Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

By Gabrielle RichardsGoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Leadership isn't always something you can learn in a classroom; it's something you have to experience. For Penn State field hockey team, choosing seniors Katie Andrews and Laura Gebhart as team captains was an easy choice. 

Between the two seniors they have shared the field together 58 times in their four years at Penn State. Andrews, who plays defense, and Gebhart, who shifts between the forward and mid position, have helped lead their team to two Big Ten Championships. 

"It's a huge honor to know that our teammates respect us and think highly enough of us to put us in this position," Andrews said. "It's exciting to know that we get to lead the team this year to all of our success." 

Their team is off to a great start. With a record of 3-1 and a No.6 ranking heading into this week's matchups against Princeton and Lafayette, the Nittany Lions are on the right track to make this one of the best seasons yet. 

The Nittany Lions' only loss came to defending NCAA Champions, University of Connecticut. They lost in overtime off of a corner shot bringing the final score to 1-0. 

"Everyone knows what that devastating loss feels like," Andrews said. "We are just focusing on taking that mentality and that excitement we had during that game into the rest of the season."

"It was amazing to see everyone on the field gut it out," Gebhart said. "At that point we [as captains] don't really need to say anything. We just feed off our teammates and work together." 

Gebhart's success on the field is unprecedented; she has represented Penn State and her country on the U.S. National Team and the Junior World Cup Team. Big Ten Freshman of the Year, All-American and U.S. Team Captain are just a few titles that follow her name. 

"Going into this season with Laura and someone of her caliber is really exciting," Andrews said. 

Andrews, an agriculture major and business minor, and Gebhart, a community and environmental development major, are not only a leaders on the field, but in the classroom. Since 2012, Andrews and Gebhart have made the Academic All-Big Ten list (2012, 2013) and the NFHCA National Academic Squad (2012, 2013). 

But when all is said and done after this season and Gebhart and Andrews turn their tassels at graduation, they will miss their teammates the most. 

"It has been such a learning experience over the years," Gebhart said. "Its heartwarming to know that these girls will be there for me and I will be there for them, no matter what." 

The captains understand that their success on the field and in the classroom wouldn't be possible without the help of their coaching, academic and support staff. 

"The relationships we have with our teammates are amazing," Andrews said. "But our support staff, academic advisors at the Morgan Center, the Varsity 'S' Club...those are priceless relationships we have been able to build together." 

The Nittany Lions take on No. 14 Princeton (Friday) and Lafayette (Sunday) this weekend at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex.

By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Penn State men's soccer head coach Bob Warming likes to compare the ascension a program makes over a number of years to someone climbing a mountain. 

A year after guiding the Nittany Lions to the Sweet 16, Warming believes his team has the top of the mountain in sight. On Saturday, Penn State will face a team that has been there recently. 

Indiana, the 2012 NCAA National Champions, will host the Nittany Lions at legendary Bill Armstrong Stadium in both team's Big Ten opener. Although they are coming off a disappointing 8-12-2 season, the Hoosiers have gotten off to a 3-0-1 start this year, the same as Penn State. 

"We know our conference is amazing," Warming said. "The venue is going to be terrific for it. They have some super talented players. The big pieces are there and the little pieces that still cause you problems...they've got a lot of weapons." 

Although the Hoosiers have graduated last year's top three leading point scorers, they return a collection of young talent. Sophomore Tanner Thompson is a dangerous playmaker who can play forward or midfield and junior Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who tied for the team lead in goals last season with five, offers similar versatility. 

Sophomore goalie Colin Webb has gotten off to a fast start in his first season as the team's full-time starter, allowing just one goal in the Hoosiers first four games. 

Still, the Nittany Lions have recent history on their side, having defeated the Hoosiers 2-0 in Bloomington last season.

"In the past they've played better soccer than us but I think we play a much quicker style now and they're the one's that lump it a little more," senior defender Owen Griffith said. "I think that's going to help us.

