Recently in Football Category

2016 Gameday - Lions, Badgers Set for B1G Championship

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Gameday Central | Gameday Live Blog | 2016 B1G Championship Content Central |  Game Notes | Press Conference Roundup | Wednesday Practice Update | Tim Banks Q&A | Monday Notebook | Nittany Lions in the NFL

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the first time in program history, Penn State is headed to the Big Ten Championship game, as the seventh-ranked Nittany Lions are set to meet sixth-ranked Wisconsin in Saturday's title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.   

The Nittany Lions (10-2, 8-1 East) closed out the regular season with wins in each of the last eight consecutive games, downing Michigan State 45-12 to earn a share of the Big Ten regular season crown. The Badgers (10-2, 7-2 West) won the West division outright and enter the matchup on a six-game winning streak, making their fourth appearance in the Big Ten Championship game since it first began six years ago. 

Following the dominant performance in the regular season victory against the Spartans, Penn State earned several Big Ten postseason awards this week.

Nittany Lion running back Saquon Barkley earned Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year awards, in addition to First Team All-Big Ten Football Team honors from both the coaches and media. 

Penn State head coach James Franklin also earned Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, selected by the conference media members, to mark his first Conference Coach of the Year award.

In total, nine Nittany Lions earned selections to one of the three coaches or media 2016 All-Big Ten Football teams, with an additional five earning honorable mention distinction.

As every Big Ten honoree has been quoted this week though, the honors and awards are wholeheartedly a reflection of a collective team effort. Among postseason all the awards and predictions though, the Nittany Lions have approached the week with the same consistency and dedication to the process as any other regular season game. 

"Our guys are excited and they're focused," Franklin said. "We're not going to treat it as anything different. We're not going to change how we go through our weekly game plan."

Led by second-year head coach and 2016 Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year Paul Chryst, the Badgers wrapped up their regular season with a 31-7 win against Minnesota last week. Wisconsin topped Iowa on the road 17-9 before defeating then-No.7 Nebraska 23-17 in overtime to kick off its recent string of six straight wins. 

Penn State and Wisconsin will meet for the 18th time in program history as the Badgers own a narrow 9-8 advantage in the all-time series. The Nittany Lions have won each of the last two meetings, defeating the Badgers 24-21 in overtime in 2012 and 31-24 on the road in 2013.

"What I would say about these guys is when you think in your mind, or at least when I think in my mind, of what a traditional Big Ten team is, that's who these guys are," Franklin said.

CyeWzQTXAAQri88.jpg

Pregame Reading -

What To Watch For: Penn State
1. Just a quick scan of running back Saquon Barkley's certainly makes the case for his conference postseason honors. Averaging 130.25 all-purpose yards per game Barkley is tops in the Big Ten in the category, while also leading the league with 17 touchdowns on the year, including 15 rushing touchdown runs. Barkley isn't the only threat from the running back unit though, as Andre Robinson, Miles Sanders and Mark Allen have all showcased their talent this season, with Robison coming off of a two-touchdown outing against the Spartans highlighted by a career-long 40-yard touchdown catch.

2. Second Team All-Big Ten quarterback Trace McSorley has continued to impress as the leader of Penn State's high-scoring explosive offense. McSorley leads the nation in passing yards per completion, averaging 16.17 per game. He's both gutsy and effective with the deep ball, ranking within the top five for passes of 20, 30, or 40 or more yards, slotted as high as second nationally with 20 passes for 40-plus yards on the year. McSorley's arsenal includes a deep group of wide receivers, including veteran Chris Godwin who sparked a 35-0 run in the second half against Michigan State with a 34-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

3. Having battled through adversity and challenges with injuries, Penn State's defense has only continued to become more relentless throughout the season. Ranked fourth in the conference in total defense, the Nittany Lions have held their last two consecutive opponents without a touchdown. Defensive linemen Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan are atop the team standings with six sacks each this season. Combining for 7.5 sacks between the two of the them in the last four games, Schwan has registered at least a half of a sack in all four outings during the stretch.

What To Watch For: Wisconsin
1. Earlier this week, Franklin sighted the matchup between Penn State's wide receivers and the Wisconsin secondary as an interesting matchup. Not only have the Nittany Lions proven that they can come up with the big catch, but McSorley's deceptive mobility has kept defenses guessing. Come Saturday, the Badgers enter the matchup with a national-best 21 interceptions on the year. All-Big Ten Badger safety Leo Musso has picked off five passes this season, ranking second in the conference and 10th nationally in interceptions per game. Wisconsin has also limited its opponents to eight touchdown passes in 12 games this season. 

