Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

Beaver Stadium Pictorial: Northwestern Preview

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of the many traditions of the Penn State football program's gameday experience is the Beaver Stadium Pictorial, the official gameday magazine of the Nittany Lions. The publication originated in the 1920s and continues to evolve, bringing fans closer to the football program, its student-athletes and the entire Penn State athletic department.

Each week throughout the home portion of the of the Nittany Lions' schedule you can find a preview of the content for the upcoming Beaver Stadium Pictorial on

Here is a preview of the feature content inside the Penn State vs. Northwestern BSP that will be sold during the 95th Homecoming game.

Pick up your copy on each home game day for just $5.00.

Upholding the Linebacker U. Tradition
BY: Paul Marboe, Penn State Athletic Communications
For anyone who watches senior Mike Hull, it is easy to see the traits and work-ethic that make him the player next in line to leave his mark at "Linebacker U." and add to its superlative legacy.

On fall Saturdays, Hull can be seen flying around the field, making plays from sideline to sideline on defense and special teams. The 6-0, 225-pound Hull contains that blend of toughness, discipline, instincts, speed and playmaking ability that makes the Penn State linebacker tradition so special.

After three years playing alongside some great linebackers, Hull has emerged as the clear leader of the 2014 unit and the Penn State defense.

Dan Radakovich: The Man Behind "Linebacker U."
by: Lou Prato, Penn State Sports Historian
The man most responsible for the creation of "Linebacker U." doesn't know when the nickname started or who came up with it, but it's the perfect and succinct description for the bevy of talented linebackers at Penn State over the last four decades.

Dan Radakovich is certain that the name evolved after he became Penn State's first linebacker coach in 1958 and helped develop All-Americans Denny Onkotz and Jack Ham and NFL stalwarts Ralph Baker and Bill Saul.

It wasn't just what the linebackers did at Penn State that gave the school its initial reputation in the 1970s. What they did in professional football had even more influence on the conception of the nickname.

Men's Hockey Looks to Build on Last Year's Late Season Success
By: Matt Caracappa, Penn State Athletic Communications
Under the direction of third-year head coach Guy Gadowsky, the Nittany Lion men's hockey team will look for continued success during the 2014-15 campaign. After an impressive run to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, Penn State returns 24 lettermen from last year's squad while welcoming three newcomers to the fold.

The Nittany Lions opened the 2013-14 season with heightened anticipation and excitement throughout the Centre Region as the campaign commenced with a 4-1 victory over Army at the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State also began its first foray into the Big Ten Conference, as the conference sponsored the sport for the first time.

The Nittany Lions battled through the second-hardest schedule in college hockey a season ago and came away with many monumental firsts for the program. Penn State defeated Michigan for both its first Big Ten win, which occurred at home, and its initial Big Ten road victory. The Lions also defeated the Wolverines for a third time during the Big Ten Tournament.

The Penn State vs. Northwestern BSP also features;
Expanded Game Notes
Unrivaled Moment: vs. UMass
Player Q&As w/ Ryan Keiser, Deron Thompson & Matt Zanellato
University Feature: Nittany Lion Bonds All Penn Staters
2014 Penn State Football Team Photo
Penn State Athletics Sports Planner

Gondak, Nittany Lions Look Forward to New Era

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10372381.jpegBy Astrid Diaz, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State is many things. It is a research institution and an athletic empire. It is history, tradition and culture.

For most people that come across this campus, though, of any age, any background, or any position, Penn State is one simple thing - a dream come true.

Dreams, like many things in life, come true through hard work, dedication, and a vast amount of time.

After eight years with the University and two long months as an interim, John Gondak has been officially named the Penn State cross country and track and field programs' head coach and he could not be more thrilled.

"Words can't describe what this means to me," said Gondak. "I'm thrilled and honored to continue to work with the student-athletes here. To be the head coach here is the pinnacle of my career to this point and I'm looking to continue that and achieve greater heights here with the program."

Gondak comes with a long history of experience and a great deal of time on the track.

He was a walk-on runner onto the Syracuse University cross country team where he earned a scholarship and the accolade of team captain. After graduating as valedictorian of the civil engineering program, he made his way through over a decade of coaching and recruiting experience at Georgia Tech, Toledo, and Kentucky before ending up in Happy Valley.