"[The atmosphere] is good and it's just like here. They've got a ton of kids lining the sideline and the band going so it's going to feel just like home, except the fans are going to be cheering for them instead of us." 

Griffith had perhaps the highlight of his career last season against the Hoosiers when he scored a goal from 18 yards out to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead in their eventual victory. Still, he has not forgotten how difficult an opponent Indiana has been over his four years in blue and white.

The Nittany Lions fell to Hoosiers in 2012 and 2011, Griffith's first two years at Penn State. In Warming's five years in Happy Valley, the Lions are 2-3-1 against the Hoosiers. 

"They're historically a really big rival of ours," Griffith said. "[Beating them last year] was a big statement for us. It's going to be a battle this year...they lost a bunch of guys but they're still looking pretty tough." 

One player who will be particularly amped on Saturday is midfielder Christian Kaschak, who missed last season with a torn ACL and has never set foot inside Armstrong Stadium. 

"Just hearing what the guys had to say [about Armstrong Stadium], it seems incredible," Kaschak said. "Their fan base is amazing and historically they're a tremendous always want to go there and show them what we have." 

Even coming off of consecutive Big Ten regular season titles, the Nittany Lions still view the Hoosiers as the pinnacle of where they want to be.

Hoosiers coach Todd Yeagley is entering his fifth year at Indiana, the same amount of time Warming has been at Penn State, and the Blue and White want to give their coach the national title their rival has won. 

"Coach Warming has only been here a couple of years now and I think it's his idea to get Penn State to be one of those nationally acclaimed programs like Indiana," Griffith said. "We want to be consistently at the top of the country in soccer." 

Warming Marvels at 1954-'55 Championship Teams' Reunion

Bob Warming couldn't help but think about the future last Friday as his Nittany Lions defeated Temple 1-0.

Not just the rest of his team's season, but the future of his players in general. With members of Penn State's 1954-'55 national championship team in attendance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their first title, there were plenty of emotions being felt all night.

"I told our guys, 'I want you to think about, if we win [the NCAA Championship] this year, what will the world be like in 2074,'" Warming said. "That's when we would be celebrating again. Think about the changes that those men have seen, and that their families have seen in the last 60 years."

Fifteen players from the two teams made it back for the game, which included a halftime ceremony in front of 4,052 fans. The group was honored again the next day at Beaver Stadium during the football team's 21-3 victory over Akron. 

"How special it is for them to come back and see 4,000 people in the stands," Warming said. "With this kind of atmosphere, and this kind of quality soccer and this kind of quality field. I'm just so happy that so many of them are alive and well and healthy enough to travel and come here and enjoy the game." 

Andrew Stelnyk, a defender on those teams and a native Ukrainian, spoke about the experience of seeing his old teammates, as well as being back on campus.

"It's a great time to be here," Stelnyk said. "The change over here is unbelievable. All of us are getting older but the spirit is still here, there is no question about it."

Rutgers Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Ricky Rahne

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10298565.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne talked to the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions travel to Rutgers on Saturday for a primetime game against the Scarlet Knights (8 p.m. on BTN). Take a look at a Q&A with Rahne leading up to Saturday's Big Ten opener.

Q: Being a former quarterback, can you talk about what it's like being able to relate to a guy like Christian (Hackenberg), who is always a tough critic of himself?
"I was like that as a player. It's one of those things where it is one of your greatest strengths and one of your greatest weaknesses at the same time. My wife would probably say that I am still like that. I don't think anyone is harder on me in terms of coaching than me. I do understand how it is. The one thing that I am not going to do, and Christian knows this, and he doesn't want me to do it - it doesn't mean I give him a pass when he makes a mistake...That's really one of his greatest strengths - despite his abundance of mental and physical talent, he still is not only willing to be coached, he wants to be coached. That's the thing that makes it easier for him and I to have a good relationship. I understand where he is coming from in a lot of aspects because we have similar personalities. We both want to be the best we can be at all times."

