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Teams Volunteers at United Way Day of Caring

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11369300.jpegDay of Caring Photo Gallery

By Ryan Hickey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Members of the Penn State men's basketball team woke up early Thursday morning to volunteer in the 22nd annual United Way Day of Caring event.

The team served breakfast at 7:30 a.m. to United Way volunteers in the Bryce Jordan Center.

"We are serving them breakfast before they get out on their day of caring," said guard Shep Garner. "We are serving [Volunteers] eggs, french toast, and sausage as a token and to let them know that we are here with them."

A theme the team talked about was being able to support the community that supports them on the court. The fans make sacrifices to attend the basketball games and the team is happy to be able to show they recognize that support and want to repay the favor anyway they can.

"It feels good to give back to the community. They take time out of their day to come support us and work so hard, so the least we can do is just give back to the community and it's the greatest thing you can do," said center Jordan Dickerson.

"It's fun. It's a full circle community service experience being able to give back and showing them we love what they do," said forward Donovon Jack. "It's something simple we can do for them to thank them for all the support they show us."

Time is not something that is very accessible when it comes to student-athletes. Whether it's practice, weight training, film study or going to class, the students rarely have much free time even in the offseason. With that said, many players said how the Penn State culture makes them well-rounded citizens and more than just athletes.

"It shows that we aren't just athletes. We are full-rounded people and always trying to be out there and helpful anyway we can be," said Jack.

The family environment is another reason why these players love being able to help out anyway they can, citing the Penn State bond is a bond that can never be broken.

"We are all just a family here," said Garner. "Penn State is a family. We are all one and it's not just the volunteers; we are with them too. We want to show our support."

Finally, it's also a break from the normal routine, giving the team a chance to bond off the court.

"It feels really good to help out your community. We do a lot of community service with the team and we are always trying to help out those who we can," said forward Julian Moore. "It brings us closer together. We are around each other all the time and it just helps us communicate better on the court."

Last year, the event was renamed the Col. Gerald Russell Day of Caring in honor of its founder and popular community figure. Russell led this event for years and after retiring last year, his name still lives on and is remembered for all he did for this day of service. 

Along with the men's basketball team, the other Penn State teams participating in the United Way Day of Caring included women's basketball and women's lacrosse. Women's basketball volunteered at the Centre Mansion, assisting with yard work on the property. The women's lacrosse team also participated in various outdoor chores, including gardening, painting and raking.

Through a wide-range of activities with organizations and groups of all ages, Penn State's approximately 800 student-athletes performed more than 5,300 hours of community service in 2014-15. The total number of hours created an average of nearly seven hours of service for each student-athlete this past year.    


Annual 'Dig Pink' Match on Saturday against Iowa

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11369023.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team continues its Big Ten conference battle over the weekend against No. 4 Nebraska and Iowa, the matchup against Iowa on Saturday evening will embody and represent something bigger than a regular match.

On Saturday, Penn State and the Side-Out Foundation will host its annual "Dig Pink" match for the eighth consecutive year.

"The 'Dig Pink' match is always so important," said junior Taylor Krause. "It's a great cause, and it's awesome that we get to play for such an amazing organization."

In volleyball, 'side-out' means a team is regaining control of the ball. Established in 2004, the Side-Out Foundation is a support and advocacy organization that is dedicated to helping people with breast cancer regain control of their lives. The Side-Out Foundation unites volleyball players and coaches to have them work toward the common goal of furthering breast cancer awareness, education and patient services.

"It's a great cause," said head coach Russ Rose. "The organization that runs it is a national organization, and breast cancer is a challenge that affects a lot of people. It's certainly great that in women sports, we can take the opportunity to try and generate some revenue that goes toward either the research or providing treatment for people that are inflicted with cancer."

The Side-Out Foundation has raised millions of dollars that goes towards high-quality support services for cancer patients and their families, scholarships for young students to encourage them to continue achieving their goals, as well as, funding for the development of treatments for breast cancer patients so they are another day closer to finding a cure.

"It really hits home," said Krause. "It makes you think about how lucky you are to be where you are and how great of a university it is that we can have all this support for such a great cause throughout this entire campus."

