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James Franklin Transcript - September 16
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions return home on Saturday for a week four matchup against UMass in Beaver Stadium (4 p.m. on BTN).
Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against the Minutemen on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room. Franklin reviewed Saturday's 13-10 win over Rutgers before shifting gears into conversation about UMass.
"Overall, I say it was a great team victory, and by that I mean that's the offense, that's the defense, that's special teams, that's the coaches, that's the trainers, doctors, that's the administration; that's everybody that has a part, academic support, great team victory, really proud of the guys for that. Really pleased with how they persevered in a really difficult, hostile environment," Franklin said.
The Nittany Lions lifted and practiced on Sunday afternoon before Monday's off day. Practice preparations for UMass resumed on Tuesday afternoon. Two big areas that Coach Franklin said are points of emphasis this week focus on protecting the quarterback and establishing the running game. Communication is key for both.
"I think it really comes down to our communication and coordination up front, making sure that all five or six guys, depending on the protection or the play, are all on the same page and working together and that has not been case so far," Franklin said. "So we're going to make sure that's happening. That's time, that's chemistry. That's all those things that have to happen."
Defensively, the Nittany Lions are coming off a stellar second-half effort against Rutgers. Penn State held the Scarlet Knights to just three first downs in the final two quarters. The success on the defensive side of the ball begins with the game plans put forth by defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and the staff. The players talk constantly about how familiar they are with the opponent each week. Shoop does a terrific job of preparing for the week's foe, and the Nittany Lions have entered the first three games with great confidence.
"I've been on the head set with the defense where Bob's called out 75 percent of the plays before they have been run," Franklin said. "He's called out, we are going to get an interception here and things like that. It's pretty impressive at times, it really is. And I think that confidence that he has coming into the game, because of the amount of time he's put in, spills over to our players, and I think the same thing with our staff."
Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel has been a big key to the defense's success during the first three weeks. Zettel leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 7.0. Zettel was a quick player at the defensive end position prior to this season. By moving to an inside tackle position, Zettel is able to use the speed advantage to his favor on every snap.
"He's got a tremendous motor," Franklin said. "He's got really good quickness. He's really sudden off of the ball. His spin move I think is really, really good, which is one of his big plays last week he made off of his spin move. His tenacity is unbelievable."
Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Penn State and UMass.
Press Conference Notes
- Coach Franklin announced that the team's internal players of the week for the Rutgers game were Christian Hackenberg and Bill Belton on offense and Trevor Williams and Anthony Zettel on defense. Grant Haley was the honoree on special teams.
- Franklin on the UMass offense:
"On offense, Mark Whipple, the offensive coordinator, five starters, they run a multiple offense. They are unorthodox, as well, in a lot of ways, utilize a lot of different formations, misdirection and deception. They scored over 30 points in their lost two games against FBS opponents."
- Franklin on the UMass defense:
"Defensive notes, returning six starters, they place a base 3-4 defense. Defense runs very well. They play really hard. They utilize, really, an unorthodox scheme and concepts, and I think that's kind of part of their plan. They are trying to make up for some challenges that they have by being unorthodox. A lot of different fronts, a lot of different pressures and a lot of different looks at the secondary."
- Franklin on the UMass special teams:
"UMass, special teams, from what I understand, Coach Whipple will be running the special teams this week and for the remainder of the season. We've got to do a better job with our kickoffs and be more consistent. They do have a really good returner and we need to be aware of that. No. 9, Trey Dudley-Giles, 5-11, 282-pound junior is doing both their kick return and punt return. Punt return is averaging over 15 yards and kick return is averaging over 35 yards. So there's no doubt he's a playmaker and we have got a tremendous challenge."
- The Penn State wide receiver duo of Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton were added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List on Tuesday.
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By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Scoring early is one of the most vital weapons in any sport. From a touchdown on the opening drive to a quick pin, the percentage of teams who win due to an early score is significantly higher than those who come from behind.
The New York Times conducted a study [http://slapshot.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/23/teams-that-score-first-in-playoff-games-are-tough-to-beat/] on this statistic while looking at the NHL playoffs. The study found that teams who score first have an 83% chance of winning.
The Penn State field hockey team proved that statistic wrong this weekend, as they came from behind to beat both the No. 14 Princeton Tigers and the Lafayette Leopards.
