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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - 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. For the second-straight season, the Nittany Lions travel to Indiana.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Game Blog - Penn State at Indiana
Game Notes | Gameday Central | Indiana Scouting Report | Coach Franklin Wednesday
Press Conference Roundup | Coach Gattis Q&A | Player Q&A Video
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the second consecutive season, Penn State (4-4, 1-4) will travel to Bloomington for a matchup against Indiana (3-5, 0-4) inside Memorial Stadium. Kick is slated for noon on Saturday with television coverage on BTN.
The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers have met 17 times since Penn State first began Big Ten play in 1993, with the Lions taking 16 of the 17 on-field contests. The two teams have met in each season since 2007, with Indiana scoring its first victory in the series last year.
Penn State returns to action following a narrow 20-19 setback to Maryland last week. Senior kicker Sam Ficken nailed all four of his field goal attempts against the Terrapins, including three kicks from 45 or more yards. Ficken is the only Penn State player to make three field goals from at 45 or more yards since at least 1982. He is ranked 10th in the nation in accuracy (85.9 percent), having connected on 17 of his 19 attempts in 2014. That mark includes going 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter this season.
Penn State's defense again turned in a stellar performance against Maryland last week. The Lions are ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run (77.1 ypg). Additionally, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense (273.4 ypg). Penn State is No. 9 in scoring defense at 17.8 points per game. Senior linebacker Mike Hull is ranked seventh in the nation with 11.5 tackles per game.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg continues to rank among the top signal callers in the Big Ten. He is leading the conference in passing with 254.8 passing yards per game. Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in completions per game at 22.88. He is just seven yards shy of becoming the eighth Penn State quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards.
Indiana dropped to 3-5 overall last week with a 34-10 setback at Michigan. The Hoosiers are led by one of the nation's most dynamic rushers in junior Tevin Coleman. Coleman is leading the nation in rushing yards per game at 162.5 yards per contest. Indiana is averaging 274.5 rushing yards per game.
Welcome to the Gameday Preview for the week nine matchup against Indiana.
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Junior defensive end Deion Barnes is putting together a superb season for the Nittany Lion defense in 2014. The Philadelphia native is third on the team in tackles with 34 stops. Barnes is leading the squad in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (6.0). Above all, it is Barnes' work ethic that is separating him from most guys in the conference. Head coach James Franklin used clips of Barnes' relentless pursuit during a team meeting this week to illustrate the way he wants to see each player on the team compete. His numbers speak for themselves, but Barnes has been a tremendously disruptive player on a unit that is ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense.
2. With the season-ending injury to Zach Zwinak, Akeel Lynch has embraced the opportunity to work alongside senior Bill Belton. Lynch has prepared for an increased role since he arrived on campus. Looking to become a complete back, Lynch has said that he is continuously working on all facets of his game. He carried the ball a career-high 21 times last week during his first career start against Maryland. With each passing week, keep an eye on Lynch as he continues to get more confident in an increased role on the Penn State offense.
3. Thanks to a red-hot start to the 2014 season, senior placekicker Sam Ficken is joining elite company in the Penn State record book. Ficken is third in the nation in field goals made per game at 2.13 per contest. With 17 made kicks (17-for-19) this season, Ficken now has 47 career makes. He is third on the all-time field goals made list, with Craig Fayak sitting second at 50 made kicks. On the scoring chart, Ficken has accounted for 239 points, which is sixth on the all-time Penn State list. Ficken has made nine-straight kicks in 2014.
What to Watch For - Indiana
1. Tevin Coleman's list of accolades in 2014 is impressive. In addition to leading the nation in rushing yards per game (162.5), Coleman is first nationally in yards per carry (8.02) and first in yards from scrimmage per game (180.0). The junior has reached 100 yards in 10-straight games, the longest streak in the nation. A semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, Coleman has game-changing speed with the ball in his hands. He has accounted for 15 plays of 20 or more yards, including six touchdowns. An explosive player, Coleman leads the nation in career touchdown runs of 30 yards or more (6) and 40 yards or more (5).
