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Focus on Buffalo as Nittany Lions Look Ahead to Home Opener

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11300228.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Core value No. 1 for the Penn State football program is simple.

Anyone involved with the team is expected to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the circumstances are.

That has been the case since the day head coach James Franklin took the job in January of 2014.

The message around the team is the same whether the group walks off the field with a win or a loss.

Focus is placed on what is next.

Sure, the group will review film, address areas that need attention and make corrections. From there, though, all energy, attention and efforts are shifted towards the next game on the schedule.

Before the sun had set around Lincoln Financial Field on the south edge of Philadelphia, that was the mantra around the locker room.

The team cannot change the outcome of the Temple game. But the group can impact the days and hours leading up to the next task at hand.

"It's as simple as this. We're going to come in tomorrow, watch the tape and we are going to get better. Then we are going to put it to bed," sophomore linebacker Jason Cabinda said.

"It's about going back to our core values," said senior cornerback Trevor Williams. "It's a positive attitude. Compete in everything. Great work ethic. And sacrifice. Temple was the better team today. We just have to respond."

Williams was part of a defensive effort that totaled 15 tackles for loss against the Owls. The steady senior equaled his career-high with six tackles. He also tallied 2.0 TFL after entering the game with 1.5 TFL for his career. Senior defensive end Carl Nassib led the defense with a career-high 10 tackles, 2.5 TFL and a sack in his first start.

Saturday's game was big day for some of Penn State's youngest talent. Seven players started for the first time in their Penn State careers. The Nittany Lions had 10 redshirt freshmen make their debuts at Temple, along with five true freshmen.

That list includes true freshmen Brandon Polk (WR) and John Reid (CB), who both started. Polk took an end around 33 yards on Penn State's first offensive play of the season. Reid started at corner on the opposite side of Williams.

On offense, junior running back Akeel Lynch averaged 7.8 yards per carry on 10 rushing attempts. Finishing with 78 yards, Lynch scampered 42 yards for a first-quarter touchdown at The Linc on Saturday. With week one in the rearview mirror, Lynch is focused on what is ahead.

"It's life. Sometimes things don't go as planned, but you have to learn from the bumps and bruises and move on," said Lynch.

The Nittany Lions held meetings and practiced on Sunday to begin the first home week of 2015. Penn State will face Buffalo on Saturday at noon (ESPN2). The home opener against the Bulls kicks off five-straight weeks of football inside Beaver Stadium.

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VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame at Temple (9/5/15)

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PHILADELPHIA - Head coach James Franklin talks with the media following the season-opener at Temple.

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VIDEO: Postgame Player Remarks at Temple (9/5/15)

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PHILADELPHIA - Several Nittany Lions talk with the media following the season-opener at Temple inside Lincoln Financial Field.

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2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Temple

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PHILADELPHIA - Welcome to live, interactive coverage of the Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions open the 2015 season with a clash against in-state foe Temple inside Lincoln Financial Field. Follow along for live updates from the stadium.

Live Blog 2015 Gameday Live - Penn State at Temple

2015 Photo Blog - Penn State at Temple

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PHILADELPHIA - Welcome to live coverage of the Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions open the 2015 season with a clash against in-state foe Temple inside Lincoln Financial Field. Follow along for photos from the stadium.


2015 Gameday - Nittany Lions Travel to Temple

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Game Blog | Depth Chart | Press Conference Roundup

Coach Franklin Wednesday | Brent Pry Q&A | Training Camp Central Coverage

PHILADELPHIA - Penn State will kick off its 129th season on the gridiron at Temple on Saturday in a 3:30 p.m. (ESPN) kick inside Lincoln Financial Field.

11290782.jpegFacing off for the 44th time, the Nittany Lions and Owls are slated to collide in Philadelphia for a season-opener for the first time since 1978. The Lions defeated the Owls 30-13 in November of last season, marking the Blue and White's 31st-straight win in the series. Penn State tallied a 14-10 victory over Temple in the most recent meeting at Lincoln Financial Field (2010).

"I would say that myself and the staff and the team is in a much better position this year than last year," head coach James Franklin said. "Last year we were excited to play the first game, but I think we could have also used another two weeks of preparation. I don't feel that way as much. I feel like our staff and our players are ready to play this game."

The Nittany Lions enter 2015 with eight returning starters on offense and seven from its 2014 defense that ranked among the nation's best. Senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel, who garnered pre-season All-America and All-Big Ten accolades, headlines the group of returnees on the defensive side of the ball.

On offense, junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg enters the season poised to re-write the Penn State record books again in 2015. A starter in 25-straight games, Hackenberg needs just 12 completions to tie Matt McGloin for second all-time in the category.

Junior Akeel Lynch leads a talented corps of running backs into the season. Lynch
logged seven straight games with 12 or more carries to end 2014, including back-to-back 130-yard plus outings in November. He also scored touchdowns in three of the final four games and tallied 75 yards on 17 carries in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton returns after tallying a team-high 82 receptions last season. The Virginia native recorded a superlative rookie season and will be among the leaders in a deeply talented group of Nittany Lion receivers.