After early goals were scored in each game, offensive leadership from Taylor Herold and Jenna Chrismer helped the Nittany Lions earn a pair of wins this weekend.
First Half Tiger Goal Ignites Second Half Nittany Lion Offense
From the sound of the first whistle, any spectator could see that this matchup was going to be a hard fight. Most of the play between the No. 6 Nittany Lions and the No. 14 Tigers was centered at the middle of the field. Heading into the final minutes of the first half, Princeton's Ryan McCarthy received a pass in the center of Penn State's circle and fired a shot into the back of the net. While the Nittany Lions outshot the Tigers 6-3 in the first half, they were unable to answer and headed to the locker room trailing 1-0.
"It's always disappointing to give up an early goal like that," coach Char Morett-Curtiss said. "In the locker room I just kept telling them that they needed to get hungry and put the press on."
At the start of the second half, you could hear Coach Morett-Curtiss chanting from the sideline, "play smart!" Her Nittany Lions listened.
The first of five goals came from Chrismer. After taking two shots on the cage in just one minute, Chrismer finally found the back of the net, tying the score. The Nittany Lions found the back of the cage just two minutes later when Herold blasted a corner drive from the top of the circle. No coach could draw up a corner play that was better executed than Herold's shot. It was flawless.
"I practice that shot constantly," Herold said. "I have been working on that shot a lot lately. That was the first time I was able to put one of those in this season. It was such a relief. I was so happy to finally hit the back of the cage."
Two minutes later, the Nittany Lions notched another score when Carly Celkos tapped in a pass from Chrismer. The Nittany Lions were up 3-1 with 27 minutes left to play.
"During the second half Coach [Morett-Curtiss] was telling us we needed to be more hungry in the circle," Herold said. "All I was thinking is that we needed to get a shot off as quick as possible. It doesn't matter what kind of a shot it is."
What Herold did next was almost unbelievable.
The next Nittany Lion goal deserves a spot on the list of "how did that go in" shots. Chrismer brought the ball into the circle. She dribbled in front of the cage and managed to pull Princeton's keeper out to the stroke mark. Chrismer's shot was deflected, but Herold intercepted the ball and reversed chipped it, while on her knees, into the top corner of the cage. As the crowd erupted and her fellow Nittany Lions jumped on her in celebration, Herold lifted the score to 4-1.
Herold's speed is one of the many weapons of the Nittany Lion offense. Whenever she receives a ball in open space, it is almost guaranteed that she will either make it into the circle or gain enough yardage for the Lions to make it into the circle on the next play.
"When I see open space I am just going as fast as I can," Herold said. "My favorite moment of a game is when I have open space."
The Tigers managed to score another goal, but Herold found the back of the net again, after receiving another pass from Chrismer. The duo pulled the goalie out again, and was able to lift the ball over her pads into the back of the net. Herold's shot lifted Penn State to a 5-2 victory over Princeton and her first hat-tick of her career.
"We wanted to put a strong press on." Morett-Curtiss said. "Jenna [Chrismer] and Taylor [Herold] are just great goal scorers and they took advantage of those opportunities. It was just a great second half."
Nittany Lions Come From Behind, Again
The Nittany Lions were trailing 1-0 after five minutes of play in Sunday's contest against the Lafayette Leopards.
But, the Nittany Lions had been in that position before.
"We knew that we needed to get down in the other end," Chrimser said. "We needed to put pressure on and take shots on goal."
The Leopards held onto their 1-0 lead for the next 10 minutes. But after a string of Penn State shots and corners, Emilee Ehret successfully knocked in a rebound shot, tying the score. Just over a minute later, Chrismer found the back of the cage, tapping in another goal off of a rebound shot.
Five minutes later, Chrismer received a pass from Laura Gebhart at the far end of the circle. Again, this was one of those shots that rarely make it to the back of the cage but Chrismer fired off a drive and lifted the Nittany Lions over the Leopards 3-1 before the half.
For twenty minutes after the half, the Nittany Lions pressed the Leopard's defense. The Nittany Lions took nine shots on goal, but were unable to capitalize off of their scoring opportunities. Gebhart lifted the score to 4-1 when she dribbled into the circle and fired off a shot. The Leopard's keeper blocked the shot, but Gebhart successfully tapped in a shot off a rebound. Three minutes later, Kirsten Gochnauer found the back of the net for the first time in her career, lifting the Nittany Lions to a final score of 5-1.
