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Penn State Underway in Spring Ball

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a productive winter conditioning period, Penn State football is ready to put the pads on again. The Nittany Lions return to the field Monday to officially kick off the spring season. 

As he does every year, Penn State head coach James Franklin met with member of the media to preview the 14-practice spring session, which culminates in the annual Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions will host Blue-White weekend Saturday, April 21 with action beginning at 3 p.m.

Check out a few storylines from this afternoon's session with Franklin.

Critical Questions
Among a few critical areas of spring ball development, Franklin noted that a top priority is developing a two deep at middle linebacker as well as a two-and-a-half to three deep at defensive tackle. With obvious departures in Jason Cabinda, Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran. 

"I think [Robert] Windsor and Kevin [Givens] we're excited about what they were able to bring to the table," Franklin said. "Really kind of the guys after them, it's excitement based on potential. But they haven't played enough. You know, when you graduate three D-tackles and you had two D-tackles coming back, you're typically only going to play about five, maybe six guys at that position in the game." 

While it's still too early to make any final determinations, based on potential Franklin noted he was pleased with Nittany Lions like Antonio Shelton, Ellison Jordan, Fred Hansard and Damion Barber.

"Still too early for me to say at this point," Franklin said. "Promising excitement based on potential but I haven't really seen enough to know."

On the special teams side of things, Penn State will have a major gap to fill when it comes to replacing the consistency of kicker Tyler Davis. Franklin made specific note of walk on kicker Carson Landis in terms of the opportunity he has this spring.

"He's going to get a bunch of reps in this camp," Franklin said. "He's got a strong leg. I think the biggest thing for a high school player trying to transition into the Big Ten and football at this level is the consistency aspect. He shows flashes of being really good." 

Making Moves
Franklin highlighted Penn State's positional changes, but when asked about sophomore Lamont Wade's move from cornerback to safety, it mostly came down to filling needs at safety, with the cornerback position shaping out to be both deep and experienced headed into 2018. 

"We feel really good about the depth we have and are creating at the corner position," Franklin said. "We have a little bit more question marks at safety, and Lamont is a football player and although he's not the longest guy in terms of height, he's put together. He'll hit you and we just felt like it probably played to a little bit more of his strengths."

Replacing Barkley
It goes without saying that finding a way to replace the production of Saquon Barkley is certainly something the Nittany Lions will have to address this spring. For Franklin, it's obvious that replacing his production won't be falling on one individual. 

"We need to replace Saquon Barkley with the running backs that we have," Franklin said. "And when I talk about "replacing Saquon," I talk about his production, but replace it with the group of running backs that we have -but also with the growth of the offensive line and the development of our tight ends, and still be a team that's difficult to stop because of the firepower that we have at wide receiver and the mobility we have at the quarterback position."

First things first though, Franklin noted that the running backs are going to surprise some people in terms of what they're able to do.

Speaking of the Offensive Line
For Franklin, there's the clear benefit of a potent running back group, but there's also the benefit of the offensive line reaching perhaps its best point to date. With Penn State seeing a scholarship two deep, he noted the offensive line has grown bigger, stronger and more experienced with increasing depth.

Among the Nittany Lions he's pleased with, Franklin noted Alex Gellerstedt has gone from someone who came in with about a year of experience at offensive line and has only taken positive steps.

"He's big. He's strong," Franklin said. "Even just getting into stance now, he never looked comfortable his whole freshman year in his stance and now he's comfortable and he's athletic."

That bodes well for the Nittany Lions, who return a majority of starters along the offensive line including Connor McGovern at center.

Max Out Session Highlights Winter Conditioning

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - What does a piranha in small pool have in common with a trained killer? That would be just two of the top performing Nittany Lions for Penn State assistant athletics director for performance enhancement, Dwight Galt.

With just two workout sessions remaining, Galt met with members of the media following an open max out session in the Lasch Building weight room for a winter conditioning update.

"We've always had great winters but I think this one kind of takes the place of the best one we've had so far," Galt said. "It's our fifth one here so it's been really good. They are a motivated group right now."

For Galt the key to the standout winter has been in consistency, with the Nittany Lions putting forth maximum effort and determination in every session. 