Pink shakers will be provided for everyone attending the match, and fans are encouraged to wear pink on Saturday evening. The women's volleyball team will also be hosting a silent auction featuring game-worn pink warmup T-shirts where proceeds will go directly toward Penn State's "Dig Pink" profile. Last year, Penn State generated nearly $4,000, the highest amount raised since the event began. This year's goal is set for $4,500.

"Honesty, I think all of us here, at least the girls, like seeing the pink, in general, but it's cool to see something that people can get behind," said junior Laura Broerman. "It's cool that people get behind us as a team and want to support, but it's cool to see people getting behind something bigger than us."

Last season, Penn State defeated Iowa in straight sets, but the team is aware that last year's performance means nothing for this season.

"The Big Ten season is an incredible test every time, so I'm sure we'll be tested again this weekend with Nebraska and Iowa," said coach Rose. "Iowa is also a very much improved team from last year. There's never an easy match in the conference. I think if you asked any of the coaches in all the other sports, they're all going to say the same thing. You might be in favored to win, but that doesn't mean you are susceptible to getting beat by anybody you play." 

Nittany Lions Set to Open 2015-16 Season in Atlanta

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11368843.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's and women's swimming and diving teams are heading to Atlanta for their first tri-meet of the season against Georgia Tech and Liberty on Friday. The Nittany Lions will stay in Atlanta and continue their season-opening weekend with a dual meet against Emory on Saturday.

The offseason was full of pre-Olympic trial hype with swimmers such as Katie Rowe and Tim Maurer, with both earning bids for the men and women's U.S teams. Women's captain Alyson Ackman competed in the 2015 Pan American Games this July, helping her native country Canada win the bronze in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

"Pan American games was amazing," Ackman said. "To hear Canada cheering for us was just absolutely thrilling and motivating for this year coming up for 2016."

Other Penn State swimmers competing in the games were Melissa Rodriguez and freshman Monika Gonzalez-Hermosillo, who swam for Mexico.

"I think it's great to know that all of us can represent different countries on a bigger field, but can still represent Penn State," Ackman said.

While the summer games helped Ackman prepare herself for upcoming competitions, being a captain this year is a whole other role. Along with co-captain Jon Seiferth, the senior swimmers are ready to fulfill their leadership roles by helping teammates out, welcoming new swimmers and new assistant coach Matt Hurst. Hurst joined the Nittany Lions this summer after spending 12 years with Southern Connecticut State.

"It's going to be a challenge being a leader of 30-some people, especially with the boys included," Ackman said. "I think my leadership role doesn't have that much more of an impact of anyone else's role on the team. I think it's really important for me to take that extra stride to make sure everyone communicates and is on the same page."

"Leadership and prior knowledge, incoming freshman have a lot of questions and I'm always trying to help them out as much as I can," Seiferth said. 

The Nittany Lions have a total of six incoming freshman for the women's team. Along with Gonzalez- Hermosillo, other international students include Aleksandra Tulacz, who was born in Gdynia, Poland.

Upcoming meets that the swimmers are looking forward to are tri-meets, including one against Big Ten rival Michigan and Virginia. Seiferth said there is more motivation this year to try to change the finishing scores and have an overall improvement in competing.

"I'd like to see our place in the Big Ten go up," Seiferth said. "There is motivation to do a lot more and try harder to get that higher place. "

The Nittany Lions will have their first home meet against Virginia Tech Friday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. 

2015 Gameday - Nittany Lions Host Army West Point in Beaver Stadium

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Game Blog | Press Conference Roundup | Lions in NFL

Coach Franklin Wednesday | Coach Spencer Q&A | Notebook | Parking Adjustments

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State brings a three-game winning streak into Saturday's non-conference finale against Army West Point inside sold out Beaver Stadium.

Continuing a stretch of five-straight home games, the Nittany Lions (3-1, 1-0) and Black Knights (1-3) will meet for the first time since 1979 when the two squads line up for a 12 p.m. kick on Military Appreciation Day. The game will air live on ESPNU.