During his time with the NIttany Lions, Gondak has been remarkable.

During his eight years, he has been named United States Track and Field/Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year five times, along with assisting to lead multiple Big Ten, NCAA, and All-Regional championship appearances.

It's impossible to deny Gondak's passion, which flows right through him when he speaks about the University and its athletic program.

"Every coach has that one university in mind that they would really love to work for and for me Penn State has always been that," said Gondak. "Penn State is the university I grew up with. I've been coming to athletic events here ever since I can remember. Both my parents went to school here. They've been saying great things about Penn State their whole lives."

His demeanor is confident and approachable, and he stands proudly and poised.

"I truly believe we have the best student-athletes in the world here at Penn State. They're not only highly focused to achieve success athletically but their academics [are] a huge piece to them," he said. "Going forward to watch the athletes come through the program and move on to the real world is exciting to see."

Fortunately for Gondak, the student-athletes seem to feel the same way.

"I can't think of anyone better for the position considering how much he cares about the guys and the program," said senior Glen Burkhardt. "He does a very good job on everyone's individual needs. He cares a lot and I think everyone really likes him. That alone is big incentive to work hard."

Most days, Gondak can be found on the track or out on the running course. The days when he is in his office sitting at his dark burgundy desk, he is planning practice workouts and reflecting on previous races.

The future brings big changes for Gondak and his professional career but, as for the program, he simply hopes to continue the excellence that is already established.

"We have a great platform for success that was built not only by Coach [Beth Alford] Sullivan but also, by Coach [Harry] Groves and the coaches before them. We want to continue to build on that but we've got this thing going in the right direction right now with two of what, I think, could be the best teams Penn State has ever had," Gondak said.

Next weekend, Gondak will travel with the cross country team, for the first time as their head coach, to South Bend, Indiana, for their first NCAA qualifying meet at Notre Dame. The team has already been thinking about it, preparing, and working towards their goals every day.

As they continue to prepare for the competition, perhaps the program can rest peacefully, indeed, they have chosen the most dedicated man for the job.

2014 Gameday Preview - Lions Meet Northwestern on Homecoming

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

GAME BLOG - Northwestern

Game Notes | Gameday Central | Northwestern Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday

Press Conference Roundup | Coach Gattis Q&A | Player Q&A Video | BSP Preview

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (4-0, 1-0)) welcomes Northwestern (1-2, 0-0) to Beaver Stadium on Saturday for the 2014 Big Ten home opener and Homecoming. The Nittany Lions and Wildcats are slated for noon kick on BTN.

10369524.jpegThe Lions marched to their fourth-straight win to open the season last week with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball against UMass. Thanks to strong play in the trenches, Penn State rushed for 228 yards and five touchdowns. Seniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak each visited the end zone twice and Akeel Lynch scored once in a 48-7 victory.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions turned in another strong effort against the Minutemen. Limiting UMass to just three rushing yards, Penn State leads the nation in rushing defense at 45.9 yards per game.
The Nittany Lions rank sixth in scoring defense (11.0 ppg) and 10th in total defense (270.8 ypg). In the past 12 quarters of football, Penn State has allowed just two offensive touchdowns. Collectively, the Nittany Lions have yielded 12.38 rushing yards per quarter during the 2014 season.

Northwestern enters Saturday's game following a 24-7 home victory over Western Illinois. The Wildcats opened the season with two one-score losses against California (31-24) and Northern Illinois (23-15). Led by head coach Pat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats return 18 starters from the 2013 squad. That list includes senior quarterback Trevor Siemian.

Saturday's gameday marks Penn State's 95th Homecoming game. The Alumni Blue Band will be featured as they join the Blue Band performance at halftime. The Homecoming court will parade onto the field and the 2014-'15 King and Queen will be announced during halftime. The annual Homecoming Parade will be held on campus and downtown State College on Friday night.

Also, a Varsity "S" tunnel will take place for team entrance against the Wildcats, with hundreds of former student-athletes lining up on the field just prior to kickoff.

