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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Penn State's upcoming Big Ten outing against Minnesota.
Penn State (2-2, 0-1 East) is set to meet the Golden Gophers (3-0, 0-0 West) for the 14th time in program history. The Nittany Lions will look to reclaim the Governor's Victory Bell, which has been presented to the winner of the matchup since Penn State's first Big Ten outing in 1993.
As is weekly tradition, Franklin recapped the previous week before diving into Minnesota addressing a few areas of improvement along the way.
Penn State will remain home for most of the month of October, opening up a three-game homestand against the Golden Gophers Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
"We're excited about being back at home," Franklin said. "I think there is a distinct advantage obviously all over the country in being at home compared to being on the road. We're excited about being back in Beaver Stadium in front of our fans and friends and family, and a great opportunity to go out and play a good football team and have an opportunity to be 1-0 this week, which is our goal and our focus."
Franklin noted that the focus this week would be improving the overall approach to attention to detail and consistency, while also addressing issues with offensive execution. Franklin also noted that Penn State will need to get better in third down situations on both offense and defense to be successful in the long run.
As has been the case in the past four weeks, Franklin highlighted that part of conversation between he and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has been focused on identifying different ways to get the ball into the hands of running back Saquon Barkley.
Last week, Barkley led the team in both rushing and receiving yards, combining for 136 yards of total offense.
"Whether it's traditional running game between the tackles, whether it's getting him the ball on the edge or whether it's throwing him the ball in the flats like we did last week, which got us going offensively," Franklin said. "Just the more times we can get the ball in his hands, the better. But we also still need to continue to develop our traditional running game and being more physical up front at the tight end position and offensive line and getting more movement."
Looking toward Minnesota, Franklin noted that Penn State would have to plan for challenges in the physicality from both the Minnesota offensive and defensive lines, as well as the secondary. Minnesota's offensive line has allowed just one sack this year, with the defensive line surrendering just two rushing scores.
He also highlighted the Golden Gophers' experienced quarterback in Mitch Leidner.
"They've got a big, strong quarterback who is the all-time rushing touchdown leader in their school's history," Franklin said. "He's willing to run and that keeps you honest. It adds another dimension to your offense and makes him difficult to defend."
On the Quote Board -
- Penn State long snapper Tyler Yazujian said that his job is to make sure the snap comes first, with everything else after that an added bonus. He also mentioned that he can hear the punt, describing the sound as a "thump."
"You do hear the thump, which is always a good sign," Yazujian said. "If you hear the double thump, that's a bad sign."
- Yzaujian also described the day that he first found out that he had earned a scholarship.
"I remember we just finished up a winter workout and we're all huddled around Coach Franklin, and he's going through his normal deal and at the end, he just starts talking about a guy who does this, that and the other thing and was going off and saying all really positive things. He said - and that guy is Yaz and he's now on full scholarship. I just remember the whole team started cheering and started yelling and kind of gathering around me and it was definitely something I'll never forget. I'm forever grateful to coach and Penn State. It's awesome."
- Franklin noted that he has been impressed with his wide receivers and their abilities to make plays, however growth is still expected as the Nittany Lions will only continue to see teams that present challenges.
"We're going to face good competition on Saturday and that's going to continue. We need to be able to make plays. We need to be able to separate. That's something I don't know if we've necessarily done a great job is separating, but we have done a pretty good job of making plays on the 50/50 ball and we need to do that more consistently, so that'll be a big part of what we're doing on Saturday."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the doors to Pegula Ice Arena opened at 5:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, a sea of hockey jerseys rushed through the doors at Gate B. The students of Hockey Valley were eager to watch the first NHL exhibition game in the history of Pegula Ice Arena.
The two teams facing off, the Buffalo Sabres and the Minnesota Wild, were both playing in their opening game of their 2016 preseason.
Fans of all kinds were excited for the opportunity to witness NHL hockey on campus. The local community was quick to embrace Penn State hockey's transition to Division I, producing consistent sell out games at Pegula. Additionally, the student body has become one of the most feared student sections in the country. It was no surprise that fans were looking forward to watching two high-caliber teams face off against one another.
Kara Walters, a junior, State College native and Roar Zone executive board member was excited for the exhibition.