As Galt noted, unlike some programs, Penn State balances an aggressive strength power program in conjunction with a very aggressive movement program. Of the 30 workouts the Nittany Lions have already completed that means 15 have been strength and 15 have been running workouts.

"The running workouts obviously take a lot out of you in Holuba," Galt said. "They've done a great job bouncing back every day and getting a hard lift in and getting hard run in."

Check out a few more takeaways from Galt's media session. 

Top Performers
When asked who's sticking out in winter conditioning, the trained killer was Nittany Lion wide receiver with the piranha in the small pool being safety Lamont Wade.

As Galt noted, former Nittany Lion wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton left his legacy with Johnson.

"He has done a great job. He's one of our top, top guys," Galt said.

Galt also named offensive lineman Will Fries, tight end Danny Dalton and safety John Petrishen in his top at the moment.

"One guy that has been really good but has just been dinged his entire career is John Petrishen," Galt said. "John Petrishen has really paid his dues. He has had a number of situations, knocking on wood, and he has been healthy and he's doing a great job."

Mid-Year Enrollees
Making the move from high school senior to Nittany Lion freshman in just a few weeks' time is no easy transition. With six mid-year enrollees joining the roster at the start of the spring semester, Galt is pleased with the progress the group has made so far.

"We came in here and we tested them out thoroughly," Galt said. "After we did that we just started cranking and they joined right in with the group right away. They've definitely all earned respect. It's really a great group of guys." 

One of the Guys
Among the mid-year enrollees is five star Nittany Lion Micah Parsons. As Galt was quick to point out though, when Parsons arrived it was as if the stars were gone, as he quickly earned the respect of his teammates though a humble approach to his work ethic. 

"He can run, he can jump, he's strong, he's powerful," Galt said. "He has all of the ingredients that we would expect from him that we saw on his film. I think the thing that everybody is really pleased with is that Micah just has a great attitude. He's really one of the guys."

Sanders Steps Up
For Galt, the biggest area of improvement he has seen from Nittany Lion running back Miles Sanders is in his leadership. Among a truly deep group of running backs in the program, Galt noted the staff is just as secure in what he can do on the field as they are in what he can do off the field too. 

"The running back culture has always been one of our best positions culture-wise," Galt said. "They work hard they do what they are supposed to do. They care. They're good leaders." 

VIDEO: 2018 THON Pep Rally Dance

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Among the most highly anticipated THON weekend events, check out the football athlete hour pep rally dance! 

Nittany Lions Host THON Explorers

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Penn State welcomed THON's Four Diamonds families through the doors of the Lasch Football building for a fun-filled afternoon of games and ice cream.

"It's awesome to be able to bring a smile to a kid," former Nittany Lion Nate Stupar said. "The feeling around this building today was so amazing with these kids, high energy. The environment was awesome. For them to be able to see the facility, what we did when we were here playing football, it was really fun."

Several staff members and a few former Nittany Lions in NFL cheerfully greeted the families in the locker room before breaking to explore.

Stupar (New Orleans Saints) joined Anthony Zettel (Detroit Lions), Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Super Bowl Champion Stefen Wisniewski (Philadelphia Eagles) for the afternoon, taking time to sign autographs before a group picture.

"This is what Penn State's all about," James said. "There's not a better time to be in Happy Valley than during THON. I'm happy they invited me to come back and be involved."

Check in with Wisniewski for a quick look at a few of his thoughts following the Super Bowl victory. 


THON Features: Teammates Unite For The Kids

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of Penn State's most impactful weekends on campus has nearly arrived. As more than 700 students take to the floor at the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State football's Charlie Shuman and Nick Scott will be among the passionate individuals dancing for the cure. 

Both Shuman and Scott will dance for the cure for childhood cancer of course, as the annual 46-hour dance marathon kicks off Friday evening. Shuman will dance on behalf of the Penn State Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) for the second consecutive year, while Scott will dance for the first time, representing the student leaders organization. 

While football pairs the two as teammates, it's the desire to support families impacted by childhood cancer that's uniting their cause.

