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VIDEO: Indiana Week Player Q&As - Sam Ficken & Anthony Zettel

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com catches up with senior kicker Sam Ficken and junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel during Indiana week.

Week Nine Press Conference Roundup - Indiana Week

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10501116.jpegJames Franklin Transcript - Nov. 4

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (4-4, 1-4) head on the road this week for a matchup against Indiana (3-5, 0-4) on Saturday at noon (BTN).

Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against the Hoosiers on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.

The Nittany Lion defense again turned in a dominant performance on Saturday, limiting Maryland to 194 total yards of offense, including just 33 on the ground. Penn State leads the nation in rushing defense (77.1 ypg) heading into the Big Ten East Division tilt against Indiana.

"Defensively, we're doing a nice job stopping the run and eliminating the big plays," said Franklin. "We need to get more turnovers. That would be helpful for us. Third down, we were excellent (last week)."

This week, the Nittany Lion defense will face a stiff test matching up against the nation's top rusher. Indiana's Tevin Coleman is No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards per game (162.5), rushing yards per carry (8.02) and yards from scrimmage per game (180.0). As a team, Indiana is ranked third in the Big Ten at 274.5 rushing yards per game. Franklin and the Nittany Lion defense are looking forward to the challenge.

"It's funny, me and Bob Shoop were just talking about this. It kind of reminds us of McFadden, who used to be at Arkansas, a little bit," Franklin said. "He's big, he's strong, he's a one‑cut runner. The thing that was interesting too, I was looking at their offensive line, they've got a massive offensive line, but not only that, they have depth and experience."

Core value No. 1 for the Penn State Football program is approaching all facets of life with a positive attitude. That being said, the team is looking ahead with great confidence. The mindset for Franklin and the Nittany Lions will never change and the level of enthusiasm towards getting better each week will never waver. That could not have been more evident listening to Coach Franklin on Tuesday afternoon.

"(We are) in a great mood. Excited about getting out to practice today and getting better and continuing to work with these guys," Franklin said. "(We've) Got a tremendous opportunity. Myself, the staff, the players are more determined and more optimistic than we've ever been."

Correcting the little mistakes on the offensive side of the ball is on top of the priority list moving forward. Franklin is seeing progress each week, but he is looking for the unit to clean up the small mistakes this week at Indiana.

"Offensively, it really just comes down to execution," Franklin said. "There are too many little things. Whether it's footwork, whether it's assignment that we're not doing consistently, and it's not one person; it's one person this play, it's a different person that play. So we have to do a better job there."

The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers are slated for a noon kick on Saturday. The two teams have met 17 times in a series dating back to 1993.


Press Conference Notes
- Ryan Keiser injury update
"I don't want to get into the specifics and details unless there is something to really be told. But he is doing extremely well from everything that we're told. We have a staff meeting every morning at 7 a.m., and that is part of the discussion. I've talked to Ryan's mom multiple times. I've talked to Ryan's wife multiple times. Our training staff as well as our doctors have been involved every step of the way. I think Tim Bream, our head trainer went down yesterday to visit with him. From everything I'm hearing and everything I know he's doing great."

- Franklin on the Indiana offense:
"They're averaging 274 rushing yards per game, number three in the Big Ten, and number 10 nationally. I think that's what this game is really about. Our rush defense versus their running back, who is leading the country in rushing right now. They return seven starters. They're a spread, no-huddle, tempo offense. The last three games they've had 11 big plays. Ten runs, one pass for a total of 615 yards. Explosive offense. That's what you watch them, they may go zero yards, one yard, zero yards, two yards, and then an 80-yarder. That's kind of who they've been."

- Franklin on the Indiana defense:
"They've improved dramatically over the last couple of years. They've got nine starters returning. They're a three-four defense. Really big up front. I think they were starting to develop some depth as a four-three defensive line. Now they're only playing with three defensive linemen on the field, but you look at them, they've got 300-pounders almost three-deep. You look, they're a cover four defense. They do a really good job in the secondary running around. They're a multiple pressure defense."

- Franklin on the Indiana special teams:

"
They have a really fast slot receiver as well as specialist, Shane Wynn, No. 1. That's kind of who they are on special teams as well. Shane Wynn is their punt returner and kick returner. Their kicker has a really strong leg. He's made a 58-yard field goal this year, and that is 21 touchbacks. "





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Monday Notebook: Ficken Clutch for the Nittany Lions

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10497149.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior kicker Sam Ficken is quietly putting together one of the best seasons of any placekicker across the country.

