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VIDEO: Postgame Players - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Nittany Lions Koa Farmer, Brian Gaia, Trace McSorley, Chris Godwin and Saquon Barkley meet with the media following the Big Ten opener at Michigan.

VIDEO: Postgame James Franklin - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin meets with the media follow Penn State's Big Ten opener on the road at No. 4/5 Michigan. 

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By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's soccer found themselves in yet another game requiring extra time. The Nittany Lions were awarded a penalty kick in the second overtime and Austin Maloney beat the goalkeeper to defeat Wisconsin, 2-1, Friday night at Jeffrey Field.

 

Through eight matches so far this season, five of them were overtime matches. Penn State (4-3-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten) found themselves on the winning side Friday, but it didn't come easy against the Badgers (3-2-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten), who came into the game undefeated in the Big Ten.

 

The Nittany Lions started the match with a different looking lineup. Head coach Bob Warming decided to go with senior Evan Finney in goal. Finney was the Nittany Lions' opening game starter but took a bad collision to the head in the second game of the season. Freshman Arie Ammann filled in during Finney's absence.

 

"It was pretty emotional honestly to start," said Finney. "I took a bad, bad blow to the head. I was in the hospital for a day."

 

Finney sported his customized rugby style head gear that he was fitted with after the injury. Perspiration got into his eyes from the headgear but he battled through it to record the victory. He felt very comfortable with the defensive backline in his first game back.

 

"It was just like I picked up right where I left off," said Finney.

 

Also missing from the lineup was senior team captain and team leader in scoring, Connor Maloney, who remained inactive after sustaining an injury in Sunday's Maryland match. Warming told the team that a collective effort was needed to replace his importance on the field.  Maloney not only scores, but with the use of GPS technology used by the team, he runs the most miles in every training and game, according to Warming.

 

"We had a lot of miles to make up with everyone else," said Warming. "I thought Aymar (Sigue), Dayonn (Harris), Mason (Klerks) and all these guys made up all that ground that we lost from the running of Connor."

 

At halftime the match remained scoreless with little scoring opportunities. Early in the second half, Penn State benefitted from a Wisconsin miscue. In the 54th minute, Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton headed Pierre Reedy's header directly into the top center of the net to put Penn State up 1-0.

 

The Badgers turned up the offensive pressure later in the second half. In the 77th minute, Wisconsin's Christopher Mueller snuck a rolling shot into the right side of the net from 12 yards out, beating a diving Finney to even the game at 1-1.  A score that stood at the end of regulation.

 

Physicality on the field turned up a notch in extra time. There were more tough challenges for the ball as each team vied to an important Big Ten win. Overtime was a tale of two ten minute periods. Wisconsin had pressured to score in the first session, before Penn State finally broke through in the second ten minutes. Wisconsin committed a foul on Noah Pilato in the box which led to the game-winner.

 

Without Connor Maloney, the Blue and White had to go with alternate penalty kick taker. Dayonn Harris was supposed to take the kick but felt extreme leg fatigue from playing 87 grueling minutes, so Austin Maloney, Connor's younger brother took the kick. The sophomore midfielder scored as he went top left corner as Wisconsin's goalkeeper went right.

 

Maloney sprinted across the field to celebrate his first career collegiate goal with the roaring Sons of Jeffrey student section. Also celebrating the goal was honorary captain Bob Little, a former Penn State men's soccer player who played on the 1954 and 1955 national championship teams.  Maloney's game-winning penalty kick was a bit more special to Little as he donates the money to endow Austin's Maloney's scholarship.

 

Alongside Little were Dick Packer, Ron Coder and Don Shirk who served as honorary captains for the match. They sat with the Nittany Lion team during the game and were honored for playing on Penn State's national championship teams under legendary coach Bill Jeffrey.

 

The Nittany Lions are back in action when they take on Temple at Jeffrey Field on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.


For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It took some time for Penn State (6-2-2) to crack Iowa's (6-5) tight defensive game plan, but the Nittany Lions used a second half surge to power past the Hawkeyes, 2-0, Friday night.

 

After a scoreless first half that featured only four combined shots on target, Penn State ramped up the aggressiveness to start the second frame.

