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Sean Spencer Q&A - Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State football remains home for the second consecutive week, set to host Maryland on homecoming Saturday at noon in Beaver Stadium.

Penn State football run game coordinator and defensive line coach Sean Spencer spent time with the media Thursday. Check out updates from his Q&A session below. 

I wanted to ask you about Tyrell Chavis. We've heard such great things from teammates about his personality and kind of what he brings to the locker room. I know he has been through a lot in his life, can you share a little bit about his journey to Penn State and some of the adversity he has overcome along the way?

Spencer: First of all, he is a tremendous kid who has gone through a great deal of adversity to get here. It was a long journey, he started at Virginia and then at Fork Union and then over to Nassau Community College. It's been a tough road for him, not to speak to his business too much, but if there's anybody who deserves a chance at greatness, it's him. In terms of what he has gone through, I think it's made him who he is. He has a great sense of humor and he has a great sense of things in life. He's never really down, he has a tremendous attitude everyday. He has that old man perspective. I tell him that I think we went to high school together because he's like 22 years old. I said when you're done here you're going to be ready for TIAA-Cref.  He's a great kid, a very good athlete and understands and has great knowledge of the game. I think the best for him is yet to come. 

With Tyrell's late arrival, how much did that hold him back and where is he now? How close is he to being able to play a very big role on your defensive line?

Spencer: He hadn't done much physically for close to a year so I think the first three weeks was just getting over the soreness of the regiment at a Division I college program. I think at that point, that's going to slow him down a little bit, but he has progressed and his reps have increased. But as you know, I'm going to play nine or 10 guys, I don't have a dominate guy - you don't have Carl Nassib where you say he's got to be in there at this point in time. I think the closest to that is Garrett Sickels, but the rest of those guys are doing a great job understanding their role and I think as the season goes on, Tryrell's role is going to increase more and more. He's versatile enough to play nose and three-technique so we're excited about that. He brings an explosiveness that I think is probably a little bit different than the rest of those guys.

I wanted to ask a little bit about Torrence Brown in terms of what you thought he did stepping in when Evan Schwan missed a few games there and what do you think are his next steps?

Spencer: The thing about Torrence is, that I look at him as a starter so I feel like I start five guys although you can only start four if that makes sense. He's one of those guys who I count on at any point in time to make a big play. Those two are battling for the starting position, obviously Evan was banged up a little bit there so to Torrence's credit, he stepped right in. Those two guys share the reps and they are going to play the same amount of reps in the game so I think of them as fifth starter. Torrence is a guy who who can play in space, being a basketball player in high school, he doesn't fracture when things are moving. He can do some great things in space so I think the best is yet to come for that guy and we're so excited about where he is right now.

On the note of Torrence Brown, you said basketball player in high school. What else do you remember from his recruitment and what did you see in him that made you think that he was the guy that you guys would one day want?

Spencer: The great thing about Torrence is that we've had a longstanding relationship with him since we recruited him when we were at Vanderbilt. He was a guy who got hurt in high school and he ended up coming back really quickly from an injury and we weren't sure if what he was going to do and how he was going to recover from that injury. Then in his senior year doing really well in the last couple of games and his basketball, being the state player of the year small school in basketball in Alabama. We got here and we needed to sign a defensive end and we made a call to Torrence and he actually committed over the phone without even visiting because Brent Pry was his main recruiter and I was his position recruiter and he trusted us and trusted Coach Franklin so that's how we got him from Alabama. I think it's been great to get that type of athlete up north.   

You've lost a lot of experience in terms of injuries at linebacker, how did that impact the defensive line and has it made those younger guys grow up quicker because you don't have that leadership behind them?