The Penn State and Northwestern coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. More than 110 FBS schools will be wearing a Coach to Cure MD patch in this the seventh year of the annual initiative. Fans are encouraged to donate online at or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week five matchup against Northwestern.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10369526.jpeg1. The Penn State ground attack played its best football of the season against UMass last week. Junior Akeel Lynch said this week that the performance against the Minutemen gave the running game some confidence, but now it is up to the group to improve. Lynch, Belton and Zwinak are a formidable trio when the offense is executing at a high level. In addition to the importance of consistency from the running game, the success of the Penn State running backs opens the door for play-action passing from Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in passing at 315.2 yards per game. Geno Lewis leads the conference in receiving yards per game at 115.5. DaeSean Hamilton leads the Big Ten in receptions per game at 7.5. When all of the offensive units are playing well, they complement one another.

2. Penn State's run defense has been lights out in 2014. Holding its opponents to less than 50 yards per game speaks to unit's ability to swarm to the football. The strong run defense begins with stout play in the trenches, but the second level of the Penn State defense deserves a great deal of credit, as well. The linebacker trio of Mike Hull, Brandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman has played at a consistently high level since the season began in Ireland. Hull leads the Nittany Lions in tackling with 37 stops on the season. Wartman, who was named Defensive Player of the Week for the UMass game by the coaching staff, has come on strong in recent weeks. He has 20 tackles. Bell has nine stops on the season, but his impact on the defense goes far beyond the tackle numbers. The New Jersey native has been a disruptive player for the Nittany Lions throughout the 2014 season.

3. No player has been more consistent for the Nittany Lions since the end of spring practice than kicker Sam Ficken. A perfectionist when it comes to mastering his craft, Ficken is off to a strong start for the Nittany Lions this season. He is 8-of-9 on field goal attempts and is 12-of-12 on PATs. Ficken has also been a weapon on the kickoff unit. He has 12 touchbacks this season, including eight touchbacks on nine attempts last week against UMass.

What to Watch For - Northwestern
10369570.jpeg1. Northwestern senior quarterback Trevore Siemian is a veteran of 36 career games for Northwestern. Ranked ninth on the school's all-time passing list, Siemian entered 2014 third on the active passer list in the Big Ten. He has completed 59 percent of his passes this season. Siemian has thrown for 614 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His top target thus far has been superback (TE/HB) Dan Vitale, who has 11 catches for 103 yards. Senior wide receiver Kyle Prater has 10 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.

2. Defensively, Northwestern is a fundamentally sound unit led by a veteran cast of players. In all, eight of Northwestern's 11 starters on defense are juniors or seniors. That list includes the linebacker duo of Chi Chi Ariguzo (30) and Collin Ellis (28), who have combined for 58 career starts for the Wildcats. Ariguzo and Ellis are the anchors of the Northwestern defense. The two linebackers lead the Wildcats in tackling with 28 and 26 hits, respectively. Ellis, however, was listed on the final injury report as out for the game on Saturday. Sophomore defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo has been disruptive this season, as well, with 2.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.

3. Sophomore punter Chris Gradone was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in week four. Gradone averaged 44.1 yards on seven punts. Six of his seven kicks were downed inside the 20-yard line, including two kicks inside the 5-yard line. Junior wide receiver Miles Shuler has been Northwestern's top returner. Shuler is averaging 21.2 yards per return on kickoffs.

The Final Word:
Penn State played its first Homecoming game on Oct. 9, 1920 against Dartmouth (W, 14-7). All-time, the Nittany Lions are 68-21-5 in games contested on Homecoming. That list includes eight on-field victories in the last 10 Homecoming games, including last season's thrilling 43-40 triple overtime win against Michigan. Saturday's game marks the third time the Nittany Lions will host Northwestern on Homecoming. The Nittany Lions topped the Wildcats in 2002 (49-0) and 2012 (39-28). Dating back the latter stages of 2013, head coach James Franklin and the seven members of the coaching staff who were with him at Vanderbilt last year have won nine-straight games heading into the Northwestern game.  Kickoff is slated for 12:01 p.m. on BTN.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Grant Off to Hot Start During Final Season

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10370582.jpegBy Samantha DelRosso, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The journey to Penn State for Nia Grant was an interesting one. In middle school, she missed volleyball tryouts and instead decided she wanted to become a professional basketball player.

