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2015 Photo Blog - Penn State vs. Rutgers

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage of the 2015 Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions are slated to collide against Rutgers under the lights inside Beaver Stadium for the Big Ten opener. Follow along for photos from gameday.


2015 Gameday - Nittany Lions Host Rutgers Under the Lights

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Game Blog | Press Conference Roundup | Lions in NFL

Coach Franklin Wednesday | Herb Hand Q&A | Stripe Out Color Locator

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State begin its 23rd season in the Big Ten on Saturday when it faces off against Rutgers in a primetime battle inside Beaver Stadium.

11329634.jpegThe Nittany Lions (1-1, 0-0) and Scarlet Knights (1-1, 0-0) will contest the inaugural game of the Big Ten's 120th season when the two teams collide for an 8 p.m. kick on BTN.

The first Penn State Stripe Out in Beaver Stadium will take place when the Nittany Lions face take the field on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to visit PennStateStripeOut.com to confirm whether they should wear blue or white for the game. Penn State students are asked to wear white for the game against Rutgers.

"We are really, really excited about the stripe out," said head coach James Franklin. "The white out here has been embraced here for a long time, been a cool thing. We take a lot of pride in our colors, blue and white. What a better way to show that than stripe the stadium out, show that. This could be another tradition at Penn State that people get really excited bout and have fun with. It's going to look great on TV on the Big Ten TV network. We're excited. Should be a packed house, a great environment."

The Nittany Lions enter the game following a 27-14 victory over Buffalo in the home opener. Behind big plays in all three phases of the game, the Lions powered past the Bulls for their 47th home-opening victory in 56 tries in Beaver Stadium.

Senior defensive end Carl Nassib continued his tremendous start to the 2015 season with a dominant performance for the Nittany Lion defense. Nassib tallied three sacks, forced two fumbles and hauled in an interception. Collectively, the Nittany Lions made six sacks in the victory.

Offensively, true freshman Saquon Barkley became the first Nittany Lion true freshman to tally 100 rushing yards in a game in five seasons. Barkley finished with 115 yards and a touchdown. Fellow true freshman Brandon Polk also scored, marking the first time a pair of true freshman scored in a game since Derrick Williams and Justin King accomplished the feat in 2005. The Nittany Lions finished the day with 200 rushing yards.

Rutgers enters the game following a narrow 37-34 setback to Washington State last week. The Scarlet Knights have averaged 48.5 points and 470.5 yards of total offense during the first two games of the season.

In a series that dates back to 1918, Penn State and Rutgers have played 25 times prior to this week's matchup. The Nittany Lions own a 23-2 mark in the series and a 13-2 record in home games against the Scarlet Knights. Saturday will mark the second meeting as members of the Big Ten. Penn State scored a 13-10 victory at Rutgers last season.

The Big Ten season is here.  Welcome to the gameday preview for the first Penn State Stripe Out - Penn State vs. Rutgers.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
11329625.jpeg1. Thanks to more consistency in the trenches, the Penn State running game emerged with a 200-yard effort last week against Buffalo. True freshman Saquon Barkley's 115-yard outing led the group. Junior Akeel Lynch tallied 54 yards in the victory, as well. Collectively, the Lions rushed for 5.1 yards per carry. What the rushing statistics do not show are the big play opportunities the running game created for Christian Hackenberg and the Nittany Lion receivers in the passing game. The also Lions had zero sacks allowed against Buffalo.

"We executed our gameplan much better," said senior center Angelo Mangiro. "We were able to run the ball effectively and wear them out. And all of that helps the passing game create opportunities down field."

2. The Penn State defensive line has been lights out during the first two weeks of the season. Senior end Carl Nassib and junior tackle Austin Johnson enter Big Ten play tied for the team lead in tackles with 15 stops apiece. Collectively, the defensive line has made 57 of Penn State's 151 total tackles in the first two games. Additionally, the defensive line has accounted for 14 tackles for loss and six sacks. Nassib is tied for second in the nation with four sacks.

3. Coach Franklin noted turnovers and consistency on special teams as two keys leading up to Saturday's game. The Nittany Lions did not commit a turnover against Buffalo. For the season, the Lions are plus-1 in turnover margin. On special teams, Nick Scott (kickoff) and DeAndre Thompkins each notched returns of 50 or more yards last week. Turnovers and big plays on special teams can flip the field position battle to give the offense a shorter field for a scoring chance.

What to Watch For - Rutgers
1. Rutgers entered the season looking to replace veteran quarterback Gary Nova. Redshirt sophomore Chris Laviano looks to be the man to take ownership of the position. He made his first career start last week against Washington State, posting a 23-of-29 effort. Laviano finished with 204 yards and a touchdown last week. Senior Paul James and sophomore Josh Hicks are the primary running backs. James is listed as probable for this week's game. Hicks has rushed for 209 yards and scored two touchdowns.

2. Junior wide receiver Janarion Grant has been a weapon for the Scarlet Knights on offense and special teams thus far in 2015. The Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown against Washington State last week. He has three returns for a touchdown in 2015, which leads the nation. No other team in college football has three touchdowns, let alone an individual. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound wide out also has six receptions for 71 yards.

3. The front seven headlines the Scarlet Knight defense. Through two games, Rutgers has made 12 tackles for loss, including five sacks. Sophomore defensive end Komoko Turay, who made his first career start against Washington State, had three tackles and a pass break-up last week. The 6-foot-6 end was a member of the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American last season.

The Final Word:
For the first time since 2009, the Nittany Lions will open Big Ten play with a home game. Since joining the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions have been road warriors in the opening game of the conference slate. Penn State has played away 14 times and home eight times during Big Ten opener. The Lions have been on the road to open Big Ten play during nine of the last 11 seasons, including each of the last five. The Nittany Lions will also open Big Ten play at home in 2016.

Saturday's game will be Penn State's 70th night game overall and 20th game under the lights at home. The Lions own a 41-28 mark in games contested in primetime. Also, this is the 15th consecutive season with Penn State playing at least one night game. Big Ten Network's live coverage of the Rutgers game begins at 8 p.m. with kickoff slated for 8:12 p.m. Kevin Kugler (Play-by-Play), Matt Millen (Analyst) and Lisa Byington (Sideline) will call the game.

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Rutgers Week Q&A - Herb Hand

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11328674.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions open the Big Ten season Saturday with a matchup against Rutgers at Beaver Stadium (8 p.m. on BTN).

Leading up to the conference opener, offensive line coach Herb Hand talked with the media on Thursday to preview the game. Take a look at a Q&A with Coach Hand.

Q: How did you measure the improvement from week one to week two?
Hand: "Each game is in it of itself. Each game is different. We obviously improved in that I think we did a great job of managing the game, establishing the run and obviously protecting Christian (Hackenbeg), keeping him clean. He took a couple hits during the game, but nothing major. It was a great improvement in that regard. The thing about college football is that each game is in it of itself, like I said. Winning is not easy. Some people think you can just roll your helmets out on the field and win. It doesn't work that way. Winning is difficult. I don't care if you are on the road or at home. It doesn't matter if it's an in conference game or out of conference game. It is a week-to-week deal. It's a challenge every week. On paper, it may look like one team is better than the other. But you still have to go out each week and do it when the lights are on and the stadium is full. You have to go out and execute. We were able to do that at a higher percentage in the second week than we did in the first week. But none of that is going to matter this week. So that's why our sole focus is on what we need to do to have success against Rutgers."

Q: How valuable is it to have a guy like Angelo Mangiro with his leadership and experience?

Hand: "I love Angelo Mangiro. You give me five Angelo Mangiros you are going to win a lot of games because of his approach every week from a preparation standpoint, because of his mentality. When he walks out on the field, he's ready to go. He's never had a bad day. He's as good as they get in that regard, plus, his versatility. He's taken game reps at every position on the line except for left tackle to this point going back to last year. He's played a lot of football. From an experience level, he brings a lot to the table. But that's what you expect when a guy is a fifth-year senior. Those are the attributes you want your older guys in the program to have. Angelo has all of those, as well as a great attitude and mentality that he brings every day. I can't speak highly enough about Ang."

Q: How did Brendan Mahon handle the switch to tackle last week and how do you think he played?

Hand: "As has been well documented in the past few years, we put a high value on versatility. We train guys in that regard. Brendan got his first game reps at right tackle. But our first spring here, he played right tackle during the spring game. He's played left guard in all the other games since then, but the move to right tackle was not a huge adjustment for him in terms of his preparation because he has been doing that for basically two years. But game reps are different than practice reps. Getting out there and playing in a game at that position, I was happy with his performance. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but he will continue to develop at that position and any other place that we have him play at."

Q: When you watched the film, what differences did you see in how Paris Palmer played from week one to week two?
Hand: "At halftime of the game (last week), we had a talk with Paris about his opportunity. You never want to have an opportunity based on those type of circumstances with Andrew (Nelson) getting hurt. But nonetheless, it was an opportunity for him. It was an opportunity for him to go out and prove to himself that he can play at this level, to prove to everyone watching the game that he can play at this level, and most importantly as an offensive lineman, he wanted to prove to his teammates that they can count on him. It was a positive moment for him to have that redemptive opportunity. The confidence would be the biggest factor (from week one to week two)."

Q: We hear the phrase moving the pocket a lot, what are the responsibilities on the offensive line when you do that? And is it easier or tougher on them?
Hand: "Yes. It's all about launch point and protecting the launch point. When you talk about moving the pocket, every protection is based on the quarterback's launch point. You have the quick game where the ball is coming out fast and you have to set up firmer on the line of scrimmage. You have drop back protections that are in the pocket where you have to protect the point of a seven to five-yard launch points. There are some playaction shots in the pocket where you need more max protection where you have to protect nine to 10 yards. Then you have moving the pocket. There are a variety of ways where can move the pocket. There are sprint outs or what we call nakeds and bootlegs. There are half-roll type situations. It basically comes down to protecting the launch points. Sometimes on sprint out protections, when you are on the backside of the sprint out, it might be a little easier. On the front side of the protection you have to re-leverage your hat to the front side of the defender. That's a challenge. It comes down to understanding the launch point and protecting the launch point. The best thing about the moving the pocket is that the defense can't zero in on the launch point. The defense doesn't know exactly where the quarterback will be at the launch point."

Q: How much did you analyze last year's Rutgers game to get ready for this week's game?
Hand: "We studied that extensively. We know that each year every team is going to be a little different because of the makeup of their team and who the personnel is. Personnel changes, but unless you have a change at the coordinator position, generally speaking the philosophy is going to remain very consistent. We studied that film extensively. We looked at how we can improve upon the areas that we didn't excel at and how we can accent the areas where we did excel. To Rutgers' credit, they have some great defensive players. They are very athletic. They do a great job from a scheme standpoint to give you problems with movement with twist games and blitzes up front that you have to be on point with."

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VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Rutgers Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addressed the media following Wednesday's practice session at the Lasch Football Complex.

The Nittany Lions will host Rutgers on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Beaver Stadium for the Big Ten opener. Take a look at the practice update from Rutgers week.

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VIDEO: Rutgers Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - GoPSUsports.com talks with center Angelo Mangiro and linebacker Jason Cabinda during Rutgers week.

Angelo Mangiro

Jason Cabinda

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2015 Tuesday Press Conference Roundup - Rutgers Week

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VIDEO: Rutgers Week Player Q&As | Sept. 15 Transcripts: James Franklin | Players

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addressed the media on Tuesday to preview Penn State's Big Ten opener against Rutgers.

The Nittany Lions (1-1, 0-0) and Scarlet Knights (1-1, 0-0) will play the first Big Ten game of 2015 at 8 p.m. (BTN) inside Beaver Stadium on Saturday, continuing a string of five straight weeks of home football in Happy Valley. Franklin reviewed Penn State's 27-13 win over Buffalo and looked ahead to the contest under the lights slated for Saturday during his weekly meeting with the press.

As he does each week, Franklin opened the press conference with remarks about the previous game before shifting focus towards Rutgers. He was very positive about the growth the Nittany Lion offense made from week one to week two. After allowing 10 sacks in the opener, the offensive line turned in consistent outing in the victory over Buffalo on Saturday.

"No sacks whatsoever. Quarterback only got hit two times out of 67 plays I think was the number," said Franklin. "Rushed for over 200 yards, which was significant for us. Had seven explosive plays, six of which were runs. Real positive there."

Communication was a big point of emphasis last week, and senior center Angelo Mangiro noted that with better verbal recognition before each snap, the Lions executed at a much higher level against Buffalo. The mindset remains the same this week as the Lions prepare for the Big Ten opener.

"We wanted to wear on Buffalo. Some of those two-yard, three-yard runs, started popping up to six, seven, eight, then you saw some of those big runs in the third and fourth quarter," said Mangiro. "That was kind of our mindset. We were able to execute that. Hopefully we can continue that this week. We're going to go out to practice this afternoon, get after it."

Defensively, the line again turned in a stout performance in the trenches, spearheading an effort that totaled seven tackles for loss and six sacks. Coach Franklin has gone to great lengths talking about senior defensive end Carl Nassib, who is off to a stellar start to 2015. But the unit's depth has been the key to Penn State's relentless pursuit up front. The defense ranks No. 2 in the nation in tackles for loss and No. 8 in sacks.

Youth continues to be a big part of Penn State's depth chart on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Redshirt freshman Troy Reeder was one of 16 freshmen who played on Saturday. Reeder started for the first time in his career and notched seven tackles in the victory. He lined up alongside junior Von Walker and sophomore Jason Cabinda, who started at middle linebacker for the first time in his career.

"Jason is playing really well," said Franklin. "He's very mature. He's leading very well. I think Jason has a chance to be really good... In the last couple weeks [Reeder has] really come on strong... I'm real pleased with him. I think that's two young guys, a true sophomore and a redshirt freshman linebacker that is able to provide depth and experience for years to come in play-making ability."

For the second-straight season, the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights will officially open the Big Ten football season. Penn State and Rutgers scheduled a non-conference home-and-home series prior to Rutgers joining the Big Ten. The conference scheduling kept the original dates for the series, and the two schools open one week earlier than the rest of the league. Additionally, this marks the second straight year the two schools are competing under the lights. Like last year, the Nittany Lions are expecting a physical game on Saturday.

"Every football game, especially college football, it's very physical. I think having teams like Penn State and Rutgers go up against each other, it's always a battle," said Cabinda. "That's always a battle up front and being physical."

The staff and players are anticipating an electric atmosphere under the lights.

"Should be a great environment here," said Franklin. "Really, really excited about the stripe out. The white out here has been embraced here for a long time, been a cool thing. We take a lot of pride in our colors, blue and white. What a better way to show that than stripe the stadium out, show that. This could be another tradition at Penn State that people get really excited bout and have fun with. It's going to look great on TV on the Big Ten TV network."

The Nittany Lions will practice in pads on Tuesday and Wednesday before the final game week session on Thursday. Saturday's Big Ten opener will kick at 8 p.m. on BTN.

Press Conference Notes:
- Coach Franklin spoke about junior linebacker Von Walker and his team-first attitude.

"I love Von. I think you know that. You've heard me talk about him over and over and over again. He came in as a running back. He's returned punts. He's played safety, linebacker. He's kind of done it all. He's earned a scholarship. But more importantly, he's earned the respect of everybody in our program. I made a big deal out of him on Sunday with our team, in our team meeting, on the Power Point. Talked about being a leader on this team. A lot of time the offensive guys focus on the offense, and the defensive guys focus on the defense, and special teams guys in their own areas. Von I think did a great job of not only playing on defense and playing on special teams but also coming down to the offensive side of the ball, being real energetic and positive with those guys."

- Coach Franklin on the Rutgers defense.

"I think we're going to see a similar game plan as last year, similar game plan that we saw against Temple. I think you're going to see cover two to help with the young corners they're playing. I think you're going to see load the box, blitz, try to cause confusion with our offensive line. I think it's going to be those two things. It's going to be coverage, cover two, protect the corners, or protect the corners by blitzing like crazy to try to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand quickly."

- Jason Cabinda on why he came to Penn State.

"One of the biggest reasons I came here was because this is Linebacker U, Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Glenn Carson, NaVorro (Bowman), LaVar Arrington. There are so many guys in this long line of guys that came here and did so well. I think that definitely played a big part in my recruitment as well."


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Monday Notebook: Barkley Embracing Opportunity to Contribute

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's depth in the running back room has been talked about since training camp began in early August.


Veteran Akeel Lynch headlines the group, and the corps of young talent behind Lynch brings an added dimension of athleticism to the field. True Freshman Saquon Barkley carried the ball once in his debut at Temple. On Saturday, Barkley exploded for 115 rushing yards on 12 carries, including his first career touchdown.


"It was great. I was really excited to be out there for my first game in Beaver Stadium," Barkley said. "I've been dreaming about this ever since I committed here. It was awesome. It was everything I expected.


The Coplay, Pa., native tallied 101 yards in the fourth quarter alone on just eight carries (12.6 ypc). Barkley is the first player to rush for 100 yards in a quarter since Tony Hunt did it in 2004 against Akron. He visited the end zone on a 9-yard scoring run, which put the Lions up 27-7 in the fourth quarter.


"My first college touchdown - I'm never going to forget it," Barkley said. "I didn't know what to do, so I just gave the ball to the ref and the rest is history."


A big piece to Penn State's 27-13 victory over Buffalo was effectiveness on the ground. The offensive line paved the way for a 200-yard rushing day for the Blue and White.


"Everyone sees what the running backs are able to do, but you can't make any plays without the guys up front," Barkley said. "Without them, we wouldn't be anywhere close to 200 yards."


The Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week is only the seventh Penn State true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game. Silas Redd is the most recent Nittany Lion back to accomplish the feat (2010).



Nittany Lions Under the Lights & First Stripe Out

The Nittany Lions will play their first of two primetime games on Saturday against Rutgers. Kick is slated for 8 p.m. with television coverage on BTN. Also, Saturday will be the first Penn State Stripe Out in Beaver Stadium. Fans are now able to find out if they should don their blue or white as the colors for each section has been unveiled. Visit PennStateStripeOut.com to confirm whether they should wear blue or white for the game.


"We are super excited about the first Stripe Out here in Beaver Stadium," quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. "We expect the fans to be loud and proud, as usual. Thanks to everyone for all of the support every week."


This marks the 16th consecutive season that Penn State has played at least one regular season night game. The Lions have a 40-28 record in night games. Additionally, this marks the seventh time since 2000 that Penn State will play multiple night games in the same season. The Nittany Lions will play under the lights at Ohio State on Oct. 17.



Lions from New Jersey

The Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights have several connections between the two rosters. Penn State has 18 players from New Jersey, several of which played high school football with or as opponents to numerous players on the Rutgers roster. With 18 players from New Jersey, it is the second most from a single state outside of Pennsylvania on the Penn State roster. There are 51 players on the roster from Pennsylvania.



Early Look at Rutgers

Rutgers dropped to 1-1 on the season following a dramatic loss to Washington State on Saturday. The Cougars scored a touchdown with 13 seconds to play en route to a 37-34 victory over the Scarlet Knights. In the setback, junior Janarion Grant tallied 337 all-purpose yards, including two touchdowns on special teams. Grant was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and a punt 55 yards for a score. Redshirt sophomore Chris Laviano made his first career start against Washington State. Laviano finished 23-of-29 for 204 yards and a touchdown. Running back Josh Hicks comes into the game as the top rusher (209 yards), while Grant is the top available receiver this week (6 rec. for 71 yards). Rutgers topped Norfolk State, 63-13, in week one.