Spencer: When you lose the caliber of players that we lost at that second level. I've set it to people before, losing the four NFL guys, three drafted and one as a free agent, losing those guys makes you look up and you see the linebacking core that's really experienced and then all of the sudden you say oh boy, we have to get ready. I tell those guys and I preach to them that no one really cares about our injury situation. Having said that, the expectation is for us to go out there and compete as if this team is complete in tact and that can't be our Achilles heel at all. We have to go out there and it's not about making plays, it's about being gap accountable. You want them to be explosive and make plays but if we shored up our gaps and we're doing a great job of reading our keys, then it's going to make it a lot easier for the young linebackers. I really honed on making those guys, in the past - if you got out of a gap, Nyeem [Wartman-White] or Jason Cabinda and [Brandon] Bell might make up for it, not now, we have to be even more gap accountable. It's good and I agree with you that it made those guys grow up fast and no one cares that we have those injuries, we just have to go ahead with the hand that's dealt.

As a coach who goes by the nickname "chaos" how did the chaos period in practice, measure up to your level and grading of the word chaos?

Spencer:  Basically it just stems from being ready for anything. If it's a situation that comes up and those things happen in the game. A sudden change, you don't know you're behind or you're ahead, all those situations that coach puts us in are all chaotic and we just kind of respond. It was funny, when he came up with that we were actually at the previous institution and he called me in the office and said, 'I'm nicknaming a period after you' and I just started laughing and said 'what does that mean'? He said, 'you'll see' and then he just started yelling out 'chaos period' and I'm looking around thinking somebody's doing something wrong because they are calling my name, but I figured it out pretty fast.

I'm wondering how, facing such a rush heavy offense on Saturday might tweak, if at all,  with the regular rotations you guys are going to roll through. Not specifically details player to player but philosophically if the game plan might be any different to get your better run-stoppers out there more often on the field?

Spencer: Well, they obviously do a great job of running the football. I think they rushed for 400-plus yards last week or something like that. We have to be prepared. I think the way the game goes and the way I rotate - I can't say that there's a specific guy that I need to have in there versus the run but I think those guys are equally as good against the run as they are against the pass. If I don't feel that someone is giving us what we need at that particular time in the game, then I'll put the guys in there who I think are more gap accountable. At this point in time at where we are right now, I think that all of those guys are pretty even so my trust and faith in those guys is pretty certain. So I'm not worried about that either way.

You talked a little bit about Tyrell Chavis earlier, but I'm curious about the rest of your defensive tackles and how that group has progressed so far.

Spencer: I think as you watch Robert Windsor and how he progresses. The guys is six foot-five, 305 pounds and runs a 4.8 40, so when you have that type of athlete in there, he can be really effective. As you saw last week at the end of the game, he gets rotated in what I call the rally group and he and Kevin Givens combined on a huge sack. Unfortunately, when we knocked them out of field goal range, we got a facemask penalty but those guys held strong and we held those guys to a field goal. He is progressing.

I think with Curtis Cothran being in there now, you have a guy who has game experience. I know that he played end last year, but he is a guy who can physically change his body and is very capable of being disruptive as a three-technique guy. You have the old wiley veteran in Parker [Cothren] and you have to remember that Parker played a 2-1 series with AJ [Austin Johnson] for the past two years so he has a lot of game experience. Although he hasn't started up until this year, with the way I rotate, those guys get valuable experience. Then Kevin Givens, the dynamic athlete that he is - smaller, but can be disruptive in the pocket and we have guys who are sitting in the wings like Ryan Monk and those guys who are ready to go in case we need them.

Kind of taking a step back and looking at the big picture, in year three for you guys. Is this what you thought your team would be? Have you exceeded expectations or fallen short?

Spencer: I think that people tend to forget, when we first came here we were on sanction and we weren't even go to a bowl game and then they lifted that partway through. So you were dealing with that and dealing with recruitment in that particular time. I think our team is on pace to be right where we thought they would be. We had some obstacles to overcome when we came here, but again, as I said about the defensive line with the linebackers, no one really cares about that, people just see what is on the field. The expectation for us is the same, I'm never going to go out and say 'hey were were on limited scholarships' when we played Ohio State two years ago with 45 guys on scholarship. We were limited in that situation, but no one cares about that. We have to do a great job of preparing our guys no matter what. I think we're going in the right direction, we have some great guys who are committed to our program and I think we're building this place right where we want to take it.