11367261.jpeg"We are excited about the opportunity to play a service academy in Army," said head coach James Franklin. "You know that when you line up against an academy, they are going to play hard from start to finish. This is the first non-conference sellout at home since 2011, so we are looking forward to Saturday."

Behind another dominant performance from the Nittany Lion defensive line, Penn State tallied its third consecutive home victory against San Diego State last week (37-21). Led by a spirited effort from Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week Anthony Zettel, the Nittany Lion D-Line turned in a masterful performance with
21 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two pass break-ups and a touchdown from Austin Johnson against the Aztecs.

Offensively, the Nittany Lions tallied a season-high 296 yards through the air against San Diego State. Junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg finished 21-for-35 with three touchdowns. The Lions had seven different players catch passes, including running backs Saquon Barkley and Mark Allen, who each scored touchdowns.

Army West Point enters the week following a 58-36 victory over Eastern Michigan last week. The Knights scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from Eastern Michigan. Army West Point tallied 556 rushing yards in the victory and had six players tally 60 or more yards in the game. Running a triple option scheme, Army West Point has attempted just 36 passes in 2015. The Knights have rushed for 1,178 yards on 200 attempts (5.9 ypc). All three of Army West Point's losses came by five points or fewer (Fordham - 37-35, UConn - 22-17, Wake Forest - 17-14).

For the fourth straight season, the Nittany Lions will recognize the men and women in uniform with Military Appreciation Day. Active duty, Guard and Reserve military, veterans, and fallen and Gold Star families were eligible to register to receive complimentary tickets purchased by Penn State supporters as part of the Seats for Servicemembers.

The program honors the commitment and sacrifices of veterans, families and loved ones by providing tickets at no cost to active and retired Servicemembers, as well as a complimentary pregame tailgate at Bryce Jordan Center.

"It's something that means a lot to us," said Hackenberg. "We have the utmost respect for everything and all the sacrifices that the military and their families have made."

Welcome to the gameday preview for week five - Penn State vs. Army West Point.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
11367296.jpeg1. Penn State sees its fair share of offenses throughout the course of a football season, but this week will be a unique test for defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, the coaching staff and the players. Army's triple-option scheme provides an entirely different look than any other team on the schedule. The Black Knights practice the timing-based offense every single day, but opponents get just a limited amount of time to do so. The Nittany Lions spent a little bit of time during the offseason prepping for the triple-option before preparations began in earnest this week. Staying disciplined is a big key for the Lion defense this week.

"With these option teams you have to be even more disciplined than ever because they will, they will take a shot when you're overcommitted to stopping the run," said Franklin. "I think the triple option puts stress on everybody. It always does, not just because of the scheme that they run, but also the style of play and the fact that you only see it maybe once every couple of years and things like that. It also, I think, aligns really well with the type of kids that they have."

2. During the past three games, the Nittany Lion offensive line has allowed just two sacks. The growth and development up front has yielded gains for the offense as a whole. The Lions rushed for more than 300 yards against Rutgers and threw for more than 300 yards against San Diego State. As Coach Franklin indicated earlier this week, the offense has shown glimpses of being a very good unit. Now, the Nittany Lions are seeking to find some consistency and balance on the offensive side of the ball.

3. Complementary football is a term often used by the coaching staff. It's a byproduct of offense, defense and special teams functioning, essentially, as one unit. Success in each of the three areas can lend itself to success for the others. Last week, the Nittany Lions turned three turnovers (two on defense and one on special teams) into 21 points. Through the first three games, the Lions had scored just three points off of five turnovers, but the surge against San Diego State proved to play a huge impact on the game.

What to Watch For - Army West Point
1. Sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw steers the Army offense. The 5-foot-11, 198-pound signal-caller is the team's leading rusher with 341 yards. Bradshaw, who was named the starting quarterback at the end of training camp, has two 100-yard games and a total of seven touchdowns on the season (four rushing and three passing).

2. Army West Point played ball control to near perfection against Eastern Michigan last week. The Black Knights rushed for more than 500 yards and held onto the ball for more than 40 minutes. As is the case with most option offense teams, the best defense for the Black Knights could be its offense on Saturday. Army enters the game ranked No. 9 in the nation in rushing offense (294.5 ypg).

