Recently in Football Category

2014 Gameday Preview - Nittany Lions Host UMass

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

LIVE GAME BLOG

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

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

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After playing two out of its first three games on the road, Penn State (3-0) returns home on Saturday for its first game against UMass (0-3). The Nittany Lions and Minutemen will collide at 4 p.m. inside Beaver Stadium (BTN).

10323244.jpegThanks to a superb defensive performance in the second half and a game-winning drive orchestrated by sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the Nittany Lions moved to 3-0 in a dramatic victory at Rutgers last week. Senior Bill Belton scored a game-winning touchdown with 1:13 to play inside sold out Highpoint Solutions Stadium to lift the Lions past the Scarlet Knights, 13-10, in the first Big Ten game of 2014.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions have been tremendous to start the season. Penn State ranks among the nation's elite in three major statistical categories heading into this weekend. 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.

UMass enters the game following back-to-back three-point losses to Colorado and at Vanderbilt. Led by veteran head coach Mark Whipple, the Minutemen, took the Commodores down to the wire in Nashville last week. UMass led for most of the game before a late score from Vanderbilt and a missed field goal in final seconds sealed a 34-31 setback.

Saturday's gameday will feature two major events off the field. Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, Penn State will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Women's Athletics on the University Park campus. Some of Penn State's current and former head coaches and student-athletes will be recognized at the UMass games for their accomplishments during the past 50 years of varsity women's sports.

Additionally, Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics and the Penn State Marching Blue Band will host the Unrivaled Band Jam, which will highlight Band Day activities on Saturday. Several high school bands will perform with the storied Blue Band and the UMass Minuteman Marching Band pre-game in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Unrivaled Band Jam will begin at 2 p.m. in the Jordan Center. There is no admission fee.


Welcome to the Gameday Preview for week four matchup against UMass.


PreviewGraphic_UMass.jpg
Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10323164.jpeg1. So much has been written about the talent and skill level of sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. And it is deservedly so. Hackenberg is an incredibly gifted athlete with all the things you look for in an elite quarterback. But his leadership and maturity level for a player his age cannot be overstated enough. Sure, Hackenberg has already etched his place in the Penn State record book with a plethora of accolades, but his demeanor in the huddle, leadership on and off the field and poise are all attributes that a coach cannot teach a player. Hackenberg has been terrific during the first three games of the season, throwing for 1,082 yards and four touchdowns. But his impact on the team goes far beyond the numbers and two game-winning drives in the final minutes.

2. Penn State's defense has been stout during the first three weeks of the season, allowing opponents just 12.3 points per game and 272.3 yards of total offense. A big piece to the Nittany Lions' success on the defensive side of the ball is the standout play from the group in the trenches. Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel has been the catalyst along the front line. The Michigan native enters the UMass game ranked fifth nationally with 7.0 tackles for loss. Zettel has been disruptive constantly during the first three weeks. He leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss and also has 3.0 sacks this season. What he lacks in prototypical defensive tackle size, Zettel makes up with a tenacious attitude, relentless motor and standout quickness. Keep a close eye on No. 98.

3. Prior to last week's game at Rutgers, the Nittany Lions had gained just one turnover during the first two games. However, the defense answered coordinator Bob Shoop's challenge by snagging five interceptions against the Scarlet Knights, including two from Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Trevor Williams. The five interceptions in the Rutgers game from the Nittany Lion are most by one team in a game this season. It was the first time Penn State had notched five interceptions in a game since 2004 against Michigan State. Turnovers will continue to play a paramount role in Penn State's success on both sides of the ball. Keep an eye on the turnover battle.

What to Watch For - UMass
10323188.jpeg1. Graduate student Blake Frohnapfel leads the UMass offense. A Marshall transfer (undergrad degree from Marshall), Frohnapfel was named the starting quarterback for the Minutemen during training camp. He has led UMass to 34.5 points per game during the last two games and an average of 358.5 yards. Frohnapfel has thrown for 619 yards and five touchdowns this season.  Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe and 6-foot-7 tight end Jean Sifrin are among Frohnapfel's top targets.

2. The UMass defense enters the week looking to take a step forward defending the run. The Minutemen have allowed an average of 218 rushing yards per game during the first three weeks. Sophomore linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox leads the nation in tackling at 14.0 hits per game. Santos-Knox had a career-high 15 stops at Vanderbilt last week. Senior Stanley Andre is the leader of the UMass defense. The fifth-year player has started in 27 consecutive games.

3. On the heels of a narrow loss at Vanderbilt last week, head coach Mark Whipple will take over the duties of special teams play for the Minutemen. Junior Trey Dudley-Giles is second the nation in kickoff return yardage (35.4 yards per return). Another player to keep an eye on when UMass takes the field on offense and special teams is hybrid fullback/tight end Rodney Mills. Mills has three touchdowns to start the season, including a 53-yard touchdown reception on a fake punt at Vanderbilt last week. Coach Franklin noted earlier in the week that UMass provides a number of different looks on offense. Mills is a player to keep an eye on in the formations.