I know that there's a lot of expectation on Garrett Sickels to pick up where Carl Nassib left off. What has his progress been like and what does he do differently on the field that the average person watching might not see?

Spencer: First of all, when we talk about Garrett and the defensive line, we talk about reloading. We want those guys to reload and what I mean by that is that you set a bar for yourself and there was a bar set prior to you getting here and you either have to match that or go above it. I think that's the philosophy of reloading. Garrett has become a leader on the field. He plays like a man on fire. The guy plays with a great deal of fire and he leads the team by example and he's becoming a vocal leader. It's not easy to be a leader. Sometimes you have to say some things that people won't like and he is willing to do that and I think that has taken his game to the next level. When he rushes the quarterback, you have to know where he is. He is going to put heat on the tackle over and over again and he's the guy to execute on that and he works on his craft every day. I look forward to seeing where he goes in the future.

VIDEO: Practice Updates - Maryland

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and John Reid took time to meet with members of the media following Wednesday's practice at the Lasch Football practice facility.

Penn State remains home for the second consecutive week, set to host Maryland Saturday on homecoming in Beaver Stadium. 

Check out a few updates from practice during Maryland week. 

James Franklin

John Reid

VIDEO: Maryland Week Player Q&A

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with cornerback Jordan Smith and wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins previewing the homecoming matchup against Maryland in Beaver Stadium Saturday. 

Jordan Smith

DeAndre Thompkins


By: Arielle Sargent,

Regrouping after a slow first half, Penn State Football demonstrated that it's not over until it's over, as sophomore Saquon Barkley punctuated a Nittany Lion comeback with the game-winning touchdown in overtime Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

A quick glance at the stat sheet doesn't do Barkley's performance justice though, as he rushed for 63 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown.

"Saquon may have not put up the best numbers throughout regulation, but he just did so much for our offense, with how they were keying in on him so hard," quarterback Trace McSorley said. "They were sending two or three guys to him."

Taking in the words of his quarterback, Barkley kept plugging along, waiting for just the right opportunity. That opportunity did not come until his 20th and final carry of the day, when he shot through an opening in the Minnesota defense and cut sharply to the right before taking it all the way to end the game on the first Nittany Lion play of overtime.

"It's something that I've visualized as a recruit, scoring that touchdown and winning the game for the team," Barkley said. "I was blessed enough to get in the end zone and it was one of the best feelings I've had in my life."

Barkley enters the week ranked first in the Big Ten standings in rushing touchdowns and seventh in the FBS with seven on the year. His 380 rushing yards also ranks sixth in the conference standings.

Check out a few more moments like Barkley's from the overtime victory against Minnesota.

22 Tackles for Allen
For the second time this season, head coach James Franklin mentioned he'd witnessed something he had likely never seen before. This time it was on the positive side of things as safety Marcus Allen led the team with a career-high 22 tackles, combining for eight solo and 14 assisted. Earning Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week, he's currently ranked 20th in the FBS with 10.0 tackles per game, while also leading the Big Ten in the category. Allen made at least one tackle on all but one Golden Gopher drive, registering 12 in the second half and 10 in the opening half. 

Another Smith Steps Up
Senior Jordan Smith sliding in at corner for the Nittany Lions came at no better time than against the Golden Gophers, as he stopped Minnesota in the red zone for the first time all season with a crucial interception on third-and-9 in the fourth quarter.

"I have to give thanks to the defensive line because they did a heck of a job with rushing the quarterback to force an interception, which was exactly what we needed," Smith said. "I was trying to focus on doing my job and being in the right place at the right time."

Prior to Saturday, Smith had seen limited action in three games in 2016, registering one tackle and a half a tackle for loss in the opener against Kent State. Smith said after that game that the only time he recalls seeing so many snaps was back in his freshman season on special teams.

Triple Duty for Bowen
With injuries taking their toll on the linebacker unit, Manny Bowen stepped up to play all three linebacker positions for the Nittany Lions against Minnesota. Bowen started for the Nittany Lions at the Sam linebacker position before rotating to Will linebacker. Late in the game, he moved into the Mike linebacker slot, without having made a single call from the middle in practice all week. Without experience at the position, Bowen noted that he made it clear all week in practice that if he was needed at Mike linebacker, he was going to make it happen.