Following a 4-for-4 effort in Saturday's game against Maryland, Ficken was named one of three stars by the Lou Groza Award on Monday. Additionally, he was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week for the fourth time in his career. The Indiana native nailed three field goals of 45-plus yards, a feat no other Penn State kicker has accomplished since at least 1982.

For the season, Ficken has been virtually automatic, going 17-for-19 on field goal attempts and 17-for-17 on PATs.

"He's been playing extremely well," said head coach James Franklin. "I said that to you guys in the spring. I said that to you in the summer. He's also an example of a guy who's been here; he's a senior, he's done everything right both on and off the field. He's graduated. You're talking about a veteran player, who's seen it and done it and that shows up on the field."

Ficken's only unsuccessful field goal attempts in 2014 are two kicks that were blocked. He's been a model of consistency since spring practice began in March.

"Of course, everything right now seems to be going right for me," said Ficken. "With Ryan Keiser being out Chris Gulla is doing a tremendous job filling in for him. When they do their job correctly it makes my job a whole lot easier, and I have to give them credit for that."

Ficken and Keiser developed a tremendous rapport on field goal attempts during the past two seasons. When Keiser hurt his hand and could not hold in the latter stages of 2013, Ficken's percentage dropped. Ficken went to work in the offseason to build chemistry with a second holder to make sure it did not happen again in 2014 if he needed to work with someone other than Keiser.

With Keiser out for the remainder of the season, Ficken's work with Gulla during the offseason proved to be paramount on a perfect kicking Saturday.

Ficken is ranked No. 3 in the nation in field goals made per game (17; 2.13 pg) and No. 10 in the nation in accuracy at 89.5 percent.

The senior has been just as clutch as he has been accurate this season. In the fourth quarter of games this year, Ficken is 5-for-5 on field goal attempts. That includes a game-winner against UCF and a kick that sent Penn State into overtime against Ohio State.

"My mindset is if they send me out I am expected to make the kick," said Ficken. "The score of the game adds a little pressure on how big the kick is, but in my mind, every kick is important."

Penn State travels to Indiana for a noon kick (BTN) on Saturday in Bloomington.


Lions Top Nation in Rushing Defense
After limiting Maryland to 33 rushing yards on Saturday, the Nittany Lions returned to the No. 1 spot in the nation in rushing defense. Through eight games, the Nittany Lions have allowed 77.1 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Lions are now third nationally in total defense. Penn State opponents have accounted for 273.4 yards of total offense against the Lions this season. The Lions are ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense (17.8 ppg).

Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain 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 leading the Big Ten in passing yards (2,038), passing yards per game (254.8 ypg) and completions per game (22.88).

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is eighth nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (7.8). He ranks 18th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 91.0.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is seventh in the nation in tackles (11.5 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in solo tackles per game at 6.5.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.13.

Early Look at the Hoosiers
Indiana enters the weekend looking to snap a three-game slide. The Hoosiers dropped a 34-10 decision at Michigan on Saturday.

The Hoosiers are 3-5 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play. Indiana knocked off then-No. 18 Missouri on Sept. 20 (31-27) before the Big Ten season began.

With starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld out for the season (shoulder), Indiana has turned to true freshman Zander Diamont as the leader of the offense. The Hoosiers boast one of the top rushing offenses in the nation, thanks to junior Tevin Coleman. Coleman is nation's leading rusher at 162.5 yards per game. He is third in the nation with 1,300 total rushing yards and fifth in the nation in yards per carry (8.02). He has rushed for 11 scores in 2014.

Penn State and Indiana will meet for 18th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 16-1 all-time against the Hoosiers.


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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media following Saturday's 20-19 setback to Maryland. For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions have played in an overtime and one-point game in consecutive weeks.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions address the media following Saturday's 20-19 setback to Maryland. For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions have played in an overtime and one-point game in consecutive weeks.


2014 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's coverage of the 2014 football season. Check back often for an inside look at the Penn State's matchup against Maryland.


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2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all 12 games on the schedule. Penn State meets Maryland for the first time as a member of the Big Ten.