2. As an entire defensive unit, the Badgers have strength all around, as Franklin pointed out strength in the Wisconsin linebacking unit as well as the secondary. With the third-ranked scoring defense nationally in the FBS standings, Wisconsin has also limited its opponents to 100.8 rushing yards per game with the third-ranked rushing defense. First Team All-Big Ten linebacker T.J. Watt is atop the team standings with 13.0 tackles for loss. With a team-high 9.5 sacks on the year, Watt is averaging nearly a sack per game at 0.79, which ranks third in the conference and 20th nationally. 

3. On the offensive side of the ball, the Badgers are both strong and physical, as their ground game has surpassed the 200-yard mark in five of the last seven games. All-Big Ten running back Corey Clement is the focal point of the Badger rushing attack, as he's logged at least 100-yard performances in six of Wisconsin's last seven games, including each of the last four straight. As just the 17th Badger in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season, Clement's 1,140 rushing yards ranks third in the conference, while his 103.6 rushing yards per game is second. 

The Final Word -
Saturday's matchup has all of the making of a true strength-on-strength matchup with both the Badgers and the Nittany Lions are among the Big Ten's best in a few opposing categories. Keying in on just a few of the intriguing storylines, in the East Division, Penn State has won its last eight straight, averaging 40.4 points per game during the winning streak. In the West Division, Wisconsin has limited its opponents to fewer than 14 points per game, picking off a total of 11 passes in the second half of a six-game winning streak. Either way, both teams will await the outcome of another postseason matchup with Bowl selections beginning as early as 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tim Banks Q&A - Wisconsin (B1G Championship)

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9438287.jpeg

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks took time to talk with members of the media Thursday afternoon leading up to the Nittany Lions' trip to Indianapolis.

Penn State and Wisconsin are set to square off in the Big Ten Championship game at 8:17 p.m. Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Check out updates from the Q&A session below.

On what Banks has seen on tape from Wisconsin in terms of how they might plan their offensive attack Saturday.

Banks: I don't think they'll change. I think they'll do exactly what the Wisconsin model has been, run the ball, play action pass. They are very big offensively up the front with their offensive line. Obviously, they have very good backs, they have a long history of being able to run the ball, control the clock and take shots appropriately. I think they'll stick to their formula because obviously it has been boding well for them through the years. 

On how to balance game planning and preparation with recruiting efforts this week.

Banks: It's a big challenge because you have to be able to take care of business with our own team and concentrate on how to win this game, but you also have to have the ability to look toward the future and work with some guys who are heavily involved in the recruiting process. It's definitely a challenge but it's one that is welcome being in this situation, having an opportunity to play this late in the year. Has it been difficult? Yes, but definitely we've enjoyed it and playing in the championship is the best possible recruiting that we can do. 

I think the kids have really handled it well, they have been great with the few official visits that we have had, helping us recruit and us being in contact, and some of the younger guys being able to see us playing consistently on TV has been great as well. It's been good in that regard but very challenging. 

On how Penn State has worked with the defense in anticipation of Wisconsin ability to have success controlling the clock.

Banks: We just talk about doing our job and concentrating on the next play, the next play, the next play. We can't get frustrated, obviously their goal is to try to get ahead of the chains and our goal is to do the same. If we're disciplined and particularly from a back end perspective, if we key our eyes in the right places, hopefully we can get off the field quicker than they want to. But the reality of it is, that they have been great controlling the ball so we just have to do a great job winning up front. The back end has to do a good job covering, but it's a challenge, that's why those guys have been successful. I think it's a challenge that our guys are looking forward to and hopefully we can answer the bell come Saturday.

On what makes Wisconsin's play action so good and how the team has approached the area of strength in practice.

Banks: What tends to happen, because they run the ball so effectively, people tend to have to get secondary guys involved. The more involved they get and the more aggressive they get, you sometimes leave yourself vulnerable for deep passes and play action passes. From our perspective, we have to do a good job of hopefully slowing the run game down to the point where we feel comfortable that they are going to be in what we deem as obvious passing situations. 

But if you allow them to be able to run the ball with great success, that makes us have to be a lot more aggressive and in turn, put guys in different situations where they might be somewhat uncomfortable and leave you to be susceptible to some of the bigger plays. We just talked about winning at the line of scrimmage and from a safety or defensive back position, make sure we have our eyes in the right places. If we do those things, hopefully we can limit some of their deep shots and some of their play action passes. 

On scout team or true freshmen guys who have stood out this season.