"Even though it was something I wasn't used to, it was just playing off of instincts, playing fast and being right in the center of everything," Bowen said.

Schwan's First Career Sack
Evan Schwan said postgame against Minnesota that the defensive line is aware of the added pressure along the line with the linebacker injuries, but to him, that's just more motivation to step up. Schwan registered his first career sack against the Golden Gophers, bringing Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner back for a loss of four yards on second-and-9 in the overtime period. 

"I kept rushing as hard as I could," Schwan said. "One of my high school coaches always told me, 'big players make big plays in big games,' so I just tried to embody that as best as I could."

The Gesicki Catch
The last time Penn State came back from as big of a deficit at home as they did on Saturday was in 2013, when the Nittany Lions rallied from a 10-point margin (34-24) against Michigan. Mike Gesicki was on his official visit to Penn State during the quadruple overtime outing.

"This was one of the reasons why I chose to come to Penn State," Gesicki said. "After seeing that experience firsthand a few years ago and now living it, it was amazing." 

Gesicki led the team with five catches for 70 yards, including a 53-yard grab in the third quarter to put the Nittany Lions in prime scoring position, which resulted in McSorley's 6-yard run for the go-ahead touchdown.

A Quick Look at Maryland
The Nittany Lions and the Terrapins are set to meet as members of the Big Ten Conference for the third consecutive season Saturday in Beaver Stadium. Each of the last two outings have been decided by one point with Penn State claiming a 31-30 win against Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore last year. The Terrapins return quarterback Perry Hills who went 19-for-28 for 225 yards against the Nittany Lions last year.

Davis, McSorley Pivotal in Minnesota OT Win

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By Arielle Sargent,

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Just as calm and collected as usual, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley strolled out of the Beaver Stadium locker room Saturday evening with a big grin. Just a few moments before that, Nittany Lion place kicker Tyler Davis walked out with the same composure.

Just another day at the office for the two.

"It's an amazing feeling and great to get that comeback win," McSorley said.  "Anytime you get a win in Beaver Stadium it's awesome, so I'm on cloud nine right now."

Facing a 10-point deficit at the half, the Nittany Lions came out of the locker room focused on a mindset they've found themselves having to deal with this season. Letting go of what's done and in the past to focus on what is yet to come.

"We knew we had to come out firing in the second half," McSorley said. "We always talk about how good we can be and it was time to stop talking and start doing it."

Keeping composure, McSorley hit freshman wideout Irvin Charles on the Nittany Lions' second drive of the third quarter. Keeping his eyes up as he maneuvered quickly through a gap in the Minnesota defense, he found Charles for an 80-yard touchdown pass that ignited the crowd.

"He makes plays like that all the time in practice," McSorley said. "He's a guy who just builds off of his own confidence, he starts feeling things and gets in that zone and he can be pretty fun to watch."

Backed by the energy of more than 95,000 fans in Beaver Stadium, McSorley stepped up once again, tossing 36 yards to junior wide receiver Chris Godwin to put Penn State in scoring position.

It was Tyler Davis this time though, who nailed his second field goal of the day on fourth and goal from 27 yards out to tie the score, 13-13, while also setting a program record with his 16th consecutive career conversion. 

McSorley was next, as he found tight end Mike Gesicki for 53 yards on second and 10 to put the Nittany Lions on the Minnesota 6-yard line. Locating another opening in the Minnesota defense, he faked to running back Saquon Barkley before taking off for the 6-yard go-ahead rushing touchdown with fewer than three minutes to play in the third quarter.

"It came down to the third quarter," Golden Gopher head coach Tracy Claeys said. "We didn't lose that game at the end, we lost that game in the third quarter. The other kids really competed."

Minnesota battled back throughout the fourth quarter, pulling ahead by three, 23-20, with less than a minute remaining, giving McSorley and Davis another perfect opportunity to put their true grit on display.