But that all changed when her mom brought her to a local gym near her Warren, Ohio, home to practice volleyball. The skills stuck, and Grant ran with it. She tried out for the team, made it and the rest was history.

Grant began her college search during the Christa Harmotto and Arielle Wilson era of Penn State women's volleyball. Watching the standout athletes win national championships and Big Ten titles, Grant knew she wanted to play for Penn State. When Grant and Wilson met, they quickly became friends and Grant found herself in Happy Valley very frequently to spend time with Wilson.

"I just loved [Penn State]. And it was where I wanted to be all of the time," Grant said.

Now, five years later, Grant is playing in her final season as a Penn State women's volleyball player. She has grown as a player over the last four years, especially from her junior to senior season. This season, Grant tallied 100 kills on a .525 hitting percentage during the non-conference slate. At that point last season, she had 53 kills.

But Grant said it's her mental game that has really improved.

"My mindset is different. Something clicked. Being good is a decision, and I need to be good," Grant said. "Everything just seems like it's falling into place."

This season, Grant has been playing with much more confidence, approaching the net with swings like never before. She said the confidence boost is the product of being a senior and understanding that she has a leadership role this season.

"Being a senior, having to play a big role, having a lot of freshmen and knowing that you have to teach them a lot of different things, I had to step up," Grant said. "And I feel really good about it."

Leading the freshmen is something that Grant has loved so far this season and said that she could not have asked for a better class of freshmen. But rather than telling the newcomers how to be successful as a Nittany Lion, she shows them.

"I hope more so that I lead them by example, rather than teach them anything with my words," Grant said. "They're an awesome group of girls."

With conference play kicking off this week, Grant and the other veterans have explained the nature of the Big Ten to the freshmen. They also have established goals to achieve as a team during the 10-week conference schedule.

"[We] just want to grow and win as many games as possible. I want the team to peak when we need to peak and just continually get better every day and keep working hard in the gym," Grant said.

Individually, Grant said she wants to improve her blocking during her senior season.

The Nittany Lions head to Minnesota on Saturday following a 3-0 sweep at No. 5 Wisconsin on Wednesday. Grant and the Lions are fired up for the Big Ten season.

"I'm really excited...I can't wait," Grant said. 

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been more than six months since the Nittany Lions were on the ice together. 203 days to be exact. But this past Saturday the Penn State women's ice hockey team embarked on its 2014-15 campaign.

The transition from a club team to a Division-I program a mere three seasons ago trickled into last year as the Blue and White finished just 4-29-3. However, as third-year head coach Josh Brandwene and his Nittany Lions   enter their third season as a varsity program, the energy in the first week of practice has been very high.

"Things have been really good," said junior captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "The momentum has been at a really, really high pace. It's been really competitive, and it's a really good environment to come to practice to everyday."

Practice has incorporated half-ice and full-ice game situations as well as conditioning drills. From a coaching perspective, the year has gotten off to a progressive start.

"The effort, the intensity, the pace, and the enthusiasm are exactly where we want it right now," said Brandwene. "Lot's of work still to do. Any a number of things to work the kinks out of and clean up, but we're making good progress."

A big reason why practice has started so smoothly is due in large part to the newly appointed leadership. Yoxheimer and fellow junior Jordin Pardoski were voted on by their fellow teammates as the captains this season, while junior Sarah Wilkie and sophomore Laura Bowman both earned assistant captain duties.

"We're all honored that we were voted by the team to be captains, and we hope that we can represent the team well," said Bowman.

And, despite earning team leadership honors, the two captains and assistants plan on acting the same on and off the ice as they have in previous seasons.

"It doesn't really mean anything different than we were last year and in previous seasons," said Pardoski. "It's just us stepping up and being able to be leaders vocally or leading by example."

Although a letter distinctively separates the four captains from the rest of the team, according to Yoxheimer, each player on the squad adds a unique characteristic that makes for a well-rounded group.

"We have a lot of good leaders on the team who aren't captains, too," said Yoxheimer. "It adds to the whole environment of the team. Just having other leaders creates a positive ripple effect with everyone."

Penn State's first game of the season is this upcoming Friday, and due to the lengthy offseason, the Nittany Lions have been anticipating this game for a long time.

