game and walked over together. Sophomore Allie Roberts took part in this event and soaked in the moment.

"I thought it was an awesome way to start the year off," said Roberts. "After everything our school and athletic department have been through it felt amazing not only to be with my swimming teammates but also to come together with other athletes to support the football team and represent Penn State on the field."

With one week down, both teams are excited to put more work not only into the pool and the weight room, but also into the classroom to achieve the goals they have set out for this season.

Lions Hold On for Win Over Lafayette

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "See the field...do your job and see the field," Penn State field hockey head coach Charlene Morett said to her team late in the second half of Sunday's 3-2 win over Lafayette.

The Nittany Lions took an early lead in the contest against the Leopards, scoring just 26 seconds into the game, but ran into trouble in the second half when they struggled capitalizing on scoring chances.

"I don't think we played with the competitive spirit that we have played with in all of our other games," said Morett. "Vision and communication for 70 minutes...we didn't accomplish that."

Penn State entered the half leading 3-1, and was looking to avoid the same second-half struggles that they encountered in Friday's loss to Connecticut.

Although the Nittany Lions had difficulty finding the back of the cage in the second half, it wasn't due to a lack of opportunity.

The squad managed to tally 14 shots on goal in the second half alone, compared to Lafayette's nine. They also had an astounding 11 penalty corner attempts, but Lafayette's eight saves in the period squandered any and all scoring chances.

"We really didn't capitalize on the opportunities that we did get," said junior Lauren Purvis. "Sometimes that's just how it is."

The final goal of the game, scored by the Leopards, came with almost 20 minutes still left to play. After the score, the Nittany Lions dominated possession and scoring chances up until a very hectic final minute in which Lafayette made an offensive push.

As the Leopards drove up the field through the Penn State defense to try to put the game-tying goal on the board, Morett said just one thing to her team from the sidelines. "Get back, get back...we need you all on defense."

After a few rushed Lafayette shot attempts as the clock dwindled down, the Nittany Lions were finally able to clear the ball across midfield and secure the victory as time expired.

The win wrapped up a very impressive opening week to the season, in which Penn State earned three home victories and defeated two ranked opponents.

Although the outcome of the contest against the Leopards will fall into the victory column, the Nittany Lions are aware that there is a lot to learn from the matchup that was too close for comfort.

"We've got the endurance, we've got the skill," said senior goalie Ayla Halus, who made three saves in Sunday's matchup. "We do so much at practice...it's just a matter of taking it into our own hands and finally playing 70 minutes."

As for what is contributing to the lack of execution in the second half for Penn State, some players feel that it can be related to playing better as a team and exhibiting more focus.

"It's just mental focus," said Halus. "We have to push each other through it and make a play. It's a team effort and we are working at it every practice and it's going to come."

After a hectic weekend that consisted of two games in three days and an emotional pregame appearance at the Penn State football season-opener, the Nittany Lions will have three days of practice to prepare for their next challenge - the Princeton Tigers.

Princeton, ranked fourth in the nation, has four players on their squad that have trained with the U.S. national team for the past year.

The matchup will serve as the fourth game against an opponent ranked in the Top 10 for the Nittany Lions.

Game time is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

Nittany Lions Split Weekend with Duquesne and Georgetown

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a crowd of 4,000 fans on Friday night at Jeffery Field, the men's soccer team turned in a 1-0 victory over Duquesne to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2001. They then hit the road for a tough test at Georgetown where the inability to score late resulted in their first lost of the season with a final score of 2-1.

Friday night however, the Nittany Lions struggled a bit in the first half against Duquesne as the Dukes were able to spread out the Penn State offense, but head coach Bob Warming and his team were able to adjust in the second half.

"The first half was really ugly and not fun to watch," said Warming. "Once the defense got set and a little more spread out and kept the ball a little better and the second half was a lot of fun. We made the right adjustments at half time and played a little bit better."

