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Practice Report: Michigan State Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and quarterback Trace McSorley met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice. 

The seventh-ranked Nittany Lions will travel to Michigan State this weekend to meet the Spartans in a noon matchup at Spartan Stadium.

"We've got a real good challenge going on the road against a really good program," Franklin said. "They're always tough on defense, they're always going to have a few wrinkles that cause some challenges from a protection standpoint or on offense, play action pass perspective."

Check in on a few more updates from the media sessions. 

Benefit of Familiarity
When asked about having already experienced playing a similar style team in Michigan earlier this year, Franklin pointed out that it certainly helps in game week planning. 

"I think it always helps when you've played someone that has a similar style and we've game planned for that style already during season," Franklin said. "The different responsibilities that we're asking guys to do, all the things, the recall is important. I think our guys, our coaches and our players feel better after this being our second opponent like this but obviously each team has got their own little wrinkles or things that they try to emphasize that can still be problematic. That will be a challenge."

McSorley: 'It means a lot'
Earlier today, McSorley was recognized as one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented to the nation's top quarterback. For McSorley though, he's more pleased with those surrounding him that have helped him get to the point where he would be considered for such recognition. 

"It means a lot," McSorley said. "Obviously a lot of credit goes to my teammates and coaches because as we've been preaching, those kinds of individual awards come with team success. A lot of that doesn't happen without the team being successful." 

Feeling the Grind
Franklin noted that there certainly comes a time when he notices redshirt freshmen and true freshmen typically starting to feel the grind of the season. Thanks to the support of the athletic training and sports science staff members though, he's confident that the Nittany Lions who are in those positions this year, are able to handle it. 

"The redshirt freshmen are more prepared for it," Franklin said. "I think the true freshmen typically hit a wall and you've got to fight through that. The redshirt freshmen, once again, I think depending on position and who they are, they are a little bit more prepared. Fortunately, we don't have too many of those guys that are having to have significant roles. They are rotating in and gaining experience. We've got a few of them, but overall, I think our guys have been good."

High Spirits
Franklin and linebacker Jason Cabinda both noted the Nittany Lions held a players only meeting on Sunday to regroup. From the meeting, McSorley noted that he was incredibly pleased with the way Penn State returned to practice on Tuesday.

"Tuesday came out, it was a really good practice. It was really energetic, guys were jumping around. It was actually, it kind of surprised me more than I kind of expected. The guys really bought into what we were talking about." 

First and Second Year Player Meeting
Franklin noted he'll have a meeting with all the first and second year Nittany Lions to revisit the Ohio State game, to ensure that in a few years when they might be in the same position, they'll have learned as much as possible from the experience. 

"I think it's just constant development," Franklin said. "When you have programs that 100 percent of their focus is on playing the game that week, that's where you see dips. That's where you see a program that has a really good year every four years because they build on it but they're not developing the redshirt freshmen, redshirt sophomores and when the time comes, they're not ready because they're so invested in just that year."

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