3. Junior linebacker Andrew King enters the game second on the team in tackles with 30 stops on the season. King has made a living behind the line of scrimmage, tallying 8.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks during the first four games. King has made at least one TFL in six-straight contests for Army. He is ranked fifth in the nation in tackles for loss.

The Final Word:
The service academies have been a huge part of Penn State's history on the gridiron. Since 1894, the Nittany Lions have played 66 games against Air Force, Army West Point and Navy. This week's Military Appreciation Day game will mark the 26th time the Nittany Lions and Black Knights have met on the field. Penn State has won the last nine contests against Army, dating back to 1968. The Lions are 6-3 all-time against Army at home.

Penn State will be seeking its first 4-0 start at home since the 2008 season. The Nittany Lions went 7-0 in 2008 in games at Beaver Stadium en route to winning the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl. ESPNU's live coverage of the Army West Point game begins at 12 p.m. with kickoff slated for 12:02 p.m. Anish Shroff (Play-by-Play) and Ahmad Brooks (Analyst) will call the game.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's Schreyer Honors College is certainly preparing students for successful careers after graduation.  But the Honors College is also a big draw for girls looking to come and play field hockey while receiving a top-notch education. 


There are a lot of smart girls on coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss' field hockey squad.  After all, the team did take home a prestigious academic distinction a year ago.

"Let's not forget that our team won the women's highest GPA last spring," said Morett-Curtiss. 

Three girls on this year's team are currently in the Schreyer's Honors College at Penn State, including Kirsten Gochnauer, Lisa Winters and Colleen Conway.  All three girls are reaping the benefits of being involved with such a prestigious academic institution.

Freshman goalkeeper Colleen Conway was drawn to Penn State because of the rare combination of academics and a first-rate field hockey program.

"I definitely feel like I get to represent the school for academics and athletics, and it just makes the experience so much better.  That was one of the biggest reasons I came here, actually," said Conway.

Conway drew interest from a few Ivy League schools, including the Princeton Tigers, the team Penn State will face on Sunday.  Yet, Conway chose Penn State, and enrolled in Schreyer's.  Assistant coach Stuart Smith is proud of the education Penn State can provide his players.

"Not to say we swooped under the radar and took her from an Ivy [League school], but she came in and met with Dean Brady and the Schreyer Honors College people and made a decision not just for the hockey, she's a great goaltender, but also what we can provide with Schreyer's and beyond college.  She has a 4.0 GPA.  She's killing college, smashing it," said Smith.

Freshman Lisa Winters is enjoying her time in the Schreyer's Honors College as well. 

"I like to focus on academics and athletics so to be able to do both is awesome," said Winters. 

But Winters agreed with the other girls in the Honors College - the time management aspect of balancing a Division I sport with the Honors College is a challenge.

"It definitely teaches a lot about time management because there's a lot to do for both!  That's definitely the most challenging part," said Winters. 

Junior Kirsten Gochnauer thinks it is all about finding a balance.

"Knowing you have to study and you also have to get to practice, just finding that balance [helps], it's different for everyone," said Gochnauer.

Gochnauer does love the way Schreyer Honors College is set up.

"Especially with the smaller classes with such great professors here and getting the solo attention from those professors is a great thing," said Gochnauer.

Coach Morett-Curtiss is thrilled that Schreyer's is such a big draw for recruits, and with the program itself.

"Schreyer's is tremendous.  First of all, Dean Brady and his staff just do an outstanding job every time we bring players in because a lot of the time, we're looking to recruit against universities like Duke, Virginia and Princeton.  So that gives us an edge in recruiting."

"We're proud of our academic record at Penn State, and we really look to recruit players that are committed both academically and athletically," added Morett-Curtiss. 

After a Friday home game vs. Quinnipiac, the Lions hit the road for a critical game in New Jersey against Princeton.  The game has significant NCAA tournament implications and coach Smith knows it.

"It's massive. To get Princeton under our belt would be huge for the RPI and the strength of schedule and all of that," said Smith. 