Q: Do you ever have to remind yourself that Christian is only 19?
"Every day. Every day. Not only because of his genetic gifts that he has, but also his maturity. Watching him deal with all of the pressures that he has every day, I have to remind myself in the rare instance that he acts like a 19-year-old kid, I have to remind myself that in fact, that is how old he is...Not only should we be thankful (as the Penn State community) that he is a great player, and he really is, that he is a great person. He has handled some pressure situations very well."

Q: Overall, through the first two games, how would you assess the way Christian has played?
"Christian has played very well. There have been a couple plays in each game where we've just had lapses in judgment, and that's my job to get that fixed. Overall, he has played very well. He has thrown the ball accurately. He's made the plays that were there. I've been pleased with that. The other thing, and just like the other guys on the team, we've been able to come out with two victories, and we are working on it every week to come out with another one. I've been pleased with his play. It's cleaning up those three to four to five plays a game that we need to clean up. Some of the plays are things you probably see, some of them you probably don't. Not only have I been pleased with his play, I've been pleased with how coachable he has been."

Q: When you look at film from the first two games, how do you think Christian has done in terms of going through his progressions and putting the ball where you want it to go?
"Like I said, there are probably three to four plays a game where he didn't. Other than that, he has been very good. He has been getting back to third and fourth progressions at times, which speaks to his knowledge of the offense and the offensive line playing well and giving him time to do so. I've been pleased with how he has been working through his progressions. I think the one thing it has allowed us to get done is get the ball to a bunch of different people. A bunch of different guys have catches this year, and that helps us to get a nice balance."

Q: What have you seen from the Rutgers passing defense leading up to this game?
"I think they are a well-coached team. They are talented. They play fast. A lot is given to yards and statistics, but sometimes that's who you are playing...I know their defense has helped their team go 2-0 to this point, and the defense has helped put them in a position to start the season off in the way that they want to start off. We have to be ready for them. They've got some good schemes, in terms of their pressure game. We have to be ready and able to adjust on the fly. I think our guys have really prepared well this week knowing they are about to play a good football team."

Q: How are Trace McSorley and Michael O'Connor progressing and are either one ready to play in a game right now?
"I feel very confident in both of them to be really honest. They both have a very good grasp of the offense, which I have been really pleased with. I have been really pleased with how both of them approach the mental aspect of it. I think they both go into every week thinking, hey, I'm going to play. They both have done a nice job of their approach. I'm very confident in those guys. I think they are ready to go. If their number is every called, they are going to go in there and help us win the game."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions Head to Villanova Classic

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10267656.jpegBy Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 3-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team (4-1) will be heading back on the road again this weekend for the Villanova Classic to face off American, Villanova, Yale, and Kansas.

The Nittany Lions will be playing doubleheaders on Sept.12 by taking on American at 2:30 p.m. and Villanova at 7:30 p.m. The action will continue into Sept. 13 as Penn State competes against Yale at noon and Kansas at 5:30 p.m.

Penn State traveled to California last weekend for the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. The Lions fell to No. 2 Stanford (4-0) in a tight five-set match. Freshman Ali Frantti led the offense with a career-high performance of 22 kills, in addition to 11 digs and two blocks. Junior Megan Courtney finished the match with 18 kills, nine digs and five blocks.

"Obviously Stanford didn't turn out the way we wanted [it] to, but I think we did a lot of things good and a lot of things not as good that led to us losing, like we can't make six errors in the last game, especially when they made zero," said Courtney. "Honestly, a win is a win just like a lost is a lost and a lost is a way to learn. It's not a way to sulk in your sorrows; it's a way to take what you did bad and turn it into something better the next day."

After the team fell to Stanford, the group rallied back by sweeping UCLA (3-2) the following day. Frantti logged her fourth double-digit kill record with 14 kills on .619 hitting. Senior Nia Grant chipped in with nine kills.