Warming called it a chain reaction that produced a sloppy half of soccer, but once the center backs were able to spread out, the defense was able to play higher up on the field which resulted in more opportunities in the second half. However, forward John Gallagher said there was another important element at half time that resulted in the victory.

"We were feeling like it was the start of the game in the second half and we were feeling fresh and able to keep the ball and make them run by having them chase the ball the whole time," said Gallagher.

Gallagher and the rest of the Penn State offense's ability to spread the ball out in the second half turned into a huge corner kick opportunity halfway into the second half.

"I just lined up the ball and I have a set place where I look to put it right on top of the six yard box and Minh Vu was able to beat his guy to the ball and he got a great header," said Gallagher.

Vu had been around the ball constantly in the first two games and had another early opportunity in the first half on Friday, but was able to position himself well enough to finally get in the scoring column.

"I was in the post and there was a bigger guy in front of me so I just came all the way around and beat my guy to the ball," said Vu. "It feels good to score my third game in. I should have had a couple in the first two games but it feels good to put my first one in and now I have get a couple more now."

Prior to the Georgetown game Warming knew that his team would be confident after their 3-0 start and stressed the importance of being confident against a very good Georgetown team.

Georgetown dominated the ball on Sunday with 20 shots as opposed to the eight from Penn State and was able to force Penn State into a bad position as a Jimmy Nealis shot hit off of the post and hit a Nittany Lion defender and rolled into the net.

Only seven minutes into the second half Penn State was able to respond after Akil Howard set up Marvin Ledgister for a goal off of a crossing pass from Howard.

Georgetown then responded nearly two minutes later after another Georgetown shot hit off of the post giving the Hoyas the 2-1 lead. They never gave it back after stout defense and goaltending denied Hasani Sinclair and Julian Cardona from two golden opportunities within the last five minutes handing Penn State their first loss of the season.

Penn State returns home on Thursday as it welcomes West Virginia to Jeffrey Field at 7 p.m.

Nittany Lions Moving Forward as One Family

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 23 seniors on the field for Penn State Football in 2012 did not sign up to earn a degree and play football under the circumstances they have had to deal with during the past nine months.

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It's hard to even imagine walking in the shoes of the 23 players who began their final season for the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon.  The adversity they have faced isn't even quantifiable, and no one said the road in 2012 was going to be easy.

But time after time after time, they stepped up as leaders of the program.  On some occasions it was through their hard work.  On other occasions it was with their actions.  On July 25, it was with their words.

On the evening of July 24, just one day after the NCAA sanctions announcement, roommates Michael Mauti and Michael Zordich approached Coach O'Brien in his second story office inside the Lasch Building about their idea of a player statement to show the public, alums and fans their commitment to Penn State.

Mauti and Zordich then consulted with members of the squad, mostly seniors, to craft a statement.  With some editorial assistance from the communications staff, the senior tandem led a collection of more than 30 players onto the grass practice field adjacent to the Lasch Football Building.

The statement had been written, but Mauti and Zordich addressed a small crowd of cameras without ever referencing it.  With their teammates behind them, they spoke from the heart and uttered genuine words of commitment to Penn State University and Penn State Football.

Almost simultaneously, head coach Bill O'Brien was touching down inside a small plane in Hartford, Conn., for a trip to interview at ESPN.  When notified of the news that the players assembled to record their message, Coach O'Brien could not have been prouder of his senior leaders.

"I was certainly moved by that," O'Brien said.  "I felt pride, and I felt the same belief that I have had for the last six months since I have been here.  It is about these players and this coaching staff.  We have a bunch of great, smart, tough kids who couldn't wait to start playing football."

Since he arrived at Penn State, O'Brien has stated time and time again that he has been extremely impressed with the leadership from the seniors, and how can you argue.

Across the board, the 19 seniors have matured more in nine months than most college football student-athletes do in four years.  They want to be at Penn State, and they want to play football in front of 108,000 loyal supporters.

