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Practice Report: Rutgers Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just a few days separate Penn State football from its return to Beaver Stadium following back-to-back road trips.

Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall met with members of the media following practice Wednesday evening. Catch up on a few highlights from the media session.

We Salute You
The Nittany Lions welcomed members of Penn State's ROTC programs for the final few periods of practice. Following practice, coach Franklin and the team took time to shake hands and briefly meet with the practice visitors. 

"We just want to be appreciative and respectful and obviously there are so many different groups and organizations on campus and in the community and with it being our military appreciation game this weekend, we wanted to make sure we connect with those guys," Franklin said.

Something that has now become yearly tradition, Franklin noted the Nittany Lions have forged relationships with the group, now exploring possibilities for teambuilding and leadership projects in the future.

Throwback Game
Growing up in New Jersey, Blacknall noted that he has plenty of connections and relationships with individuals on the Rutgers roster. While he's not communicating with them during game week, he noted it's kind of like high school when they actually line up on opposite sides of the field. 

"It's like a throwback, like a high school reunion and you're just coming back and you know how they play and they know how you play," Blacknall said. "Obviously you've gotten better because you're in college but it's just one of those things that's cool to me."

Speaking of High School ...
During playoff season, Blacknall's high school team only lost three games. The final loss of course came against now current teammate Jason Cabinda's high school team. 

"It was snowing, it was a terrible day," Blacknall said. "My quarterback couldn't even drop back to throw a pass to me. I was open so many times and you just had him bull-rushing through the line sacking my quarterback probably 10-15 times and then they handed the ball off to him every play. I think it ended up 21-0, it's something I don't like to think about, he always jokes about it too." 

Blacknall of course noted that in his junior year, it was his team that sent Cabinda's high school team off the field with the loss to get to the state championship. 

Focus on Physicality
Franklin noted that playing with more physicality is more of a mindset than it is something that can be drilled in practice.

"I think sometimes we're happy with just blocking the guy as well as we think we need to, to get the job done rather than sending a message and trying to finish a guy and pancake blocks and things like that," Franklin said. "I had a talk with a number of guys this week, these guys have done this. They've done it in their careers and they've done it in high school, I've seen it but they've kind of just been satisfied with what we've been doing."

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