"We've been preparing for this since the end of the last season," said Wilkie. "Everyone has been thinking about this day and really focused and excited to get to the game Friday."

Even though the game Friday is simply an exhibition, the competitive ambiance that has overtaken the Nittany Lions has created a game-like mindset for the contest.

"We are not looking at Friday's game as an exhibition game," said Pardoski. "We are acting like Friday's game is our first real game of the season. We're pumped and ready to go for the game."

The puck drops at Pegula Ice Arena at 8:00 p.m. on Friday as the Penn State's season commences against the Western Ontario Mustangs.

"It's so great to be rocking and rolling now," said Brandwene.

By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- After the first four games of the 2014 season, the Penn State men's soccer team had scored six goals.

After 89 minutes on Wednesday night against Penn, they had scored the same amount.

Generally a defensive minded, low-scoring squad, the Nittany Lions looked like a new team on Wednesday, scoring six times in a 6-2 win over the Quakers.

"The movement between [the players] was unbelievable," head coach Bob Warming said. "We had to lift a really heavy weight in playing Ohio State (a 1-0 win last Sunday). Their defenders were tremendous and they were tough to beat. Now this was a little easier backline to break down and it showed up on the scoreboard."

The last time the Nittany Lions scored six goals in a game? Warming was coaching at St. Louis and leading goal scorer Connor Maloney was just four years old. It was 1999 and the Lions beat Villanova 6-3.

As for the last time they scored just five, Warming had 52 fewer wins with Penn State than he does now. That's because it came in his first game at the helm of the Lions, back in 2010 during a 5-0 win against Buffalo.

"Wow," said Maloney after hearing those stats.

"That's pretty cool," midfielder Drew Klingenberg added.

With 17 goals as a team in 2014, the Nittany Lions' outburst on Wednesday accounted for more than a third of their scoring this season. Equally impressive though was the number of players who got the ball in the net.

Five Nittany Lions got on the stat sheet, with Maloney scoring twice and Mikey Minutillo, Brandon Savino, Klingenberg and Riley Grant all netting the ball once.

"It just gives those guys confidence going into the next game," Maloney said. "They're great players and they could definitely have more goals and you'll see it in the next game."

Typically a second half team, Penn State came out of the gates looking to score right from the start against the Quakers.

The Nittany Lions scored twice in the first 16 minutes, and three times in the first half, giving themselves their first two-goal halftime lead of the season with a 3-1 score at the break.

"[Halftime] was definitely a little calmer in the locker room," Maloney said. "We didn't have to make many changes. We just told ourselves keep working harder and getting our goals so we didn't have to keep them around we could get other guys off the bench and in."

After Minutillo got the barrage started less than 10 minutes in, the Quakers fought back, tying the game less than five minutes later when senior Duke Lacroix sent a dagger to the left corner past the reach of Andrew Wolverton, the first goal the star goalie had allowed all season.

Not content to stay tied, the Nittany Lions needed all of a minute and a half to retake the lead, as Savino tallied an unassisted goal to give them a 2-1 advantage.

"It's a hard group, it's a tough group, it's a determined group," Warming said of his team. "Everybody knew at some point, the dam was going to break and we were going to give up a goal. Instead of hanging their heads, it was the completely opposite reaction. They said 'Andrew and the defense have held us for such a long time and it's our turn to turn it on.'"

Maloney would score on an unassisted play 17 minutes later before adding his second goal of the game five minutes into the second half.

The scoring plays gave Maloney a team-leading six goals on the season. When Klingenberg and Grant added goals later in the period however, it was the first time either player had scored all year.

Even in a blowout, it was a sweet moment for Klingenberg. The junior midfielder is known for his gritty and competitive play but had scored just once in his career entering Wednesday.

"I was telling everybody that [scoring] was alluding me for the first couple of games," Klingenberg said. "It was good to get a goal. I'm feeling good right now."

Although he wasn't able to notch his team record 29th career shutout, Wolverton made a number of highlight saves, finishing with eight on the night.

With a game against Michigan coming up on Sunday, the Blue and White will try again to get Wolverton the record, while also trying to remain undefeated in the Big Ten.

"I wouldn't call the goals Andrew's fault," Warming said. "He can make big time saves for us and he's going to need to this weekend at Michigan. They're really good." 