2. The trio of sophomore safety Antonio Allen, sophomore linebacker T.J. Simmons and senior cornerback Tim Bennett top the Indiana defense in tackles. Allen has made 46 stops from the free safety position. Simmons has 45 hits and 2.5 TFL from the middle linebacker position. Bennett has made 44 tackles, and he also ranks fourth in the Big Ten with nine pass breakups. The Hoosier defense has allowed 446.0 yards per game in 2014.
3. Senior wide receiver Shane Wynn is the lone Hoosier in school history and one of only eight active players with receiving, rushing, punt return and kick return touchdowns in his career. Wynn is leading Indiana with 29 receptions for 436 yards and two touchdowns this season. The speedy senior is the team's top return threat. He is averaging 22.2 yards per touch on kick returns this season.
The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions are set to play Indiana for the 18th time on Saturday afternoon. The Penn State-Indiana series is one that dates back to the first year the Nittany Lions were members of the Big Ten in 1993. Since 1993, the Lions have played Ohio State in every season. Outside of the Buckeyes, Indiana will tie Michigan State as the next opponent on the list that Penn State has played the most during its time in the conference. Saturday' will mark Penn State's seventh trip to Memorial Stadium. The Nittany Lions also collided in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in 2000 and FedEx Field in 2010. Penn State has hosted Indiana eight times. Now members of the Big Ten East Division, the two schools will play annually. Kickoff is slated for 12:01 on Saturday with Eric Collins, Chuck Long and Lisa Byington on the BTN broadcast.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive recruiting coordinator,
assistant special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis spoke
with the media on Thursday. The Nittany
Lions travel to Indiana on Saturday at noon (BTN). Take a look at a Q&A
Q: You started the season with a really young group of receivers. Can you talk about how they have developed this season?
Gattis: "I think they have done a really good job kind of developing themselves and understanding how we want them to play. They have stepped up and made some critical plays at times, but I think as the games continue to grow on, I think we will continue to grow. I don't think we are quite where we need to be. We are heading in the right direction. I'm really proud of the guys developing their confidence and stepping up and making plays. We are a very, very young group. I'm really excited about the future and the direction we are headed in to. I really feel like we are going to get better as opportunities continue to present themselves."
Q: What's the mindset of the group through eight games this season and how the unit is progressing?
Gattis: "I don't think there is any frustration. I think the kids are developing the right way. If you start off hot (like we did), people are going to try and gameplan against you and show different things to keep the plays in front of them. I think we still have one of the best passing offenses in the Big Ten. We've got DaeSean Hamilton who is in the top three in the Big Ten in receiving. He leads all freshmen in the country in catches and receiving yards. I don't think there is any frustration. The guys are continuing to develop. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in other ways. Teams have done some things differently. But I think we have continued to take steps forward each week. Each game is different depending on what teams are doing. But we need to continue to develop as an offense. We are such a young unit that each week is something new, and we have to continue to gain confidence to move forward."
Q: Are you pleased with how the group has continued to maintain its confidence level during the past few weeks?
Gattis: "One thing about these kids is that they want to win as bad as anybody else wants to win. I think a lot of people need to understand that. They want to win as bad as these coaches want to win and as bad as the fans want to win. It has weighed heavily on our kids these past couple weeks. But they continue to show up each day and work hard and continue to improve. We continue to focus on being the best that we can be and continue to work on the areas that need to be worked on. But our kids have handled it with the utmost respect."
Q: What is the next step for the young freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin as they progress into bigger roles?