"I think it's awesome how people were so excited to come out and watch these two teams," Walters said. "It says a lot about how the State College community has embraced hockey."
Fellow Roar Zone executive board member, junior Abby Bower, explained that she was most excited to show off what the Roar Zone has to offer.
"It's really incredible, especially since we've only been a Division I team for a couple of years now," Bower said. "To think that NHL teams wanted to come to a college arena because of the atmosphere we bring is awesome."
The Roar Zone prepared for this game a little bit differently than regular Penn State games, namely by tweaking their chants and the posters that usually adorn the glass in front of the student section. The main sign on the glass in front of the Roar Zone read, "Thank you Terry and Kim Pegula," a reference to the generous pair who donated the majority of the money to build Pegula Ice Arena, and who are the current owners of the Sabres. Both Terry and Kim Pegula were in attendance for the game.
On the ice, the players had their own experiences, the vast majority at Pegula Ice Arena for the first time.
Supported by the energy from the fans in attendance, the Sabres kept the Wild on their toes, but a goal with five seconds left in the third period edged Minnesota past Buffalo, 2-1.
Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons praised Pegula Ice Arena and the atmosphere of the game, crediting the fans with making the team feel like they were playing in front of a home crowd.
"It was awesome, the facility is unbelievable," Girgensons said. "The locker room and everything were nice and the fans were loud. It was definitely fun to play here."
Goaltender Anders Nilsson agreed the enthusiasm in the arena was phenomenal. While goaltenders of visiting teams are often the point of ridicule from the enthusiastic student section, for this game the student section kept their cheers positive for both teams.
"Everyone said it was going to be a nice facility but it exceeded all my expectations," Nilsson said.
Prior to arriving in Happy Valley, Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma expressed familiarity with the Arena, that he also described as first class, in a conference call earlier this week. Bylsma had already coached kids' teams on both the main ice and the community rink in the past.
"We wanted to go to Penn State to be that first game," Bylsma said. "We were hoping to get this opportunity to bring the NHL and bring Terry Pegula's Buffalo Sabres to be the first game at Penn State.Penn State men's hockey returns to Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday Oct. 2 for an exhibition game against Queen's (Ontario) at 1 p.m.
By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Suiting up for the first time this season, the Nittany Lions looked clean and prepared in their 4-1 exhibition victory over the Guelph Gryphons. This is the second straight year Penn State matched up with Guelph in an exhibition setting.
Coming off some strong early practice sessions, head coach Josh Brandwene was pleased with the effort from the Nittany Lions in this game.
"When you get all of those players those kind of reps and those kind of minutes during a hockey game, that is an invaluable experience for us moving forward," said Brandwene. "We saw a lot of things today that were really good, and a number of things that we kind of knew we were going to have to build off of given the fact that our preseason was pretty short."
Hannah Ehresmann picked up the win and stopping all 14 shots she faced. Daniela Paniccia came in for Ehresmann midway through the second period and made nine saves on 10 shots.
"It was planned from the start that they were going to split the game," said Brandwene. "It was a great opportunity to get everyone reps. This was planned for us to take a timeout right in the middle and for them to split the game."
On the offensive side, Amy Petersen led the barrage on the Guelph goaltender all game long. Petersen led the team with four shots including a beautiful one-timer into the top left corner of the net in the second period. Petersen also dished out two assists to go along with the goal.
"Our team is just playing well as a whole and our chemistry is forming really well this early in the season," said Petersen. "Our teammates put me in good spots. They were working hard to get open and it all worked out."
Petersen highlighted the freshmen as well and how they have seamlessly become a part of this Penn State culture.
"Adding eight freshmen is a ton but they've done really well so far," said Petersen. "Everything from off the ice and on the ice, they're really fitting the team well. I think we're headed in the right direction this early in the season."
Petersen and Laura Bowman both found the net on man advantages. The Nittany Lions converted both of their power play opportunites while effectively killing off all four Guelph power plays.
"We didn't really practice the power play last week," said Bowman. "I think that's a really good sign for what to expect for the season."
Brandwene additionally highlighted neutral zone play as something the Nittany Lions can build from heading into the regular season.