Banks: We've played some young guys, probably Cam Brown comes to mind. An outside linebacker for us who has played some significant snaps not only on defense, but on special teams. He has been a great contributor to our program and has a vital role in helping us get to this championship game. Ayron Monroe, one of our young safeties who has really played well on special teams. I think our special teams have played well. If you look across the board, we have a lot of young guys there who take great pride in their roles and have really embraced it and I think that has really helped out program take the next step because our special teams have been so good and I think a lot of that has to do with a lot of the young guys we have - Javis Miller comes to mind, Shareef Miller. We feel like we have a really good nucleus of young player who are contributing even though they don't get a lot of the press clippings. Those guys are really embracing their roles and playing at a high level.

On what Banks has noticed the most about Marcus Allen's game throughout the season.

Banks: He has been very consistent. He is obviously a very fun loving guy, he loves to have fun, but when we step between those lines he's all about business. One compliment I would give him is that he's not one of those guys who waits for Saturday to practice hard or play hard. He does it in practice from Sunday through Friday. He knows one speed on the practice field, he practices hard and it shows up on Saturdays. That's why he plays well, because he knows how to practice and I think the young kids see that and they see how he goes about his business and I think he has had a good impact not just in the way he plays, but in the way he practices. That probably would be the highest compliment I could give him. I really love the way he practices.

Barkley Collects Big Ten Postseason Honors

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After bursting on to the scene as true freshman in 2015 to make an immediate impact, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has been nothing short of spectacular for the Nittany Lions in just his second season in the Blue and White.

The centerpiece of a deep group of running backs on the roster, Barkley has proven his ability to completely shift the momentum of the game, showcasing a variety of dynamic cuts and explosive plays that often feature a leap, a hurdle, or even one of each. 

Wednesday afternoon, Barkley was honored as the Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year, while also earning First Team All-Big Ten honors. 

As just the eighth sophomore to earn Offensive Player of the Year honors in Big Ten history, Barkley is among just four Nittany LionS in program history to win the honor and the first since Michael Robinson in 2005.

A quick scan of Barkley's season stats could easily make a sure case for the wealth of Big Ten postseason accolades, but they simply don't do justice to the level of intangibles he brings to the team. 

Midway through the regular season, both Barkley and special teams and running backs coach Charles Huff agreed that patience is an area where he has grown significantly from year one to two. 

"I keep a positive vibe on the sideline," Barkley said. "I'm patient and when my opportunity comes, I take full advantage of it." 

Just a snapshot of the regular season Barkley racked up this season includes 15 rushing touchdowns, which ranks first in the conference and 12th nationally in the FBS standings. His 1,563 career all-purpose yards also ranks ninth in program history. Averaging 130.25 all-purpose yards per game, his tally is tops in the league and 30th nationally. 

Against Michigan State, he broke the sophomore season scoring record with 102 points on the year, surpassing a mark set by Kevin Kelly in 2006. He also entered the season and extend his string of 14 straight games with at least one rush of 20 yards before his streak was snapped at Rutgers. It was the second-longest in college football in the last 20 years. 

The list could go on and on, but when asked about what has been the key to his success this season, Barkley says he prefers to give credit where credit is due. 

"The offensive line is the reason why I have been successful this year," Barkley said. "All my success has been due to them. Before every game I tell them, I go where you go, without you guys I'm nothing." 

Barkley has certainly been on the go for the Nittany Lions from game one, posting his first of four 100-yard rushing games this year with 105 yards on 22 carries against Kent State. At 2-2 on the season, it was Barkley who clinched the first of Penn State's eight consecutive victories with the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Minnesota. 

With one dynamic cut after the next, Barkley left the Golden Gophers guessing as he ran in for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime to secure the win against the Golden Gophers, a memory he'll never forget. 

"That's stuff you dream about as a little kid," Barkley said. "Being able to score the game-winning touchdown, especially in an incredibly place like Beaver Stadium, in front of the best fans in college football." 

Barkley continued that momentum into the following week, registering his first career 200-yard rushing game with 202 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries against Maryland to become the 15th Nittany Lion to reach 200 yards in a game.

On the road at Purdue, he notched a sophomore record with 277 all-purpose yards, rushing for a career-high 207 yards and adding 70 receiving yards, for his second 200-yard performance. Among the nearly 300 all-purpose yards, Barkley highlighted the day with a career-long 81-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, marking the ninth-longest rush in program history and the eighth-longest touchdown run all-time. 

The offensive line isn't the only unit Barkley is grateful for when it comes to his success this season, as he views the entire running back unit as just as competitive as ever, which only paves the way for continued success among the entire group.