"We are going to stick together through this, we are going to get through this, and we are going to do everything we can for the university," Zordich said.  "We know it's not going to be easy, but we know what we are made of."

"We are playing for our team, we are playing for our coaches, and we are playing for Penn State this year," senior defensive tackle Jordan Hill added.  "As seniors, this is our last year, and we are going out to work hard every single day."

In many ways, the senior leadership played a huge role in holding the locker room together as one collective unit.  That group's leadership had an instrumental role in guiding the younger players in the locker room through the challenges.

"The senior class is a tremendous group of guys," sophomore Bill Belton said.  "They kept us together when we needed them most.  I can't express how much the seniors did for us and how much they mean to the team."

Belton is part of a small group of sophomores on the team that refers to itself as the "SupaSix".  Belton, along with wide receiver Allen Robinson, cornerback Adrian Amos, offensive tackle Donovan Smith, tight end Kyle Carter and defensive end Deion Barnes make up the "SupaSix".  They too, have stuck together and will remain loyal to the coaching staff, their teammates and the program.

"There are not many places in America where you can go out and play in front of 108,000 people," Robinson said.

"With everything we have been through, we know that we aren't going through this alone," sophomore offensive tackle Donovan Smith said.  "The fans truly care about us, and we care about them."

The list of younger players committed to the program does not end with the "SupaSix".  In total, 91 percent of the roster prior to the NCAA Sanctions remains in tact.  The locker room is closer than it has ever been.  Training camp practices were fiercely competitive between the offense and defense, but when Coach O'Brien's whistle ended each practice the team came together as one unit.

At no point during the process have the players viewed the situation they are in as a negative thing.  They approached every practice during training camp and the season with the mindset that they have been given a unique opportunity.

"We take this as an opportunity to create our own legacy," Mauti said.

"This opportunity means the world to me," senior linebacker Gerald Hodges said.  "Each and every day you wake up and you get to see your family.  This team is a family...To run out of the tunnel and see the fans cheering for us no matter what; I wouldn't trade it for the world."

No one wanted to win more than the senior class on Saturday afternoon, but the Nittany Lions fell short in their opener.  Nonetheless, the team will never lack the drive and effort necessary to compete every Saturday in 2012.  The team is back to work preparing for another tough opponent in Virginia.

As their head coach says, the true measure of a man is how he handles adversity.

"Right now, we are going to put our heads down and go to work," Mauti said.  "We are going to fight for Penn State.  We are going to fight for each other.  This is what Penn State is all about."

Before the team played a snap in 2012, and regardless of what the scoreboard says on Saturdays throughout the fall, the Nittany Lion players are winners.  They stuck together, worked hard and forged a bond as one collective group through the most difficult time the program has ever seen.

"When we go out each Saturday, we suit up for our teammates, first of all, but we suit up for our fans, the students and all of the families in Nittany Nation who support us through all of this," Zordich said.  "We are going to do everything in our power to make them proud."

The 2012 Penn State Football team is a special group with an unbreakable bond.

"We stand proud and we stand together," Coach O'Brien said of his team.

Heading into Virginia, they stand together as one team with one purpose on one mission as one family.


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Lions Roll Past Top 10 Foes in Home-Opener

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By Kelsey Detweiler, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On back-to-back nights, capacity crowds filed into Rec Hall to watch the No. 4-ranked Nittany Lion women's volleyball team take down two top volleyball programs.

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First, the Nittany Lions ousted No. 9 Stanford in five sets, playing more than two and a half hours of volleyball amidst 5,017 fans on Friday night. Not only was the victory Penn State's fourth straight win, but also the first time that the Lions defeated Stanford since the 2008 NCAA Championship match.

Junior right-side hitter Ariel Scott posted 26 kills and was the go-to girl on the offense while sophomore defensive specialist Lacey Fuller got a special nod from Penn State head coach Russ Rose for her timely play in the back row and a tally of 10 digs.