"I thought we were really patient in the neutral zone, and that's something we had spent the week working on," said Brandwene. "It really started to click in the last couple of days and it was great to see them carry it over in terms of puck possession, support, filling lanes and making head man opportunities."
Meike Meilleur and Kelly Seward also netted goals as the Nittany Lions put a solid first effort out on the ice to start the 2016-17 campaign.
The regular season begins with a pair of games at Clarkson next weekend. The home opener is set for Oct. 14 vs Boston University.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Although Penn State didn't come out of the Big Ten opener on top, the Nittany Lions still have some positives to take from the early conference challenge.
In an unfortunate string of injuries, Penn State has continued to rely on its "next man up" mentality, having already seen Brandon Smith find success with eight tackles stepping in at middle linebacker against Temple.
It was true freshman Cameron Brown this week, as he got the call to step into the linebacker rotation and appear in his third straight game on the road at No. 4/5 Michigan. Having previously recorded his first tackle in the third quarter at Pitt, Brown made the most of his Big Ten debut.
Entering the linebacker rotation in the second quarter, Brown had two tackles in the first half, before opening the third quarter with his first career tackle for loss, bringing down Michigan's All-American tight end Jake Butt.
Brown finished with 10 tackles in the Big Ten opener, good for second on the team, making him the first true freshman linebacker to total double-digit tackles since Khairi Fortt had 11 against Illinois in 2010. Brown is also the first true freshman to log double figure tackles since teammate Marcus Allen had 11 against Ohio State in 2014.
"He was definitely around the ball and active. Hopefully he can build on this game and keep improving," linebacker Koa Farmer said. Farmer has also stepped into the linebacker rotation, moving over from safety.
Still facing injuries to the linebacker group, we'll have to wait and see who's the next man up for the Nittany Lions this week as Franklin noted postgame that the staff will have to continue making moves and adjustments.
Gillikin Continues to
Franklin also noted in the Michigan postgame press conference that true freshman punter Blake Gillikin has continued to be one of the true positives for the Nittany Lions all year long. There's no doubt that Gillikin faced a tough test heading into the week with Michigan's Jabrill Peppers as the Wolverines' standout punt returner. Gillikin's second punt of the day came nearly perfectly executed to force Peppers quickly out of bounds. He also dropped a second quarter punt inside the Michigan 10, marking his fourth consecutive game with at least one punt inside the opponent's 10. Gillikin is averaging 44.5 yards per punt on the year, which ranks 20th in the FBS standings and second in the Big Ten.
All in all, the Nittany Lions' special teams unit managed to limit Peppers on the punt return, having recovered from an early misstep that led to a 53-yard return in the opening quarter.
Saquon Finding a Way
Barkley continued his standout play for the Nittany Lions, making the most of some tough situations with 136 yards of total offense at Michigan. He led the team in both receiving and rushing yards with 77 and 59 yards, respectively. Three of Barkley's five receptions were for at least 17 yards, including a 30-yard grab in the second quarter. He's the first Nittany Lion to lead the team in both categories since Akeel Lynch had 137 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards at Illinois in 2014. Barkley's 77 receiving yards also marked the most for a Nittany Lion running back since Stephfon Green had one catch for 80 yards and a touchdown against Michigan in 2008.
An Early Look at Minnesota
Led by head coach Tracy Claeys, the Golden Gophers are out to a 3-0 start in 2016, coming off of a 31-24 win against Colorado State in their final non-conference outing of the season. Minnesota also beat Oregon State (30-23) and Indiana State (58-28) this year. The Golden Gophers will hit the road for the first time this season, traveling to Happy Valley for the first time since 2009.
Penn State and Minnesota will play for the Governor's Victory Bell, which has been awarded between the two teams since the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers met for the first time as members of the Big Ten conference. Minnesota currently maintains possession of the Victory Bell, which the Golden Gophers claimed following a 24-10 win in 2013.
By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With three minutes remaining in the first half Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field, Penn State and Nebraska were dead even at 1-1.
Both teams had created the same amount of chances and had shared possession evenly all afternoon. The only difference between the conference rivals at this moment was Nebraska's eighth-leading goal scorer all time, Jaycie Johnson, was standing behind the ball on the penalty circle with no one but freshman goalkeeper Amanda Dennis in front of her.