"I've felt myself get better every single day because of those guys," Barkley said. "We push each other to be the best whether it's workouts, lifting, or whatever, we push each other and we try to get the best out of each other."


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Following yesterday's All-Big Ten Football Team defensive and special teams awards, the conference announced offensive selections this evening with five Nittany Lions earning postseason honors.

Sophomore running back Saquon Barkley, earned First Team All-Big Ten accolades as the only conference player to earn a unanimous selection to the team selected by the media. Barkley also earned a pair of prestigious individual awards named to both the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year. For more on Barkley's individual honors, click here.

Trace McSorley - Second Team All-Big Ten (Coaches & Media)
In just the course of his first season as the top signal caller, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has combined his ability to make big explosive plays with a developing mobile presence. Perhaps among his greatest strengths though, comes within his leadership as the fierce competitor has guided this year's offense to its most explosive and high-scoring output since at least 2008 with four 40-plus point games on the year.

As the first Nittany Lion to lead a team to a 10-win season in his first year as the starting quarterback since 2008, McSorley has climbed the Penn State record books this year. With touchdown passes in the last 13 straight games dating back to the TaxSlayer Bowl last year, McSorley has totaled 200 or more yards in nine of 12 career starts. Following his fourth career 300-yard passing performance against Michigan State, McSorley tied a program record for the most 300-yard passing outings in a single season.

- Among many top performances this season, McSorley became just the third quarterback to record more than 400 yards of total offense in a game with 408 yards against Minnesota, combining for 73 on the ground and 335 through the air.

- With 389 yards of total offense in the win against the Spartans, McSorley improved his career total to 3,348 yards on the year to set a single season record. He also threw a career-high four touchdown passes against Michigan State.

- McSorley also earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors, the Rose Bowl Game Big Ten Player of the Week award and a Helmet Sticker from ESPNU's College Football Final following the Spartan win to clinch the Big Ten regular season title.

- With both a rushing and a passing touchdown in five of the last eight games, McSorley has scored one of each a total of six times on the season.

- McSorley's 372 rushing yards on the year are the most for a Penn State quarterback since 2009, helped out by a 55-yard rushing performance against Rutgers following a 63-yard performance in the upset win against Ohio State on a career-high 19 attempts. He also led the team with 73 rushing yards on just eight attempts against Minnesota, marking the first time a quarterback has led the team in rushing since 2009.

- McSorley is among the conference's best in several statistical categories, leading the league in passing efficiency (150.9), passing yards per completion (16.2) and yards per pass attempt (9.10). His 16.2 yards per completions is also tops in the national FBS standings.

Mike Gesicki - Second Team All-Big Ten (Media), Honorable Mention (Coaches)
Taking last year's offseason to completely revitalize his game, tight end Mike Gesicki has made tremendous improvement from last year to now, evolving into a key offensive contributor. From one-handed grabs to record-setting performances, Gesicki has been nothing but consistent for the Nittany Lions this year.

 - Gesicki set a single season Penn State record against Michigan State after his 64 receiving yards against the Spartans gave him 610 yards on the year. The previous mark of 600 was set by Mickey Shuler in 1977.

- Within Penn State's eight-game winning streak, Gesicki has grabbed at least four catches in six games during the stretch. 

- With a team-high five catches at Rutgers, Gesicki broke the Penn State record for tight end receptions, as he now has 44 on the year at the conclusion of the regular season. 

- Gesicki impressed the Nittany Lion faithful with a 52-yard athletic one-handed grab in the win against Temple earlier this season.

Chris Godwin - Third Team All-Big Ten (Media), Honorable Mention (Coaches)
A veteran leader among Penn State's talented group of wide receivers, Godwin has not only demonstrated consistency in his timeliness with big plays, but also in his outstanding downfield blocking too. Leading the team with 762 yards on 47 catches, Godwin has posted at least five catches in three of the last five games and four or more grabs in 20 of his last 26 career outings.

- Most recently, Godwin notched his second 100-yard receiving game against the Spartans, marking his eighth career 100-yard receiving game, which is tied for fourth at Penn State. 

- He also grabbed two touchdown passes for the second time this season against Michigan State, bringing his total to nine touchdown catches on the year, which is the best mark by a junior at Penn State. 

- In long yardage situations, Godwin leads the team with 14 catches of at least 20 yards or more, scoring six touchdowns on long pass plays. He highlighted the season with a 59-yard touchdown grab against Michigan State to spark the second-half shutout for the 45-12 victory. 

-  Just the third Nittany Lion to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season last year, Godwin has totaled 2,184 career receiving yards, which ranks fifth all-time in Penn State program history.