When asked if he frequents the websites ranking all field hockey teams in RPI such as fieldhockeycorner.com, Smith had a response that one would guess he'd have.

"Dude, I live on the website," said Smith.

In order to be happy with what the website says, coach Smith's Lions have to beat Princeton this weekend.  

Men's Hockey Ready to Open 2015-16 Season

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10773399.jpegBy Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's hockey team is set to begin its 2015-16 season on Sunday at noon against Windsor in what is the first international matchup in program history.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky emphasized that opening day against Windsor will be a test to see how well captains David Glen, Luke Juha and David Thompson have done preparing the rest of the team. The first official practice of the 2015-16 NCAA hockey season isn't until Oct. 3, which gives Gadowsky merely hours to work with his team before their first time competing against an opponent this season.

"[The captains] have been doing a tremendous job," said Gadowsky. "...The number of hours that we actually can spend as coaches with them until Oct. 3rd is limited. So you need your upperclassmen not only have to be good examples they have to actually teach really well."

Alternate captain and senior defenseman Luke Juha explained the team takes matchups one game at a time. As for now, the team is working toward opening night in Pegula Ice Arena against the Lancers.

"We've been working really hard over the summer and into the fall and it's just good to put it all together at some point," said Juha. "That's what I'm working towards."

With the dawn of a new season approaching, the Penn State men's hockey team is preparing for a schedule that pits them against new opponents like Notre Dame, as well as traditional Big Ten foes. 

As opening day inches closer, Gadowsky explained some key details to setting the tone early in the season.

Gadowsky hopes David Goodwin can build off of his successful 2014-15 campaign, where he was named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. With the departure of his line mates Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom, Goodwin will now have to find synergy with new teammates.

"I think our challenge is to find another line that can have the same chemistry or find strong chemistry with him," said Gadowsky.

Another area of focus Gadowsky wishes to further build off of is the Nittany Lions' defense. With veterans on defense including Juha, David Thompson and Erik Autio, Gadowsky is confident the defense will continue to make important plays in the defensive zone.

"As we are continuing we talked about the creativity of offense being part of our identity, we also want to be very good and very consistent in suffocating defensively," said Gadowsky.

The Nittany Lions also look forward to some schedule consistency this season. During the 2014-15 campaign where Penn State went more than a month without a home contest, this year's schedule provides more of a balance between home and road matchups.

"The schedule is tough because it's often made three years in advance and sometimes you don't have as much flexibility as you think," said Gadowsky. "We're very happy with this schedule."

Gadowsky was quick to point out that although a schedule can seem ideal on paper, it is up to the team to perform and take advantage of its schedule.

"Often you look back on the year and you decide how happy you are with it," said Gadowsky. "Just because the schedule, you might like the balance at the start, and it really depends on if you win those games you love the schedule, if you don't you can blame the schedule."

One thing Gadowsky and the rest of the Nittany Lions are ready for is to be back on home ice in front of their loud and loyal fan base.

"I'm excited to play in Pegula," said Gadowsky. "Every game here, it's very exciting. I love it. It's awesome."

Although Pegula will play host to some great teams in the coming season, Gadowsky knows no matter the opponent, the fans will show up enthusiastically at every game.

"It doesn't matter who we're playing I know that this place is gonna rock," said Gadowsky. "It's so much fun to coach in this building, it's way more fun to even play in this building and every game we play here I look forward to."

Penn State will take on Windsor in the International Game Sunday at noon. 

Statistics Don't Tell the Story in Rodriguez's Senior Season

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11366384.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Statistics in the timeless sport of soccer can be misleading at times. Sure, a great goal scorer is going to put up points game in and game out, and defenders find their own way into the stat sheet with tackles, blocks, and the occasional assist.

Midfielders, however, are rarely on complete attack or defense mode. The middle of the pitch is a barren region where statistics go to die, but it may well be the most important area on the field.

While stats overshadow what happens in the trenches, Penn State has been extremely efficient winning the ball near midfield and pushing it up the pitch before the opposition can get comfortable in PSU's half. The single most important aspect of any match is keeping possession and limiting the opponents' control of the ball, and that's what the Nittany Lions have done so well this season.

