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Practice Report: Maryland Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin and Nittany Lion corner back Amani Oruwariye met with members of the media Wednesday evening following practice during Maryland week.

Talking everything from big picture philosophy to Thanksgiving break, catch up on a few highlights from the pair of media sessions before the regular season finale on the road Saturday at Maryland Stadium.

Franklin: He's Just So Much More Confident
When asked where he has seen the most improvement from Oruwariye, Franklin was quick to point out the increased confidence he has built from early 2016 up until now.

"Amani always had the ability, but he's so much more confident now, he has made some really big plays," Franklin said. "I think the other thing is, that he's found kind of the right weight. I think at one point he was about 210 pounds and now I think almost all season he has been 202 or under, which I think is plenty big to play corner in the Big Ten. I think he's just in a really good place of us, he has played a lot of football, he's very experienced, very confident, physical corner. I think the coaches and the team have a lot of confidence in him." 

The Slowdown
When asked about when the game started to slow down for Oruwariye, he noted that it wasn't exactly one specific moment or game when things started to click.

"I guess I would say last year it started kind of slowing down when you're kind of getting in the game a lot more and the game just starts slowing down, you start making some plays, making some tackles, it starts feeling like when you used to do in high school," Oruwariye said.

Keeping Focus
As Franklin noted in his Tuesday press conference, due to NCAA rules and regulations, not much has changed when it comes to practice times this week. With no classes though, the Nittany Lions do have a bit more time for rest, recovery and preparation too. 

"You just treat it like you're an NFL player," Oruwariye said. "You don't have classes to worry about so you just approach it that way, come in the building, do extra work, watch extra film, get an extra work out in and just work on your craft however you can." 

Talking Matchups
For Oruwariye, there's not one specific kind of receiver he thrives on being matched up against, noting pros and cons of different types of opposing wide receivers.

"They're both hard to do, going against big guys and small guys. Small guys, it's good because I can get my hands on them, I'm a bigger, physical corner," Oruwariye said. "Then again, at the same time, they're fast and it's hard to keep up with them speed wise. Same with big guys, they're physical too. I would prefer big guys and just make it a physical match, but other than that it doesn't matter to me."

Leadership
With departures along the secondary, Oruwariye noted that he's leaned on this year's leaders in taking the next step to trying to emerge as a leader moving forward.
 

"I've kind of taken some tactics from the leaders on the team now, Jason [Cabinda], Trace [McSorley], Marcus [Allen], those guys," Oruwariye said. "Just seeing how they engage with other guys, how they work specifically on the field, kind of just admiring their work ethic, every day, coming to work and taking that one day at a time mindset."

Tuesday Roundup - Nebraska Week

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RELATED LINKS: Transcripts - Franklin I Allen, McSorley I Watch - Full Press Conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon in his weekly press conference. Quarterback Trace McSorley and safety Marcus Allen joined him for a pair of media sessions to preview the final regular season road trip of the season.

For McSorley and Allen, heading to College Park, Maryland is a bit of a homecoming, with McSorley growing up about 45 minutes from Maryland Stadium and Allen hailing from merely minutes from the area.

"It's awesome kind of being able to go back and play in that venue that I'm kind of familiar with, playing in my neck of the woods," McSorley said. "For a lot of guys, Marcus [Allen], same sort of feeling. I don't know exactly how many people I'll have there from my family, but it's right there, a good amount. I need to figure out with my mom how many tickets I need to find out about getting."

For Allen, there's perhaps a little more added meaning, stepping on to the field for his final regular season game as a Nittany Lion.

"Just for me to play my last game in the regular season, in my hometown, that's pretty awesome," Allen said. "That's fun. It's going to be, like a backyard football game, as far as me knowing a lot of guys that's on the team. We talk back and forth, talking our little stuff."

Penn State's practice schedule doesn't shift too much with Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, but it does allow a bit of time for the Nittany Lions to get out in the community and give back. Due to NCAA time management rules, Penn State spent time at The Village at Penn State, a local retirement community, while also taking time for a few more individual projects.

"[Defensive line coach] Sean Spencer, the D-line, they gave out 65 turkeys today that Sean raised through his clothing apparel line, Dog Chaos, whatever he's got going on," Franklin shared. "That's really cool." 