 

Penn State earned a long free kick in the 55th minute and Elizabeth Ball got above the defense to head the ball home to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. It was her first goal of the season and fifth of her career.

 

"It's so much fun to go forward," said Ball. "Every time we have a free kick or a corner I'm just super excited to get in there and see what I can do."

 

Ball also led the defensive unit to its fourth shutout in the last five games. The back line held the Hawkeyes to 10 shots and four on target.

 

"You saw tonight what she's capable of doing," said head coach Erica Dambach. "She's leading the back line and then we need a goal and she goes forward and puts on in the back of the net. She's just getting better and better and I think as the season goes on we've seen that every year that she comes into her own."

 

This is about the time last season that last year's back line hit its stride, and the same could very well be happing with this group of new faces led by Ball in the middle.

 

"They're becoming more of a unit" said Dambach. "I think they're getting much more comfortable. We've got two new players in that back line in [Alina Ortega Jurado] and [Grace Fisk] and obviously [goalie Amanda Dennis] is really starting to lead that back line."

 

Dennis hasn't stopped improving since game one. The freshman has surrendered eight goals this season, but only one in the past five games.

 

"We really respect Amanda. It's not even like she's a freshman," Ball said. "It's really nice to have somebody so solid back there that we don't have to worry about, and she just gives the whole back line and the whole team confidence."

 

In the 81st minute Dennis made a full-stretched diving save of Iowa forward Bri Toelle's left foot that seemed destined to the upper left corner of the net. What could've been a momentum shifter for the Hawkeyes turned out to amp up the crowd and preserve the shutout.

 

"We scouted [Toelle] so we knew that she was going to take a lot of shots from distance, so I just dropped back on my line and made a nice, easy save and kept us in the game," Dennis said.

 

The Nittany Lions were able to pad the lead in the 63rd minute courtesy of Frannie Crouse. Crouse made a run up the right edge of the box and finished a loose ball over goalie Claire Graves for her team-leading seventh goal of the year.

 

Crouse is now tied for third in the Big Ten in goals scored. She also vaulted herself into a tie for 15th on the Penn State all-time goals list with the score.

 

The Lions have outscored their opponents 11-2 in the last six contests. They begin the Big Ten season 2-0-1 with a matchup against Nebraska looming this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

 

"This group's in a good place," Dambach said. "A couple shutouts and again back line is starting to come together and we got different people scoring goals for us. I think we got a good balanced attack right now, but we've got a very tough Nebraska team coming in on Sunday."

2016 Gameday Live - Penn State at Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to our live, interactive coverage of the Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions hit the road this week, traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan to open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan Stadium.


Live Blog Penn State at No. 4/5 Michigan
 

Freshman Feature: Biro Bonds Quickly with Teammates

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the youngest member of this year's Penn State men's hockey team, freshman forward Brandon Biro is eager to show off his talents.

Time and again, the Nittany Lions emphasize hard work and a well-rounded skill set, two things Biro displays. Through two seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) between 2014 and 2016, Biro scored 70 goals and had 75 assists. 

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native said that growing up so close to Edmonton is what he credits with inspiring his hockey journey. Edmonton, home to the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, is also head coach Guy Gadowsky's hometown.

Biro named Ales Hemsky who played for Edmonton from 2005 and 2014, as his favorite Oiler, However, Biro named Sidney Crosby as his favorite hockey player of all time, something many Penn State fans would agree with.

Fellow Sherwood Park native, senior forward Dylan Richard, is Biro's mentor. Each freshman on the team is given a mentor, an older player on the team who is tasked with guiding the younger member through the challenges of being a student-athlete.

"Whenever I need anything he's the guy I ask and he's always got the answers," Biro said. "I have a good relationship with Mike Williamson as well, he also played on the same Junior team as me, and is kind of from the same area. [Richard, Williamson, and I] had the same coach in Juniors and had the same path here, so whatever I need they can help me out with it."

Prior to his first visit to Hockey Valley last year, Richard gave Biro his phone number and they communicated the weeks before Biro's visit. Biro appreciated the fact that someone on the current team reached out to him, and that he was able to get to know someone before visiting.