Live Blog 2014 Game Blog - Penn State vs. Maryland
 



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Beaver Stadium Pictorial: Maryland Preview

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of the many traditions of the Penn State football program's gameday experience is the Beaver Stadium Pictorial, the official gameday magazine of the Nittany Lions. The publication originated in the 1920s and continues to evolve, bringing fans closer to the football program, its student-athletes and the entire Penn State athletic department.

Each week throughout the home portion of the of the Nittany Lions' schedule you can find a preview of the content for the upcoming Beaver Stadium Pictorial on GoPSUsports.com.

Here is a preview of the feature content inside the Penn State vs. Maryland BSP that will be sold during the longtime rivals first meeting as Big Ten foes.

Pick up your copy on each home game day for just $5.00.

14-11-01-Maryland_BSP_Cover.jpg
Crime & Punishment Two Passions For Zwinak
BY: Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Zach Zwinak has always been one to trust his gut. It's what led the Penn State running back to choose criminology as his major during his sophomore year. Although no one in his immediate family had ever worked on a police force, he couldn't help but feel it was right for him.

This past summer, Zwinak was given the opportunity to work in law enforcement, as he completed an internship with the Spring Township Police Department near State College.

As a student intern, Zwinak was required to do much more than simply sit in an office. A typical day for him usually included going on a ride-along with an officer and learning how to handle the different situations that could arise at any time.

Community Service Vital Aspect To Penn State Student-Athlete Experience
by: Greg Campbell, Penn State Athletic Communications
The complete Penn State student-athlete experience includes a multitude of areas. From excelling in competition, to succeeding in the classroom, to building lifelong friendships, that is what each of the more than 800 student-athletes strive to accomplish during their time on the University Park campus.

The nearly 90,000 residents of Happy Valley are the heartbeat of Penn State University and regularly attend sporting events on campus. From Beaver Stadium to McCoy Natatorium, Rec Hall to Bryce Jordan Center or Pegula Ice Arena, the inhabitants of Happy Valley are Penn State athletics' No. 1 supporters.

Likewise, the Penn State student-athletes are their top supporters and they make it a point to show this through community involvement and fundraising efforts throughout the year.

Men's Basketball Returns Six Lettermen With Multiple Starts
By: Tony Mancuso, Penn State Athletic Communications
In just under two weeks, the Penn State Nittany Lion basketball team will open the 2014-15 season with a 7 p.m. tipoff Friday, Nov. 14, against Morgan State in the Bryce Jordan Center.

For the players, coaches and staff, it cannot get here soon enough. This offseason has been filled with relentless dedication by all involved, growing stronger and faster with more focus and consistency.

Patrick Chambers enters his fourth season with a veteran roster for the first time in his career. There are six players who made multiple appearances in the starting lineup last season. Seventy percent of scoring is back and more than 80 percent of the team's rebounds.

The Penn State vs. Maryland BSP also features;
Expanded Game Notes
Unrivaled Moment: vs. Ohio State
Player Q&As w/ Ben Kline, Eugene Lewis & Trevor Williams
University Feature: At Penn State We Are -- Sustainable
2014 Penn State Football Team Photo
Upcoming Events: Penn State Athletics Sports Planner

2014 Gameday Preview - Lions Set to Collide with Maryland

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GAME BLOG - Penn State vs. Maryland

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

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

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in 21 seasons, Penn State (4-3, 1-3) and Maryland (5-3, 2-2) will collide on the gridiron on Saturday when the Big Ten East Division foes meet at noon (ESPN2) in Beaver Stadium.

10483850.jpegThe regional foes have met 37 times prior to this week's matchup in Happy Valley. Maryland is the eight-most played opponent in Penn State's history. The Nittany Lions own a 35-1-1 mark in the all-time series against the Terrapins, with the lone setback coming in 1961.

On the heels of a superb second half against No. 13 Ohio State last week, the Nittany Lions enter the eighth game on the schedule with confidence. Penn State's defense kick-started a stretch of 24-unanswered points for the Lions in a 31-24 double-overtime setback to Ohio State last week. The Lions shut out the Buckeyes in the final two quarters of the game.

The Nittany Lions remain ranked among the top units in the country in three of the four major statistical categories. Penn State is No. 3 in rushing defense, No. 7 in total defense and No. 9 in scoring defense. After tallying 19 stops against Ohio State, senior linebacker Mike Hull is ranked sixth in the nation with 11.9 tackles per game.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg led a 77-yard scoring drive in the final three minutes of regulation to send last week's game into overtime. Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is leading the conference in passing with 265.9 passing yards per game. Coming off a Penn State record-breaking 14-reception effort against Ohio State, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton is the nation's top freshman receiver in receptions (57) and receptions per game (8.1).