Northwestern Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Josh Gattis

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Gattis_Josh_A-14-UMass-MS_1867.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive recruiting coordinator, assistant special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions host Northwestern on Saturday at 12 p.m. (BTN). Take a look at a Q&A with Gattis leading up to Saturday's home game.

Q: Since you got here, how have Geno and DaeSean worked to improve and in what ways have they gotten better?
"They both continue to focus on the fundamentals and the details of route running, as well as improving their ball skills. I think as an overall group their commitment to improving their ball skills by drills and everything that we do in practice has been a true testament to some of the plays they continue to make, and they continue to increase their concentration and detail on each and every one of the plays."

Q: How does Geno Lewis compare to some of the other players you have coached?
"I think Geno is a really good football player. I still think his best football is ahead of him. I think he is very conscious of everything we ask of him as far as the details go. He's a very hard worker. He shows up every day and continues to work hard and get better."

Q: What type of guy is DaeSean Hamilton away from the field when you are in the meeting room?
"He's an awesome kid. He's a very, very smart kid. He's probably one of the smartest minds in our meeting room. He's come a very long way because he didn't get a chance to practice in the spring. He took advantage of every bit of coaching and paid attention to all of the details. He grew his game from understanding our offense. He came from a military background that's lived in numerous places. He's always got a smile on his face. He's always cracking jokes. He's really a great kid to be around. He's a guy who brings excitement and energy to our group."

Q: As young as the receiver group was when you got here, who has stepped up as leaders?
"I think we have stepped up as an overall group as leaders. But specifically, I would say with the game experience, DaeSean and Geno have stepped up tremendously. We are a very young group, and that is the exciting thing about it. I still say that our best football is still ahead of us. We are just scratching the surface on our potential and looking to transfer that over into production. Those two guys have been tremendous leaders, not just on the field but off the field, as well. Both of those kids carry over a 3.0 GPA and that speaks for the group itself."

Q: What is the receiver group's role in the running game?
"We are very unselfish. One of our goals on offense is that we want to create explosive plays. You create explosive plays with explosive players. But you also create explosive plays with downfield blocking. We are active in the run game. We are active as far as blocking our assignments. We need to make sure we are doing a good job keeping the guy we are blocking out of the picture, as well as stretching the defense. Obviously, by having the threat of the pass it allows you to put stress on a defense. Also, some of the short screen game, we consider that an extension of our running game. A lot of times on our run plays we will have options to throw the ball based on the looks. The more effective we can be out on the perimeter with some of our screens, the more effective we will be opening things up on the inside for our ball carriers."

Q: Like an effective run game, can a physical receiver group do its part in wearing down a defense?
"Absolutely. Everything in the pass game with the receivers, I preach all the time about going down to the details. It's not about how fast you are or how big you are or how strong you are. It's really about the details and the fundamentals of running routes and catching the football. You can be a guy with 4.3 blazing speed, but if you don't always catch the football, it doesn't make a difference. At the end of the day, it comes down to the technique and fundamentals and the details in plays that make things successful."

Q: What have Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall showed you through the first four weeks?
"Their progress has been astonishing. We still have a long way to go, but their improvement has been tremendous. Just their understanding of the offense, they are getting better as football players. They are playing with confidence. The most exciting thing about this (group) is that it is a bunch of young guys who love football. Geno Lewis hasn't even grazed the surface of how good he can be. DaeSean Hamilton hasn't scraped the surface of how good he can be. So, for all of these guys to go out each week and continue to get better and game reps and gain confidence, it is going to be a tremendous asset to us in the future. But to see guys like Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall, who are true freshmen, to be able to go out and play in front of 107,000 people and do the things you ask of them is exciting. Out of all these guys, they are so unselfish. They do what you ask. And you can't ask for more out of a group."

