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VIDEO: Post-game Player Interviews vs. Temple
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin talks with GoPSUsports.com following Saturday's 30-13 victory over Temple in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 6-4 heading into the penultimate regular season game on the schedule at Illinois next week.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive
coverage of the 2014 football season. Tune in for live blog coverage from all
12 games on the schedule. The Nittany Lions wrap up the non-conference slate with a matchup against in-state foe Temple.
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Game Notes | Gameday Central | Temple Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday
Press Conference Roundup | Coach Spencer Q&A | Player Q&A Video
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) will close out the non-conference schedule on Saturday when it meets intrastate foe Temple (5-4, 3-3 AAC) for a noon kick (ESPN2) inside Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions enter the penultimate home game of 2014 after topping Indiana, 13-7, on the road last week. The Lions moved to 3-1 in games away from home this season thanks to a stifling effort from the defense and a record-breaking 92-yard touchdown run from Bill Belton.
Belton reached 100 yards for the first time this season in the win over the Hoosiers. The senior tailback tallied 137 yards on 16 carries during the fourth 100-yard game of his Penn State career. Belton's 92-yard scoring play was the longest rushing touchdown in Penn State Football history.
Penn State's defense again turned in a outstanding performance against Indiana last week. The Lions are ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run (85.6 ypg). Additionally, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense (267.6 ypg). Penn State is No. 6 in scoring defense at 16.6 points per game. Senior linebacker Mike Hull is ranked eighth in the nation with 11.2 tackles per game.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is second in the conference in passing with 245.1 passing yards per game. Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in completions per game at 21.67. He became the eighth Penn State quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards in the Indiana game. Redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton is the leader in yards (761) and receptions (64) among freshmen in the nation.
Temple dropped to 5-4 overall last week with a 16-13 setback at Memphis. The Owls are led by a stout defensive unit that has forced 25 turnovers in 2014. Temple is ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense at 18.1 points per game.
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day and will feature the "Seats for Soldiers" campaign. Nearly 6,000 tickets were purchased for the "Seats for Soldiers" program and donated to active duty and veteran military personnel and their families, which is more than double the number of tickets sold in 2013.
The game will also include the "Parade of Champions," a celebration of team and individual successes from the 2013-'14 season. Penn State won NCAA Championships in fencing, women's volleyball and wrestling, its most NCAA titles since 1999-2000. For the second consecutive year, the Nittany Lions won a school record eight Big Ten Championships.
The third annual "Stuff a Bus" food drive will take place this weekend, as well. A Blue Bus will be parked outside the Bryce Jordan Center from Friday at 12 p.m. until Sunday at 12 p.m. for donations to help the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week 10 matchup against Temple.
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. The running back duo of Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch combined for 184 yards and 6.3 yards per carry during last week's game against Indiana. Belton talked with the media this week about the offensive line's ability to create seams for both head and Lynch to run through in Bloomington. Head coach James Franklin said the Nittany Lions will look for more consistency again this weekend against Temple. With senior Miles Dieffenbach back in the mix for playing time in the rotation, the Nittany Lions are confident in taking another step forward.
2. Penn State's defense is among the nation's leaders in three of the four main statistical categories. The Nittany Lions have tallied 65 tackles for loss and 26 sacks in 2014. While the starting unit deserves a tremendous amount of credit for its efforts, one group deserving of more praise is the second rotation on the defensive line. Ends Carl Nassib, Brad Bars and Garrett Sickels, along with tackles Tyrone Smith, Parker Cothren and Tarow Barney, have been productive every time they have stepped onto the field. Penn State's ability to play upwards of 10 guys on the defensive line is a big key to the defense's ability to limit opponents to just 267.6 yards per game. The Lions have held seven of their nine opponents to 10-plus points below their season average and six of the nine opponents to 150-plus yards below their season average in total offense.
3. Following the Indiana game, Coach Franklin singled out true freshman Grant Haley for his efforts on the Penn State coverage teams. A contributor on defense, Haley has been a central figure for the Penn State special teams units. Haley has made 14 tackles in 2014, and he is routinely among the first guys down the field on punt coverage. Haley's motor is relentless, and he is a critical member for the Nittany Lions on special teams when it comes to open field tackling.
What to Watch For - Temple
1. Sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker is the primary playmaker for the Temple offense. Walker, who started seven games as a true freshman last season, has accounted for 14 of Temple's 22 offensive touchdowns this season. A threat with his arm and feet, Walker has thrown for 1,679 yards and rushed for 183 yards (three rushing touchdowns).
2. Temple's defense has been tremendous at forcing turnovers in 2014. The Owls have 25 forced turnovers, including 17 forced fumbles. Additionally, Temple has scored six defensive touchdowns this season. The Owls are among the nation's leaders in points off of turnovers. In nine games, Temple has scored 83 points off of turnovers (9.2 ppg off turnovers).
3. Junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich has been a superbly productive player on the Temple defense for the past three seasons. Recording 101 and 137 tackles, respectively, in his first two seasons on campus, Matakevich is well on his way to another stout season at the outside linebacker position. Matakevich has made 83 stops in 2014, and he is fifth in the nation with 7.2 solo tackles per game.
The Final Word:
Saturday's game will be a homecoming for Temple head coach Matt Rhule. After growing up in New York City, the second-year leader of the Owls moved to State College and attended State College High School when he was a junior. Rhule attended Penn State and walked on to the football team in 1994. He played four seasons at linebacker under head coach Joe Paterno. Rhule tallied a sack against Temple in the 1997 matchup between the two teams at the Meadowlands. Rhule earned a degree in political science from Penn State in 1997. He coached against the Nittany Lions as an assistant under former Temple head coach Al Golden, but this is his first trip back to Happy Valley as a head coach of the Owls. Penn State and Temple are slated to meet for the 44th time in the season-opener for 2015. Kickoff is set for 12:01 on Saturday with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra on the ESPN2 broadcast.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer spoke with the media on Thursday. The Nittany Lions face off with Temple on
Saturday at noon (ESPN2). Take a look at a Q&A with Spencer.
Q: How does playing against someone like J.T. Barrett help your defensive line in preparing for P.J. Walker from Temple?
Spencer: "Any time you face athletic quarterbacks, you have to be prepared. Having faced Barrett, that was certainly a good experience for us. We are conscious of it every week. You never let the guys just run free, but you definitely have to be gap accountable. It's your method throughout the week so that it's not a shock when you get into a game with an athletic quarterback. There is preparation, and then there is, you better have your antennas up because this guy can hurt you in the running game."
Q: With your nickname being Coach Chaos, do you find it ironic at all that your unit has been so good this year because it has been so disciplined in gap integrity to stop the run?
Spencer: "That's a function of the defense. I think Coach Shoop does a great job of gapping everything out, whether it is a blitz or base coverage or a run. We are just part of the puzzle. Any time you get safeties filling like Marcus Allen is doing right now. And then the outstanding play of Mike Hull, Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell. Obviously the front four get a lot of credit for that, but there are a lot of moving parts that work together to make that special."
Q: What type of pride does the defense take in being the No. 1 unit against the run in the nation?
Spencer: "Well, you always want to take ownership in something. Right now, we are defending the run really well. It's something that we have a goal every week to stop the run. We've been able to do that. I think making a note to guys that, 'hey, we told you to do this and now you are No. 1 in the country.' Now, you have a great responsibility to do that every week. I think that is one of the reasons Coach Shoop shares that with the guys. Not necessarily as a pat on the back, more so, this is the reason why we are having so much success on defense is because we are able to stop the run. We've got to continue to do that."
Q: Which players have you seen take a jump to the next level since you arrived here?
Spencer: "Certainly moving Anthony Zettel inside was a wildcard because he had never played there before. I think moving inside, he embraced that. It was a case where he approached it with a mindset that he was going to master the technique. He's embraced that really well. He's going to continue to get better. And he is having a very good season. And I would say guys like Deion Barnes. I spoke of this before. Two years ago he was the Big Ten rookie of the year. And then last year, on paper, his play wasn't as good. That's a guy I have high expectations for. That's a guy who has high expectations for himself. Any time you get a coach and a player on the same page, it's a great formula. It's not me pushing him, it's him understanding that for him to reach his goals and for him to be as good as he can be to help this team, he's gotta be exact in everything he does."
Q: You guys use the second team defensive line heavily. Take us through that process and talk about how that unit has progressed.
Spencer: "That's been a philosophy of mine for years. And when I went to Vanderbilt with Coach Franklin, it was a philosophy of his. And it's the same with Bob Shoop. Bob trusts what I do with those guys. Coach Franklin is on board with that. I think all three of us believe that having fresh guys in there is better than having a guy in there who is tired and wilted. Those second team guys have earned the right to get on the field. You are in a room with 15 or 16 guys, if you've got a chance to play eight or nine guys throughout the course of a game and sometimes even 10, it makes your room even better. Everybody is held accountable. And everybody knows they have a role. No greater or no less in that role."
Q: Have you ever had a defensive line rotation as deep as this one?
Spencer: "Not as deep and as talented before this one to be honest. This is a very, very talented group. I'm very confident that at any point in time when I put those guys in the game that they are going to do something. You get (Carl) Nassib and (Brad) Bars coming off the bench and making really positive plays that kept Indiana on their heels. That was great. A couple weeks ago, you throw Garrett Sickels in there and he gets a sack and we are in the heat of the game when he does it. You can't just put those guys in there for mop up time because it is not realistic. You want to put those guys in game-like situations. If in fact, barring an injury that you never want to have, it is not a shock to that (next) kid when he is in the game."