But what Biro pointed out that he finds most important about Penn State's program is that each player relates well to his teammates.

"Overall we have a bond with every guy, that's what's so special about this team," Biro said.

Biro was able to take in all Pegula Ice Arena had to offer for the first time last November, when he witnessed the Nittany Lions sweep Sacred Heart.

"It was unreal, the fans were crazy," Biro said. "Playing Juniors in Canada 1,000 fans is the most you're ever going to see, so coming here and seeing all the fans and how loud they were it was pretty cool to watch."

Having taken in the atmosphere of Pegula as a spectator, Biro is looking forward to skating out on the ice for the Nittany Lions. 

"I can't wait for the first game," Biro said. "Since I got to experience the crowd for a game I can't wait to play in front of them. Practicing and being here all summer you're working out all the time and you just can't wait for that first game. Now it's getting close and it's going to be really exciting once the season starts going." 

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By: Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A year older and a year wiser, the Penn State sophomores look to improve on the team's success from last year. The foursome of second-years can expect an increased leadership role on the team now that they have a year's worth of experience from which to build. 

Defenseman Kelsey Crow tallied a pair of goals and assists in her initial campaign as a Nittany Lion, but she acknowledged the improvements she made in the offseason to help prepare her for the 2016-17 season. 

"Over the summer, one thing I think I realized I struggled with was being an offensive threat," said Crow. "As a defenseman, I want to be able to shoot the puck through traffic and be able to create really good rebound opportunities or maybe join the rush more.

"One thing I still want to work on is one-timers, I want to be able to put myself in a position where I can take those shots. The beauty of that shot is that I can catch the goalie off guard a little. It's quick and it's more likely to create rebounds so I want to be able to use that shot to create more scoring opportunities." 

Crow also senses a renewed energy in the locker room with the arrival of the new freshman class. 

"We've had four or five years to get this program going," said Crow. "People that have been here and even the new girls understand there is a very family-type aspect of this team and every single girl is clicking with each other. I'm looking forward to seeing that chemistry develop further on the ice and helping us to win games."

Forward Victoria Samuelsson takes a slightly different perspective, excited for an increased role on the team as a second-year player.

"It feels good [not being a freshman anymore], I feel like I'm getting more of a place on the team," said Samuelsson. "That always builds confidence. Our team is doing really well and bringing a lot of energy every day."

Samuelsson finished 2015-16 with a goal and 12 assists, ranking second all-time in assists by a freshman in Penn State history. Her father, Ulf Samuelsson, played 15 years in the NHL and was an instrumental part of her development as a player.

"He helped me become the hockey player I am today," said Samuelsson. "It motivated me and it brought our family closer too."

Meike Meilleur and Hannah England also return for round two to complete the sophomore class. Those two players combined for two goals and seven assists last year. 

You can see the team on the ice this weekend as there is an exhibition Saturday at 4 p.m. against Guelph at Pegula Ice Arena. The regular season begins Sept. 30 at Clarkson.

2016 Gameday - Penn State Opens B1G Slate at Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the non-conference slate wrapped up, Penn State hits the road this week traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan.

The Nittany Lions (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) head to Michigan (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) for a challenging Big Ten conference opener as the Wolverines prepare host Penn State in their fourth of five consecutive home outings in Michigan Stadium.

Quarterback Trace McSorley continues to leads the newly installed Penn State offense, ranked first in the Big Ten in passing yards and 20th nationally in the FBS standings. 

"I feel like the offense in general is really comfortable with running the new system with coach Moorhead and going through three games now we have a really good feel for the offense and how a game week goes from Monday to Saturday," McSorley said.

Among a host of offensive options that have continued to emerge throughout the season, McSorley found Chris Godwin for 117 yards on seven receptions against Temple. Godwin's 6.0 completions per game is also among the best in the Big Ten at sixth in the standings. DaeSean Hamilton joins Godwin highlighting the Penn State passing game as the duo has combined for more than 50 percent of the Nittany Lions' completions this year. Add in running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki, who each accounted for a pair of plays measuring at least 52 yards against Temple. 