All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (Complete list including defense and special teams selections)
- Center Brian Gaia
- Linebacker Brandon Bell
- Cornerback John Reid
- Punter Blake Gillikin
- Defensive tackle Parker Cothren

Practice Updates - Wisconsin (B1G Championship)

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
20161130_182716.jpg
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and tight end Mike Gesicki took time to meet with members of the media follow Wednesday's practice at Holuba Hall during the Big Ten Championship game week. 

The Nittany Lions are set to square off against the Badgers in the upcoming Big Ten Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

Check out updates from the Q&A sessions below.

James Franklin

Mike Gesicki

VIDEO: Highlighting Penn State's 2016 All-Big Ten Selections

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With Big Ten Championship game preparations well underway, following the close of the conference regular season, Penn State Football saw 10 defensive or special teams Nittany Lions earn a spot on either one of three All-Big Ten teams or pick up honorable mention distinction. 

The league also honored Penn State head coach James Franklin as the Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year. For more on Franklin's award click here.

Take a quick glance at some of the Nittany Lion defensive and special teams All-Big Ten honorees.

Tyler Davis - First Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), Second Team All-Big Ten (Media)
Following a career-high performance on the road at Rutgers, Franklin noted that if there was one person he was going to name MVP, it was Davis. Quietly kicking his way through the Nittany Lion record books this season, Davis has established himself as both a consistent and clutch performer when called upon. When asked about his secret to success, Davis humbly replies with hard work and a commitment to preparation.

"It's a testament to how hard we've been working," Davis said. "Working with two different holders, our snapper, our line has been ever-changing, so I think it's really a team award for how good our field goal unit has been." 

-  Davis is ranked eighth on the Penn State single season scoring charts after a nine-point outing in the season finale against Michigan State, extending his career total to 113 points. 

- Having never even played a snap of football in high school, just one of the former soccer star's clutch performances came against Minnesota, where Davis forced overtime kicking a 40-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in regulation. In total, he kicked three field goals against the Badgers to match a then-career-high mark and move his consecutive field goal streak to 17 straight, breaking a school record for the most consecutive field goals made.

- Davis is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented to the top kicker in the nation annually. 

- At Rutgers, he posted a career-high four field goals, tying a season-long mark with a 40-yard field goal in the shutout victory in some of the most challenging weather conditions of the season. 

- In the rankings, Davis leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.913) and field goals per game (1.8) and ranks 11th and eight in the FBS in the two categories, respectively.

- He's currently 29-for-31 in career field goal attempts with his only two misses coming on blocks.

- Davis is a perfect 55-for-55 in extra point attempts, having secured starting place kicking duties late last season. 

Garrett Sickels - Second Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), Third Team All-Big Ten (Media)
A pivotal piece of the Penn State defensive line, defensive end Garrett Sickels has show both quickness and strength in his pursuit, leading the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and tying for a team-high mark with six sacks on the year. For Sickels, he notes the second half of this year's comeback upset victory against second-ranked Ohio State as a bit of a turning point, as he came off the bench to tally career-high marks in tackles (9), tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.5). 

 
- Following the career-high showing against the Buckeyes, Sickels was tabbed to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week.

- He earned the same honor following the win at Indiana, where he posted 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack.

- Within Penn State's eight-game winning streak, Sickels has contributed at least a half of a tackle for loss in each of the last eight games, including a combined 4.5 sacks during the stretch.

Evan Schwan - Third Team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Another key piece of the Nittany Lion defensive line is senior Evan Schwan, who has not only earned his way into the starting lineup, but also developed into a veteran leader along the way. One of 18 first time starters this season, Schwan entered the starting lineup against Kent State and has nearly never looked back. Ranked third on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss on the year, Schwan is also tied with Sickels with a team-high six sacks.

- In the last eight games, Schwan has contributed at least a half of a sack in all but one game. He's also totaled three sacks across the last four games. 

- At Rutgers, Schwan sacked quarterback Gio Rescigno in the fourth quarter, forcing his first career fumble. 

- Schwan matched a career-high mark originally set against Kent State with four tackles in the win against Maryland, helping limit the then-unbeaten Terps to 14 points.

Jason Cabinda - Third Team All-Big Ten (Coaches) Honorable Mention (Media)
After retuning from an injury that sidelined him for five games, Cabinda picked right up where he left off in his first game back on the field, helping the team to a comeback victory against second-ranked Ohio State. Returning as a veteran leader of the linebacker unit, Cabinda logged 13 tackles in the win against the Buckeyes, including a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss. 

- Following the standout performance against the Buckeyes, Cabinda was awarded a Helmet Sticker by College Football Final.

