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VIDEO: Media Day Player Press Conference
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team welcomed members of the media to the Bryce Jordan Center on the Tuesday afternoon for the team's annual media day festivities.
Head coach Patrick Chambers kicked off the events with a season-preview press conference before a packed room inside the BJC. The Nittany Lions are one week into official practice, and the season begins in one month on Nov. 14 against Morgan State (7 p.m.).
Take a look through some news and notes from media day.
Newbill and the Floor Generals
Two seasons ago, D.J. Newbill was put in an unfamiliar position. Following a season-ending injury to Tim Frazier, Newbill was forced into the role of playing at point guard for the first time in his life. A natural shooting guard, Newbill spent the 2012-'13 season learning the ropes of an unnatural position. The trial by fire helped expand the Philadelphia native's game into an All-Big Ten season one year ago (17.8 ppg., 4.9 rbg.). Now, as a senior, Newbill is ready to do whatever is necessary to help the team to win.
"It doesn't matter which position I play, I just want to do what is best for the team," Newbill said.
For now, Coach Chambers believes Newbill is best suited as the team's primary point guard. The starting five is far from being set in stone, but the senior is the team's top candidate to play at the No. 1 spot. Newbill focused on the growth of his entire game over the summer, but emphasized ball handling. While he is a natural scorer with the ball in his hands, Newbill is the team's top leader and will direct the offense with great poise and command.
"I'm very comfortable at the point," said Newbill. "Coming in to this season, I didn't know if I would be at the point or not so I prepared for it just in case. But I'm sure Coach is going to play me some at the point all season. All offseason I worked on ball handling and things like that, so I think I'm feeling pretty comfortable."
Behind the veteran, two newcomers are competing for minutes as the primary backup at the point guard spot. Chambers said that he has been impressed with both junior Devin Foster and freshman Shep Garner in their efforts at the point guard spot. Chambers said both players have a high basketball IQ.
Open Competition at the No. 2 Spot
The Nittany Lions have a host of options for the off guard spot in the starting lineup. Chambers highlighted the competition between senior John Johnson and sophomore Geno Thorpe. Johnson averaged 6.7 points per game last season and has the ability to not only stretch the floor with his range, he can get to the basket and score in traffic. Thorpe took full advantage of the extra practices and game reps during the postseason last spring. A gifted athlete with tenacious attitude on defense, Thorpe will look to expand on the offensive end of the floor in 2014-'15. Chambers also mentioned 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman Payton Banks as a guy who could see some time at the No. 2 spot depending on how big the Nittany Lions wanted to play. Banks stretches the floor as a threat to score from the perimeter.
"Those guys are getting after it," Chambers said. "I really am pleased with the direction of practice and the competition in practice. The guys understand what's at stake here, minutes, starting spot. Those three guys are really getting after it and we'll see how it unfolds these next three weeks."
While Newbill is the team's undisputed floor captain, the Nittany Lions have a terrific complement of leadership from the upperclassmen on the team. Chambers announced that Newbill, Ross Travis, Brandon Taylor and Kevin Montminy are the team's captains for the 2014-'15 season. Additionally, the team will have a leadership council group made up of the four captains and senior forward Alan Wisniewski. The collective roster has grown and matured under Chambers. He is relying more on the team for leadership than ever before. The early results at practice? Chambers said the veteran players are holding the team accountable for its work ethic and attention to detail on the floor. The team has five seniors and four juniors on the roster.
"D.J. was a huge leader last year for us. Meeting with Coach, Brandon [Taylor] and I had to step up and assist him to give him help with the big younger class coming in," Travis said. "Our job is to help D.J. and step up and be more vocal leaders. We really take charge out there in practice. The voice doesn't have to come from Coach; it can come from us as well. Being out there and being a vocal leader is the most important things and we're going to go out there and do it."
Taking the Next Step
While Chambers does not have a defined win total or set of goals for the team, he believes the talent within this group is more than capable of taking the next step. From the veteran leadership and deep pool of game experience, the Nittany Lions believe this is the year for the program to play at a higher level.