The Nittany Lion offense will have to find a way to execute against a Michigan defense that's currently leading the FBS in third down conversion and red zone defense, while also ranked second in tackles for loss. Led by do-it-all Jabrill Peppers, the junior leads the team in tackles (28), sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and is also leading the nation in punt retuning with 173 yards.   

Offensively, the Wolverines are fourth nationally averaging 53 points per game, guided by quarterback Wilton Speight. His targets include a combination of quick wide outs in Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh along with tight end Jake Butt. Between the three, combo is responsible for seven touchdowns on the year, with all three averaging at least 42 yards per game.

"They're just a big, strong, physical, mature team, and then they do have some speed aspects," Franklin said. "Jabrill does that for them on defense, special teams and offense. Their receivers do that as well as their tight end, (Jake) Butt. So it's a challenge, there's no doubt about it."

Penn State will look to new faces to lead the defensive effort this week, with injuries impacting the linebacker unit.

"We've adapted to the situation fairly well," linebacker Jake Cooper said. "I know that there's injuries around and it's the next man up mentality and we've taken each other under our own wings and we've taken each other accountable for our own positions and we're growing together as a unit. We're highly supportive of each other, we're a very enthusiastic group and I think that we're going to get the job done."

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks stressed earlier this week that the Nittany Lions would have to trust their keys on defense to shut down down a dynamic Michigan offense that presents threats in both the pass and the run game.

"If you trust your key 99 percent of the time you'll be right," Banks said. "For the most part our keys are our keys and it's up to us to be extremely disciplined in reading them and then reacting to them."

Led by second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan will square off against Penn State for the 20th time in program history. The Wolverines have not dipped below the Top 10 in the rankings this year, completing their non-conference schedule with wins against Hawaii (63-3), Central Florida (51-14) and Colorado (45-28).

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC with Dave Fleming (pxp) and Brian Griese (analyst) and Todd McShay (sideline) on the call.

What To Watch For -

Penn State:
1. Penn State has continued to embrace the 'next man up' mentality, truly demonstrated last week by junior Brandon Smith, who stepped in at middle linebacker and finished off the day with a career-high eight tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Smith will look to continue growing the unit, not only through leadership but effective communication, having confidently called the defense in the win against Temple.

2. James Franklin has stressed ball security throughout the season, as the Nittany Lions have struggled at times to keep the ball off the ground. Quarterback Trace McSorley noted earlier this week that although there have been issues, each has been correctable. McSorley said that specifically from the quarterback position, the key this week would be making the correct reads and taking time to be accurate with each throw.

3. Cornerback John Reid has not been under the radar on punt returns in the last few games, as his 8.8 yards per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten standings. Reid highlighted the Pitt game with his second career fumble recovery, while also registering a 59-yard punt return in the first quarter. He followed that performance with his first interception of the season against Temple to lock up a 34-27 Penn state victory.

Michigan:
1. Having made his first career start against Hawaii, Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is averaging 228.7 yards per game with a 63.8 completion percentage on the year. Speight's best performance in the non-conference slate was in a win over UCF with 312 yards, completing 25-of-37 passes, adding four touchdowns for an all-around career-high effort. Speight sat out during the 2014 season before playing in seven games during the 2015 season.

2. James Franklin was quick to point out that Michigan would enter Saturday's matchup looking to establish their run game, mainly with a big, physical and experienced offensive line. 

"They want to establish the run with their offensive line," Franklin said earlier this week. "They want to run the ball. They want to play-action pass. They're obviously averaging a bunch of points a game."

3. All-American tight end Jake Butt has caught at least one pass in each of the last 19 games heading into Saturday's matchup. As Michigan's second-leading active career receiver with 107 receptions for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns, Butt is coming off back-to-back games with a team-high seven catches for at least 86 yards against UCF and Colorado.

Final Word -

Penn State and Michigan are each among the most storied programs in collegiate football. Both programs are among the Top 10 in NCAA history in winning percentage in total victories. Michigan and Penn State also share some of the largest venues nationally, with both stadium capacities stretching beyond 100,000.

The Nittany Lions will open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan for the first time since 2007. Opening the 24th season of conference play, Penn State is 11-12 in openers, since defeating Rutgers, 28-3 in last year's opener. Penn State is 7-7 when beginning conference play on the road.