Come Thanksgiving though, Franklin has extended the invitation to teammates, staff members and families for a relaxing meal, with a few position coaches also hosting their own Thanksgiving meals. 

On The Quote Board - 
- Franklin on how Tommy Stevens has handled his backup quarterback role. 

"He's just handled it really well. Is he satisfied? No. But he's handled it really well. He's been a great teammate. He's prepared. When his opportunity comes, he's going to be ready for it. When he gets his reps and opportunities, he maximizes it. I thought the play he had on Saturday where he bounced, bounced, bounced on one foot down the sideline, kept his balance, avoided a guy, was one of the more impressive athletic plays I've seen since we've been here. The funny part, I gave him a hard time. He did all the hard stuff, got himself under control, started running, then planted to cut back and get it out of bounds. He could have jogged into the end zone without that hard play." 

- Allen on what he sees in true freshman Jonathan Sutherland.

"Every time there is a scrimmage, I always just get him hyped. I'll be, like, "Here come the choo-choo train, choo-choo." He hits like a train. He's really physical. That's what I love about him. He's very just consistent in tackling. He makes plays in the passing game. That's what impresses me the most. He's very mature for his age, as well. I'm pretty sure you're going to hear his name next year. I'm just excited for you guys to see him, see what he can do, because I already know, I already seen it."

- McSorley on where the program has changed since he arrived and where it will continue to go looking toward the future.

"I think when I came in here, we were building toward something. We kind of had been through a tough period. When I got here, we were on the bowl sanctions, scholarship sanctions. My freshman year is when they got lifted. I think everyone in the locker room now, we're going to come in, work hard, we're going to compete. We were just going to be building kind of a process. Where we're at now, it's not building that process, it's carrying on what's been built over the last couple years. Assuming that role of making sure this program stays where it needs to be."

- Allen on his relationship with Torrence Brown.

"My relationship with Torrence, that's really my brother. I would really consider him as my brother. Although we don't have the same mother or father, it doesn't make a difference, that's my brother. We been through a lot. We got a lot of memories, lot of fun memories. We have so much conversations, so many conversations we had together when times were rough. Like when my grandmother died, I was right in his room. He saw when I broke down. When his grandmother passed, I was right there. It was so crazy, like a coincidence. It's just like we have a bond as far as we can relate to each other. That group right there, those are my brothers, man."

- McSorley's thoughts on seeing Nick Bowers score a touchdown in his first career catch last weekend, considering his career path at Penn State.

"To be able to see him make a touchdown in the game, we see him all the time, he goes up, at his size, athletic ability, to be able to run like he does, jump up, attack a ball in the air, come down with it, utilizing his size, 260, whatever, it's really impressive to see what he can do at his size. To see him get a touchdown this week, how excited he was when he got back to the sideline, jumping around, big smile on his face, it was awesome."

Monday Notebook: Maryland Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Preparations are already underway for Penn State in its final game week of the 2017 regular season.

About 11 weeks ago, the first Monday Notebook of the season took a deeper dive into a few Nittany Lions poised to climb through the record books during the regular season. With a week left in the regular season, take a look back at where they are and the records they've eclipsed along the way.

Saquon Barkley
- It's hard to know where to even start with all the records Barkley has shattered not only this year, but in his entire Penn State career. So let's keep it at recent records.

Barkley made headlines all day today, kicking off the morning honored as the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, marking his sixth Big Ten weekly award of the season. By late-afternoon Barkley was named a finalist for both the Maxwell and the Doak Walker awards. Both prestigious honors, Barkley is the first Nittany Lion to be a finalist for both of the wards since Larry Johnson in 2002. Johnson also won both awards that year.

Coming off a three-touchdown, 158-rushing yard performance against Nebraska, Barkley broke the Penn State career rushing touchdowns record set by Lydell Mitchell (1969-71). He also surged past the 100-point mark this year, making him the second Nittany Lion in program history with multiple 100-point seasons. Upping his career rushing yard total, Barkley become just the second Nittany Lion in history with three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, as well as the second to eclipse the 3,500 rushing yard milestone.

With 66 receiving yards on six receptions, he also topped the Penn state season record for receptions by a running back with 46 receptions on the year, which ties for first on the team alongside Gesicki.