"We're headed in the right direction," Chambers said. "I feel like, as a program, we're a little bit older now. We have some seniors and juniors, which is exciting. We have a good mixture of veterans and youth. I think we have a great understand of our approach in practice, our approach in games, our approach in anything that we do. That takes a long time to put together. Is it really where I want it to be? No, there's still so much growth to go, but it's getting there."
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James Franklin Transcript - Oct. 14
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are idle this week for the second of two bye weeks during the 2014 season.
With the season at the midway point, head coach James Franklin and the coaching staff are focused on utilizing this week as an opportunity to improve on the practice field and in the film room before attention shifts to the Oct. 25 primetime matchup against Ohio State. Franklin updated the media on team's progress during the weekly Big Ten Teleconference on Tuesday.
"We are excited that we have a bye this week," Franklin said. "At practice, we are looking forward to getting some things corrected and giving some guys time off in terms of the banging and the running. We will look at refining some things and take a look at some of the things we need to be focused on more. It's coming at a good time for us."
Franklin said on Tuesday that field position in the second half of the Michigan game really stood out on film. Complementary football is essential for the Nittany Lions to be successful. That includes all three phases of the game functioning at a high level. Strong play on defense and on special teams contribute to good field position for the offense.
"We've got to play faster. We aren't playing as fast as we need to be playing right now," Franklin said. "I think that's really in all three phases. I think special teams and offense is probably what everybody is focused on. But I think in all three phases we can play faster and play more aggressive. Running the football consistently and protecting the quarterback are probably our biggest challenges right now."
The bye week has come at a good time for the team to focus on correcting some of the mistakes that have hindered the Lions during the first six weeks. Nonetheless, four wins in the first six games of the season is a positive step for the direction Franklin and the staff are leading the program in.
"We are 4-2 right now. There are a lot of teams across the country that would love to be 4-2," said Franklin. "We knew there were going to be some challenges and some issues coming into this season. But I couldn't be more positive and more excited about being at Penn State...We are excited about the opportunity to play a talented Ohio State team next week. We are as positive and optimistic (now) as we were going into the season."
Penn State returned to practice on Tuesday following the team's off day.
Defense Ranks Among Nation's Best
The Penn State defense has played superb football during the first half of the season. The Nittany Lions are ranked in the nation's top five in five different statistical categories, including three major categories. Allowing just 60.8 yards per game on the ground, Penn State is second in the nation and atop the Big Ten in rushing defense. At 15.2 points allowed per game, Penn State is fifth in scoring defense (No. 1 in the B1G). The Nittany Lions have allowed 283.3 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the nation in total defense (No. 1 in the B1G). Additionally, Penn State is second in the nation in first downs defense (85 allowed on the season) and No. 4 in red zone defense (63.2 percent). Penn State opponents have averaged 2.0 yards per rush this season.
With 64 tackles on the season, senior linebacker Mike Hull has been the catalyst for the Nittany Lion defense. Hull leads the Big Ten in tackles per game with 10.7. Additionally, Hull is 11th in the nation and ranks atop the Big Ten with 6.7 solo hits per game.
Jesse James Added to Mackey List
The Mackey Award is handed out to the nation's top tight end. Junior Jesse James was added to the Mid-season Watch List for the John Mackey Award on Monday. James is third on the team in receptions 18 this season. He has 203 yards (11.3 avg.) and two touchdowns. The Mackey Award semifinalists will be announced in late November.
Ohio State Under the Lights Up Next
The Nittany Lions will begin a string of six-straight weeks of football when Ohio State comes to Beaver Stadium for an 8 p.m. kick on Oct. 25. The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes will battle under the lights for the third-straight year. Six of the last 10 meetings between the two teams have been held under the lights. The Penn State White Out will air nationally on ABC. Penn State and Ohio State have met annually since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten. As members of the East Division, the teams will continue to meet annually.
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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing against some of the top programs in the country is nothing new for the Penn State women's hockey team. Such was the case this past weekend as the Nittany Lions (1-2-1) faced off against No. 8 Quinnipiac (2-0-1).