Under the direction of State College native and former Penn State linebacker ('97), Matt Rhule, Temple will open the season with an experienced squad on both sides of the ball. The Owls return 21 players with numerous career starts, including 10 on defense. Temple finished 6-6 in 2014.

The long wait is over. The 2015 Penn State Football season is here.  Welcome to the gameday preview for the season-opener against the Temple Owls.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
11290803.jpeg1. Year two of the James Franklin era marks the return of a tradition engrained in the illustrious history of Penn State football. The announcement came on July 16. Names on the back of the iconic blue and white jerseys would be removed in advance of the 2015 season. The decision to remove the names was made to pay homage to the history of Penn State football and return to the identity that represented Penn State for 125 years. For more than a century, Penn State football has embodied one identity. Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game. That tradition is back. Saturday's game marks the first contest since the 2012 TicketCity Bowl that Penn State's trademark jersey will feature no names on the back of jerseys.

"I think this is the right thing at the right time," said Franklin. "We are tremendously excited about the direction and the future of our program, but also we are respectful of our past, our history and our tradition. It's an exciting time."

2. Taking care of the football is a point of emphasis for the offense every week of the season. This week it carries even more importance with Temple's track record of forcing opponents into miscues. The Owls forced 30 turnovers (No. 11 nationally) and scored six defensive touchdowns (No. 2 nationally) last season. With 10 returning starters on the defensive side of the ball, Temple is poised to field another stout unit. On the other side of the ball, Penn State's defense was statistically among the best in the nation last season. But one area where the Lions went into the offseason looking to improve revolved around turnovers. Linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White said earlier this week that the unit has preached more turnovers because they know that a good defense can elevate to elite by creating more opportunities for the offense.

3. With a new season comes new opportunity. Penn State returns 15 starters from the 2014 team and a host of other players with game experience. Nonetheless, there will be several new faces playing more prominent roles on both sides of the ball. On offense, left tackle Paris Palmer, running backs Mark Allen, Nick Scott and Saquon Barkley and receivers DeAndre Thompkins, Brandon Polk and Juwan Johnson are all poised to make their Penn State debuts. Defensively, Torrence Brown and Antoine White on the line, Troy Reeder at linebacker and secondary players Koa Farmer, John Reid and Amani Oruwariye are among the group who could see game action for the first time. Kicker Joey Julius is also primed to make his debut for the Blue and White.

What to Watch For - Temple
1. Led by NCAA's active leader in tackles (355), senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, Temple fields a standout front seven on the defensive side of the ball. The Owls finished fourth nationally in 2014 in scoring defense by allowing 17.5 points per game. Temple scored 8.3 points per game off of turnovers last season.

2. With 19 career starts, quarterback P.J. Walker returns as the leader of the Temple offense. A threat with his arm and his feet, Walker threw for 2,317 yards and rushed for 324 yards in 2014. Junior Jahad Thomas is Temple's leading returnee in the running back stable. Thomas tallied 384 rushing yards and 364 receiving yards last season. He averaged 7.8 yards per touch in 2014.

3. Redshirt senior Robby Anderson headlines the Temple receivers. Anderson was Temple's leading receiver in 2013, but did not play last season. Back in the lineup, Anderson registered 34 receptions for 657 yards and scored nine touchdowns in the final five games of the 2013 season. He will also return punts for the Owls.

The Final Word:
Saturday's game will mark Penn State's third trip to the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Nittany Lions are 2-0 at The Linc. The contest is the first of two games inside NFL stadiums this season. The Lions will meet Maryland in M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, in October. The. With more than 100,000 alums in the Philadelphia area, Nittany Lions will be greeted by a large contingent of Penn State fans on Saturday. Temple officials are expecting a capacity crowd of more than 69,000 for the season-opener. Penn State is no stranger to opening a season away from Beaver Stadium. This year marks the third straight that the Lions will play away from home in the opener. Penn State has not opened three-straight seasons in venues outside of Beaver Stadium since a three-year span from 1971-73. ESPN's live coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with kickoff slated for 3:35. Bob Wischusen (Play-by-Play), Brock Huard (Analyst) and Shannon Spake (Sideline) will call the game.


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Inside Training Camp - Regen Process

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the Nittany Lions on the brink of the 2015 season-opener at Temple, take an inside look at how the team maintains nutrition and hydration as part of the regen process heading into a season.

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Temple Week Q&A - Brent Pry

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11290222.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions open the season on Saturday in an intra-state matchup against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field (3:30 p.m. on ESPN).

Leading up to the season-opener, assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry talked with the media on Thursday to preview the game. Take a look at a Q&A with Coach Pry.

Q: Can you give us an update on Nyeem (Wartman-White) did during the preseason adapting to that new "Mike" linebacker role?
Pry: "I'll tell you, Nyeem did fantastic. He was excited about the position change. He wanted it for himself. He saw it as a great challenge filling in for Mike Hull, taking that spot by the reins. He really worked at it. It's very important for Nyeem. He had a great camp physically. Mentally, he learned the position. I feel good about where Nyeem is. And I'm excited about watching Nyeem play his first game at 'Mike' 'backer."