"Losing to UCLA was not an option. It was a great team effort by everyone and I think everyone brought their energy and understood that losing sucks, so we don't want to feel that feeling again," said Courtney. "It was a collective effort."

"It's a long season. We will work on the things that we need to work on," said head coach Russ Rose.  "I am not discouraged by losing to Stanford."

Penn State vs. American
The Nittany Lions are 6-0 all-time against the Eagles. The two teams last met on Dec. 3, 2004, and Penn State won the match, 3-0.

Scouting the Eagles
American (4-2) started the season well with a four-game winning streak, but is currently on a two-game losing streak after falling to Marquette (3-0) and seventh-ranked Florida State (5-0) over the weekend.

Penn State vs. Villanova
Penn State leads the series with a 13-0 record. The last matchup was on Aug. 28, 2010, and the Lions defeated the Wildcats in three sets.

Scouting the Wildcats
Villanova (4-3) opened up the season with a solid 3-0 start at the James Madison Classic, but recently struggled at the USD/SDSU Tournament by losing all three matches. The team was able to gain their winning record once again after beating Lehigh in straight sets at their home opener.

Penn State vs. Yale
The Nittany Lions have won all eight matches against Yale. Penn State's most recent win was a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 21, 2013. 

Scouting the Bulldogs
Yale owns a 1-2 record so far this season. It opened the season with a 1-2 record at the Yale Invitational where both Minnesota and Boston College swept Yale in three sets, respectively. The Bulldogs did end up with a win after beating Albany, 3-1. 

Penn State vs. Kansas
This is the first meeting between the Jayhawks and the Nittany Lions.

Scouting the Jayhawks
With a 6-1 record and a four-game winning streak, the Jayhawks are off to a strong start this season. They opened their season in the Kansas Invitational against Utah Valley, Lipscomb, and Creighton. The Jayhawks came out of the tournament with only one lost by falling to Lipscomb 2-3. A week later, the Jayhawks became tournament champions at the Denver Invitational after they defeated Bradley, Sam Houston State, and Denver. The Kansas winning streak continued earlier this week when the Jayhawks defeated UMKC.

Following the weekend in Philadelphia, Penn State will return to Rec Hall on Sept. 19 and 20 to take on Eastern Illinois, DePaul, UIC, and East Carolina in the Penn State Alumni Classic.

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Rutgers 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 travel to Rutgers on Saturday for an 8 p.m. kick on BTN.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Season Preview: A Look at 2014-'15 with Coach Murphy

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

8784541.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swim team is eager to dive into the 2014-'15 season.  With four new captains and an approaching intra-squad meet, the Nittany Lions are ready to make their mark.  Coming off a strong first season as head coach, Tim Murphy is excited to see what this year has in store.

Since its return to campus team has been preparing for the season both in and out of the pool.  Between goal sheets, early mornings in the weight room and afternoons in the pool, the Nittany Lions have hit the ground running.  Murphy is pleased with what he has seen from his team so far, specifically the leadership from his captains and the senior class as a whole.

"We're really working hard on carrying initiative and establishing the program we want to have," Murphy said when asked about his focus for the captains. 

Leading the Nittany Lions this year are seniors Caitlyn Karr, Carolyn Fittin, Nate Savoy and Larry Virgilio.

"This squad of seniors has been a tight group from the day we stepped onto campus as freshmen," said Virgilio, "I couldn't be happier that we are still here and captains together, working to bring this team as far as we can one last time around." 

The Nittany Lions lost a strong class last season, many of which scored at the NCAA Championships.  With the men finishing 24th in the nation and the women placing 19th, there are some gaps to fill.  But for now, Murphy is taking the season one day at a time.  This week's focus is the Blue/White intra-squad meet on Friday.