Mike Gesicki
- Gesicki has been re-writing the record book all year long, on the way to the most recent prestigious honor, named one of three finalists for the Mackey Award. Against Pittsburgh, he set the record for career receptions for a tight end. Most recently, he caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska to climb to the top of the all-time chart for the most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,384 yards. Already owning the single season record for touchdown catches for a tight end in 2017 (7), Gesicki also cracked into the top 10 on the career receptions chart with 118 catches. 

Trace McSorley
- Already announced as a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, McSorley has also climbed the Nittany Lion record book at a staggering pace. In the win against Rutgers, McSorley moved in to sole possession of first place on the Penn State career charts for touchdowns responsible for. Much like Barkley, it's perhaps easier to point to more of McSorley's most recent accomplishments along the way. With 325 yards against Nebraska, McSorley posted his ninth career 300-yard passing game, which ties the Penn State program record. His 24 completions against the Huskers also moved him into a tie for fourth place with 474 career completions. Finishing with 371 yards of total offense against Nebraska, he oved into second place on the single season total offense all-time list with 3,386 yards, which is behind his own record-setting 3,979 yards from last year.

Marcus Allen
- Allen entered the 2017 regular season with 249 career tackles, needing just 24 tackles to break into the top 10 on the Nittany Lion all-time list. As Penn State's second-leading tackler to date, Allen has 61 stops on the year, which pushes him to 310 in his career, good for sixth all-time. He needs just five more tackles to crack into the Penn State top five, matching Brian Gelzheiser (1991-94). 

DaeSean Hamilton
- Hamilton already made history against Indiana, grabbing his 181st career catch to become Penn State's all-time leader in receptions. With 43 receptions on the year, he enters the final week of the regular season with 204 career catches. He's still scaling the all-time career receiving yardage list, currently in third place with 2,673 receiving yards as the ninth Nittany Lion in program history with 2,000-plus receiving yards.

Blake Gillikin
- Gillikin has been a key piece of the Nittany Lion special teams units this year, pinning a total of 24 punts inside the 20-yard line. On the year, his season punting average stands at 43.0, which would place him tied for fourth in program history if the season ended today. With two weeks remaining, Gillikin could potentially match the sophomore season punting average record originally set by Ralph Giacomarro in 1980 (43.3), having already set the freshman record in 2016 (42.8). 

Statistical Snapshot
Penn State is still atop the top 11 in FBS in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Allowing opponents fewer than 17 points a game this year, the mark is ranked second in the conference and eighth in FBS. Following its highest scoring outing in a Big Ten game since scoring 63 points at Illinois in 2005, Penn State is averaging 39.4 points per game, which is also second in the Big Ten and 11th in FBS. The Nittany Lions are also plus-12 in the turnover margin, which remains atop the league standings and tied for sixth in FBS.

Glancing at the Terps
Penn State travels to Maryland for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff on the road Saturday, marking the first time the two teams have met in College Park since 1993. The outing also marks senior day for the Terrapins, who have lost their last three consecutive games, including a 17-7 loss on the road at Michigan State last Saturday. 

Leading by Example

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State wide receiver Juwan Johnson can just about always be found on the field post-practice surrounded by seniors DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki.

It's a roughly two-year routine, originally started around spring ball and something Gesicki joked about earlier this week, wondering who Johnson might select to join him next year. It begins with pass-catching but each session ends with 20 contested catches and wet ball drills.

In an emotional start to a damp and chilly evening at Beaver Stadium Saturday, Penn State honored its 23 seniors and their families pregame.

Nittany Lions did not disappoint on the special day, sending the 2017 seniors out with an emphatic 56-44 win against Nebraska for a second consecutive undefeated season at home, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in more than 30 years.

Penn State's offense was spectacular to start, as running back Saquon Barkley broke free for a 65-yard touchdown to put Penn State out to an early lead. As the Huskers capitalized on special teams miscues to pull ahead, it was the post-practice crew who helped ignite the offense.

Following a clutch 7-yard third- down catch from Hamilton to extend the drive, quarterback Trace McSorley found Johnson for a career-high tying 43-yard catch and run, eventually leading to a 1-yard Barkley touchdown run. Penn State piled on with four consecutive scoring drives, including a 9-yard Gesicki touchdown grab to send Penn State surge ahead 42-10 by halftime.

Johnson's catch was just the first of five, in which he accounted for a career-high 105 yards to lead the team. Reflecting on his first career 100-yard receiving game postgame though, he mentioned increased confidence of course, but gave credit elsewhere.

