UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football is back from the bye week, as Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with members of the media in his weekly Tuesday press conference. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye and center Connor McGovern also joined Franklin for a pair of media sessions.
For Franklin, if there's one thing he's more excited for thank Christmas, it's the Penn State White Out game, as the second-ranked Nittany Lions turn their focus toward No. 19/15 Michigan.
"We're excited. Obviously it's going to be a great environment," Franklin said. "I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
For Oruwariye and McGovern, both echo the notion of a truly unique experience.
"It's unreal. To have all those fans behind you, screaming and cheering the whole time for you, it's unlike any atmosphere in the world," Oruwariye said. "We have to stay focused on the task at hand and there's going to be a lot of outside stuff going on and we're really just exited to get it to 1-0 with a win."
Among the Penn State White Out excitement and the added anticipation from the addition of ESPN's College Game Day, Franklin noted that keeping the focus on this week's assignment is the top priority.
"It's going to be special," Franklin said. "Then my message for the team this week is, they've earned these things. These things are nice. The rankings are nice. The fact that ESPN and College Game Day is coming is nice. The fact that this is a white-out is nice. At the end of the day none of those things matter. It's about our preparation. A lot of times, I think the most important job of a head coach, in my opinion, is to eliminate distractions. If not handled right, that's what these can be. We're going to stick to our routine and our SOP, kind of go from there."
Franklin's message is nothing new for the Nittany Lions, who know just how to maintain focus amidst distractions.
"The coaching staff does a great job of just keeping us focused on the week, preparing hard, focusing on practice and getting ready for the game," McGovern said.
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on limiting negative yardage plays
"If we just eliminate those, the plays that we get tackled behind of line of scrimmage and things like that, whether that's a block getting beat, whether them doing a great job of disguising what they're doing, that will really help us. The sacks, the negative yardage plays, if we can just reduce them a little bit, I think that will help us, will keep us on schedule from a first down perspective, and it will extend drives."
"I don't know, I just would say it's just the loudest thing you'll hear. It's the -- it's just all you hear is just screaming, crazy, fanatic, like crazy fans, and just, like, the whole town is just lit up in white because everyone is wearing white. I don't know, it's just -- you have to experience it most of the time to get a feel."
-Franklin on Nittany Shareef Miller
"You're talking about a skinny kid from Philadelphia, shows up here and takes advantage of training table, takes advantage of the weight room, gets bigger and stronger. He takes advantage of all the academic support, the unbelievable professors we have on campus, is doing extremely well in that area. Is well liked and respected by his teammates and coaches."
- McGovern on his adjustments since moving to center
"I feel very comfortable with the transition now, being more of a leader, being more vocal, and up front we just have to be more physical, blow them off the ball, and sustain our blocks."
- Franklin on the best part of the bye week
"I think it's probably allowing the players to just get some time off, either just to relax and be normal college students, normal 19-year-olds, the opportunity to go home and see their families. That's probably the best thing."
- Oruwariye on where improvements can still be made among the DBs
"As a group, like I said, we want to take the ball away as much as we can. We want to challenge receivers all the time. We're going to be put on an island sometimes so we can stop the run game, but we embrace that. We worked on it all off-season. But we just want to play to the best of our ability, like I said, and just try to make takeaways."
- Franklin on the Penn State White Out game
"I think people realize the only thing I like more than Christmas is a white-out football game. I'm jacked up like I am every year because the environment is special. I think Beaver Stadium on a normal game day is a top-five atmosphere. I think a white-out game day is something I think you don't really understand unless you can come experience it for yourself."
- McGovern on his first Penn State White Out experience
"Back in high school, that was my first-ever game here, the [Penn State] White Out, and I'd say everyone - if you're a college football fan, you have to experience at least one [Penn State] White Out in your life. They're a lot of fun, a lot of fun to play in, especially under the lights at night. It's a lot of fun."