At the center of it all is senior Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez.

The nickname "Rocky" didn't come about until her official visit to Penn State in 2012. Goalie Britt Eckerstrom wrote "Rocky" on her nametag, essentially Americanizing her title, and it stuck ever since.

Raquel Rodriquez Cedeno
, all the way from San Jose, Costa Rica, has been the rock in the middle for Penn State her entire career. Before Penn State, Rodriguez was influenced heavily by her father, Sivianni, who played professionally in Costa Rica.

"It definitely impacted me in such a strong way because he brought the sport to my life when I was four years old," said Rodriguez. "That's how we discovered I had a passion for it, and I started nice and early so the more I played it the more I loved it. I just had so much passion about it from the beginning."

Rodriguez followed in his footsteps and made her father proud by leading her country to its first ever FIFA Women's World Cup appearance in 2015. If that wasn't enough of an accomplishment, the amateur scored Costa Rica's first ever goal in the FIFA Women's World Cup against Spain in its first match.

In each of her first three years in Happy Valley, Rodriguez managed at least 17 points, including a career-high seven goals in 2014. In 2015, her role is much different. Instead of pushing the attack as much as possible, Rodriguez is helping more on defense and letting PSU's stud forwards do their jobs up top. She has tallied three assists but is still searching for her first goal this year.

"She does everything well," said associate head coach Ann Cook. "Unfortunately, her stats don't reflect it. In so many ways she's the heart of our defending. She's the heart as we change the point of attack, as we get the ball off of our backs and get it forward. She's in a lot of ways what makes us go."

Part of her role modification has to do with the young defense the Nittany Lions have showcased this year. Two freshmen and two sophomores round out the back line, so veteran help is always needed, and Rodriguez is always there.

Rodriguez was named a captain for the 2015 campaign before the season began, and there were no complaints about that choice. Her leadership and poise on the pitch makes her the perfect fit, and her international experience has very much prepared her for whatever the college game throws at her.

"She's the type of person that is a really quiet leader," Cook said. "She leads mostly by example and by small conversations, and those small conversations are incredibly inspirational to her teammates to give them the bump that they need. Her response to being captain has been exactly what we expected. She's been so steady and so good and so dependable and everything we could ask for."

In her final season for the Blue and White, Rodriguez has her mind set on one thing: a national championship. Penn State has captured an unrivaled 16 Big Ten Championships in its great history, but not once have the Nittany Lions held up the national championship trophy.

"Right now, a national championship is the priority of the team and for sure it's my priority now," Rodriguez said. "It would be something historical for women's soccer at Penn State and that's definitely something I dream of. I'm a senior now and I'm part of the captains so that's our responsibility to lead us there."

"Rocky" Rodriguez couldn't care less if she doesn't score even one goal this season. For her, the most important thing is her team's success. This newfound mindset may have altered her numbers, but the Nittany Lions look stronger than ever because of it.

Rodriguez's selflessness can spur Penn State to great things in 2015, but don't be surprised if she puts one in the net at the most crucial time when the season's on the line. That's just what she does.

Army West Point Week Q&A - Sean Spencer

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions finish the non-conference season on Saturday with a matchup against Army West Point at Beaver Stadium (12 p.m. on ESPNU).

Leading up to the non-conference finale, defensive line coach Sean Spencer talked with the media on Thursday to preview the game. Take a look at a Q&A with Coach Spencer.

Q: You seem to have a lot of unique personalities within your group, how do these guys complement one another?
Spencer: "Unique is a nice word. I've got some interesting cats in that room (laughter). I embrace each one of their personalities. One guys is not the same as the other. Honestly, my coaching style adapts to who I am dealing with at that particular time. AJ (Austin Johnson) is a guy that has a lot of detailed questions, what I call 400 and 500 level questions. You really have to talk to AJ and explain the 'why'. Other guys like Anthony (Zettel), you go over the game plan with him, and he's very intense about it. He wants to know how he can be the best on each situation. Carl is a guy who sees it from a cerebral viewpoint. He can see the game from outside the box at all three levels and how he equates to that situation. With the freshmen, they are obviously going to be a little more immature. This is more football than they've ever done in their life. When you have a lot of older guys playing in front of them, you have to keep those guys in tune to the ballgame. We constantly make those guys take notes, even if they are redshirted. And we give those guys the same test that we give the older guys because we never know when their preparation will be called upon in the game."