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By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions cross country teams will be traveling to Minneapolis, MN on Saturday, Sept. 24th to compete in the 31st annual Roy Griak Invitational. The invitational will be held at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, MN.

 

The men's race is set to start at 12:20 p.m. CT, and the women's race is set for a 1:35 p.m. CT start.

 

The invitational was named after Roy Griak, a legendary cross country and track & field coach at the University of Minnesota. Griak coached the Minnesota Gophers for more than three decades, starting his coaching career in 1963.

 

Griak had coached three national champions, 47 All-Americans, 60 Big Ten champions and won three Big Ten titles as head coach.

 

Griak served on coaching staffs for more than 10 U.S. international teams, one being a head manager of the 1984 U.S. Olympic track & field team. He was also inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the University of Minnesota 'M' Club Hall of Fame and was later inducted in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

 

After Griak retired as head coach in 1996, the University of Minnesota honored him by naming their annual cross country meet after him. Griak passed away in July of 2015 at the age of 91. This will be the 31st annual meet in his honor.

 

This will be the first time Penn State will be competing in the Roy Griak Invitational since 2011. Penn State has never taken a first place team win.

 

With six collegiate races and over 4,000 runners, the Roy Griak Invitational is one of the largest meets in the country. Along with Penn State and host team Minnesota, other Big Ten teams that will be attending are: Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Iowa, Ohio State and Northwestern.

 

The Penn State women's team is nationally ranked No.13, but there will be other nationally ranked teams attending the invitational as well. Other nationally ranked teams include: Boise State (No.6), Michigan State (No.9), Michigan (No.10), Iowa State (No.17) and San Francisco (No.20). 

 

"I am really excited," said senior caption, Julie Kocjancic about the upcoming invitational. "It's another opportunity to race against great competition."

 

As well as being one of the largest meets in the country, the course is the same course that the Big Ten Championships will be held at later in October this year.

 

"This course will be one that will really make people grind it out, which is what this sport is all about," said Kocjancic. "I'm excited to get to preview it, but Big Tens is still awhile away, and I just try to treat every race individually."

 

Kocjancic was a part of the 2015 Big Ten champion team, where the women's team took first place in Chicago, IL. She got 22nd place as a junior.  

 

The 2016 Big Ten Cross Country championships are set to take place on Sunday, Oct. 30th at 10:45 a.m. CT in Minneapolis, MN.

 

Penn State's next meet will be their very own Penn State Open back home on Friday, Oct. 14th at the Blue and White Golf Courses.

Tim Banks Q&A - Michigan

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions hit the road this week travel to Michigan to open the Big Ten schedule on the road Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC). 

Leading up to the conference opener, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks spent time with the media on Thursday. Check out a few updates from the Q&A with Coach Banks.

On the assessment of a dynamic Michigan offense ...
Banks: I think just the overall perimeter speed and athleticism. It starts with Jake Butt, obviously an All-American type player, and he has shown it throughout the first couple of games. That will be the biggest challenge, having the ability to defend him at in the zone and defend him in some man situations. He's a big strong kid who runs routes very similar to a wide receiver. He's definitely a big threat that will have our antennas up.

Can you speak to the challenge that the safeties face Saturday in balancing and defending the run and the pass?
Banks: It's always a challenge. We have to be really disciplined with our eye, concentration and reading our keys and reacting accordingly. They make it difficult on you. They do a lot of things well in terms of how they run the ball and how again, as I mentioned earlier, getting Butt involved in the pro-game. We'll have our work cut out for us. It's definitely a balancing act and we have some things in our arsenal to be able to hopefully help our safeties with some eye discipline, putting them in some spots that we feel will make them even more effective.

Could you take us a little more in depth into the decision to move Koa Farmer to linebacker and as someone who has coached him, what kind of skills does he bring to the table?
Banks: The decision, just like every decision, was just in the best interest of our team and our defense as a whole. We're trying to get our best 11 out there in situations where they can help the team, being the quickest and the most efficient and he was definitely someone we felt brought value in that regard. He's also a kid who has played some linebacker in the past. We have some packages where he slid into that position and during certain situations in some of the earlier games, so it was really a smooth transition in that regard. 