Despite dropping a competitive contest on Saturday night, the Blue and White rallied Sunday afternoon behind Hannah Ehresmann's 45 saves and Amy Petersen's game-tying goal to draw, 1-1.
"I'm really proud of this group for a total team effort as it relates to consistency and response," head coach Josh Brandwene said. "We had a great response when we faced adversity, and I saw a lot of growth for this hockey team that continues to evolve and get better every day."
Whereas Brandwene said his team played only 19 minutes of complete hockey in Saturday night's loss, the head coach refined his statement after Sunday's tie.
"It was a war out there against a good hockey club for 65 minutes," said Brandwene. "We made adjustments. Quinnipiac made adjustments. That's what high level hockey is all about, and I'm proud of them for the 65 minutes."
The two-game series against the Bobcats allowed the Blue and White to put their talented goaltenders on display for the passionate home crowd.
While junior Celine Whitlinger posted 31 saves in Saturday night's loss, freshman Hannah Ehresmann stopped 45 shots to preserve the tie.
"They work. They learn. They support each other. They have a great goaltending coach that works with them," said Brandwene. "I'm incredibly proud of their effort. I cannot say enough about Hannah Ehresmann's performance in goal. She was steady, poised, excellent job."
For freshman Ehresmann, being able to watch Whitlinger in net the game prior helped her perform at her highest level during Sunday's matinee.
"I definitely look up to Celine [Whitlinger], and I try to compete as well as she does," said Ehresmann. "We can both get better from watching each other, and I'm sure she feels the same way."
Offensively it was the line of Amy Petersen, Hannah Hoenshell and Laura Bowman that impressed. Together, the line combined for the lone goal of the weekend. Communication and synergy were key in the line's success, but all it took was a simple shot to the net to lead the Nittany Lions to a tie on Sunday.
"Remi [Martin] missed wide from the point, and I played the puck in the corner," said Petersen. "I saw Laura [Bowman] on the high slot, and I was actually trying to get a rebound out front for her by shooting off of the goalie's pads, and it just bounced of the side of her pad and dropped in."
Communication has been an area of focus for Brandwene and his squad, and Sunday afternoon was the height of such play thus far this season, especially among Petersen's line.
"They had themselves a heck of a hockey game," said Brandwene. "Really good spacing, really moving their feet well, playing well at both ends of the ice, they generated some good offense throughout, and they talked in the locker room about putting pucks on net from everywhere. And, when you put pucks on net, good things happen, so that's an outstanding performance by their line, and a great opportunistic goal by Amy [Petersen]."
A big reason why the line of Petersen, Hoenshell and Bowman performed at such a high level Sunday is because Petersen and Bowman have played together since the young age of five.
"It's definitely special," said Petersen. "It's not something many people can say they've done. We've been playing together since we were five. We've been on the same team every winter and every summer ever since. It's a lot of fun to play with her now in college."
Even more importantly, the talented line focuses on just having fun.
"Our line likes to have a lot of fun out there," said Petersen. "We try to stay loose and just work together. When we actually get one to go in, it's a lot of fun."
Next up for the Nittany Lions is a road trip against the Union Dutchwomen on Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md.- Bob Warming has seen it happen before.
In a college-coaching career that spans back to 1976, the head coach of the Nittany Lions knows all too well the pressure that comes with being undefeated.
"I coached a team a few years back [at Creighton in 2008] that was [unbeaten for 15 games]," Warming said. "The pressure that started to build up on them was unbelievable because in our sport, people drop games."
The Penn State men's soccer games has dealt with that same pressure all season, having opened the season with a 10-0-1 run that earned them a No. 3 national ranking entering Sunday's contest against Maryland.
The dam finally broke against the Terrapins as the Lions met their first setback of the season.
Afterwards, Warming said he hoped the Lions would be able to use the loss as a way to relax after having a bull's eye on their backs the entire season.
"When the match was over today, I basically said, 'look, everybody has something today that they would have liked to have done differently,'" Warming said. "But for me, as crazy as it sounds, I'm relieved we dropped one.
"'['I said] now lets get on another run, lets start another run now, and learn from this game.'"