The next evening, Penn State matched up against an even higher-ranked powerhouse in No. 2 Texas. The Longhorns came out swinging and kept the Lions on their toes, but Penn State pushed the pace and swept Texas in front of another capacity crowd in Rec Hall.

Scott led the Lions' offense, again, with a match-high 12 kills against the Longhorns and junior outside hitter Deja McClendon followed with 11 to add to the attack. Fuller continued to control the back-row with nine key digs alongside freshman outside hitter Megan Courtney who subdued eight big swings from the Texas offense.

After a winning weekend that puts Penn State at a perfect 5-0 mark to start the 2012 season, coach Rose said that he was frankly just impressed.

"We beat a good team with a great crowd again in Rec Hall and it's a progression for sure," said Rose.

Rose noted the strong play and composure of Courtney in particular, who was the only freshman that started and remained in the entire match on Saturday night.

"I thought she passed well," Rose said of Courtney. "She's a very relaxed passer and she takes some good swings. She hit .530 and didn't have any hitting errors so that's a good thing. The three service errors weren't her best offering but she did some things well and we needed her to do that."

Although it was her debut weekend in Rec Hall as a student-athlete, Courtney said that she already feels right at home at a school that she had been planning on attending for several years in advance.

"I've been here a lot," said Courtney. "I knew I was coming here since my sophomore year so I've seen the atmosphere a lot. Just getting on the court and getting a feel for it was pretty easy coming in. All of the girls are so helpful telling me where to go and helping me out."

The weekend tournament proved to be what Rose said was a good test for his team. The head coach said that after seeing what he saw from his team, it is helpful to know more than he did just one short week ago.

But Rose is by no means singing praises just yet. The tenured Nittany Lion coach knows that his team's season had only just begun.

"Our focus from day one is that we have to play well as a team, we have to be conscious of errors and we have to compete," said Rose. "We won't look back because we have to play for the next 12 weekends so it's a long way."


VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews vs. Ohio

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions fell to Ohio, 24-14, in the season-opener on Saturday afternoon.  Penn State took a 14-3 lead into the locker room at halftime, but a deflected 43-yard touchdown from the Bobcats in the third quarter changed the momentum of the ballgame.  Ohio scored 21 unanswered in the second half en route to the victory.

Head into the postgame media room for remarks from quarterback Matt McGloin, linebacker Michael Mauti, receiver Allen Robinson and defensive tackle Jordan Hill.  McGloin set career highs with a 27-for-48 effort for 260 yards and two touchdowns.  Mauti led the defense with a 12-tackle afternoon.  Robinson had a career day with nine catches for 97 yards, the most by a Nittany Lion since Deon Butler had 11 catches in 2006.  Hill recorded four hits.


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Week One In-Game Blog - Ohio

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to in-game coverage for the 2012 Penn State Football season.  Each week, GoPSUsports.com will provide insight from the press box at all 12 games on the schedule.

The Nittany Lions dropped a 24-14 decision on Saturday afternoon inside Beaver Stadium during head coach Bill O'Brien's debut.  Take a look through the running blog from Saturday.

 

1st Quarter: 00:03 - Penn State 7, Ohio 0

Bill Belton capped off a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown reception. Matt McGloin, who has looked sharp all afternoon, went 5-for-6 on the scoring drive. He threw for 54 yards, which included a 21-yard completion to Allen Robinson and a 15-yard pass play to Kyle Carter.

 

2nd Quarter: 10:22 - Penn State 7, Ohio 3

Ohio capitalized on a muffed punt and converted on a 22-yard field goal four plays later to cut the Penn State lead to 7-3. Ohio faced a third and short before pressure from Michael Mauti forced Tyler Tettleton's incomplete pass.

 

2nd Quarter: 1:29 - Penn State 14, Ohio 3

Matt McGloin ended a three-play, 18-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown completion to tight end Matt Lehman. The Nittany Lion garnered excellent field position thanks to the play of Nyeem Wartman, who blocked Ohio's punt from the 25-yard line. McGloin, who has completed 16 passes to six different receivers, has made some excellent reads all game.