"Honestly it's just self-confidence and having teammates around you like DaeSean [Hamilton] and Mike [Gesicki], just always working wet balls after practice for 30 minutes," Johnson said.  "Just getting out there and working on the things you need to work on. For me, self-confidence and just attacking it."

While they couldn't be more different as individuals off the field, the stories of Hamilton and Gesicki and their Penn State careers on the field, in many ways, couldn't be more similar.

As Gesicki pointed out postgame though, their success hasn't simply come by way of coincidence. Through the ups and downs, good times and bad, they never waived in their dedication, choosing to lean on their work ethic to find success.

Hamilton, who recently became Penn State's all-time leader in receptions was of course alongside Gesicki Saturday as he broke Ted Kwalick's record (1,343; 1966-68) for receiving yards by a tight end. Gesicki, who caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns against the Huskers, wrapped up his final game on the field at Beaver Stadium with 1,384 career receiving yards, and there's still plenty of football to be played this year.

It's through those post-practice sessions though, that Johnson saw the paths of Gesicki and Hamilton taking shape.

"I found out what their character is like, and they're funny guys but just how hard they work," Johnson said. "It didn't matter how cold it was or how hot it was, throughout the season they were always out there after practice, willing to catch the ball, willing to get extra work and that's something I'll always carry with me for the rest of my life. Those are guys who I will always call my brothers."

The result for Johnson of course, is burgeoning confidence, something McSorley pointed to postgame. 

"We've seen Juwan have that in-practice confidence, where he can go up there and put his big old paw up there and snag it and bring it down with one hand," McSorley said. "To see him have that in-game confidence where he trusts himself that much in a game. It's awesome to be able to know he has that game confidence in him and everyone else and probably for a guy like DaeSean too who has been a real mentor to him."

For Franklin, the future for Johnson is perhaps as bright as it's ever been.

"I couldn't be more excited about Juwan and his future and that's in every way possible," Franklin said. "The exciting part is, I still think there's a lot more left in the tank for him. I think there's a lot of areas where he can continue to grow and develop and a lot of it is just from a confidence standpoint, but I think he's going to continue to be a problem (for other teams) for the rest of this season and take that into the future as well."

While Johnson hasn't quite decided who will join him on the field post-practice next year, if being great is making those around you better, that's exactly what these seniors have done.

While just a small snapshot featuring two of the 23 who will depart the team this year, it is yet another example of precisely the legacy they'll leave behind.   

"These guys are of the Penn State mold," senior offensive lineman Brendan Mahon said. "They do the right things and they mirror the players that have come before us. That's the kind of kids these younger players are. They work really hard and they're blue collar. That's Penn State, and I think they're going to keep it that way for a long time."

VIDEO: Nebraska Postgame (Players)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State football closed out its regular season home slate with a 56-44 win against Nebraska Saturday at Beaver Stadium on senior day. Check in with several Nittany Lions following the victory.

M. Gesicki, S. Barkley, J. Johnson

J. Cabinda, A. Oruwariye, B. Smith

VIDEO: Nebraska Postgame (James Franklin)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State football closed out its regular season home slate with a 56-44 win against Nebraska Saturday at Beaver Stadium on senior day. Check in with Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin following the victory. 

Beaver Stadium Extra - Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Go behind the scenes and inside all things Beaver Stadium on Nebraska gameday with the Nittany Lions. From BTN Tailgate and the Heisman House  to senior day at Beaver Stadium, check in for exclusive interviews and content throughout the entire afternoon. 

The Nissan Heisman House Visits Happy Valley

Senior families join Beaver Stadium Extra 
Mothers of Nittany Lion seniors Brandon Smith and DaeSean Hamilton check in ahead of senior day at Beaver Stadium.

Checking out BTN Tailgate

Catching up with Honorary Captain Tim Shaw 
Former Penn State linebacker, NFL veteran and ALS warrior Tim Shaw was recognized as today's honorary captain. He joins Beaver Stadium Extra to share the experience.

2017 Gameday Live - No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State football returns to Beaver Stadium for its regular season home finale, hosting Nebraska Saturday at 4 p.m. Amidst a stripe out crowd set to blanket Beaver Stadium in blue and white, for Franklin and staff, Saturday marks a final farewell for 23 defining Nittany Lions. 