The Final Word:
Dating back to 1887, Penn State's football tradition stretches 128 years. During that time frame, the Nittany Lions have played 153 different teams on the gridiron. UMass will become the 154th squad the Nittany Lions have played against when the two teams take the field on Saturday. Penn State is 112-33-8 in first games against opponents. The Minutemen mark the first new team on the Penn State schedule since the Lions played against Indiana State in 2011. Saturday's game also marks the second in a string of three-straight contests televised by Big Ten Network. Kickoff is slated for 4:01 p.m. in the first of two-straight Saturdays inside Beaver Stadium.



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

UMass Week Q&A - Assistant Coach Terry M. Smith

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10322810.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach Terry M. Smith talked to the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions host UMass on Saturday at 4 p.m. (BTN). Take a look at a Q&A with Smith leading up to Saturday's home game.


Q: What have these first few months been like for you coaching back at your alma mater?
Smith:
"It's been really, really exciting. You couldn't dream of such an outcome for myself career-wise. It's been an exciting opportunity for me to work with such a great staff. Obviously, coming back to Penn State has been so good for not only me, but my entire family, as well."

Q: What have you seen from this group of freshmen cornerbacks so far?
Smith:
"I think we've got a group of tremendously talented freshmen at corner. They are all a little bit different. Amani (Oruwariye) is a big, long guy. Christian (Campbell) is kind of long and athletic. Grant (Haley) is more of a smaller, more explosive athlete. Daquan (Worley) is kind of that type of athlete, as well. They bring something different. I think they are all quality players for us. Clearly, Grant is having a really good freshman season so far. We got Christian in a little bit last week. Our plans are for him to have a little more action this week. They are all guys we think will be very successful in the program."

Q: How do you feel like your guys at corner have done at tackling so far this year?
Smith:
"This past game, as a defensive unit, we had some struggles with missing some tackles. The running back we played this past week was a pretty good running back. We do tackling drills each day on Tuesday and Wednesday when we are in pads. We do some angle tackles, some sideline tackles, some form-fit tackles. It's an area of emphasis for us. As we move forward into the heart of the Big Ten season, the backs are bigger and stronger, so we can't afford to have missed tackles."

Q: Were you frustrated at all during the first couple weeks not coming away with interceptions? And then after last week, what was the feeling after getting so many?
Smith:
"We weren't frustrated. You are calculated as to when you have your opportunities. The critical piece is when you get your hands on the ball, you have to make the play that is there. You've got to be patient. Sometimes it's there; sometimes it's not. Obviously, as the season has gone on, we are getting better. We are a lot better this week than we were UCF week. That's a critical piece. Are we improving week to week? And right now, we are making those improvements, and hopefully we'll take another step this week."

Q: What can last week do for Trevor Williams and what level is he playing at right now?
Smith:
"Tremendous confidence boost for him. Two interceptions. He had a tremendous night. Obviously, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. I think this could take Trevor to another level. He's been practicing really well for the last few weeks. It wasn't any surprise that he played well because he has been practicing well. I think Trevor could potentially be one of the top corners in the league. Obviously, he has to continue to get better and provide consistency at the corner. But we are very happy with his approach to practice and games each day."

Q: What did you learn at your last stop coaching wide receivers that has helped you in teaching your guys at corner?
Smith:
"The biggest thing is route recognition. When guys have certain splits or when guys take certain stems towards our cornerbacks, I can tell our guys basically on the first three steps that it is one of three routes. And then based on the next couple steps, I can tell my guys (what I think is coming). So, we've got better route recognition of what is coming at you, so it can be easier for our guys to know what is coming and defend. The route recognition is first and foremost."

Q: What are some of the nuances that go with blitzing from the cornerback position?
Smith:
"Well, depending on what the blitz is - if it's just a corner crasher coming off the side, you've got to time it. You've got to disguise your look. Once you show it, they will slide the protection to you and you will have a big 330-pound tackle on a corner, which isn't fair. So, we work on our hedge and release. There are also certain blitzes where we send a backer up the field and a corner comes underneath. We work on that technique, as well. It takes a lot of time and effort at practice to get it right. We've got to make sure we get it right because each Saturday it has to be perfect to execute and be right."

Q: What have you seen from the UMass offense and the passing game in particular?
Smith:
"They do some things that make you think about what you are doing. They want you to prepare for a lot of different looks. They do some formational things with unbalance. They do a little bit of wildcat, just enough to make you prepare for it. They've got a big, strong quarterback behind center. They've got three good targets that they want to get the football to. So, they try to make plays to get those three guys the football. And they do it in some unorthodox ways with bubble screens, some motions, some shifts and just a lot of things you have to prepare for. They are just looking for that one breakdown to exploit."



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

VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - UMass Week

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin provided an update to the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex. The Nittany Lions host UMass on Saturday for an 4 p.m. kick on BTN.






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

2014 Opponent Previews - UMass

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10321001.jpegUMass | Beaver Stadium | 4 p.m. | Big Ten Network

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions return home this Saturday to host Massachusetts in the first ever meeting between the schools. Get to know the Minutemen in this week's scouting report.