For Murphy, the Blue/White meet will be a good assessment for the teams progress so far this season and will help lay the groundwork for what needs to be done differently as the Nittany Lions prepare for their first regular season meet.

"I'm very excited for our season," said Karr, "I think this team has a lot of potential. Practices have been going well, but there's always room for improvement."

Catch the teams in action on Friday in McCoy Natatorium at 5 p.m. as they start their season with the Blue and White competition. 

2014 Opponent Previews - Rutgers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10295908.jpegRutgers | High Points Solutions Stadium | 8 p.m. | Big Ten Network

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions travel to New Jersey on Saturday to take on Rutgers in the Big Ten opener for both teams and the first ever Big Ten conference game for Rutgers. Get to know the Scarlet Knights in this week's scouting report.

Kyle Flood, who is in his third year leading the Knights, has a record of 17-11 at Rutgers. The Knights went 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference last year. They lost 29-16 to Notre Dame in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Rutgers returns 44 letterwinners and 16 starters from a year ago.

Rutgers is 2-0 after last week's 38-25 win over Howard. The Scarlet Knights gained 397 yards of offense, including 288 through the air. Quarterback Gary Nova completed 15-of-19 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Paul James ran for 43 yards, a touchdown and caught two passes, both for touchdowns, including a 69-yard reception. Leonte Carroo and John Tsimis each caught a touchdown.

The Scarlet Knight defense allowed 427 yards, including 259 on the ground. Linebacker Steve Longa led the defense with eight tackles (five solo). Defensive end David Milewski recorded six tackles, two for loss, and forced a fumble. Milewski was one of five Knights to record at least half of a sack on the day. Cornerback Gareef Glashen intercepted a pass.

Through two games, Nova, a senior, has completed 67 percent of his passes for 563 yards, with six touchdowns and an interception. Nova leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency.

James, a redshirt junior, has 216 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while averaging 5.1 yards per rush. The six-foot, 205-pound James leads the Big Ten in scoring, with six total touchdowns. Desmon Peoples will also see time in the backfield. Peoples has 91 yards with a 4.8 yards per rush average.

Carroo leads the Rutgers receivers with eight catches for 195 yards and two scores. The 6-1 Carroo is fifth in the conference in receiving yards. Joining Carroo are 5-foot-11 sophomore Janarion Grant, who has seven receptions, and Tsimis, who has six receptions and two touchdowns. Grant also returns kicks and punts for the Knights.

The Scarlet Knight offensive line includes three seniors, led by Kaleb Johnson, a preseason first-team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele.

So far in 2014, Rutgers has allowed 31.5 points and 482.5 yards per game, including 350 yards passing per contest. They rank 13th in the Big Ten in scoring defense and 14th in total defense.

The Rutgers defensive line features a pair of seniors and a pair of juniors. Milewski leads the unit with seven tackles. He also has three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Kemoko Turay has 3.5 sacks.

Longa was named First Team All-Big Ten in the preseason by Phil Steele. The redshirt sophomore leads the team with 15 tackles, nine solo. Fellow linebacker Kevin Snyder has 12 stops and a forced fumble.

Glashen, a senior, leads the secondary with 13 tackles, 10 solo, and an interception. Safety Delon Stephenson has recorded 11 stops, while Justin Goodwin has a pick.

Kicker Kyle Federico has connected on three-of-four field goals, with a long of 42. Punter Joey Roth averages 38 yards per punt.

Penn State is 22-2 all-time against Rutgers. The schools last met in 1995, when the Nittany Lions earned a 59-34 win at Giants Stadium.

What Kyle Flood is saying about Penn State:

"It's still early in the year and I haven't seen all the quarterbacks around the country, but I find it hard to believe that there's a better quarterback in the country that we'll face as an opponent. Hackenberg is the prototype NFL quarterback, he has the prototype arm, and he has weapons all over the field to use. He's an excellent player. You can tell he's been coached very well."