As SAAB's treasurer this year, Shuman had the feeling he would be selected to dance again. It was only cemented when a few dancer spots came open.

For Scott, football experiences sparked his interest, but he chose to go outside of what he calls his "athlete bubble" to do more.

"I think throughout my career I've done a lot through the football program for the community and I wanted to make sure that I left my footprint somewhere other than the football field and influence people other than using my jersey to do so," Scott said. 

Scott took to social media to help raise funds for his organization to earn dancer spots. He started a Facebook page to spread awareness for his cause.

First introduced to THON during his freshman year, Scott was part of the football pep rally routine and made his first visit to the Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey with the team. 

"I got to see what the kids go through on a day-to-day basis and that was really tough for me since the first time I visited Hershey my freshman year," Scott said. "I knew I always wanted to help out people who are struggling, especially kids. I've always wanted to take it a step further and do more outside of the football team."

Last year Scott joined his girlfriend on the floor as a member of her pass list, which gave him a bit more of an idea of what to expect. His pass list this year features Johnathan Thomas, who he'll lean on when fatigue begins to take its toll. 

On the floor for the entire 46 hours though, is Shuman, who Scott won't have to spend too much time looking for when it comes to finding his 6-foot-8-inch teammate for a boost of motivation.

"The first thing he told me was not to expect him to give me any piggy back rides, which is fair," Scott said with a smile. "I understand he's dancing too." 

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Shuman knew he wanted to do it all again from the moment he finished THON 2017 - even though he didn't exactly remember the final moment.

"I was my normal self until right up to the end," Shuman said. "It was really important to read the dancer mail. I had a letter from a kid I know from back home who suffers from cancer so being able to read that, I was like okay, if he can do this every single day, I can do this. One more hour of my life is nothing compared to the battle he has for the rest of his life." 

Shuman's biggest piece of advice for Scott though, is simply to remain positive.

"Charlie's a pretty positive guy so if I get down I'll start to feed off of him a little bit and vice versa," Scott said.

While Shuman can offer tips to Scott and his SAAB teammates ahead of time, it's the type of adventure where preparation comes better through experience.

"You kind of have to experience it for yourself," Shuman said. "I can give everyone as many tips as I want, but everyone is going to react to staying up for 46 hours differently."

Come Friday, the two will actually be on different teams for the weekend, with Scott on the purple team and Shuman on the orange team. 

Shuman's thoughts on the matter?

"We're going with 'compete in everything you do' throughout the weekend for sure," Shuman said.

Pep Rally Prep
There's no sneak peek when it comes to this year's THON pep rally dance from Shuman or Scott, which debuts Saturday night. 

"They're working really hard," Scott said. "I've been a little bit involved, just making sure they're staying on the right track answering any questions they have and what to expect. I think these guys have a real shot."

In the spirit of THON weekend, check out the 2017 THON pep rally dance below.

Seniors Cap Careers on Top

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - With Washington in desperation mode, the outstretched hands of senior linebacker Brandon Smith snatched up a Husky fumble to clinch the game. It was perhaps a perfect ending.

In mid-November, when reflecting on his decision to turn down Ivy league scholarship offers to walk on and pursue his dream to play at Penn State, it was Smith who said ultimately, it came down to simply having faith and going for it.

For more than just Smith, much of the narrative surrounding the 2017 Penn State senior class has been all about belief - and going for it.

"I think this team is a team that believes in themselves," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "Starting last year, once we kind of got on a roll, this team believes they're going to win every single game they play against every single opponent. You look at our season, there were some ups and downs and twists and turns and adversity, but these guys never stopped believing in one another." 

Through unpredictable moments along the way, when guided by its steady senior class, there has been no shortage of the get up and go for it mindset when a challenge is presented.

"This just means just getting Penn State back where we were, back where we're supposed to be," senior safety Marcus Allen said reflecting on the win. "We had a chip on our shoulder coming into this game."

It's a chip that's been there for a while, since the day most of these Nittany Lions committed to Penn State, extending on through the disappointment they saw in the eyes of their seniors around this time last year. From a macro to micro level, it's turning 7-6 records into back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 2008-09, and defeating a Washington team that entered the 47th annual PlayStation Fiesta Bowl with significant hype in all three phases of the game.