Maryland fell to 5-3 on the season following a 52-7 loss at Wisconsin last week. The Terps are 2-2 in conference play during their first season as a member of the Big Ten. Maryland knocked off Indiana (37-15) and Iowa (38-31) en route to a 2-1 start to Big Ten play. The Terrapins are ranked ninth in the Big Ten in total offense (373.9 ypg) and 13th in total defense (458.4 ypg).

Saturday's game will feature the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) for the event's amazing fundraising efforts in the fight against pediatric cancer. The THON Executive Committee will present the theme for the 2015 Dance Marathon and the final total amount raised in the 2013-'14 academic year.

Additionally, the Maryland game will be the annual celebration of all Commonwealth campuses. Two students from each of Penn State's 24 campuses will proudly represent their campus by carrying its banner onto the field during halftime.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week eight matchup against Maryland.

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Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
10483794.jpeg1. Head coach James Franklin said it best earlier this week when he talked with GoPSUsports.com. Following the second-half efforts against Ohio State, Franklin wants to see the Nittany Lion offense take the next step against Maryland this week. Penn State found some momentum and success in the latter stages of Saturday's game with two critical scoring drives, which sent the contest into overtime. Freshman Saeed Blacknall hauled in the first touchdown reception of his Nittany Lion career on a 24-yard throw from Hackenberg. The offense also marched 77 yards on its final drive for a game-tying field goal attempt in the final seconds of regulation. Finding consistency in the trenches will be critical for the Lions moving forward, and Franklin is hopeful that senior captain Miles Dieffenbach could see some action for the first time on Saturday.

2. Simply put, the Nittany Lion defense turned in a dominant performance against Ohio State. Hull's stellar 19-tackle effort speaks for itself, but the Nittany Lion defensive line has played at an elite level during much of the 2014 season. The impact Penn State's D-Line has made on every snap doesn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet every week, but the group has been disruptive on a consistent basis. Ends Deion Barnes, C.J. Olaniyan, Carl Nassib and Brad Bars have all made a tremendous impact off the edge. Inside, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson have been among the top interior tandems in the Big Ten. Zettel is leading the defense in tackles for loss (8.0) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (2), which includes his interception return for a touchdown against Ohio State.

3. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop challenges the defense to force more turnovers every time it steps on the field. Penn State's two turnovers against Ohio State played a paramount role in the team's ability to put itself in a position to win last week. The Lions enter the final five games of the season looking to extend the streak of forcing a turnover in five-straight games. The Penn State defense has forced 10 turnovers in the past five games.

What to Watch For - Maryland
10483787.jpeg1. Maryland senior quarterback C.J. Brown is a dynamic player for the Terps. The team's leader in rushing and passing yards, Brown is ranked second in school history in touchdowns responsible for (50). Brown is one of just 10 active players in the FBS to pass for 4,000 or more yards and rush for 1,000 yards. In 2014, Brown has thrown for 1,316 yards and rushed for 376 yards. He has accounted for 13 touchdowns this season (8 passing; 5 rushing). Brown's favorite target is junior Stefon Diggs, who has big-play ability every time he touches the ball. Diggs, who has at least one reception in 26-straight games, has made 46 catches for 601 yards and scored five touchdowns in 2014.

2. Maryland's defensive unit provides the look of a 3-4 scheme. Senior defensive end Andre Monroe is a name to watch on Saturday. Monroe is ranked third in the program's history with 21.0 sacks. He leads all active players with 32.5 TFL for his career. Maryland is tied with Michigan State in sacks during conference games this season (13). Cornerback William Likely has been a difference-maker in the secondary for the Terps in 2014. Likely has two interception returns for a touchdown this season, and he ranks fourth in the Big Ten in passes defended per game. As a unit, Maryland has 14 takeaways this season.

3. The return game has been a big piece of Maryland's success this fall. The Terps boast the Big Ten's top punt returner and kickoff returner in Likely and Diggs, respectively. Likely has one punt return for a score this season and is averaging 16.3 yards per touch. Diggs is averaging 25.2 yards per return each time he touches the ball on kickoffs.