Q: Has this defense exceeded expectations in your eyes this season?
Spencer: "No. I think no one rises to low expectations. I think you have to set a standard and set goals and try to be No. 1 in everything you do. I'm going to try to be the No. 1 recruiter in the country and I'm going to try to be the No. 1 defensive line coach in the country. And I expect the same thing out of (the players). There is no trophy for second place. That's our expectation. Have they exceeded that? No, I think they have met it. I think they have met the expectation we set forth as a defense and a coaching staff. We want those guys to be the best that they can be. Obviously, we are having success right now on defense. We have a lot of football left, and we need to keep that going."
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Temple | Beaver Stadium | 12 p.m. | ESPN2
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State takes a break from its Big Ten schedule on Saturday to face Temple in an in-state battle. Learn more about the Owls in this week's scouting report.
Matt Rhule, a State College native and former Penn State linebacker from 1994-'97, leads the Owls. Rhule is in his second year as head coach and his eighth season in the Temple program. He is 7-14 overall at Temple. The Owls were 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the American Athletic Conference in 2013. They returned 34 letterwinners and 12 starters.
Temple is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the AAC this year. They fell, 16-13, against Memphis last week on a field goal as time expired. The Owls gained 298 yards on offense, including 158 yards on the ground. Quarterback P.J. Walker completed 16-of-37 passes for 140 yards and an interception. He also ran for 28 yards on nine carries. Kenneth Harper gained 116 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, including a 75-yard run in the first quarter. Jalen Fitzpatrick led the team with five receptions for 64 yards.
The Owls allowed 312 yards, including 230 passing. Linebacker Nate Smith recorded nine tackles, all solo. Fellow linebacker Tyler Matakevich added eight tackles, seven solo. Cornerback Sean Chandler made six stops, one for loss, and forced a fumble. End Praise Martin-Oguike had four tackles and a sack.
The Temple offense averages 27.6 points per game, ranking 75th in the nation. They also average 315.4 total yards per contest, 196.7 yards through the air and 118.8 on the ground.
Walker has completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,679 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has also gained 183 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns.
Sophomore Jahad Thomas leads the Owls with 371 yards rushing (5.2 ypc). Thomas, 5-foot-10, also has 10 receptions for 259 yards and a touchdown. Senior Kenneth Harper, 6-foot, 225-pounds, has 263 yards and five touchdowns on 67 carries. He also has 130 yards and a touchdown on 18 catches.
The receiving unit is led by Fitzpatrick, a 5-foot-11 senior, who has 37 catches for 512 yards and five scores, averaging nearly 14 yards per catch. John Christopher has 20 catches for 140 yards, while Shippen has eight receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
The Owls offensive line includes a redshirt junior, a junior, a redshirt sophomore, a sophomore and a redshirt freshman. Center Kyle Friend leads the group with 30 straight starts. Friend was selected midseason first-team All-AAC by Phil Steele.
Temple is very strong on the defensive side of the ball, allowing only 18.1 points per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. They also rank 41st in total defense, allowing 364.2 yards per contest, and 29th in passing defense, giving up 200.7 yards per game. The Owls have forced 25 turnovers this year, tied for seventh in the nation, and have six defensive touchdowns (No. 2 in the nation).
Junior tackle Matt Ioannidis anchors the defensive line. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Ioannidis has 38 tackles, 20 solo, nine for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also has three pass breakups. End Praise Martin-Oguike has made 30 stops this year, with 22 solo, seven for loss and 5.5 sacks, while also forcing five fumbles. Fellow end Sharif Finch has 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown against Delaware State.
Weakside linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the team with 83 tackles, including 65 solo, ranking fifth in the country in solo stops. Matakevich also has 5.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Middle linebacker Nate Smith has 61 tackles, with 39 solo, two for loss and an interception.
Cornerback Tavon Young leads the team with three interceptions. He has totaled 128 return yards off of interceptions and returned a pick 93 yards for a touchdown against UConn. Cornerback Sean Chandler has 53 tackles, with 40 solo, three for loss and five pass breakups. Safeties Alex Wells and Jihaad Pretlow have 36 and 32 tackles, respectively.
Penn State is 38-3-1 all-time against Temple, on the field. The Nittany Lions earned a 24-13 win at Beaver Stadium in 2012.
What Matt Rhule is saying about Penn State:
"I moved (to State College) my junior year of high school. My dad was originally from there and we went there to be closer to his family. It's a great town, with great people, a great high school, great friends... It really comes alive when there is a football game being played...I remember the town being electric. Growing up there were some great games that I had a chance to see."