The Dynamic Scoring Duo
Over the course of four seasons, Chrismer and Herold have aided the Nittany Lions' offense with both speed and play making. Just this weekend, the duo contributed to eight of Penn State's ten goals. In the game against Princeton, Chrismer assisted each of Herold's scores, a trend we will likely see for the rest of the season.
"Taylor [Herold] and I have been connected since freshman year," Chrismer said. "We are always looking for each other. It's great."
"We know where each other is going to be," Herold said. "Since our freshman year we have scored tons of goals together; we plan on continuing that this season."
The Nittany Lions open their Big Ten schedule next weekend, at home, against longtime rival Michigan. The Wolverines are 4-2 heading into this weekend's matchup.
"Michigan is a tough, tough team," coach Morett-Curtiss said. "When two Big Ten teams go at it, you never know what is going to happen. It's going to come down to the wire. We are looking forward to it."
Penn State (3-0) will face off with UMass (0-3) for the first time in program history at 4 p.m. (BTN) on Saturday afternoon.
A gritty performance from the Nittany Lion offense and a stifling second-half defensive effort fueled the Nittany Lions to a dramatic 13-10 victory at Rutgers on Saturday. The Nittany Lions only led for 73 seconds in the primetime victory, but the group again illustrated an ability to make winning plays when it had to.
Junior cornerback Trevor Williams was a key figure in another standout effort from the Nittany Lion defense. Williams hauled in two interceptions and finished with five tackles in the victory. For his efforts, Williams garnered Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career on Monday.
Williams and the Nittany Lion defense held Rutgers to just three first downs and 95 yards during a scoreless second half for the Scarlet Knights. Additionally, Penn State forced five turnovers in the victory.
Saturday's game marks the final non-conference matchup until mid-November when the Nittany Lions take on Temple.
Defense Among Nation's Best
Three games into the 2014 season, the Penn State defense is among the nation's top units in three major statistical categories. Penn State is seventh in the country in rushing defense at 68.3 yards per game allowed. The Lions are 11th in scoring defense (12.3 ppg) and 13th in total defense (275.7 ypg). Thanks to five interceptions on Saturday night, Penn State is also sixth in the nation in passes intercepted.
Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions are among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:
QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is sixth in the nation in passing yards (1,082) and seventh in the nation in passing yards per game (360.7 ypg). He leads the Big Ten in both of those categories. He is 12th nationally in completions per game at 26.33. Hackenberg is eighth nationally in total offense (367.7).
WR Geno Lewis - Lewis ranks fifth in the nation in receiving yards and tops the Big Ten with 380 on the season. He is ninth nationally and second in the Big Ten with 126.7 yards per game.
WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is 13th nationally (second in the Big Ten) in receiving yards with 337. He ranks seventh in the nation and first in the Big Ten with 8.7 receptions per game.
DT Anthony Zettel - Zettel leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the nation with 2.3 tackles for loss per game.
Take a look through some standout numbers from the Big Ten opener at Rutgers.
4,000 - Christian Hackenberg became the 10th quarterback in Penn State history to reach 4,000 career yards. Hackenberg reached the figure just 15 games into his college career.
100 - The wide receiver duo of DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis both eclipsed 100 yards in a game for the second time this season on Saturday. The last time two Penn State receivers both had 100 yards in multiple games was in 1994 when Bobby Engram and Freddie Scott had 100 yards in the same game three times.
95 - The Penn State defense limited Rutgers to just 95 total yards and three first downs in a scoreless second half on Saturday night.
73 - The Nittany Lions led Rutgers for 73 seconds.
13 - After trailing 10-0 at halftime, the Lions scored 13-unanswered points, including a game-winning touchdown from Bill Belton with 1:13 to play.
7 - Anthony Zettel has already equaled his season-high in TFL with seven hits for loss this season.
6 - Cornerback Christian Campbell became the sixth Penn State true freshman to make his debut when he played in the first half at Rutgers.
5 - The Nittany Lions tallied five interceptions on Saturday. The last time Penn State had at least four interceptions in a game was at Michigan State in 2005.
5 - Five days remain until the Nittany Lions meet UMass.