The only other penalty kick Dennis faced in her young collegiate career was against Long Beach State three weeks prior. She was unable to save that opportunity, but this time she stepped up and made the biggest play of the match.
In the battle between the seasoned veteran and the new kid on the block, Dennis read Johnson's run, dove to her left and stopped her attempt to keep the game tied at one.
"We scouted her. I knew that she was going to go to the left side, so I was hoping she would stick to the game plan, which she did," said Dennis. "I made the save and kept it at a 1-1 tie."
What would've been a one-goal lead for the visitors with momentum on their side heading into halftime turned out to ignite the home crowd and send Penn State to the locker room on a high note.
"Certainly that ball goes in and it's a completely different game," said head coach Erica Dambach. "She continues to come up big for us, certainly not playing like a freshman."
Dennis also made a one-handed punch save in the 83rd minute to hold the Cornhuskers to one goal.
"You have to make those kinds of saves. It boosts everyone up," said Dennis. "It's a Sunday game, everybody's exhausted on a Sunday, especially when you're getting close to the 90-minute mark, so just making saves like that I got to keep my team in the game."
Dennis has held opponents to one goal or less in eight straight games. With Penn State only losing once in that span.
Offensively, Megan Schafer stole the show for the Nittany Lions with two goals on four shots. She scored two goals all season leading up to this game.
Schafer got the Lions on the board in the 16th minute with a 12-yard shot that found the bottom left corner of the net off the assist from Salina Williford.
In the 69th minute Schafer broke the 1-1 tie with a long run to catch up to a through ball from Nickolette Driesse and finished over goalkeeper Audrei Corder for what ended up being the game-winner.
In a game comprised of 23 total fouls and two yellow cards, Schafer flourished like she usually does in physical contests.
"Megan Schafer is a Big Ten soccer player at its finest," said Dambach. "This is where she thrives."
"I just love when it comes around for conference play," said Schafer. "It's just such a physical game, and sometimes it's not the prettiest of games but I love that. It just gets me fired up even more. It's kind of weird but I like contact more. I think that's why today was so successful."
Penn State boasts a bevy of forwards who can outrun the quickest of defenders, but in games that rely on a physical presence, the team turns towards Schafer in the middle to get the job done. She did just that on Sunday.
The Lions will be back in action at Jeffrey Field on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. For another conference battle against Illinois.
By: Greg Campbell, Penn State Strategic
That is probably the word that best describes Tyler Yazujian. A young man that has placed his eggs in many baskets - both academically and athletically - but in his own words thinks that he's "done pretty well, so far."
Pretty well is one way to put it, but when taking a closer look at what he has been able to do while on the University Park campus, it is extraordinary. Every Penn State student deals with classes and studies, while many of them are involved in clubs and extracurricular activities, but what Yazujian has done in five years is in some ways improbable.
Nearing completion of his bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously in the College of Information Science and Technology, a three-year starter at long snapper as a member of the Penn State Football program, four years as a member of Penn State's club baseball program, three summer internships with the Red Cell Analytics Lab and membership in the Red Cell Student Group, all on top of everything that goes along with being a college student.
"I'm just a guy who comes in every day, does what is asked of him and doesn't need credit when he is doing well," said Yazujian. "I would call myself a hard worker, which is something that translates from the weight room to the practice field to the classroom to club baseball, to pretty much anything I involve myself in."
A native of Royersford, a suburb 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, he arrived on the University Park campus with his sights set on playing club baseball alongside his studies. He accomplished his first goal, making the club baseball roster - a program that is a regular contender on the national scene - following tryouts in November.
After practicing for a couple of weeks, he decided he would take a chance on earning a run-on spot for then-head football coach Bill O'Brien.
"I missed the [run-on] tryouts the first time, so I went out in when they had them again in December," said Yazujian. "When I made the team, I thought I was going to have to quit baseball, and that was tough for me because those were my closest friends. I had just come to college and I knew those guys really well."
He admits now that the opportunity to wear the iconic blue and white helmet was too good to pass up, but O'Brien - and now head coach James Franklin - gave Yazujian the opportunity to continue his interests with the club. In his four seasons on the diamond, he owns a 5-1 record on the mound with a 3.03 ERA in 46.2 innings of work.