Mael Corboz's goal marked the first time all season the Nittany Lions trailed; an astounding feat considering it was their 13th game.
Considering Penn State entered the season ranked fourth in the Big Ten, its current 10-1-1 record and 4-1 mark in conference play is still nothing to scoff at.
With five more regular season games, including three against conference opponents, the Nittany Lions need to put this loss behind them as they strive to regain the form that helped them allow just three goals all season entering Sunday.
"There wasn't one [specific] thing today," Warming said. "But the one thing that comes out of today is we got a loss behind us. We're still a great team, we're still a family, we're still a bunch of fun-loving guys. We're disappointed now but we're gonna move on and get on another run."
Warming is also well aware that his team could run into Maryland down the road in the Big Ten tournament.
Last year's national runner-up, the Terrapins got off to a surprising 4-5-2 start this season, and looked like a team desperate for a win against the Nittany Lions.
"Maryland's good, man," Warming said. "They needed this game badly today. Here's the deal. It wasn't like our guys quit running, it wasn't like our guys quit working, it wasn't like our guys gave up. Those are qualities you can control.
"Some days, your touch is bad. Some days you aren't as bright in your thinking as you'd like to be and that was our day today."
Another disappointment for Warming was that he wasn't able to give a victory to the group of Penn State students that made the over three-hour trip for the game.
For the first time in school history, Penn State offered a bus service to fans interested in traveling for a road game. In total, 35 people took part to give the Lions some home-field atmosphere on the road.
Before departing back to State College, Warming and the team posed for a group picture with their supporters. Even on a day that featured a disappointing loss, it was a great moment for a program enjoying a standout season.
"Awesome, awesome, I love those kids," Warming said. "They stuck around here and supported us. I can't say enough about them. The biggest win out of today wasn't Maryland 4-0, it was that we have established a group of students that are with us win, lose or tie, and that's a real supporter. That's not a fan, it's a supporter."
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I've never lived anywhere else," sophomore Anna Farnsworth explained.
The State College native is studying health policy and administration on the University Park campus and comes from a family of Nittany Lions.
"My parents went here, my bothers went here, and it's such a great school," Farnsworth said.
Although Farnsworth grew up minutes from the University, she explained that Penn State and State College have a symbiotic relationship.
"I mean it has that small town feel," Farnsworth said. "But at the same time, you have all the students from the university and people on game weekends."
While State College at times is considered the third largest city in Pennsylvania on football game weekends, Farnsworth explained that while Penn State plays a local role, State College has its own culture away from the university.
"I remember growing up when people would move here and the first thing they would notice is how big sports are in State College," said Farnsworth. "Even playing soccer at young age, the theme around here is to pick a sport and 'get good.'"
But it wasn't until high school that Farnsworth began swimming year-round.
"I played soccer and basketball through elementary and middle school, but in eight grade I tore my ACL. I couldn't get surgery at that point so swimming was how I stayed active," said Farnsworth.
Farnsworth found quickly that it was something she loved.
"I always knew I wanted to play a sport in college, and with swimming everything just came together," Farnsworth said.
Specializing in backstroke, Farnsworth has contributed to the Nittany Lions' success since she arrived as a freshman. Last year she posted personal bests at the Big Ten Championships in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
One of the perks of being a few miles from home means always having a cheering section at home meets and spending time with family on the weekends.
"I'm spoiled a little when it comes to my mom bringing me groceries," Farnsworth said with a laugh. "I do try to go home and catch up with them. But at the same time, I feel like I need to foster my independence."
Although she's spent her life in State College, being a student at Penn State is a different experience entirely.
"I think people take for granted 'townies'," Farnsworth said. "People think we know all the loopholes with college. Really, this is a whole new setting for me. I just have the convenience of being five minutes away."
Catch Farnsworth and the rest of the Nittany Lions in their next home meet on Oct. 31 as they take on Villanova in McCoy Natatorium at 5 p.m.