The Final Word:
Dating back to 1917, Maryland is one of Penn State's oldest foes. Separated by just 198 miles, the Nittany Lions and Terrapins played 37 times from 1917 to 1993. Penn State and Maryland met during every season from 1960-'75 before a one-year break. The two teams then played one another during each season from 1984-'93 before the series took a break. Now, as members of the Big Ten East Division, Penn State and Maryland will meet on a yearly basis. The Nittany Lions are unbeaten in 21 games played against the Terps in Happy Valley. Penn State and Maryland will play at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in 2015. Kickoff is slated for 12:01 p.m. on Saturday with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra on the ESPN2 broadcast.



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

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10322937.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach Terry M. Smith spoke with the media on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions host Maryland on Saturday at noon (ESPN2). Take a look at a Q&A with Smith.

Q: What are your memories of the Penn State-Maryland series? You played in a couple of those games when you were here as a player.
Smith:
"Back a long time ago when I played (laughter), the games were always competitive. We've always had players on our roster from Maryland. So there is always a battle for recruiting ground. It was always a physical game. It was always a tough game to mentally prepare for because you knew the physical battle that was coming. We anticipate another tough battle again on Saturday. Both teams have to get back on track after tough weeks. And it is going to be a battle for each to get back on track."

Q: With Troy Apke set to be on the field for the first time on Saturday in the secondary, what have you seen from him in practice?
Smith:
"Troy is an extremely athletic kid. He is very explosive. He is very fast. He has very good size. He's also a bright kid. He's going to bring added athleticism to us. He's working really hard in practice to get caught up on his special teams assignments and his secondary assignments. He just brings a wealth of athleticism to us."

Q: How have you guys had to change your play-calling, so to speak, in the secondary with Ryan Keiser out? Coach Franklin has said he was like the quarterback of the secondary.
Smith:
"Keiser is the quarterback. He helped us stay in the right call. He is a terrific communicator. Now, with a freshman safety back there, Marcus (Allen) did a really good job back there this past week against Ohio State. He's communicating a lot better each day as we speak. He's getting more reps. There is a little more demand on his communications skills, and he is doing a terrific job. All of the other secondary guys - Adrian Amos, Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams - they have to increase their communication as a whole. It was very loud in the game against Ohio State. We just have to do a better job as a whole, verbally and physically, communicating our signals."

Q: How would you sum up the year Jordan Lucas has put together so far?
Smith:
"With Jordan, I think he is playing really good. He has been consistent all year. He hasn't given up many pass completions in his area. He's extremely physical. He knocked the ball out on a hit in the game against Ohio State. He brings a lot of leadership to our secondary. He's a guy that's been through it. He's a guy that when the lights come on, it doesn't matter to him. He can help the younger guys, like Marcus (Allen), to get through those moments. He's brought a wealth of experience to us. We want to try to get him to the point - he hasn't had an interception on the year, but he hasn't had a lot of opportunities, too, which a lot of times offenses go away from who they think is the best defensive back. So his opportunities are limited. I just told him that you have to be prepared for when the one or two come."

Q: You've worked with a number of units in your career, most recently wide receivers, what went into the move to working with corners, and how do you think it has gone?
Smith:
"I knew for me to achieve my long-term goals, I needed to get some defensive experience. I didn't think it would come necessarily so quickly. But when the opportunity arose, I took advantage of it. And Coach Franklin had enough trust in me to handle the corners. I think so far this season we are playing really sound football. We have been really consistent in the secondary. And that's the most important trait right now."

Q: What have you seen from the Maryland passing game?
Smith:
"In the passing game, they have a tremendously athletic (group) on the perimeter. Stefon Diggs is a very explosive athlete. He leads them with 46 catches. I think he has scored in the last four games. We need to keep him out of the end zone and keep his explosiveness away. Deon Long is a guy who can stretch the field. He is a good-sized athlete who has a lot of playing experience. And then they have another couple guys. Marcus Leak is a guy who can stretch the field. He's very fast. We've got to make sure we contain his speed. And then Jacquille Veii - he's kind of a do-everything guy. They try to get him some touches for him. We have to be able to contain their athletes on the perimeter when they run quick screens and bubbles. If we can contain them, obviously the No. 1 goal for the defense is to stop the run, but at the perimeter and in the secondary, we need to contain their athletes and not let them have explosive plays."



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