Most of that's in the past though, and Saturday, in its winningest bowl game in program history, Penn State extended its streak, adding another chapter to its proud Fiesta Bowl history with a 35-28 win against Washington.

Led by a seemingly surgical performance from quarterback Trace McSorley, it was the Nittany Lions who were executing in all three phases of the game in their 2017 curtain call.

"I think as a team, you saw the final product today," senior tight end Mike Gesicki said. "We were able to grow all season long, we had great bowl prep and today, from the offensive line to the defensive line, everybody on the defensive side and everybody on the offensive side, we did a great job and we were able to capitalize on every opportunity."

McSorley shattered the Penn State bowl record for career passing yards, bolstering his total with 402 yards of total offense (342 passing, 60 rushing) to become the first Nittany Lion in program history to surpass 400 yards of total offense in a game twice in his career.

He twice found senior wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton for a pair of touchdown passes, his second, for 24-yards, coming at a critical moment in the third quarter to send Penn State ahead 35-21.

"Yeah, it was really, really important, because momentum was starting to swing there," Franklin said.

The key to his stunning success came on third down, as he went 12-for-12 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Producing 11 first downs, eight of his third down passes went for at least 11 yards or more.

McSorley would hardly take credit postgame though.

"Our offensive line did a tremendous job the whole game but really on third down," McSorley said. "They had a different sense of urgency to themselves on the third downs. And then you've got guys like Ham [DaeSean Hamilton] and Saquon, they did a great job separating versus man. We knew that was going to be a challenge this week that they were going to come up try to press us at the line and not give us a lot air, suffocate the air out of the zone. And we'd have to win against man and be accurate with the ball. And that's something our receivers did a great job getting open and making plays on third down."

For offensive lineman Ryan Bates, getting better on third down started as early as the offseason.

"This whole offseason, that was a big emphasis compared to last year because last year that was one of the things we struggled with," Bates said. "It showed today on the field and the whole season really, how much we worked on it."

Headed into the game, Washington hadn't allowed a team to score more than 30 points in a span of 26 games, armed with the nation's No. 1 ranked rushing defense.

"The whole week we heard how big their defensive line was, how good a good defense it is, running game, only gave up 96 yards average," Barkley. "We got 92 on one play."

Just like fans have become accustom to this year, Barkley dazzled, ripping off a 92-yard touchdown run to tie for the longest run in Penn State history, while also setting a Fiesta Bowl record for the longest run.

Defensively, Penn State stifled the Washington run game, keeping star running back Myles Gaskin to fewer than 100 yards on the ground.

"Coach [Brent] Pry reiterates it every week, playing harder, playing hungrier and being humble," senior corner back Grant Haley said. "We knew we had a challenge in their running attack and their quarterback, we did a lot of different things, we kept the pressure. I can't give enough credit to the d-line tonight, they played unbelievable."

The Nittany Lions also held All-American punt returner Dante Pettis in check.

"Big factor in the game was limiting the impact that their punt returner was going to have in the game," Franklin said. "It helps if you don't punt. We didn't punt very much. And then when we did I thought Blake [Gillikin] did a great job of banging the ball deep down in the corner with enough hang time that they had to fair catch it."

More than the stats, in years to come, it might be tough to remember Saturday's final score. Penn State fans won't have to look too far though to find the lasting legacy of a senior class that won't long be forgotten.

"Coming here in a time that wasn't so easy to commit to Penn State from an outsider's perspective and now we're leaving this program as a top 10 team, back-to-back 11-win seasons, a Big Ten championship ring and now a New Year's Six Fiesta Bowl ring, it's something we're going to cherish for a long time," Gesicki said. "I'm really happy to be able to go out with these guys."

VIDEO: Fiesta Bowl Postgame (Players)

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - No. 9 Penn State football took down No. 11 Washington 35-28 in the 47th annual PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Following the win, Nittany Lions Saquon Barkley, Trace McSorley, Marcus Allen and DaeSean Hamilton joined head coach James Franklin at the podium. Head inside the locker room for more exclusives with the Nittany Lions. 