Q: As the offensive recruiting coordinator, what can you say about the recruiting message you have at Penn State?
"There is a lot of excitement around our program right now. Obviously, there is a new coaching staff. We're able to lay the foundation for the future of this program. But we've got an unbelievable product here to sell at Penn State. You're talking about the 37th ranked school in the country academically. You're talking about coming to place that gives you a world-class education with the largest dues paying alumni associations in the country. When you speak about what a Penn State degree means, you are not only talking about what it is going to do for you, but what it is going to do for your future and being able to put you out in areas of the country that are going to be in places with active Penn State alumni who can help you with your transition. As far as the rich football tradition here, you look over in Beaver Stadium and see 107,000 of the best fans in the country. When you look at the history here in terms of the national championships and undefeated seasons, there is a lot to sell with this program. This is one of the most storied programs in all of college football. When you have a great product to sell and you've got great coaches and a great head coach in Coach Franklin, it makes it easy to sell."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lion offense made themselves comfortable in the Lady Eagles' circle in Tuesday night's contest. Aside from a 5-1 win, Penn State was able to notch a season high 16 corners, scoring off four of them.

The Importance of the Corner...
A field hockey corner is much like earning a corner kick in soccer or a free throw in basketball: it's a scoring opportunity that doesn't come along often. For a field hockey corner to be earned, the offense must force the ball into the defense's feet or cause an obstruction of play inside the circle. If successful, the offense will be given an opportunity to take a direct shot on the cage, with only four opposing defensive players and a keeper attempting to stop the goal. Teams often come up "trick plays" to lure the defense to the ball, then dishing it to a player at the post. Penn State has been most successful with a direct shot coming from senior Taylor Herold.

"Lock Haven did a great job in the first half triple teaming in the circle," coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said. "But, we were diligent about drawing the corner."

Turning on the 'Scoring Switch'
In Tuesday's contest, the first Nittany Lion goal was scored off a corner. Herold received the ball from Emilee Ehret and took a direct drive from the top of the circle. Amanda Dinunzio was then able to tip it in, giving Penn State an early lead. Ehret notched her third goal of the season off another corner, lifting Penn State to a 2-0 lead. 

"I just need to make sure I send the ball into the circle quickly and accurately," Ehret said. "The flyers we face are super fast, so the quicker the insert gets the ball off the more time the hitter has time to get a shot off."

Before halftime, Lock Haven received a penalty stoke (another rarity in the game of field hockey). A penalty stroke, much a like a penalty shot in ice hockey, is a one-on-one chance to earn a goal. The Lady Eagles were able to score off the stroke, when Taylor Kennedy flicked the ball into the top left corner of the cage. The Nittany Lions were lead 2-1 at halftime.

"During halftime, our coaches told us we needed to get more results," Herold said. "We needed to draw more corners and get more shots on goal. We tried to force the corner play."

Penn State opened the second half with three back-to-back corner opportunities. Like the saying goes, "third time's a charm," Herold fired off a direct shot on the cage on the third corner. Just a few minutes later, the Nittany Lions earned another corner and Herold found the back of the net off of her direct drive. With just over 10 minutes left to play, Dinunzio found the back of the net off of another Penn State corner, lifting the Nittany Lions to a 5-1 lead.

Penn State has successfully been able to force corner play in each game this season. In the past eight games, the Nittany Lions have capitalized off one or more corners in all but two games, posting 69 corners thus far.

Looking Ahead...
The Nittany Lions are on the road for the next five games, three of which are Big Ten Contests. This weekend they will visit Michigan State and Ohio State for two Big Ten contests, followed by a weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. taking on Drexel and Temple. The Nittany Lions will round out their travel schedule with a matchup against new Big Ten matchup, Maryland.

"The energy that we had in the second half against Lock Haven is something we need to keep up, especially with our Big Ten play," Herold said. "We need to keep making things happen." 

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Northwestern Week

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions host Northwestern on Saturday for a noon kick on BTN.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2014 Opponent Previews - Northwestern

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10366695.jpegNorthwestern | Beaver Stadium | Noon | Big Ten Network

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions welcome Big Ten foe Northwestern for their annual Homecoming game on Saturday. Get to know the Wildcats in this week's scouting report.

Pat Fitzgerald, who is in his ninth year leading the Wildcats, has a record of 56-48 at Northwestern. The Wildcats finished last year with a 5-7 record, including 1-7 in the Big Ten. Northwestern is 1-2 this season.  The Wildcats returned 57 lettermen and 18 starters from 2013.