"They are very good on defense and they're very good on the defensive front. They are difficult to run the ball against. They are very active. They do an excellent job pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run."

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

One Team, One Family

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


By Julie Bacanskas, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While most Penn State fans were basking in a football victory last weekend, the men's ice hockey team had someone more special to celebrate, Colton Buckley. Buckley, the team's THON child, not only turned eight this past Saturday, but he also got to see his "big brothers" for the first time since officially beating cancer.

Tucked back behind Jeffery Field, the team hosted a post-game birthday and cancer-free tailgate for the 8-year-old, complete with cake, singing, presents and party masks.

"He got cancer free recently, which is huge," said sophomore forward Ricky DeRosa. "Everybody was so excited for him and everything. He was actually the THON child at the football game today, so we figured they were coming up here, which gave us a great opportunity to have a little birthday party tailgate for him."

Buckley's nomination to serve as an honorary captain for a football game this year put the tailgate plan into motion. His mother, Nicole, originally tried to schedule the appearance for the annual THON football game, but after all spots were filled, she quickly realized the home opener would be a great second option.

At the game, Buckley was brought down to the field of Beaver Stadium, rushed around from place to place, introduced to countless people and even featured on the video boards. The overall experience was something new for him, but throughout the entirety of the day, Buckley knew he had his post-game party with the team, his extended family, to be even more excited about.

"Colton is our THON child," said newly appointed captain Patrick Koudys. "Some of the guys who were here before me know him a little bit better than I do, but he's a great kid. We love his family. He's always around the rink. He's got his own stall in the locker room. I mean, he puts a smile on all of our faces whenever we see him, so it's great to have him and great to be able to celebrate his birthday with him."

After quickly unwrapping and assembling his present from the hockey team, a new Nerf gun, Buckley got to work, using sophomore Dylan Richard as a human target. The scene of the 8-year-old laughing and playing with 27 of his favorite people highlighted the importance of his bond with the team and of his journey to beating pediatric cancer.

"I look at it as relief because he's not going to the hospital every single month anymore," explained Denny Buckley, Colton's father. "You try to believe the doctors that he's cancer free, and it's not going to come back. When he was on treatment and in treatment, there was such a high risk.

"Anything can really be bad like a virus or any kind of illness because he had no immune system when he was on treatment. That was our biggest worry, and now he's back to pretty much himself again, being crazy like he is."

"It's more stress now, too," added Nicole Buckley. "You don't have that blanket, that cushion anymore. I mean, we still go to the doctors every month, but you don't have that treatment. You know, the chemotherapy keeps it away. Now that's all gone, and his whole body is basically starting over. It's relief, but it's stress as well."

The connection between the Buckley family and the hockey team is incredibly special to both parties. They are family now and will continue to be there for each other throughout each and every step of Colton's journey.

As the festivities wrapped up, Buckley's father asked him to name his favorite hockey team. The answer was simple and came to the birthday boy in a matter of seconds. Penn State.

"I honestly cannot even put it in words," said Denny Buckley of his family's relationship with the hockey team. "It means way too much to try and put it into words. They could have just looked at Colton as their THON kid and done things with him here and there, but they've been so much more than that.

"We consider them family and vice versa. When we come up here, we say we're coming up to see family. We feel at home when we're here, and he absolutely loves these guys. That in itself says everything. They're family to us."

VIDEO: Rutgers Week Player Q&As - Angelo Mangiro & Geno Lewis

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - catches up with junior center Angelo Mangiro and sophomore receiver Geno Lewis leading up to the Rutgers game.

Week Three Press Conference Roundup - Rutgers Week

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10294110.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Sept. 9

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions head back on the road this week for the Big Ten opener at Rutgers on Saturday (8 p.m. on BTN).

Head coach James Franklin previewed the week three matchup against the Scarlet Knights on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room. Saturday will mark Franklin's first Big Ten game as a head coach. Franklin is looking for the team to continue making strides on both sides of the ball and on special teams following the victory over Akron.