At third and 10, McSorley went off of one foot under pressure to execute a 20-yard pass to a diving Godwin, who caught the ball to set up a new set of downs for the Nittany Lions. Soon facing third-and-3 with 20 seconds left, it was up to McSorley again.

Green grass is all he recalls as McSorley stepped through once again and took off running, hauling 26 yards out of bounds to halt the clock. The Nittany Lions were in prime position for Davis to step in after McSorley's next attempt fell incomplete.

"I didn't even talk to him before that kick," head coach James Franklin said. "Most of the time head coaches will go over and say something to him. I don't say anything to him. If the snapper and holder do their job, that guy will. He is money." 

Mr. Consistency, Tyler Davis, converted on his 17th consecutive career field goal from 40 yards to force overtime.

With pivotal roles, both McSorley and Davis helped Penn State engineer its biggest comeback victory since the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl and its largest at home since the Nittany Lions came back from a 34-24 deficit against Michigan in a dramatic quadruple-overtime win in 2013.

McSorley finished with 408 yards of total offense to mark the third-highest total in school history via 335 passing yards and led the team with 74 yards on the ground. Davis matched his career high mark with three field goals and also set a personal best, totaling 11 points. 

VIDEO: Postgame Players - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - sits down with Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley, Marcus Allen, Tyler Davis, Mike Gesicki and Jordan Smith to recap the 29-26 OT win against Minnesota. 

VIDEO: Postgame James Franklin - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football head coach James Franklin joined following a 29-26 OT victory against Minnesota to recap the win. Franklin was joined in his interview by Jake Klouser, who spent the day as a special guest of the team through Athletes Helping Athletes.

Check out Klouser's experience with his family following team arrival with the Nittany Lions earlier today. 

2016 Gameday - Penn State Hosts Minnesota in Victory Bell Clash

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Gameday Central 
| Game Blog  Game Notes |  Press Conference Roundup |  Wednesday Practice Update |  Penn State & The Governor's Victory Bell |  Coach Rahne Q&A |  Monday Notebook |  Nittany Lions in the NFL

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football returns home from the road, set to spend nearly the entire month of October in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions kick off a string of three-straight home games hosting Minnesota Saturday.

Penn State (2-2, 0-1 East) enters the matchup looking to earn its first conference win of the season, having lost its opener on the road at No. 4/5 Michigan last week. Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 West) travels to Happy Valley for its first Big Ten outing, after closing out a three-game homestand with a 31-24 win against Colorado State to wrap up its non-conference schedule.

Possession of the Governor's Victory Bell is on the line as the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers are set to meet for the first time since 2013, when Minnesota took the trophy home for the first time in eight years in Minneapolis. Penn State and Minnesota will square off at home in Beaver Stadium for the first time 2009.

"We're excited about being back at home," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "I think there is a distinct advantage obviously all over the country in being at home compared to being on the road. We're excited about being back in Beaver Stadium in front of our fans and friends and family, and a great opportunity to go out and play a good football team and have an opportunity to be 1-0 this week, which is our goal and our focus." 

Keying in on improving attention to detail and consistency all week, the Nittany Lions will look to improve upon offensive execution. Last week, Penn State saw running back Saquon Barkley lead the way with 136 yards of total offense, including 77 receiving yards. Averaging 120 all-purpose yards per game, Barkley currently ranks fifth in the Big Ten in the category. 

Barkley and the rest of the Nittany Lion offense will matchup against a Minnesota defensive line that's limiting its opponents to less than 120 yards on the ground per game, while also allowing just two rushing touchdowns on the year.

Offensively, the Golden Gophers are averaging just under 40 points per game, having totaled 119 points in the first three games of the season for the first time since putting up 143 points in 2005. Guided by an experienced quarterback in Mitch Leidner, Minnesota has relied heavily on its run game, which has accounted for 11 of 15 total touchdowns on the year.

Led by head coach Tracy Claeys, Minnesota returns 13 seniors-eligible players on its roster, which is just one shy of Penn State's 12 senior members on the team. 