"It has really made my college experience much more broad and fun."
Broad and fun? It sounds more like hectic and exhausting, but the laid back, mild mannered fifth-year senior has taken it all in stride and excelled in every role he has assumed.
So much has he excelled on the field, he was awarded a scholarship by Coach Franklin during the winter of 2016. The scholarship was special to Yazujian, even though he was already utilizing academic aid he was receiving from a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, but for him it was more about representing the special teams unit and setting a great example each day.
"The scholarship wasn't about the money," said Yazujian, "it was more about gaining that mutual respect from teammates, coaches and administrators. Getting that acknowledgement from my teammates and coaches, especially as a long snapper, was great. We [specialists] don't always get noticed, which can be a good thing."
The decision wasn't hard for the coaching staff, as special teams coordinator Charles Huff said there was no hesitation in providing Yazujian with the scholarship he had earned, both on and off the field.
"When opportunities arise to reward someone for doing the right things on and off the field Coach Franklin is sure to do that," said Huff. "Yaz is a perfect example. He does the right things on and off the field and brings elite value to this team in a multitude of ways. We were excited to be able to reward him for his hard work, dedication and commitment to this program and this University."
While his athletic pursuits have been many, his biggest role to date is being a student. Many students arrive on campus with aspirations of chasing a double major, but few rarely follow through. Yazujian has again impressed by working on his undergraduate and master's degree coursework in chorus as a part of the first cohort in the College of IST's first Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate program offering.
"My [academic] program allows me to take my undergraduate and master's courses at the same time" he said. "The basis for the program is that instead of taking the conventional path of doing four years as an undergraduate and two more years in graduate school, you blend those together, shave a year off and get two degrees in five years."
Calculated, but still busy.
"Busy people get things done," said Yazujian.
That's a motto he lives by and his résumé shows that. When not on the gridiron or diamond, Yazujian has used his free time to work in the Red Cell Analytics Lab (RCAL) each summer. In 2014, he had an internship all but locked up with the Department of Homeland Security. The CoSIDA Academic All-American checked all of the boxes - academic, coursework and social - along clearing the vetting process for gaining top secret clearances, but the timing just wasn't right.
"I just wasn't able to make it work [with the Department of Homeland Security]," said Yazujian, "but I have done work relevant to homeland security. Working in the Red Cell Analytics Lab, I've created some scenario based simulations that were used in the classroom."
In 2015, his samples found their way into U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jacob Graham's 400-level class based around deception and counter deception. Working with teammate Chris Gulla, the pair recreated and modified the 2007 Russian cyber-attacks.
"As a professor of practice, I do a lot of very hands on practical application analytic exercises or analytic decision games," said Col. Graham. "These are large scale simulations that allow students to solve the problems we see in our world today. Tyler has done a masterful job with some of things I have asked him to do over the last three years in helping create scenarios for my classes."
This past summer the RCAL utilized a program called GeoCue, software provided by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, to organizing freshman students in gathering data from around campus using social media. They used GeoCue to scrape that data off their devices and placed it into a geospatial tool to map out geo-location information from the social media profiles.
"The program [GeoCue] is basically used by disaster and quick response teams. This is software that can be used on a global level to help [government] departments decide where to allocate resources and where to send help."
Nestled between Rec Hall and College Avenue, and spanning across Atherton Street, there are not many student-athletes on the UP campus venturing deep into the uniquely designed Information Sciences and Technology Building, but Yazujian spends countless hours in one of the most sophisticated labs on any college campus.
He will graduate from Penn State this spring with a bachelor's degree in security risk analysis and a master's degree in information science and technology.
"Right now I am taking two graduate level courses," Yazujian said. "I've finished all of my undergraduate coursework and now it is just a couple of graduate classes and finishing up my thesis."
"Plan A is to extend the football career, but realistically that is not an easy task. Whenever football ends, I have a position waiting at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as an analyst. I will hopefully be working there after graduation, but they understand my situation [with football]."
The comment rolled off his
tongue effortlessly, as if that was exactly what he had calculated when he
arrived in Happy Valley.
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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