Postgame Press Conference

Offense: Gesicki, Bates

Defense: Haley, Cothran

VIDEO: Fiesta Bowl Postgame (Franklin)

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - No. 9 Penn State football took down No. 11 Washington 35-28 in the 47th annual PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Following the win, Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin took to the podium. Listen in. 
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The 47th annual PlayStation Fiesta Bowl has arrived, as ninth-ranked Penn State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) prepares to meet No. 11 Washington (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) in its seventh appearance at a bowl destination that's proven both triumphant and historic across the years.

For all the action from the University of Phoenix Stadium, as well as exclusive and behind the scenes content, follow along with the gameday live blog.
Live Blog No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
 

RELATED LINKS: I Live BlogFiesta Bowl Media Day Highlights I Offensive Media Roundup I Defensive Media Roundup I Travel Day I Fiesta Bowl Media Central I Head Coaches Press Conference Photo Gallery I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 16

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - It's the eve of the 47th annual PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, as ninth-ranked Penn State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) prepares to meet No. 11 Washington (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) in its seventh appearance at a bowl destination that's proven both triumphant and historic across the years.

While the Nittany Lions and the Huskies have never met in the Fiesta Bowl, Penn State is making its first trip back to the event since 1997, when it captured a 38-15 win against Texas on New Year's Day. With a 6-0 all-time record in the Fiesta Bowl, perhaps no outing is more unforgettable than in 1987, when the Nittany Lions claimed their second national championship in program history with a 14-10 victory against Miami. 

Although proudly in the past, Penn State head coach James Franklin noted the Nittany Lions haven't spent much time discussing Fiesta Bowl history, instead focusing on being present in the moment, preparing for the challenge ahead.

Arriving in the desert the day before Christmas Eve, the Nittany Lions did a typical Sunday walk through before kicking up the intensity for bowl practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 

From feasting at Fogo de Chao to Topgolf and kickball, the Nittany Lions also had plenty of time to celebrate, with the fall semester finished, graduation complete, and even the early signing day period out of the way all before arriving in the Valley of the Sun. 

"I've been very impressed with our players and staff," Franklin said. "We talk all the time about bowl games and about being present and enjoying the time they have, doing the different types of things like Topgolf and things like that. But when it's time to meet and practice and work hard, they have to be able to be mature enough to flip the switch back and forth, and our guys seem to handle it pretty well." 

Turning toward Washington, as Franklin says, the Huskies have all the right ingredients to be successful at the highest level. Perhaps mirroring the Nittany Lions in many ways, Penn State will have one last opportunity to send its senior class off on a high note. 

"I think obviously when you're playing these Pac-12 style offenses, you better keep playing for four quarters," Franklin said. "And you better have a finisher's mentality because I think University of Washington can put up big points and they've got explosive players and they've got a veteran quarterback."

With a pep rally scheduled for Friday afternoon, the Nittany Lions will be greeted by fans who have traveled across the country to see the 2017 in action one final time. Preparations are all but nearly complete, all that's left to do is take the field.

"These guys love to play football, so going out on the field, sometimes that's really what they're looking forward to," offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne said. "They want to go play ball and they love to be able to be with their teammates and play football and that's the thing that they love to do. I think that's a thing that's really overlooked on great teams, especially in college. The teams that love to play the most, those are the teams that are the best."

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What to Watch For - Penn State
1. When asked about the Penn State defense, Washington head coach Chris Petersen noted that a challenge in approaching the Nittany Lions, is the variety of talented individuals who can all make plays when called upon. 

"You watch them play as a defense and there's not any one guy that has this huge name out there because they're all making tackles," Petersen said. "And that's what I think a good defense does. It's not any one or two guys that keeps showing up, it's like they're all getting a piece of this thing and I think that's one of the things that really makes a defense special, and I think they've got that." 

Led by linebacker Jason Cabinda (85), Penn State has seven different Nittany Lions with at least 40 tackles on the year and 30 different individuals who have at least assisted on a stop in the back field this year. Ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense, Penn State is allowing opponents just 15.5 points per game.