"It will be a great challenge," Franklin said. "I think both teams are similar team in terms of youth and experience. They have returning starters, but they're a young football. We're still a little bit younger, but they're young as well."

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play) and Chuck Long (analyst) on the call.

What To Watch For - 

Penn State:
1. Penn State's special teams unit has been a bright spot for the Nittany Lions all season, highlighted by true freshman punter Blake Gillikin dazzling with eight punts inside the 20-yard line and kicker Tyler Davis at a perfect 6-for-6 in field goal attempts this year. However, Franklin noted earlier this week that as a whole, the special teams coverage units would need translate its fundamentals from the practice field to Beaver Stadium, eliminating costly penalties and big plays.

"For the amount of reps that you get on special teams, we are averaging two and a half [special teams penalties] a game - it doesn't sound like much, but when you're only playing about 14 or 15 special teams plays a game, that's a high amount. We have to get that number down. We have to eliminate the big plays, too. The big punt return, the big kick return, we have to stop those."

2. Across the board, Franklin stressed that the Nittany Lions need to get off the field on third down, with a need for improvement on both offense and defense. In third down offense, Penn State will need to capitalize in third-and-short situations, while also forcing the Golden Gophers to defend not just the run, but also the pass. Franklin also stressed quarterback protection this week, specifically in passing situations. 

"So third-and-short, being able to run the ball and mix some of the pass in there, but being able to be physical enough to get those yards too. Then when you're in longer yardage situations, being able to protect consistently when the defense knows you're probably throwing and giving the quarterback and receivers enough time to get open."

3. A topic of conversation among Franklin and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead this week has been identifying ways to get the ball to Barkley, who has proven his ability to shift momentum with dynamic plays for the Nittany Lions all year long.

"Whether it's traditional running game between the tackles, whether it's getting him the ball on the edge or whether it's throwing him the ball in the flats like we did last week, which got us going offensively," Franklin said. "Just the more times we can get the ball in his hands, the better."

1. Golden Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner enters the matchup with 1,264 career rushing yards and 26 career touchdowns, which is the most in Minnesota program history for a quarterback and fifth for any player. On the year, Leidner has rushed for 135 yards, averaging 45 yards per game with a total of three touchdowns on the year. Minnesota is also a perfect 14-for-14 in the red zone this season, with 13 of the scores coming off of touchdowns.

2. Minnesota's running back unit has rushed 136 times for 685 yards. Rodney Smith has accounted for five of the Golden Gophers' 11 rushing scores this year, good for second in the Big Ten standings. Kobe McCray is just behind Smith, averaging 64.3 yards per carry on the year with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Shannon Brooks was out for the first two games of the season, but returned against Colorado State to carry the ball 13 times for 85 yards and one touchdown.

3. Under the direction of first-year offensive line coach Bart Miller, the Golden Gopher offensive line has allowed just one sack this year, while also opening the way for Minnesota to total nearly 600 yards of offense against Indiana State, including 301 passing yards and 292 yards on the ground. However, of the 17 offensive linemen on the roster, only five have seen any live game action prior to the 2016 season. 

The Final Word -
Meeting for the 14th time in program history, the series between Penn State and Minnesota has been one of streaks. Playing its first game as a member of the Big Ten Conference in 1993, Penn State topped Minnesota to open the first of four consecutive victories spanning through 1998. The tables turned as Minnesota won the next four games between 1999 and 2004. Penn State then claimed wins in four straight meetings from 2005-10, but the Golden Gophers cut off the streak with a win in 2013. 

Between all three of the four-game stretches, Penn State and Minnesota have had three games decided by just a single point. Across every all-time series, only Temple has played more one-point games against the Nittany Lions, with Pittsburgh coming in with three games against Penn State in program history decided by a single tally. 

Ricky Rahne Q&A - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State football returns home this week, set to open the first of three home games at Beaver Stadium, hosting Minnesota Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. 

Penn State football pass game coordinator and tight ends coach Ricky Rahne spent time with the media on Thursday. Check out updates from his Q&A session below. 