- Since returning against Ohio State, Cabinda is averaging 8.3 tackles per game across the last six games, with no fewer than eight in all but one outing in the stretch.

- Dating back to 2015, Cabinda has logged eight or more stops nine of his last 11 games he has played in the Blue and White.

Marcus Allen - Third Team All-Big Ten (Coaches) Honorable Mention (Media)
Nittany Lion safety Marcus Allen has made tremendous contributions to the Penn State secondary as a key impact player throughout the season. Some of those notable performances include a 22-tackle performance in the overtime win against Minnesota and of course, the unforgettable Ohio State field goal attempt he blocked just in time for Grant Haley to return it 60-yards for the game-winning touchdown.

- With injuries hindering the linebacker unit, Allen stepped up for the 22-tackle performance against the Golden Gophers, registering the most tackles by a Penn State player since Paul Posluszny had 22 against Northwestern in 2005, and the most by a Big Ten Player since 2011.

- Allen also earned Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors following the career-high performance against Minnesota as well as Rose Bowl Game Player of the Week honors. 

-  Allen's blocked field goal against Ohio State set up what is believed to be the only time in program history a blocked field goal has been returned for a touchdown. His blocked field goal was the first since Kyle Baublitz blocked a field goal try in the quadruple overtime win against Michigan in 2013. He also posted six tackles against the Buckeyes, on the way to Co-Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors, which he shared with Haley.

All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
- Linebacker Brandon Bell
- Cornerback John Reid
- Punter Blake Gillikin
- Defensive tackle Parker Cothren

Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree
-  Long snapper Tyler Yazujian

James Franklin Named Dave McClain Coach of the Year

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Penn State head coach James Franklin arrived at Penn State in January 2014, he came to Happy Valley with a plan. With each passing year, Franklin has led a storied Nittany Lion team through unthinkable circumstances and challenging times, never wavering in the face of adversity.

Wednesday evening, Franklin earned the Big Ten Conference Dave McClain Coach of the Year honor, voted on by media members from around the league. Earning his first postseason conference award of his career at Penn State, the honor comes as a symbol dedication to the process and gratitude for the staff and student-athletes who have benefited from his leadership.
 

In the moments following a dominant 45-12 win against Michigan State to clinch the Big Ten East Division title and secure Penn State's first 10-win regular season since 2009, Franklin was quick to thank those around him.

"I want to thank the best coaching staff in the country," Franklin said. "We spend a lot of time together, care about one another, support one another, we're very creative and have a lot of fun. I want to thank the players - the players have been great."

While the path to Franklin's first Big Ten Coach of the Year honor has been anything but ordinary, if one thing has been the same from year one to year three, it has been a steadfast commitment to process and consistency in the same approach based on a foundation of four core values, positive attitude, work ethic, competition in everything and the willingness to sacrifice.

The first two years, steep scholarship reductions presented a unique challenge, but Penn State battled to a pair of bowl appearances following back-to-back 7-6 seasons. 

Following the 2015 season, Franklin adjusted staffing positions, most notably promoting Brent Pry to defensive coordinator, welcoming offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who was the head coach at Fordham and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover, who served as an assistant at Minnesota. 

A 2-2 to start the 2016 season, although back at full scholarship allotment, the Nittany Lions were facing a linebacker unit riddled with injuries, unlike anything Franklin had ever seen with the Big Ten slate already underway.

Despite the circumstances, Franklin calmly addressed a room full of media members on a Tuesday afternoon in early October, going back to the process.  

"There's a process from the time we arrived to where we're going," Franklin said. "I think I see strides in people that come to practice every single day, see strides in the people that are around our program, in every aspect, the professors that come as the guest coach programs with us, the administration that's around us, at practice, in meetings, academically, athletically, socially, spiritually, the whole package, there's progress being made."

Urging the room to pause for a deep breath, Franklin offered one final statement before moving on.

"We're going to continue loving these kids," Franklin said. "We're going to continue supporting these kids. We're going to continue developing these kids, and I believe in my 22 years of experience that we're heading in the right direction and good things are going to happen if people let the process play out."

Just four days later, Penn State engineered a triumphant comeback from, defeating Minnesota 29-26 in overtime to kick off a string of eight consecutive victories, culminating in the Big Ten East Division title, securing Penn State's first conference crown since 2009.

Along the way, Penn State shocked the nation, rallying from a 14-point deficit to upset second-ranked Ohio State in front of an electric white out crowd of more than 107,000 fans.

On Saturday, as Franklin addressed the media postgame following a dominant 45-12 win against Michigan State, he again, returned to the process. 