Mark Whipple returned as head coach at UMass in 2014 after spending eight years as a coach in the NFL and a brief stint at the University of Miami. Whipple previously coached UMass from 1998-2003, which included three Atlantic 10 titles, three NCAA I-AA Tournament appearances and an NCAA I-AA National Championship in 1998. Whipple most recently was quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2011-12. He has an overall record of 49-29 at UMass.

The Minutemen finished 1-11 and 1-7 in the Mid-American Conference in 2013, their second year as an FBS program. They returned 59 lettermen and 13 starters in 2014.

UMass is searching for its first win (0-3) after a close loss to Vanderbilt last week. The Minutemen gained 346 yards, including 258 passing, during a 34-31 loss in Nashville. Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel completed 17-of-34 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked three times. Running back Lorenzo Woodley gained 43 yards and scored two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught two passes for 241 yards. Tajae Sharpe caught eight passes for 73 yards, while Rodney Mills hauled in three receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yard score on a fake punt in the first quarter. Kicker Blake Lucas hit a 32-yard field goal, but missed a 22-yard attempt as time expired.

The UMass defense allowed 310 yards, including 160 on the ground. Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox recorded 15 tackles, three solo, and 0.5 TFL. Safety Joe Colton added 12 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and a sack. Fellow safety Trey Dudley-Giles forced a fumble and picked off a pass. Dudley-Giles also gained 94 yards on two kick returns.

The Minutemen are averaging just over 25 points per game and 306 yards of total offense. Frohnapfel has completed 48 percent of his passes for 619 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Three different running backs have more 20 carries this season. Redshirt junior Jamal Wilson has 88 yards and a touchdown. Freshman J.T. Blyden has 68 yards. Woodley, a 6-foot, 212-pound sophomore, has 53 yards and two touchdowns. All three backs are also active in the passing game, as Wilson has five receptions, Blyden has three and Woodley has two.

Sharpe leads the receiving corps with 246 yards and a touchdown on 15 catches. He is averaging 16.4 yards per catch. Mills has 112 yards and three scores on five receptions and junior Jean Sifrin has five catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.

The UMass offensive line features three sophomores and two juniors.

Opponents are averaging 35 points and 431.7 yards against the UMass defense, including 218 yards per game on the ground. The Minutemen use a 3-4 defense.

Nose tackle Daniel Maynes leads the Minutemen with four tackles for loss. He has 17 total tackles.

Santos-Knox, a junior, leads the team with 42 tackles (11 solo). He also has three tackles for loss and a sack. Fellow linebacker Kassan Messiah has 25 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack.

Colton, a junior, leads the secondary with 34 tackles, 13 solo, and 3.5 for loss, including a sack. Cornerback Randall Jette has 18 tackles and leads the team with two interceptions. Dudley-Giles has 16 tackles and an interception.

Lucas has connected on two-of-four field goal attempts with a long of 34 yards. Punter Brian McDonald is averaging 39 yards per kick, placing five inside the 20-yard line. Dudley-Giles is one of the most dangerous returners in the nation, averaging 35 yards per return. He ranks second in the nation in kick return yards.

What Mark Whipple is saying about Penn State:

"Bill O'Brien and I are close and I saw every game last year. Penn State was great to my son, Austin, so I was there a lot last year. They have great kids and it is a great place. Penn State is a great place to play and has tremendous history." 

"(Hackenberg) is an awesome kid. To see the way he's taken the team on his shoulders, the way he played all last year and the way he handles not only success but also the way he handles failures... Hackenberg is a winner and I couldn't say enough about him. I've seen him play every single game, I've seen his practice habits, seen him in the meeting rooms, I've seen the way he's worked with Bill O'Brien and he's the real deal.

"Austin Johnson is a great player and Anthony Zettel is playing out of his mind. Deion Barnes is a great player who can rush the passer. I think their whole defense is set up and Bob Shoop has done a great job. They've got the guys up front and they play coverage very well, but those guys up front are making it happen." 


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

VIDEO: UMass Week Player Q&As - Brandon Bell & DaeSean Hamilton

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with linebacker Brandon Bell and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton leading up to the UMass game.

Week Four Press Conference Roundup - UMass Week

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10317801.jpegJames 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.



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

Monday Notebook: Lions Set to Return Home

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
10313503.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having played two of the first three weeks on the road, the Nittany Lions return home on Saturday for the first of two-straight games in Beaver Stadium.

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.

Final Numbers

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




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

Hackenberg, Nittany Lions Cool Under Fire

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10310972.jpegVIDEO: 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."


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

VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference at Rutgers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews at Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Head into the media room to hear from head coach James Franklin following Saturday night's dramatic 13-10 victory at Rutgers.




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

VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks at Rutgers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

VIDEO: James Franklin Press Conference

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Hear from several Nittany Lions following Penn State's 13-10 road victory over Rutgers on Saturday night.




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