Follow along with our live blog and join the conversation for in-game updates and exclusive content.  

Live Blog No. 10 Penn State vs. Nebraska
 

2017 Gameday - No. 10 Penn State Hosts Nebraska on Senior Day

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RELATED LINKS: Gameday Central I Live Blog I Game Notes I Depth Chart I Tuesday Presser Roundup I Wednesday Practice Report I T. Smith Q&A I Monday Notebook I Program Spotlight: Going for It I Nittany Lions in the NFL - Week 10 I Gameday Promotions and Reminders I Parking Closures

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 10 Penn State football (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) returns to Beaver Stadium for its regular season home finale, hosting Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) Saturday at 4 p.m.

Amidst a stripe out crowd set to blanket Beaver Stadium in blue and white, for Franklin and staff, Saturday marks a final farewell for 23 defining Nittany Lions. 

"A lot of these guys were either committed to Penn State when I got the job or we brought with, and a lot of these guys played as true freshmen or redshirt freshmen or whatever it may be and have had a significant impact," Franklin said.

There are stories of patience, stories of persistence and adversity among the group. Above all though, it's a senior class responsible for a now impermeable standard set for not only those who return in 2017, but for the legacy of the program.

"You think about their time here, those guys could write a book," Franklin said. "They've seen it all and done it all and experienced the lows and the highs and everything in between. The thing that I'm most proud of, they're going to leave here to go be great fathers and husbands and businessmen and leaders of society."

It's an extraordinary mix of individuals who will leave behind everything from re-printed records to a host of "remember when" moments spanning generations of fans.

Perhaps the real story of the senior class is more than the moments, the Big Ten Championship, the Rose Bowl or any of the many honors and awards. Rather, it's about a group that opted to buy in rather than bail out. 

"We had guys who had four or five different head coaches and then guys coming in just knowing coach Franklin's staff and that's all they knew," senior cornerback Grant Haley said.  "Over the last two years, it seems like coach Franklin's method, there's a method to the madness and everything that he preaches and what he has done over the years, it works. Guys like me, guys like Jason [Cabinda], DaeSean [Hamilton], these upperclassmen really bought into that and being leaders on the team, we reiterate that to the younger guys on the team and it's really made us progress in these last two years, but it's been overall a four-year process."

Come Saturday, the Nittany Lions will take to the field with one final chance to send the senior class out with a victory. It's also fitting of course that the 2017 senior class has just one Big Ten opponent left to defeat, giving Penn State a win against all 14 conference teams across Franklin's tenure.

In a meeting placing a pair of programs among a group of only 10 schools with at least 800 all-time wins, Penn State and Nebraska square off for the first time since 2013.

"I wouldn't have wanted to go through this experience with anyone else," senior defensive tackle Parker Cothren said. "It's kind of sad that it's coming to an end but it's a start of a new era and we're just trying to go out on top in our last game at Beaver Stadium."

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What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Running back Saquon Barkley enters Saturday's matchup just 101 yards shy of becoming just the second Nittany Lion in program history with three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Among several program records he's currently scaling, Barkley also needs just two more career rushing touchdowns to match Lydell Mitchell's nearly 50-year-old record. 

As postseason national awards are narrowing their lists to the semifinalists, Barkley was most recently named a semifinalist for both the Doak Walker Award (nation's premier running back) and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award this week. In the weekly stats standings, Barkley's also slated second in FBS and first in the conference averaging 184.60 all-purpose yards per game.

2. When asked about areas of improvement headed into the final two games of the season, quarterback Trace McSorley noted a few things the Nittany Lions are working on offensively.

"Our running game is something that we really want to get going, really trying to create more balance for our offense," McSorley said. 

Franklin preceded McSorley with the same mention in his weekly press conference, especially when it comes to balance.

"I don't know if we're ever going to be a team that lines up and runs the ball down your throat for 300 yards, but we don't need to be," Franklin said. "We do need to be able when we get the right look, we need to be able to run the ball consistently and into the right look and into the right situation, and we need to win our one-on-one battles from a protection standpoint in the passing game and in the running game in terms of creating space."

3. Penn State's defense is ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 18th in FBS in total defense, allowing opponents fewer than 14 points on the year, which ranks second in the conference and fourth in FBS. In three of four wins for the Huskers this year, Nebraska has outrushed its opponent, despite being significantly out-gained in a the most recent loss at Nebraska.