"I think if you look at our track record, that's really who we've been," Franklin said. "We've gotten better as the season has gone on and stuck to our process. I know early on we had some other challenges and I know people like to make light of that, but this is really who we've been. We've stuck to the plan and supported one another every step of the way to keep getting better."

Whether its injuries, youth, or even a situation as unthinkable as crippling sanctions, Franklin and his staff, long standing or new, have not waivered in the face of adversity, but rather reverted to the plan as the roadmap to what's ahead.

"Coming here, it's not like I was a first time coach, it's not like our staff was the first time being together," Franklin said. "We had a plan and we believed in the plan, it was detailed, it was thorough, it was organized and it wasn't like we were just trying to take a plan from school 'x' and bring it to school 'z', we had modified it to Penn State and we believed in it. Although there were rough patches and tough times, we stuck to the plan."

For Franklin, amidst a 10-win season, a Big Ten title and a Big Ten Championship game on the horizon, there's still a long way to go. Although pleased with the progress that has been made, there's still much to do moving forward as the plan continues to unfold.

On the heels of Spartan victory, Franklin joined the Big Ten Championship game conference call Sunday afternoon, giving just a glimpse of what the recent the success has paved the way for, in terms of the next piece of a process that will ultimately take time.

"Now we have recent success that allows people, instead of talking about what Penn State was, people are now talking about what Penn State is, and that's exciting."  

12111263.jpeg

Transcript: Franklin | Transcript: Schwan | VIDEO: Schwan Q&A

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -  Penn State Football is headed to the Big Ten Championship game with a Saturday matchup against Wisconsin set for 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

"We are looking forward to seeing a big contingent obviously this week in Indianapolis," Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin said. "It should be fun. It should be exciting." 

Penn State is set to make its first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game, having claimed its third overall Big Ten regular season title and second divisional crown since joining the conference in 1993.

As he does weekly, Franklin recapped last weekend's 45-12 win against Michigan State before turning the focus toward Wisconsin.

Looking back at the Michigan State victory, Franklin was quick to point out that the Nittany Lions committed just one penalty, noting both focus and discipline as a key to another team win.

"The thing I'm probably most proud of is this team's focus overall, their discipline, and our chemistry," Franklin said.

With positive takeaways from offense, defense and special teams, Franklin also revealed Nittany Lion coaching staff's player of the week awards with Trace McSorley on offense, Brandon Bell and Marcus Allen splitting defense and Blake Gillikin earning special teams honors. 

Both McSorley and Bell earned a few more honors for their standout performances against the Spartans. McSorley earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor. 

Turning the focus toward the Badgers, Franklin stressed that consistency has been key for Wisconsin, which is making its fourth trip to the Big Ten Championship game in the last six years.

"What I would say about these guys is when you think in your mind or at least when I think in my mind of what a traditional Big Ten team is, that's who these guys are," Franklin said.

With a big physical presence on offense and a defense bolstered by a stout front seven and a strong linebacking unit, Franklin also made note of the Badger special teams unit. 

"The thing that really jumps out is they are solid and consistent in all phases on special teams," Franklin said.  "One of the things that they do on punt return is line up, screen move and shift their fronts. They've gotten so many people to jump off-sides by real fast screen jumping or moving guys down the line of scrimmage. It has caused everybody to jump off-sides. There's been some games it's happened multiple times." 

On the Quote Board -
-  Franklin on the matchup between Wisconsin's secondary and the Nittany Lion receivers. 

"I think the explosive plays come from Trace's mobility, when he is able to step up in the pocket and extend plays. He's also one of those quarterbacks that when he steps up in the pocket, even when he's kind of on the run, he's eyes are downfield."

"The other thing is, as good as defensive backs are all over the country, and specifically in the Big Ten, if the offensive line can protect and the quarterback can extend [the play], I don't care who you are, I think playing defensive back may be one of the most difficult positions in all of sports. You're basically doing everything that most people do backwards. It's all reactionary."

-  Franklin on the progress Ryan Bates has made. 

"I think that's probably one of the bigger stories of our season. We have always thought he was talented enough. Trust me, we got into a discussion with the staff the other day, Josh Gattis brought this up a long time ago, we've all kind of seen it and discussed it. There's some aspects of his body type that you'd say he's probably more fit for center or guard, but his feet and his athleticism and his comfort in space make him really good at tackle."

-  Schwan on the potential Wisconsin could utilize two quarterbacks.

"Throughout the entire season we've played teams that have had the same situation, where they'll put a guy in who's a bigger guy that can kind of run you over. They'll put a speed guy in to do certain jet sweeps. We'll prepare for that accordingly."