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - From the drop of the puck to the final sound of the horn, Penn State (1-0-1) played a complete 60 minutes of sound, physical hockey en route to a commanding 7-1 victory over UConn (1-0-1) Saturday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Blue and White third line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey combined for four goals and five assists, Jonathan Milley maintained his physicality and goaltender Matthew Skoff made 28 saves to lead the charge for the Nittany Lions.
"I would like to think that what you saw tonight is going to be a lot more indicative of what you see the rest of the year," said head coach Guy Gadowsky.
Thanks in large part to the stellar play of Skoff and the penalty killing units in front of him, the Nittany Lions warded off a five-on-three penalty kill in the first 10 minutes of play to alter momentum in their favor.
"I think that [penalty kill] changed the game for us," said Bailey who tallied a goal and two assists. "Getting that right off the start...with big blocks from a lot of players and Skoff stood on his head there in the first ten minutes. A different outcome for that first ten minutes could've changed the game for sure."
The smart and patient play of the Penn State penalty killing units during the two-man disadvantage kept UConn off of the scoreboard, but it was the performance of Skoff that Gadowsky believes made all the difference.
"The kill was the key," said Gadowsky. "If you're going to have a good penalty kill though, your goaltender has to be your best killer, and he certainly was. It's tough though to kill a five-on-three and a five-minute major. It's tiring and it's tough. I think the guys deserve a ton of credit for that. Skoffer definitely led the way."
Despite committing six penalties of their own, the Nittany Lions registered a shorthanded goal via a blistering top shelf wrist shot from Taylor Holstrom and a power play goal from Jonathan Milley as part of a five-goal second period.
"It's a backbreaker for the other team, especially when they have that many power play opportunities and can't put one in, and then we go down and get a shorty," said Holstrom who finished with two goals and an assist. "It feels good."
According to Gadowsky, the play of Holstrom during Friday night's tie prompted his big Saturday afternoon on the stat sheet.
"There is such a thing as the hockey gods," said Gadowsky. "And with Taylor Holstrom, he really was the best forward [Friday] night all around. His commitment to back checking yesterday was great.... Often when you have someone who is that committed to the team goals with things that don't show up on the score sheet, often they get rewarded. So it was great to see him and his line have a tremendous game tonight."
Similar words can be said for Milley, whose physical play on both sides of the puck energized Penn State's play in both contests against UConn.
"It's something that we've been waiting for," said Gadowsky on Milley's execution on the ice. "He has a history of being a dominant player.... This is the most healthy he's been in four or five years. Along with our trainer Justin Rogers and our strength coach Cam Davidson, the three of them worked extremely hard this summer. The difference in him physically is huge. He dropped his body fat tremendously. He really improved in his cardio and his mobility, and you can definitely see a difference out there, and we'd like to see a lot more of it."
Next up, the Nittany Lions travel to Fairbanks, Alaska, for the Brice Goal Rush for a game against Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 17 and a contest versus Alaska Nanooks on Oct. 18.
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa.-- The stage was set for a great first start at home for freshman Haleigh Washington: a Big Ten matchup in Rec Hall, an energetic crowd and an excited band. But the Nittany Lions fell to the Illinois in four sets.
Despite the outcome, Washington's first start in Rec Hall was an exciting experience for the young middle blocker. Leading up to the match, she kept her composure while trying to shake her nerves. But as soon as it was game time, she knew it was time to go out there and "do her thing."
"I was trying to do the best that I could and bring whatever I could to this team," Washington said. "Everybody has a job and I was just trying to do mine."
In the first set, the Nittany Lions had a 19-8 lead over Illinois. After multiple scoring streaks, the Fighting Illini fought back to make the score 23-17. With five unanswered points and a four-point scoring streak at the end of the set, the Illini took the first frame, 26-24.
"We scored a lot of points [in the first game], we blocked better. We had some areas where I thought we were going to do some things and surprisingly enough, [Illinois] battled a little better than we did," head coach Russ Rose said. "In the beginning of the year, I had Illinois as the team to win the conference."
In the second set, the Nittany Lions beat the Illini 25-16. Illinois came back to take sets three and four, 25-23 and 25-22 respectively.