"We have got to continue to improve each day and each week which is something that I think this staff historically has done a good job of," Franklin said. "...Offensively, we are going to have to develop a more consistent running game. I'm not telling you guys anything you don't know. We are going to have to keep doing that and we are going to keep investing in that every single day. That will happen... Defensively, continue to not give up big plays, stopping the run has been huge for us in making teams one‑dimensional. We want to continue to do that. And then on 'wefense', we need a little bit more consistency in our kicking. When I talk about kicking, I'm talking about our kickoff and our kickoff coverage, making sure the ball location is where we want it so our defense can start out with a better field position."

With the Akron game in the rearview mirror, Franklin and the team are focused solely on preparation for Rutgers. This is a big week for team. Every week is a big week for the Nittany Lions. Franklin noted that all 12 weeks on schedule are treated the same. The approach remains constant from the start of the year to the end. The next game on the schedule is the biggest game on the schedule, and one game is no bigger than the next.

"Our approach to this game is going to be exactly the same as it was for Central Florida, exactly the same way it was for Akron. It will not change," Franklin said. "We are just as motivated in this game as we were for Akron and we are just as motivated for this game as we were for Central Florida. Our approach will not change."

With it being a primetime kick on Saturday, Franklin said the team would stick to its normal routine on gameday. The group will sleep in Saturday morning before meetings and a walkthrough. Because of an extended day, Franklin said there would be two team meals instead of one.

While the Nittany Lion football program received very good news on Monday when the NCAA and Big Ten announced that Penn State is eligible to compete for a spot in a bowl game and the Big Ten Championship, the focus is solely on the task at hand this week. The team spent very little time talking about Monday's news before shifting immediately back into Rutgers game prep. The team is focused on one team this week.

"I do think this game from a regional perspective is good for Pennsylvania," said Franklin. "I do think it's good for New Jersey and I think it's good for the Big Ten and I think it's good for both institutions. I think it's going to be a fun game and we're looking forward to playing it. But we have got tremendous respect for Rutgers, for what they have done on the football field and what they have done in the classroom."

Saturday's game will mark the 25th time Rutgers will play at Penn State. The Lions are 22-2 against the Scarlet Knights. The squads last met in 1995 with the Nittany Lions knocking off Rutgers by a score of 59-34. Saturday's game is just the fourth time Penn State has played on campus at Rutgers.

Press Conference Notes
- Following the news on Monday of the sanctions modification, Coach Franklin called a team meeting inside the Lasch Building. After Franklin outlined the announcement, he called the players and staff members who stuck with the program through the entire duration of the sanctions to the front of the room. Franklin recognized the group for their dedication and efforts during the period.

- Coach Franklin announced that Geno Lewis (offense), Mike Hull (defense) and Chris Gulla (special teams) were the internal players of the week for the Akron game.

- Franklin on the Rutgers offense:
"Their coordinator Ralph Friedgen, in his 42nd year of coaching. He's made a noticeable difference in their offense and their confidence and consistency. They run a pro‑style offense, eight returning starters, five offensive touchdowns of 30 yards or more averaging seven yards a play, and they are No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring."

- Franklin on the Rutgers defense:
"Their defensive coordinator, Joe Rossi, has done a really, really good job for them. He's a guy that's been on the staff, left and has comeback. They have seven starters, five senior starters and they play a 4‑3 base defense. Quarter, quarter half in the secondary, very good movement up front, very disruptive, very aggressive, blue collar, hard‑nosed defense."

- Franklin on the Rutgers special teams:

"Their kick returner, No. 1, Janarion Grant we need to be aware of. I think last year as a true freshman, first time he touched a ball, he took it back for a touchdown and has done some really nice things. Then he's their kick return and punt return guy, so we are going to have to be aware of him and make sure he doesn't have too big of a factor in the game."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony