UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon to recap the 2016 opener and preview the upcoming matchup between the Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh. Penn State hits the road for its first road trip of the season, traveling to Steel City to take on the Panthers Saturday, Sept. 10 at Heinz Field.
Meeting for the 97th time in program history, the series with the Panthers is among the longest in program history, dating back to the first meeting between the two teams in 1893. Noting the rich history and the significance of the series, Franklin stressed that amidst the excitement, the focus is approaching week two the same as any other week.
"For us, focus on the process of being successful, not the results or not a specific type of game," Franklin said. "And our guys are excited about it. But I think everybody understands the significance of it. We've been hearing about it all off-season. There is no doubt about it. But our approach is consistent week in and week out."
Opening his weekly press conference with a quick Kent State review, Franklin highlighted success both defensively and on the special teams unit. Pointing out the high points, Franklin also looked toward some areas of improvement. Among the praise for special teams, Franklin highlighted junior Tyler Davis, who was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts against the Golden Flashes, moving him to 10-for-10 in his career.
"And a guy who probably doesn't get enough credit, Tyler Davis, I think is 10 for 10 now on field goals," Franklin said. "He has done a nice job there."
Davis was among the Penn State coaching staff's player of the week honorable mention picks for special teams. Franklin also highlighted running back Saquon Barkley as the staff's offensive pick and junior defensive end Garrett Sickels on the defensive side. The coaching staff also had honorable mention weekly accolades for sophomore cornerback Amani Oruwariye, redshirt freshman defensive end Shareef Miller, sophomore kicker Joe Julius and junior kicker Tyler Davis.
On the offensive side of the things, junior Chris Godwin got a chance to address a question about his connection at wide receiver with quarterback Trace McSorley, who felt confident in being able to rely on his outside receivers.
"It's awesome knowing that your quarterback believes in you and with the weapons that we have in our receiver group as deep as we are, it's something that we're pretty confident in, as well," Godwin said. "At the same time it didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of time to build that rapport with Trace over the course of the off-season. So getting to where we're at now and obviously we still have a lot of room to grow, but we're looking forward to that growth."
Penn State and Pitt kickoff at noon from a sold out Heinz Field on ESPN with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and Brock Huard (color commentary) and Allison Williams (sideline) on the call.
On The Quote Board -
- Penn State fans were treated to a glimpse at some of the depth of the Nittany Lion secondary in Saturday's win against Kent State. Something Coach Franklin was pleased with all preseason, several Nittany Lions got a chance to shine including Amani Oruwariye's pick-six.
"I think having four or five corners that play - I think we played about eight or nine DBs the whole game - having that depth keeps everyone fresh and can keep the number of reps down," Grant Haley said. "So just having that depth...we're a young group, but the experience in there, not true freshmen, with red-shirt freshman and sophomores and even guys like Malik [Golden] and Marcus [Allen] playing a lot. I think that's helped us from the experience and leadership standpoint, as well."
- Four of Penn State's eight plays in its second to last drive were pass plays from McSorley, which ended with a 30-yard completion to Mike Gesicki for a touchdown. When asked about Gesicki's touchdown Godwin had this to say:
"As Coach Moorhead likes to say, 'we're always going to attack' we're not going to be on the passive end of things. No matter what point of the game it is; we're going to keep attacking," Goodwin said. "That was evidence of that. It was awesome to see Mike get that touchdown. Regardless of who makes the play, we're all in it together."