Where are you at with the production of these tight ends? Are you pleased with how they are progressing or is it about where you thought they would be?

Rahne: I think it's a process when you doing something new. We have been able to get them a little bit more involved then maybe they have been in the past could of years and Mike [Gesicki] has done a nice job making some plays. As a coach and a player, you're never satisfied and there are some times where you could have run a route a little better or done something a little different at the line of scrimmage that would have helped us get open and given us a chance to make another play. 

At this point, I've been happy with what they have been doing and more importantly, I've been happy with how they have responded in practice in trying to get better each and every week.

What has the difference been Mike [Gesicki] this year because he has always been someone who seems like he has the physical talent but he has really pulled it all together this year?

Rahne: I think it's just a mindset and playing with a lot of confidence. He'd always been confident in his athletic ability and things like that and he has always worked really hard. Now he's able to go out there and know that I've earned this and I've earned my opportunity to go out there and make plays and when the ball is coming my way, I've earned the right to be open.

I think it's just a lot of confidence that he has, not only in himself but in the hard work that he has put in. I think that right now that's the main difference.

Have you had a chance to look at Minnesota's passing game and what are you expecting there?

Rahne: I've looked at their defense, obviously. I haven't much on the other side but defensively, they present some good challenges. They mix in man coverage with off zone and they are able to mix those up pretty well. You don't really know which ones they are going to be in from play to play. Their coaches are over there making sure that their guys are in the positions that they are supposed to be in. They are a very fundamentally sound team.

You have to make sure that you are able to get to the spots that you need to get to or else they are going to be able to cover some things up. As a general rule, they are going to try and make their zone play a little bit different and make you throw in front and then come up and tackle you so you have to be able to get the ball in space and have our guys catch it on the run or catch it in a good spot and be able to take it up the field and get extra yardage. As always, you have to win versus man coverage, whether that's getting guys open with route schemes or whether it's having guys get open with technique and things like that. You have to mix that up, it can't always be team oriented, you have to do some technique things that we've been working out.

I'm curious about John Holland - when you had him on the field, how did you feel about him when he was on the field and how is he progressing?

Rahne: I think John is doing a nice job. I've been pleased when he has gone into the game both on special teams and on offense. He has not had a whole lot of opportunities yet, but one thing he has done is that he has prepared well in practice and things like that. He is getting reps in practice and he is doing a nice job there. I have been pleased with his progress, it's funny because he is still young and you always these kids to perform right how and nobody wants them to more than me and them. But he's still a young kid and I'm really happy with where he is at right now and I've even more excited about where he is going to be in the future because of the progress that he has made over the last two or three months.  

We've heard so much from James Franklin and his teammates about how steady Trace McSorley is and obviously the pride that he takes in playing the quarterback position. From your time with him, could you illuminate that for us either with a story or a behind the scenes example to what he has been able to do in his position that demonstrates that pride?

Rahne: I've known him for a long time, I've been recruiting him since he was a junior in high school. I've known him for a long time and really, he doesn't change. He hasn't changed since he was a junior in high school and sort of those things in terms a coach and mentality and things like that. He is calm and his team could have won by 40 like they usually did in high school or his team could have lost one of the rare games, which they didn't - but you could sense the competitive fire but there wasn't any sort of panic in his voice.

He prepared last year as the backup to Christian [Hackenberg] and he was ready to go. You could ask him a question at any time and he was going to know the answer on the coverages and things like that. I could talk to him at halftime and ask him what he thought he was seeing and he could give me an answer. I know he and Christian bounced stuff off each other and Christian had a lot of respect for him and valued his opinion


I think that one of the things you can see is that he is a very competitive kid and very well respected by his teammates. I think that is how you can measure a leader, in things like that because just because you're the quarterback it doesn't automatically make you a leader. You have to earn that and Trace's approach over the last two years has been that.

I know he is out for the year but I'm wondering about Nick Bowers and what kinds of things can you do to keep him involved?