"Offensively, you start with Christian Hackenberg, he's as good of a quarterback as there is in the country. He has tremendous arm talent, he's extremely smart, can make every throw and will challenge you down the field. DaeSean Hamilton is a tremendous receiver, Bill Belton at running back and receiver Saeed Blacknall is really coming on for them right now, so you can see that he's another weapon for them."
"[Bob] Shoop's done a great job with that defense. They basically shut out Indiana last week, so you see why they're so effective in what they do. They have a lot of great players on defense, but the one that really stands out to me is [Anthony] Zettel inside. He's probably the best defensive lineman we'll face this year, he's a three-technique and extremely active. They have a lot of high end guys like Adrian Amos at safety and Mike Hull, who is another great Penn State linebacker."
Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.
James Franklin Transcript - Nov. 11
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-4) return home on Saturday for an intra-state matchup against Temple (5-4, 3-3 AAC) at noon (ESPN2).
Head coach James Franklin reviewed Saturday's victory over Indiana and previewed the matchup against the Owls on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.
Behind a dominant day from the Penn State defense and a 92-yard touchdown run from Bill Belton, the Nittany Lions topped Indiana on Saturday by a score of 13-7. No strangers to tight games, the win at Indiana marked Penn State's sixth game out of nine this season decided by six points or fewer.
"I think to me this is what you want to do. You want to find ways to win close games," Franklin said. "We were able to do that early in the year. Then we had a couple of games we didn't. Now we're getting back into that again. So I'm pleased with the guys... I sure would love to have a little bit more breathing room in there. But I think these tough games and emotional games build character, and that's why we do this in the first place."
This week, the Nittany Lion offense will face a stiff test against a Temple defensive unit that is among the nation's leaders in forcing turnovers. Through nine games, the Owls have forced 25 turnovers (17 fumbles and 8 interceptions) and scored six defensive touchdowns. The Lions emphasize ball security with a turnover circuit on offense every day on the practice field, and Saturday will be a test.
"Watching them on film, they do all the things that we preach all the time as well, which is playing hard and running to the ball," Franklin said. "When you have an opportunity to be aggressive and make a play on the ball in the air, go after the ball. When you're making a tackle, secure the tackle first, and the next two or three guys coming in to strip the ball out. It's offensive linemen sustaining blocks so that defenders can't fall into plays. It's getting the offense to cover down so that if a ball does come out, the offensive line and other people are in position to pick it up. It's all of those things."
On defense, the Nittany Lion defensive line has been instrumental in the team's success this season. Ranked third in the nation in total defense, the Lions have played at a consistently high level for nine weeks. The first team defensive line unit gets a great deal of credit for its efforts, but the depth of the line is what separates the Lions from most units in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have made 39.5 TFL from defensive line positions this season.
"You look at our two deep on the defensive line, I think you could make the argument it's one of the better in the Big Ten in terms of a two deep," said Franklin. "Having a two‑deep at defensive line and rotating those guys and keeping them fresh and active I think has been really helpful."
Saturday's game will honor the men and women in the military. With it being Military Appreciation Day, Penn State again took part in a "Seats for Soldiers" campaign where Penn State fans donated more than 6,000 tickets to active-duty and veteran military personnel, along with their families.
"I love the fact that the Penn State community with Military Appreciation Day has donated over 6,000 tickets to active‑duty and veteran military personnel and their families for the Seats for Soldiers program, which is great," said Franklin.
The Nittany Lions and Owls are slated for a noon kick on Saturday in a series that dates back to 1931.
Press Conference Notes
- Franklin on the Temple offense:
"You look at their play makers, P.J. Walker, their quarterback is the guy that kind of stands out to you. He can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. Running back, they've got Jahad Thomas, who is 5-10, 170-pound guy that can make you miss and take it the distance. Then they've got Kenneth Harper, the big number, No. 4, 6-foot, 225-pound that tries to pound you. Then Jalen Fitzpatrick has over 500 yards and five touchdowns this year, their biggest receiver."
- Franklin on the Temple defense:
"They do a great job. They're a 4-3 defense, but there will be games that they'll come out and play 3-4. They'll be 4-3 the first half, and then they'll be 3-4 the second half. They play a lot of different looks. They play a lot of different coverages. They've improved dramatically from year one to year two. Play hard nose, run to the ball. They're No. 7 in the nation in turnovers gained. No. 1 in the country in fumbles caused. 17 recovered fumbles. They've got eight interceptions. They're number two in the nation in defensive touchdowns. We've talked about that already. Really impressed. They're No. 7 in the nation in red zone defense, and No. 10 in the nation in scoring defense. So they're playing really well."
- Franklin on the Temple special teams:
"On special teams, they play really hard. I've already mentioned that they've got three special teams touchdowns as well as four blocked kicks. So I've been very, very impressed with them. I've been very impressed with them all year long, and looking forward to the opportunity."
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