2. Washington All-American defensive tackle Vita Vea said earlier this week that outside of consensus All-American running back Saquon Barkley, the one person the Huskies have to contain to stay in the is quarterback Trace McSorley. Owning the top two single-season passing touchdown totals in program history, McSorley enters the matchup with the second-longest active touchdown passing streak in FBS (27). He also became just the second individual in Big Ten history to record 25 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season, having registered nine games this year with both a rushing and a passing score.

"He's the engine to the offense," All-Pac-12 first team defensive back Taylor Rapp said. "Anytime we can play a dual-threat quarterback like that, it can be pretty frustrating, because like I was telling all the other guys, our DBs can cover down all the receivers, lock them down, do our jobs, but Trace can scramble outside of the pocket for a little bit and scramble for a first down. So that can be frustrating."

3.  There's no doubting the impact that Barkley has on any given outing for the Nittany Lions and the Huskies are well aware of the strengths he brings. Barkley has toppled program records and ascended to the top of record books at a staggering pace, most recently recognized as the Paul Hornung Award winner as the most versatile player in the nation, among a host of other postseason accolades. Barkley heads into Saturday's matchup ranked second in the nation with 179.50 all-purpose yards per game as just the 24th individual in FBS since 2000 to total more than 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a single season.

"He does everything so well," Rapp said when asked about Barkley. "He's so versatile. He can catch the ball out of the backfield a lot. He can run the ball well inside the tackles and once he gets outside in space, it's so hard to tackle the guy, he makes people miss so much."

What to Watch For - Washington
1. Among the things keeping Franklin up at night, one of the Huskies he listed was Washington's Dante Pettis. 

"You're talking about a guy that owns the NCAA record for returns for touchdowns," Franklin said. "Nine is a lot. So that's scary."

Ranked tops in the nation in punt returns (20.4), the All-American earned first team All-Pac-12 honors at two positions this year, also averaging 11.6 yards per catch with 62 receptions on the year. Penn State has been successful in containing top returners on special teams this year though, something the Nittany Lions are confident about headed into the challenge.

"Our special teams unit, we love a challenge," Nick Scott said. "We take a lot of pride in facing guys who are dynamic in the return game and shutting them down. That's something we've done really well and hopefully that's something we can keep going. It takes a lot of hard work, confidence and just a mentality." 

2.  When listing what he sees in the Washington defense this week, Barkley said something along the lines of, "you all know about Vita Vea." While the Nittany Lions are averaging 41. 6 points per game on the year, Washington hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 30 points in the last 26 games dating back to 2015. For Franklin though, Washington's defensive strengths are more than just its interior defensive tackles.

"You've got 6-5, 340 pounds, and 6-3, 320 pounds, and they play like it," Franklin said. "And I think they do a really good job of complementing those two interior d-tackles with what they do on their perimeter with their secondary. They do a great job of defeating blocks and fitting runs and playing what we call trap coverage where they'll trigger the corners and things like that, make it really difficult."

3. Washington running back Myles Gaskin was also among the Huskies keeping Franklin up at night. As only the third Husky in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in three seasons, Gaskin is a key explosive component in the Washington offense. Described as both speed and elusive by the Nittany Lions this week, Penn State isn't overlooking the junior second team All-Pac-12 honoree.

"He's a very good back," linebacker Jason Cabinda said when asked about Gaskin this week. "I think he runs hard. I think he has really good vision. He's able to get to the outside and kind of challenge the edge of the defense." 

The Final Word -
When asked about preparing for a Washington team that's similar to the Nittany Lions with strengths in all phases of the game, Franklin noted that it all comes down to fundamentals. 

"It's going to come down to blocking, tackling, protecting the football, not giving up big plays on defense, trying to create a few of them on offense, momentum-type plays," Franklin said. "And that's typically the case is playing good, sound football, not doing the things that are going to beat you."

For Franklin, it's those things that could beat you, that happen to creep up during bowl season, with the gap in between the regular season and gameday causing conditions for potential errors.

"I know our players and coaches have tremendous respect for Washington for what we've seen and what we've game planned," Franklin said. "At the end of the day it's going to come down to the team that plays the hardest and plays the smartest and finds a way to finish."

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