VIDEO: Wisconsin Week Player Q&A

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football is headed to the Big Ten Championship game with a Saturday matchup against Wisconsin set for 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Penn State's Evan Schwan took time to preview the upcoming matchup against the Badgers, while also taking a quick look at the journey to the title game. 

Monday Notebook: Nittany Lions Join B1G Championship Call

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

barkleyrun.JPG

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, linebacker Jason Cabinda and quarterback Trace McSorley all joined the Big Ten Football Championship Game conference call this afternoon ahead of the Wisconsin matchup Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Nittany Lions downed Michigan State 45-12 to earn a share of the Big Ten East Division title, earning a spot in the championship game Saturday at Beaver Stadium helped out by an Ohio State win against Michigan.

Separated into 10 minute segments, the trio of Nittany Lions talked everything from big plays to the buzz in Happy Valley following Penn State's third Big Ten regular season title in program history.

One common theme united the three though, a unique approach from the offseason throughout the year, focused on achieving a championship standard, something that's been embedded in their mindset for more than just the last eight consecutive wins.

"That's something that we talked about before the season started, we started talking about championships and focusing on the little things to get there," Barkley said. 

For Cabinda, it's simply an awesome experience to see all the hard work and dedication from the offseason begin to come to fruition. 

"Really this is the vision that we've had from the get-go in the beginning of the season and really through the offseason, we've been talking about winning a championship here and this is always the goal and the vision and what we've planned to do."

Check out a few more notes from today's teleconference. 

Saquon Barkley -

-  Barkley opened up with a quick note on Wisconsin's defense, which has limited opponents to just 13.7 points per game through the regular season, good for second in the conference and third nationally. The Badgers have also logged a national-best 21 interceptions this season.

"Wisconsin has a really good defense and they have the numbers to show for it" Barkley said. "They have a bunch of studs over there, so we have to come out really focused. It's going to be a really tough game, a physical Big Ten game and we have to come out ready for it." 

-  Barkley noted how the Nittany Lions have only benefitted from depth at the running back position, most recently illustrated by back-to-back fourth-quarter touchdowns from Andre Robinson against Michigan State and a career-high performance from Miles Sanders at Rutgers with 85 yards on five attempts. 

"We have that next man up mentality," Barkley said. "Obviously you don't want to see a teammate go down or not be able to finish a game, but you have to get the win and you have to be ready for your team when you're called on."

Jason Cabinda -

-  Following the win against the Spartans, Cabinda noted there has been a tangible buzz on campus as students are arriving back to campus, eager to support the team as it prepares for the trip to Indianapolis.

"They call it Happy Valley for a reason," Cabinda said. "I don't remember the last time I've seen Happy Valley this happy. There's just a buzz around the whole community, everyone's talking about the team and really what we've been able to accomplish so far this year."

-  Cabinda also took a quick look back at the Minnesota overtime victory, a moment where he was both pleased with the defense's next man up mentality as well as how the win revealed glimpses of true character. 

"You had young guys in there stepping up like Brandon Smith and Manny Bowen with some linebackers out and guys were stepping up," Cabinda said. "To get that win in OT and continue to see guys fight and grind, it was huge and it just shows the kind of character this team has." 

Trace McSorley -

-  McSorley recalled a moment a preseason camp last year where he realized Barkley was going to be a special piece of the Penn State offense. 

"There was one run that he had, kind of broke outside and we were doing a live drill and he made one cut and was gone. It was one of those cuts that you don't see all the time, it was pretty special just to see him do that." 

-  McSorley talked about the key to Penn State's explosive offense, which ranks among the best in college football in terms of long yardage plays. Averaging a national-best 16.17 yards per completion, McSorley is among the nation's best with the deep ball, slotted top five in passes of 20-, 30- or 40-plus yards.

"I think a big key has been our offensive line," McSorley said. "They've been doing a great job with protection all year, giving us quarterbacks time to look down field to take those shots, trying to get explosive plays, letting our receivers work on the outside." 

He also noted Penn State's ability to utilize play-action with Barkley, leveraging his threat to opponents out of the back field to create one-on-one opportunity for Penn State's deep group of talented wide receivers. 

"You have guys like Chirs [Godwin], Saeed [Blacknall] and DaeSean [Hamilton] outside, and the kind of talent at wide receiver, it helps get those guys on one-on-one matchups and we're confident in their ability to win those matchups."

@GOPSUSPORTS

  • Loading Tweets...
    1 second ago
 
OPEN / CLOSE

SCHEDULE/EVENTS