Q: Carl Nassib is a guy who started his first game at any level a few weeks ago at Temple. What do you think motivated him to become the player he is today?

Spencer: "Well, he is tremendously driven. He's a guy whose entire career has kind of been behind the eight ball. He came in to Penn State at 215 pounds. He's increased his body weight to 275. He's now 6-foot-7, 275. He's a menacing figure out there. His work ethic is what separates him from most people. He refuses to be blocked. He's worked so hard at his craft becoming great at what he does. It's correlated to success on the field. The guy is one of the most intense human beings on the planet. You're in a walkthrough and he's foaming at the mouth talking about making plays with his eyes bulging out of his head. He wants to be a doctor one day. And I told him if he's in the operating room, I'm going to ask for another doctor because I'm a little bit nervous about him performing the surgery (laughter)."

Q: There was a play on Saturday where Anthony Zettel covered a lot of ground to track a guy down from behind. Is that the type of play you use as an example for the other guys in the room?
Spencer: "I think both Anthony and AJ have that ability to chase things down from behind. A couple weeks ago, when we played Buffalo both of those guys chased down a screen and actually overran the guy the running the ball and beat most of the guys running to the ball. Coach Franklin pointed that out to the team. It was pretty impressive. That's the type of effort we are looking for. The expectation is to always play that hard. When the young guys see that and they're in the game, until the whistle is blown, the play is never over. When you have guys in the middle able to do that, it raises the expectations for everyone else on the team."

Q: How much did you enjoy seeing Austin have a big play on Saturday? He's a guy who maybe isn't talked about as much as Anthony.
Spencer: "Austin does a lot of things people don't see right away. When plays have to bounce outside, it's tough to run up the middle against him because he's such a physical presence in there. He's made a lot of plays. I think he's almost surpassed the TFL number he had all of last year...His presence was always known. I think people tend to look where Anthony is, but when you have a guy like Austin, he can reap the benefits of them concentrating on Anthony. And when you get them both going, it makes it harder to concentrate on either one of those guys."

Q: What has Garrett Sickels done to take the next step on the defensive line?
Spencer: "He's gotten better against the run. He's a guy that has always been a good pass rusher. He can go in on third down and pass rush because he is tremendously twitched up. He's a guy who worked on completing his game (during the offseason). He's a guy who understands the function of the defense and understands how to play the run and get off of blocks. I think those are two of the things in the offseason he's really done a great job with. He's a really, really good pass rusher, some of the best lean and bend that I've coached. He can come off the end and clear the tackle and really bend. He can twist well. He can explode at the point of impact. We are really excited about him moving forward. He's done a great job helping the young guys and has really matured. I'm excited about G."

Q: Your guys have been really successful in the fourth quarter. Depth probably plays a big role in that, but why do you think you've been able to play so well in the final quarter?
Spencer: "I think in those games and situations we've faced this season, No. 1, the depth is huge. You are able to play a lot of guys. They are able to play as strong in the fourth quarter as they are in the first quarter. Secondly, teams are having to throw the ball late, and those guys get to pin their ears back. Honestly, our crowd is unbelievable. And how loud our crowd is affects timing and what the offense is trying to do. That gives us an advantage, especially at home."

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VIDEO: Behind the Scenes - Wrestling Green Screen Video Shoot

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head behind the scenes with the Nittany Lion wrestling team during its green screen video shoot day at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex. The Nittany Lions kick off the 2015-16 season on Nov. 13 against Lock Haven in Rec Hall.

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VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Army West Point Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addressed the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex.

The Nittany Lions will host Army West Point on Saturday at 12 p.m. in Beaver Stadium in the final non-conference game of 2015. Take a look at the practice update from Army week.

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