Rahne: He still comes to meetings and I still ask him questions in meetings. I'm not going to let him slip, I still give him a weekly test every week as if he was playing in the game. He does a nice job on that, but obviously he is not going to be able to do some of the physical things like that but I'm still going to ask him things, he still takes notes and does all those sorts of things. I've talked about how he can't let this be a wasted year and anything he can pick up mentally and store away is something that's going to help him in the future and grab a silver lining for something that none of us wanted. Nick wants to play football. It's probably the thing he wants most in the world so It's a difficult time on him, but it's one of those things where it's being an adult and things don't always go your way but you have to make the most of a bad situation.  

We didn't get much of a chance to see Nick can you give us a scouting report and what type of player is he? How is he handling this stuff kind of psychologically?

Rahne: I think it's tough for any of us, when you work really hard for something and then it gets taken away from you before you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so to speak. He is big physical kid who brings some pop in the run game and things like that. He is a much better receiver than I think people might imagine. That's probably where he excels the most. He can run routes has good speed, good hands. He is very good when he has the ball in his hands in terms of breaking tackles and things like that. Nick's going to have a bright future here, he is going to come back from this thing. Nobody is putting in more time and effort than that kid into making sure that he comes back right and I'm excited to see what he is going to give us here in the future. It's been a hard time on him, but he's also a kid you can always find smiling and still a happy guy. Guys on the team love him and they are there to support him every step of the way and I think that's also important.

Being that it is your first season being as tight ends coach, how is it that you are liking it and the best part of the job?

Rahne: I coached tight ends for two years at Kansas State and to be real honest, I love it. I loved it when I was there and I like it now. When Coach Moorhead got the job, I kind of brought it up that I not only could, but that I wanted to do it.   like tight ends, you're able to be in every aspect of the game. The run game, the pass protection, the routes - you're able to coach physicality and get excited. When you're coaching quarterbacks sometimes you have to be a little bit more muted in terms of the motion and things like that. I played the game with a lot of passion and I prefer to coach it that way too. I'm able to do that a little bit more at tight end. I'm enjoying it. It's something that the tight ends probably get sick of, but I'm able to coach every little first step, hand placement and all those types of things and so I'm having a great time. I like it a lot. 

You mentioned the importance of always defeating man coverage and I know it was a difficulty last week for a variety of reasons with a good Michigan defense. When you made those corrections on Sunday, what was the biggest point of emphasis going through that process after the game?

Rahne: It's like anything else, if you get outside of your technique and you do things kind of outside of what you would normally do because you're trying to man coverage because you want to win so bad that maybe you're feet or your hands aren't where they are supposed to be. You're a little bit higher than you should be and things like that. You're not getting the depth on the route instead of threading them vertically. All those things kind of add up and when you look back at it, that's what it was. It was a step here or a step there. It was a missed swat with your hand as you cleared him. It wasn't backing the guy when you did clear him or It was breaking the route off at 10 when it should have gone to 12.  Little things like that. In a game when you're playing a good opponent like Michigan and like all of the teams in the Big Ten, you have to make sure you do all of those things right and that's really the difference. That's what we have focused on in coaching this week in practice, it's doing all those little things from the stance all the way to the finish. 

I know that you and Christian [Hackenberg] were close, have you had any contact with him in the last few months to see how things were going?

Rhane: I have talked to him a few times. When my wife and I went to Fire Island to see one of my friends this summer we stopped by and had lunch with him in New Jersey. He seemed good, obviously not playing all that much and those sort of things, but he kind of understood and I think he is doing good with it mentally and those sort of things. He is approaching things like a pro and during the season, all my people I I know and love, I fall out of contact with a little bit and he's kind of the same way but we still stay in contact and things like that. Short and sweet, but I know he is enjoying it, learning a lot and really enjoying his time there.  

Wednesday Practice Update - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and Marcus Allen took time to meet with members of the media following Wednesday's practice at the Lasch practice facility.

Penn State returns home to Beaver Stadium this week to host Minnesota Saturday at 3:30 p.m. 

James Franklin

Marcus Allen


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