Northwestern earned its first win of the 2014 campaign last week against Western Illinois (24-7).  The Wildcat offense gained 283 yards on 66 plays, including 166 yards rushing.  Quarterback Trevor Siemian completed 15-of-25 passes for 117 yards.  Running back Justin Jackson picked up 92 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.  Treyvon Green added 38 yards on eight attempts.  Solomon Vault scored twice, with six carries for 31 yards.  Ten different Wildcats caught a pass.

The Wildcat defense allowed 376 yards, including 292 through the air.  They forced four turnovers, with three fumbles and an interception.  Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo forced all three fumbles, recovered one, and added two sacks.  Senior linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo led the defense with 12 tackles, while cornerback Matthew Harris added 10 stops.  Fellow cornerback Nick VanHoose recorded seven tackles and an interception.

Northwestern's offense ranks 14th in the Big Ten in scoring (21.0 ppg) and 13th in total offense (343.7 ypg).  The Wildcats average 115.3 rushing yards per game to rank 12th in the conference and 228.3 yards passing to rank ninth.

Siemian, a senior, has completed 59 percent of his passes for 614 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. 

Freshman running back Justin Jackson averages 4.5 yards per carry with a total of 184 yards and two touchdowns.  The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Jackson also has 35 yards receiving on five catches. Green has 101 yards rushing on 31 carries. 

Dan Vitale, a tight end/H-back in the Wildcat offense, leads the team with 11 receptions for 103 yards.  Six-foot-five senior wideout Kyle Prater has caught 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.  Another big target, 6-foot-3 Cameron Dickson has 129 yards and a score on seven receptions.  Junior Miles Shuler has eight catches for 68 yards. 

The Wildcat offensive line features two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore.  Senior center Brandon Vitabile was a preseason second team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele.

Northwestern ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing 20.3 points per game.  They also come in 10th in the conference in total defense, allowing 397 yards per contest.  The Wildcats give up 139.7 yards per game on the ground and 257.3 through the air, ranking 10th and 11th, respectively, in the Big Ten. 

Defensive end Dean Lowry, a junior, leads the defense with 2.5 sacks. He has 10 total tackles (six solo).  Odenigbo, a sophomore, has six tackles to go along with two sacks and three forced fumbles.  End Deonte Gibson has three tackles for loss and a sack.

Ariguzo ranks sixth in the Big Ten, averaging 9.3 tackles per game.  He has 19 solo tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery.  Linebacker Collin Ellis has 26 tackles (18 solo) and an interception.

Harris, a sophomore cornerback, leads the secondary with 22 stops (18 solo). VanHoose has five pass breakups and an interception to go with 21 tackles.  VanHoose has also blocked a kick.  Safety Ibraheim Campbell, a senior, has 21 stops, an interception and a forced fumble.

Sophomore kicker Jack Mitchell has hit on both of his field goals attempts in 2014, with a long of 28 yards. Junior punter Chris Gradone averages nearly 40 yards per punt and has placed 10 kicks inside the 20-yard line.  Gradone was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. Shuler handles kick return duties, averaging 21.2 yards per return.

Penn State is 13-3 on the field all-time against Northwestern.  The teams last played in 2012, with the Nittany Lions earning a 39-28 win.  Penn State overcame a 28-17 deficit in the fourth quarter to claim the victory.

What Pat Fitzgerald is saying about Penn State:

"We're playing an outstanding football team this weekend. James and his staff have done a great job. They've found a way to win a couple games that went down to the wire. Very impressive ways to win."

"(Christian) Hackenberg is as good as anyone in the country. He's a very talented young man. He's elusive in the pocket. He moves around well. If you aren't run lane conscious, he can escape and make plays with his feet. He's deadly accurate and he does a terrific job."

"(Bill) Belton and (Zach) Zwinak are very talented players. They run with different styles, but both are very talented and physical. (DaeSean) Hamilton has made a lot of plays for them at wide receiver. They spread the ball around. They use their tight ends well. (Geno) Lewis has made some big plays."

"Defensively, they are very, very good. Up front, they have very active and physical guys. They get up the field and in your face. Anthony Zettel is a terrific football player. He's a dominant football player. He's active in the run and pass game and (Austin) Johnson is a big, physical guy inside."

Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by Student Writer Paul Marboe.