Rutgers Extended Game Highlights
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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion cross country teams dominated on a cool, rainy Saturday morning, as both the men's and women's squads took the winning titles at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational for the first time since 2003.
The men finished with a total team score of 41, topping No. 8 Syracuse, which finished second with 47 points.
The men's team had a big boost from senior Matt Fischer. Fischer scored an individual victory, marking the second-straight year that a Nittany Lion has scored the individual title. Glen Burkhardt (4), Robby Creese (8), and Wade Endress (10) also played big roles for the team by finishing in the top 10.
"I think, finally, we can say that we have some really good distance depth with this team and that these guys are ready to compete with some of the best teams in the nation," said Fischer. "We wanted to go out there and have fun and feel out the season a little bit. I think we did a great job as a team and I couldn't be more excited about where everyone's [fitness level] is at."
The Penn State women finished with 27 points, defeating the No. 13 Syracuse women who came in second place with a score of 38. The Nittany Lions had four women finish within the top 10 runners, including freshman Elizabeth Chikotas in third, senior Leigha Anderson (4), freshman Jillian Hunsberger (5) and junior Tori Gerlach (9).
"We really worked together to get us through the first half of the race and it is a really cool experience to have teammates around you that make you believe in yourself. We worked hard and pushed and I felt really good going into those hills. [In those] last 1200 [meters] we were going all out," said Chikotas.
So far this season, the Nittany Lions have illustrated impressive teamwork. Their pack running strategy has improved greatly and their confidence in themselves and their team camaraderie is evident.
"On the women's side we had two freshmen in our top three, which is outstanding. Jillian [Hunsberger] and Elizabeth [Chikotas] have come in and they have been running and working hard and [today] they really showed that the hard work they put in this summer has paid off," said interim head coach John Gondak.
"Matt and the group ran as a pack through almost four miles of the race and it turned into a last mile and a half sprint [between] us, Georgetown, and Syracuse and our guys really responded well and pulled out a six-point victory. It was a great day for them," Gondak said.
In attendance at the Invitational was former Penn State head coach Harry Groves for whom the invitational is named after.
Groves remains an important part of Penn State and is definitely the program's No. 1 fan. He followed every race around in his golf cart cheering on the team and telling stories about his time at the University.
"Harry and I set up the course every year so we spend a lot of time out here together and he's still a very big, big part of Penn State Track and Field. We're excited that he comes to events like these," said Gondak.
The Nittany Lions will be rigorously training for the next three weeks before racing again on Oct. 3 when the team will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for the Notre Dame Invitational to officially begin their qualification races for the NCAA Championships.
By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Split into two teams, Blue and White, the Nittany Lions had the opportunity to race at their annual intra-squad meet on Friday. Swimmers and divers were able to see how they stack up against their teammates as well as strengthen team camaraderie.
The meet also gave head coach Tim Murphy, diving coach Dennis Ceppa and assistant coaches Steve Barnes, Doak Finch and Liz McMillan an opportunity to gauge where their swimmers and divers stand early in the season. With nontraditional distances, the meet was geared towards team unity and wrapped up with a tailgate in the natatorium with friends, family and fans.
For Murphy, he gave the team three things to focus on: their teammates, being competitive and race preparation.
"Competitively, we saw some good races," Murphy said. "We saw some spunk from the younger group, but we still have work to do. Overall, I think they did a good job."
The Blue and White meet typically takes place further into the year, but with an earlier meet schedule in 2014, the Nittany Lions were ready to race.
"I think it was a great experience for our first meet, we really saw how we fit as one team and it was great to race each other this early on," said junior Kaitlin Jones. "We definitely were able to see how in and out of shape we are."
For senior captain, Nate Savoy, the Blue and White meet marked the beginning of his final season.
"Time has gone by fast," Savoy said. "But I'm excited to get my last season started and it was really good to have an opportunity to race this early in the year."
When asked about his thoughts on the overall meet, Savoy responded with enthusiasm.
"I was really proud of how much energy and effort the team brought to the table," said Savoy. "I'm excited to see this team grow over the upcoming months."
The strong team dynamic was evident to fans when the team lined the pool deck following the final relay to lead fans in a singing of the Alma Mater. The team then gathered in for a final "We Are! Penn State!" cheer before warming down.