As far as what he brings to the table, he's a really strong kid. He was actually a big safety. He's anywhere from around 215 to 220, but still obviously one of those fits extremely well at that size so hopefully he'll bring us some added speed and definitely a kid who is happy to be able to get some more playing time and help this defense and this team in any way possible.

From the coach's perspective, what do you see in Michigan's Jabril Peppers and what makes him so special?
Banks: Just super competitive, that's the first thing that jumps out to me. The way he goes about his business, whether it's kick return or whether I see him running the ball on offense or on the few snaps that I've seen maybe on TV with him playing on defense - just ultra competitive. Obviously his skill set speaks for itself, but just all the things they have asked him to be able to do to help their team. He just seems to be ultra competitive and you love to have those kids. It will be a challenge defending him when he comes out there on offense and we'll have our hands full, even on special teams.

As a Michigan native and then playing later at Central Michigan, what did you think of the Michigan program? Were you ever a fan and what was it like growing up there?
Banks: I don't think you can live in the state of Michigan without being affected by their brand and just their overall tradition. I've had numerous cousins and relatives who have graduated from there and I'm very, very familiar with the tradition. It's great and any time we get the chance to go there and compete against them, you know you're on the same field with a lot of great players who have come and having the chance to compete in that area is always exciting. I'm looking forward to the challenge, I really am. There will be a lot of fans there, they have a big stadium as we do and we're just looking forward it. For me personally, being back home and having the chance to to compete against a storied program.

How are some of your redshirt freshman doing, like Jarvis Miller, Johnny Petrishen and Ayron Monroe?
Banks: They are coming along, I'm super excited about the direction they are headed. They're big strong safeties who I think, in the future, will actually be exactly what we were looking for in the recruiting process. Jarvis Miller is doing a good job on special teams for us right now. He made a couple of tackles and is going hard. I think they're coming well. Ayron Monroe is practicing well and we expect to see some really good dividends out of him. JP is going to develop so we're really pleased with where they are now and the direction those guys are headed.

Can you talk a little bit about, you mentioned the strong safeties, being so big and strong - are they the type of guys who could possibly grow into linebackers at some point?
Banks:  We have some big safeties. Obviously, Marcus Allen is a bigger safety and I mentioned Jarvis Miller earlier. We like to keep them at safety if we can, we like big size and pick fast guys if they can run, but again, we're going to do what's best for our team and what's best for our defense. So at some point if Coach Franklin or Coach Pry thinks that the best thing to do is to move some guys around to bring more value to our team, I'm definitely open to it and I'm sure those guys will be as well. We talk a lot about doing what's best for our family and understanding what your roles are and I think our kids have embraced that. Right now as it relates, we don't see any of those moves on the horizon.

How would you evaluate Malik Golden and his play so far this season?
Banks: I think he's playing well. I think he has gotten better each day and as I stated earlier, I think he has gotten better. I think he'll be the first to tell you that he's playing at a more consistent rate, even from what he played last year. So I'm pleased, I really am. We ask a lot of our safeties in terms of communicating not only to the corner, but communicating to the linebackers and he's done a marvelous job of quarterbacking our defense. 

I'm wondering if Marcus Allen is one of the more unique personalities that you've ever been around as a coach?
Banks: Yes, he's fun to be around. He loves to play the game and the way he practices is exactly how he plays the game on Saturdays. Just having fun, flying around, always laughing - he's great. He's a pleasure to be around and you love guys that not only do they play hard on Saturday's but they play hard during the week of practice and that becomes contagious to the rest of the guys, particularly if you have a young group.

Mike Gesicki said yesterday that Nick Scott was someone who kind of pumped him up, helping him play his best and has been someone has helped him be his 'Best Mike.'
Banks: He is an energizer bunny. He's always up, he's always smiling and when you step between those lines he has great energy and great juice. On our special teams, he's always the first one down and he takes a lot of pride in his role on the team. He's a guy who went from running back to corner to safety and we feel like he has found a home at safety but just his overall energy that he brings, as I mentioned with Marcus, it just becomes contagious. He's great. That doesn't surprise me. I had not heard that, but it doesn't surprise me that he's that type of young man.

 
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