Extended Game Highlight

Watch extended game highlights from the victory over Buffalo on Saturday.

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Nassib, Defensive Line Off to Dominant Start in 2015

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11318207.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The box score from Saturday's 27-13 win over Buffalo on a soggy afternoon in Beaver Stadium doesn't really do Carl Nassib justice.

At a glance, the numbers jump off the page.

Nassib had three sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and five total tackles in the home opener.

The West Chester native's afternoon was outstanding by anyone's standards, but his dominance in the trenches went far beyond the numbers in the final stats.

Simply put, the fifth-year senior has been nothing short of remarkable during the first two weeks of the season. Nassib is setting the tone on a defensive line that has tallied 13.5 tackles for loss in two weeks.

"I think that we established an identity of just that we are a bunch of guys with the mentality that we are going to give it are all no matter what the circumstances," Nassib said. "I think we responded well today to a lot of different circumstances- we didn't let the weather conditions effect us, we are just a bunch of hard workers, blue collar defense."

A biology major on track to graduate in December, Nassib came to Penn State as a walk-on. Former head coach Bill O'Brien awarded Nassib with a scholarship in the early stages of training camp in 2013. The tireless worker didn't change a bit when he received a scholarship. Nassib has always been one of the team's most driven workers, and he approaches everything with the mindset that he isn't going to be denied.

"Every day I just try to get better, and improve on things that need improvement," said Nassib. "Last week I thought I got in too much of a grabbing battle with the tackle so today I tried to stay away from that and every week we learn from film."

The former Malvern Prep standout had been productive every time he played during the past two seasons, but what 2015 granted Nassib is an opportunity. His peers aren't surprised about what they are seeing because they knew it was coming when Nassib was given the chance to flourish as a starter.

"You know he's always made plays when he gets in the game, but this year the difference is he's added 25 pounds of muscle," said senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel. "He also got a little faster as well so he can just bully people around."

Nassib's big day against Buffalo included a highlight reel interception on a tipped ball from Zettel in the second quarter.

"Zettel and I got a lot of penetration, and he does a great job getting his hands in the quarterbacks face and he tipped it, I saw it in the air, so I grabbed it," said Nassib.

"It was a screen, but I was already committed so I just kind of ran with it. I knew he was going to throw it so I just tried getting my hands up," said Zettel. "The ball was so wet it just slipped out, but Nassib was right there with his 7-foot wingspan to grab it so we were pretty fortunate there."

Through two games, Nassib is tied with fellow defensive lineman Austin Johnson for the team lead with 15 tackles. He has 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Nassib is second in the nation in sacks and fifth in the nation in tackles for loss.

"I'm really proud of Carl Nassib," said head coach James Franklin. "I've been bragging about that guy all offseason; the way he works, the way he handles his academics, the love he has for this program and Penn State. To see him come out and have that type of day as a redshirt senior, I'm really happy for him."

Nassib's never-ending motor sets the tone for what has been an impressive start to the season for the Nittany Lion D-line. The group has been instrumental in Penn State's 22 tackles for loss during the first two weeks of the season. Penn State ranks No. 2 nationally in TFLs through two games, but this is just the beginning for Nassib and his fellow 'wild dogs'.

"Overall, I'm really proud of those guys. But I actually think they can be even more dominant," said Franklin. "They've shown signs of taking over a game."

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Buffalo

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head into the winning locker room to hear from several Nittany Lions, including Christian Hackenberg, Chris Godwin, Austin Johnson, Troy Reeder, Jordan Lucas and true freshman Saquon Barkley following the 27-14 victory over Buffalo in the home opener.

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VIDEO: One-on-One Postgame with James Franklin - Buffalo

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with GoPSUsports.com following Penn State's 27-14 victory over Buffalo in the home opener on Saturday.

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