What To Watch For - Nebraska
1. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley noted earlier this week that quarterback Tanner Lee is in concussion protocol, but the Nittany Lions aren't counting him out.

 "Lee is probably one of the better quarterbacks that we're going to face," assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Terry Smith said. "He's a true pocket guy. He stands tall in the pocket, he can deliver every throw. When he's hot, he's as good as anyone in the country. So we have to make sure that we make the pocket not so comfortable for him."

Outside of Lee, Smith noted that Husker quarterback Patrick O'Brien might not have the same experience as Lee, but is still a threat in the pocket with the ability to deliver throws.

"He was 12-for-18 last week which means he's efficient," Smith said. "The difference is, I think he doesn't have the experience of playing as many snaps, which caused him to take a couple extra sacks last week."

2. Nebraska wide receiver JD Spielman has emerged for the Huskers in his redshirt freshman season, currently needing fewer than 70 yards to reach the 800 receiving yards mark this year.  With two 100-yard receiving games on the year, he made nine catches for 141 yards on the road at Minnesota last week, having also set a single-game record with 200 receiving yards against Ohio State. 

Spielman has also been effective for the Huskers on third and fourth down opportunities, with a combined 27 receptions on third and fourth down, tied for first nationally.

3. Franklin noted earlier this week that there's a clear benefit in the familiarity of Nebraska's 3-4 style of defense that the Nittany Lions saw last week against Rutgers.

Among the Nebraska defense, senior linebacker and team captain Chris Weber is leading the team with 82 tackles. With four double-digit tackle outings this year, Weber also leads the team with 8.0 tackles for loss and five pass breakups.

The Final Word -
As Franklin pointed out earlier this week, Nebraska leads the all-time series at 9-7, with wins in all three outings against the Nittany Lions since the Huskers joined the conference in 2011. Outside of the all-time series with Nebraska, the Nittany Lions enter Saturday's matchup with 13 consecutive wins at home, marking its longest home winning streak since a 14-game stretch from 1990-92.

Terry Smith Q&A - Nebraska

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State assistant head coach and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith joined this week's assistant coaches conference call to talk Nittany Lion football during Nebraska week.

Covering everything from senior day to Nittany Lions on the rise, catch up on a few highlights from the teleconference.

Senior Sendoff
For Smith, it's hard to pick a favorite memory when it comes to someone like Grant Haley. Of course there's the signature scoop and score to topple Ohio State, which Smith identified as a program-changing moment for the Nittany Lions.

"He's just played so much football, we've had a lot of great moments and he's just an awesome kid to be around and have coached," Smith said.

On Senior Day ...
As a proud Nittany Lion alum, Smith also has the benefit of knowing what it feels like to rush through the tunnel on to the field for the final time in full uniform.

"Senior night is an emotional night or an emotional day because you've come to the realization that this is the last time you're ever going to put the uniform on in Beaver Stadium," Smith said. 

"You come through that tunnel and it's the last time the crowd is going to cheer you on as a player. There's a lot of, just that surreal-ness of, this is it. A bunch of emotions start to pour through you and then at the end of the day, you still have your job to do. We still have a game to play and victory to chase."

A Bright Future
Smith noted that true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields has only grown into his position for the Nittany Lions. With a knack for finding the ball, speed, awareness and ball skills, Smith is increasingly more confident in his future.

"Tariq's doing really well for us, he's going to have a bright future for us as we graduate two senior corners in Christian [Campbell] and Grant [Haley]," Smith said. "We feel really good about where Tariq is as those two guys depart the program."

Throughout the season, Castro-Fields has continued to grow, giving the staff more confidence with each snap.

"Tariq, he played really well in the Michigan State game and he's had some games where he has played really well and like I said, we just continue to give him a little bit more and more," Smith said. "As he continues to handle it, Tariq's going to be really good for us." 

More Freshman Impact
Smith also spoke highly of true freshman Lamont Wade, comparing his freshman campaign to that of someone like Grant Haley. 

"Lamont has become really, really important to us on special teams," Smith said. "He makes a ton of plays on special teams units and he's played a significant role with us on the defensive end as well. His role is going to continue to grow for us. Lamont is a super smart kid." 

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