Q: Where did you see Brandon Bell improve during this camp?
Pry: "Brandon has improved significantly. He was a pleasant surprise to me last year. Brandon has what I would call game savvy and position savvy. His skillset is not off the charts. But he does a great job with angles. He's a great tackler. He's a very smart football player. Brandon's improved. He's gotten bigger; he's gotten stronger. There are certain points in a game where I ask him to play 'Will' 'backer when we go to some of our sub packages. He's improved dramatically there. He's a much better box linebacker this fall than he was going into last fall. That's going to help our defense."

Q: Are there one or two things you have seen Jason Cabinda really improve on from last year?
Pry: "There certainly are some things. Jason's strongpoint as a true freshman last year; he was very physical in the box. He had good instincts in the box. He was a liability in the perimeter. He's improved drastically there. He led our linebacker crew with interceptions this camp. He's done a really good job reading quarterbacks and leaning on routes. His transition is better. His movements are a little more in the framework. He's not so out of body when transitioning and reading routes. He's really cleaned that part up. He's been a big improvement there."

Q: How successful were you in establishing the depth you want at the linebacker spots behind the starters?
Pry: "We've got some guys working in the two deep right now. Gary Wooten has experience at 'Mike' linebacker. He's had two years soaking in the position. Gary's not a new guy to college football. He's a redshirt junior. He's 240 pounds now. He's plenty big and strong enough. He's studied under Mike Hull. He's studied under Nyeem. I think Gary is in a good position to be that second guy in (at 'Mike'). Von Walker has done a nice job out at the 'Sam' position. We use quite a bit of sub packages that take a little bit of pressure off the depth needed there when we get to our 'Star' and 'Dollar' looks. But Von has done a good job. He's playing his best football, not just on special teams, but on defense. He's learned the position. He's grown in the position. He's minimized his liabilities, so I think Von has put himself in a position to merit some reps to be ready to be Brandon Bell's backup. And then at the 'Will' position, Troy Reeder has overcome some injuries. He's positioned himself to be Jason Cabinda's backup at 'Will'. He's another guy who has good size and strength. He's got some areas he's better in than others on the field. Troy is a guy that continues to grow. He's a guy that will be playing his first snaps of college football on Saturday. I'm excited to see that."

Q: The 2014 defense set the bar high. How do those expectations impact this year's team?
Pry: "You love those expectations. That's what you want. I think they are here at Penn State anyways, but particularly with the year we had. We understand that when you watch the tape from last year, there are a lot of areas where there can be improvement. Statistics are one thing, but there is a winning formula for playing championship defense. There are some areas we fell short in, so there have been plenty of things for us to emphasize. It's great to have those expectations, but at the same time, there are plenty of areas we felt we needed to improve in."

Q: One thing the defense really excelled at last year was executing in-game adjustments. Can you take us through that process and how that works?
Pry: "I think it starts during the week in our film study and the conversations that we have with one another during the course of the week and conversations we have with the kids about the opponent and about the gameplan. We maximize the meeting time. We pretty much get right to business, whether it is the defensive staff or with our players. There is a lot of film study, a lot of preparation and a lot of dialogue throughout the week. Then on gameday, Bob (Shoop) is one of the best in the box at seeing things and recognizing what is happening. He does a tremendous amount of film study and preparation on the opponent during the week. I think he is an expert in the sky up there that can see things very well. We communicate well, the four of us on gameday, and to be honest, along with the graduate assistants. We use everybody involved. We pride ourselves on seeing things, making the adjustments and conveying things to the kids. We hope to continue to do a good job with it."

Q: What types of challenges does Temple pose for the defense, especially the linebacker corps?
Pry: "They do a fantastic job in their play-action, run game. There are a lot of run-pass conflicts they put on the linebacker position. They do a very good job spreading you out to make you defend the pass, but still have the ability to run the football. I think they do as good of a job at that as anybody we play. That's something that has been a big area of emphasis for us. The second part to that is how athletic their quarterback is. Anytime you face an athletic quarterback like P.J. Walker it is a challenge on your 'backers and your d-line. Keeping that guy contained and casting the net over him to keep his running abilities in check is something that will be a challenge on Saturday for sure."

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VIDEO: James Franklin Practice Update - Temple Week

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

The Nittany Lions are slated to meet Temple on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to kick off the 2015 season. Take a look at the practice update from Temple week.

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Inside Training Camp - Offensive Line

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Training Camp Central

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - What a difference a year has made for coach Herb Hand and the Nittany Lion offensive line.

At this time last year, Penn State had just one returning player with any type of significant game experience on the offensive line. Now, the Lions will head into the 2015 season with four returning starters and increased depth across every position in the trenches.

Senior Angelo Mangiro headlines the group and is the leader of the unit. Mangiro has played in every game during the past three seasons (37 straight). A vocal leader for the unit, Mangiro believes the line will take a significant step forward, and the man under center sees the unit's potential.

"I think Mang has done an awesome job with that," said Christian Hackenberg. "He's really taken the reins this off season, and then Coach Hand now, those two kind of work hand in hand to really get that done. And you know, you can see them being a lot more comfortable with making calls and being a lot more assertive with it."

Spend some time with Coach Hand and the offensive line during preseason practice.

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