 

Halftime: Penn State 14, Ohio 3

The new-look Penn State offense has been terrific today in the season opener. Matt McGloin has looked poised and confident under center and has developed a nice relationship with Allen Robinson, who has six catches for 74 yards. After dominating the time of possession in the first quarter, some miscues have enabled the Bobcats to get on the scoreboard. Gerald Hodges leads the Penn State defense with seven tackles, while Adrian Amos and Michael Mauti have registered six stops each.

3rd Quarter: 10:40 - Penn State 14, Ohio 10
What should have been an interception for the Nittany Lions on a third down play turned into a 43-yard touchdown connection between Tyler Tettleton and WR Landon Smith.  Tettleton put the ball up for grabs, but the pass was deflected right into Smith's hands, who galloped to the end zone, trimming Penn State's lead down to 14-10.  Ohio marched 82 yards on 12 plays during the touchdown drive.

3rd Quarter: 3:49 - Ohio 17, Penn State 14
Tettleton leaped into the end zone from 1-yard out to give the Bobcats their first lead of the afternoon.  The junior quarterback engineered a strong drive with his legs and arm.  The key play on the eight-play, 70-yard drive was a 33-yard pass from Tettleton to Ryan Clark.  The Nittany Lions were stopped on fourth down at the Ohio 30 yard line before the drive began,

Final Thoughts:
The Nittany Lions controlled the tempo early and took a 14-3 lead into the break, but a fortunate bounce on a 43-yard touchdown pass for Ohio in the third quarter shifted the momentum in favor of the visitors.  Ohio scored three times in the second half, and the Nittany Lions weren't able to sustain an offensive drive.  Penn State played well in several phases of the game, including a strong outing from senior quarterback Matt McGloin, who finished 27-for-48 for 260 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson tallied a career-best nine receptions for 97 yards.  Offensively, the Lions will be looking to play with more consistency on drives and capitalize on opportunities.  On the defensive side of the ball, the story is much of the same.  The Nittany Lions will be looking to find more consistency stopping the run and getting off the field.  Additionally, Penn State did not force a turnover on Saturday.  Overall, there is a lot of football to be played and room for improvement.  The team will take positives away from Saturday's game and correct the mistakes in preparation for the week two matchup at Virginia.


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Pregame Reading:
- Senior quarterback Matt McGloin said he has been thinking about what the feeling will be like running out of the tunnel on Saturday morning for a long time.  He is not alone. Every player on the roster is going to be excited beyond words to take the field following a very difficult offseason.  The scene inside Beaver Stadium will be a memorable one for every coach, student-athlete and supporter of the program, but the team still has a job to do.  Managing emotions will be a big challenge for the Nittany Lions as they take the field.  Without question, the team has every right to be amped up for Saturday's opener after the offseason it has endured.  Once the ball kicks, though, it will just be a game.

- Defensive coordinator Ted Roof has stressed the importance of keeping elusive Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton in the pocket on Saturday afternoon.  That task starts with the play of the Jordan Hill and the Nittany Lion defensive line.  Additionally, the linebacker trio of Michael Mauti, Glenn Carson and Gerald Hodges will need to tackle well in the open field.  Coach Roof also said the secondary will need to make plays on deep balls.  Ohio's up-tempo pistol-style offense likes to keep the chains moving.  Penn State's defensive unit needs a solid tackling day and a disciplined effort from its front four to slow down the Bobcat offense.

- The team arrived on the Blue Buses shortly before 9:30 a.m. to a huge ovation from the Nittany Lion faithful outside of the South Tunnel.  Coach O'Brien led seniors Jordan Hill, Gerald Hodges, Matt McGloin and Derek Day off of the first bus before the team went into the locker room.

Gameday Photo Blog: Ohio

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to the GoPSUsports.com Gameday Photo Blog for the Ohio game.  Take a look through some images of the first game of the 2012 season.


Gameday:

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Football Eve:

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