Penn State had momentum in end of the final frame that kept the Nittany Lions within two points at 24-22, but the Illini finished off the match with a block.
"We had fire at the end of the game. Then there's that little hope and it's just crushed and that's the worst feeling; when you're so close and you're thinking that it's good and it ends up being too little too late," Washington said. "It's disappointment and a chance to work harder at practice. We don't really linger. We're ready to come back and work harder."
Although the Nittany Lions fell to the 15th-ranked Illini, Rose noted that Washington played especially well for her first start in Rec Hall.
"Her energy is always good. She is a confident, young person. She hit really well [and] took some good swings," Rose said. "Considering it was a big match with a lot of people and a lot of importance, she really represented herself well."
Washington had a career-high 14 kills on a .538 hitting percentage. She had seven blocks, but said she needs to improve her blocking.
[My blocking has] got to be a better game. In a conference like the Big Ten, blocking is a really big, important aspect of your game. I'm trying to improve on that," Washington said.
Throughout the entire match, Washington's energy was very positive, even when the team was down.
"I had to go in and play my game. I was trying to take care of what I could take care of and control what I could control," Washington said.
Washington and the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana next to face Purdue on Friday at 8 p.m.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a tale of two halves for the Penn State women's soccer team on Saturday against Rutgers.
Taking on No. 20 team in the nation at home, the Nittany Lions got off to a slow start against a hungry Scarlet Nights squad and went into halftime down 1-0. From that point on, however, they looked like a different team.
"I didn't necessarily need to [say anything at halftime]," head coach Erica Walsh said. "They knew that they didn't perform. The details were better in the second half. I'm pretty proud of this team in the last 30 minutes, and that's the kind of team I want to coach."
After being out-shot seven to two in the first half and giving up a goal to Madison Tiernan at the 28:36 mark, the Nittany Lions turned the tide of the game in the final 45 minutes, out-shooting Rutgers eight to three, yet ultimately being unable to score and falling for just the second time this season, by a score of 1-0.
In the final 10 minutes, with the Scarlet Knights keeping all 11 players back on the defense, the Lions generated numerous opportunites but were unable to get a ball past goalie Casey Murphy.
"At the end I felt like we, I don't know if the word is deserved, but I felt like we were going to get one," Walsh said. "I liked the morale at that point. I thought we were pushing hard enough to get a win."
First, reserve freshman midfielder Haleigh Echard crossed a nice ball into the box that junior Mallory Peterson just missed getting into the net.
Minutes later, Katy Keen ripped a shot that forced Murphy to make a terrific diving save. Then, with just 2:43 remaining, Frannie Crouse headed a ball off the foot of Megan Schafer that went just wide of the net.
Although the setback marks the Lions' first Big Ten loss this season, it came against a talented opponent.
With the win, Rutgers improved to 10-1-1 on the season and registered its ninth shutout. In total, the Scarlet Knights have given up just four goals in 12 games this season.
"That's a very good Rutgers team, I mean a really good Rutgers team, and there were times when they were playing around us," Walsh said. "We played as if we had a bulls eye on our back today and our details weren't good enough."
Walsh has been at the helm of Penn State for eight years now. She knows that the grind of a season can take its toll on players and that it is next to impossible to win every game.
Still, Walsh believes that there is much the Lions can learn from Saturday's loss. Their success over the past few seasons has established them as one of the premiere programs in the country, and as a result, opponents will always be motivated to beat them.
"These games against Penn State are massive games for these teams and we're going to get everybody's best game," Walsh said. "We need to learn it this way and we are a young team."
With a unique blend of young talent and veteran experience, evidenced by Saturday's starting lineup that featured six returning starters and five freshmen, the Nittany Lions are built for success in both the present and the future.
The focus for Penn State now will be bringing a consistent effort for 90 minutes over its remaining five regular season games, all against Big Ten rivals. Walsh knows her team can do that, having seen them play that way for nearly the entire season.
"As long as we grow from this experience we're going to be better in the end," Walsh said. "The biggest thing is just the leadership and the belief going forward."
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media
following Saturday's game at Michigan.
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