With three weeks until their first official meet, coach Murphy is planning how the team will prepare for Georgia Tech.
"We'll be doing more racing in practice," Murphy said. "We have to keep pushing the envelope but I think they are in a good place for now."
The newly-installed endless pool system will also help the team prepare to take on the Yellow Jackets. Endless pools are much shorter than competition pools and use propellers to generate currents. The currents prevent the swimmer from reaching the end of the pool and can be adjusted based on skill level.
For the Nittany Lions, the new addition to the pool deck will allow coaches to break down stroke mechanics and correct technique.
"The current really lets them feel what they're doing," Murphy said. "They're so used to just going up and down the pool, it's a great tool."
While there are a few tweaks to be made, Murphy and his coaching staff are excited to get it up and running in the near future. But for now, it's business as usual for the swimmers and divers as they look towards their next opportunity to compete.
Catch the Nittany Lions in action on Friday, Oct. 3 at McCoy Natatorium as they kick off the official 2014-'15 season against Georgia Tech.
VIDEO: Player Interviews at Rutgers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No matter how many times it happens, the magnitude of clockwork execution on a game-winning drive cannot be overstated.
The Nittany Lions added another chapter in a long list of dramatic victories on the road Saturday night when the offense marched 80 yards in 1:49 to knock off Rutgers, 13-10, in the first Big Ten game of the season.
Simply put, it did not matter to the Lions that they had played 56:58 without visiting the end zone, or that the largest crowd in Highpoint Solutions Stadium history was on its feet roaring.
Down 10-6 with 3:02 to play following a stand from the Nittany Lion defense, Christian Hackenberg led the offense onto the field in a very familiar set of circumstances - score a touchdown or the game was over.
Never rattled by the size of the stage, the stakes or having been sacked five times, the field general's message to the huddle was simple when the game was on the line.
"He basically said, 'let's make the plays we need to make and get out of here with a win,'" said junior Geno Lewis.
It's truly remarkable to think that Hackenberg is just 19. He has firm command of the huddle and the ultimate level of respect from his peers.
"The mindset when we came on the field was to follow Christian. He is the leader of the offense, and we know he can make big plays for us," senior Bill Belton said.
It took the Lions one play to move from their own 20-yard line to the Rutgers 27. Hackenberg found Lewis on a slant. Lewis split two Rutgers defensive backs and raced down the sideline in front of the Penn State bench.
"The first one was a high ball on a high slant, and I just made a play on it. I broke a couple tackles and tried to get as many yards as I could," Lewis said.
Three plays later, it appeared as though the Lions had scored a go-ahead touchdown on a pass to Jesse James. But a holding penalty nullified the big play.
Again, never fazed by the circumstances, Hackenberg and the Lions regrouped immediately. On the next play, Hackenberg dropped a ball in between the corner and safety along the Penn State sideline for a 23-yard connection with Lewis.
"We went right back to him. It was a double move. He beat the corner, and the safety was too deep," Hackenberg said. "He made a great catch, and then Bill (Belton) finished it off."
Belton scampered into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown two plays after Lewis hauled in his second crucial catch of the drive.
"The line did a great job on that play clearing everything out of the way," Belton said.
In all, the drive covered 80 yards in 1:49. Hackenberg finished 3-of-4 for 84 yards (due to penalties).
"Obviously, he is a talented guy. When you are getting pressured and sacked as many times as he is getting and the running game is not where we want it to be, it's a lot on his shoulders," head coach James Franklin said. "I think he's handled all of that really well. His poise is steady, and he is a lot more athletic than I think people realize."
Hackenberg played in just his 15th game as a Penn State student-athlete on Saturday night. He directed his fourth comeback win in the fourth quarter or overtime. The sophomore now has seven career 300-yard passing games, which is more than anyone in Penn State history. Additionally, Hackenberg eclipsed 4,000 passing yards with his 309-yard effort at Rutgers.
The numbers speak for themselves, but you can't teach the intangibles No. 14 brings to the field for the Blue and White.
"He is light years ahead of a true sophomore," Franklin said. "To me, you grade quarterbacks on third-down percentage, red zone and wins and losses. The wins and losses are the most important thing, and comeback fourth quarter drives. He's done those things. I'm really, really proud of him."
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