Photo Gallery - Thursday Practice, Hospital Visit & Golf Outing
TaxSlayer Bowl Coverage: Arrival Press Conference | Tuesday Practice | Naval Base Visit
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - The Nittany Lion football team practiced for the third time in Florida during TaxSlayer Bowl game week on Thursday at Fernandina Beach High School.
For the third-straight day, temperatures in the 80s greeted the team as it took the practice field on Amelia Island. Penn State worked through its normal Thursday game week routine in shorts, jerseys and helmets.
The Thursday session featured the longstanding tradition of each player switching jerseys. The offense (normally in white) wore blue jerseys and the defense (normally in blue) wore white jerseys. And each player donned a new number for the final full practice of the season.
Additionally, the senior players had the honor of selecting a player or coach carry him off the practice field for the final time. Anthony Zettel asking coordinator Bob Shoop and Trevor Williams asking cornerbacks coach Terry Smith were the highlights of the end-of-practice festivities.
The post-practice media availability focused on the offense on Thursday, with bowl game offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne and a host of players spending time with the approximately 30 media members who attended the last few periods of Thursday's practice.
The theme of the week from each member of the staff has been the sharp practices the team has put together since the bowl prep started in Happy Valley. Head coach James Franklin talked about the team's focus earlier in the week, and Rahne echoed the sentiment on Thursday.
"The guys have really practiced well since we've been down here," Rahne said. "I've been really excited about that, as has the rest of the staff."
Rahne is looking forward to his first opportunity to call the plays as the bowl game offensive coordinator. He will be in the press box during the game. Simply put, he wants to see the offensive unit play four quarters of football with great confidence.
"I just want us to go out there playing fast and aggressive," Rahne said. "Everything is not going to be perfect. It never is. I just want us to go out there and play with a lot of confidence, and with whatever Georgia throws at us, we are going to go out there and respond."
The Nittany Lions will face off against a Georgia team ranked eighth nationally in total defense. The Bulldogs have allowed 4.70 yards per play in 2015.
"Georgia has a great defense. They've got some great secondary players. They've got some guys that can get after the passer," said Rahne. "It's going to be a very good challenge for the offense. I know we are all excited about it."
Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 146.1 yards per game. The matchup between the Bulldog defensive backs and Lion wide receivers is something sophomore wide out Chris Godwin is looking forward to.
"I think it's going to be a very good challenge for us," Godwin said. "They are the No. 1 passing defense in the country, and it's well deserved. Those guys on the back end of their defense work really well together, and they are a strong group. It's going to be a big challenge for us to go out there and make plays. It's really fun to go up against a great challenge like this to see where you are."
Post-Practice Player Remarks - Offense
Lions Visit Wolfson Children's Hospital
Six players, cheerleaders and The Nittany Lion represented Penn State during a visit to Wolfson Children's Hospital following practice on Thursday. The team members interacted with a host of patients in the hospital located in Jacksonville.
The Nittany Lions spent time at Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursday night following the day's activities, which also included a little fun on the driving range. Coach Franklin and the captains will participate in a press conference at EverBank Field on Friday morning before the team's final walk through at Fernandina Beach High School.
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