Gattis: "I think those guys are really progressing. I'm really happy about Saeed and Chris. Those guys are playing really good ball. They are making some plays out there. It's hard sometimes when you have a bunch of guys rotating in. Some of the opportunities they aren't in for, they can't make. But as far as their attempts, their completions and their targets, I've really been pleased with how they are playing as they continue to develop. This is a young group. DaeSean still has room to develop, but he has been playing really good football. Geno (Lewis) is a young player who is playing good football, but he still has a lot more room to grow. I think as a group, we have to continue to find ways to get those guys more active as far as Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin. We need to continue to get those guys more and more reps."
Q: Blocking is such an important part of a receiver's job. Can you talk about the way your unit has blocked this season?
Gattis: "I think blocking is just an unselfish thing. There is really no way to coach it. You have to have it deep down on the inside. I've been pleased so far with our blocking. We've changed some things up as far as blocking on the perimeter. Our receivers have been very, very active as far as blocking on the perimeter in our screen game. We are going to get them more active in our run game. I think it's an unselfish mentality that you've got to develop as an offense. Our guys truly know, we say it all the time, 'no block, no rock,' so in order for us to get the ball we have to be unselfish and block for others. And that's how we create explosive plays, not only in the pass game but the run game."
Q: What type of challenges do you think the Indiana secondary will pose on Saturday?
Gattis: "Whenever you play a team that is, kind of like last week, that is a three-man rush team on a 3-4, some of the challenges would be that they drop eight men into coverage. They have an extra defender, whether that's in deep coverage or underneath. So, I think that is always a challenge when you are going against a 3-4 team is that they are going to drop eight. They have a little bit of history with us. Their defensive coordinator is a good friend of mine that I've known over time that was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. They are going to be ready. They are a well-coached team. They have good players in their secondary with a lot of starts. They are going to try and challenge us. And we are going to be prepared."
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Indiana | Memorial Stadium | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State travels to Bloomington on Saturday to take on the Hoosiers. Get to know Indiana in this week's scouting report.
The Hoosiers are led by fourth-year head coach Kevin Wilson, who is 13-30 in his career at IU. Indiana went 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten in 2013. They returned 59 lettermen and 18 starters from a year ago.
Indiana fell to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten last Saturday, losing 34-10 at Michigan. The Hoosiers gained 191 yards on offense, rushing for 167 yards. Freshman quarterback Zander Diamont completed five of his eight passes for 24 yards. He also rushed for 49 yards on seven attempts. Running back Tevin Coleman continued a strong season, gaining 108 yards on 27 carries. D'Angelo Roberts rushed for 19 yards, including a three-yard touchdown. Shane Wynn caught two passes for 12 yards.
The Hoosiers allowed 404 yards against Michigan, including 184 rushing. Safety Antonio Allen led the defense with 10 tackles, six solo, and also added 0.5 TFL and a pass breakup. Fellow safety Mark Murphy recorded seven stops, while linebacker David Cooper had six tackles, including one for loss. Chase Dutra intercepted a pass, returning it 39 yards.
Indiana ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 27.6 points per game. They also average 426.6 total yards, ranking fifth. The Hoosiers average 274.5 yards rushing and 152.1 yards passing, ranking third and 12th in the conference, respectively.
Diamont will make his third start of the season at quarterback after junior Nate Sudfeld suffered a shoulder injury. Diamont has completed 10 of his 23 pass attempts for 35 yards. He has yet to throw a touchdown or an interception, but he has rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown.
A good blend of size and speed, Coleman is third in FBS in total rushing yards with 1,300 yards and first in rushing yards per game (162.5). He averages 8.0 yards per carry and has 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior has rushed for 100 yards in 10 straight games, dating back to last year. Coleman also has 17 catches for 140 yards. Roberts has contributed 435 yards and six touchdowns.
The Hoosier receivers are led by 5-foot-7 speedster Shane Wynn. The senior has 436 yards and two scores on 29 receptions, averaging 15 yards per catch. Wynn also has a 75-yard rushing touchdown. Nick Stoner has 18 catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. Freshman J-Shun Harris II has 18 receptions for 139 yards and two scores.
The Indiana offensive line has combined for 109 career starts and includes a redshirt senior, two redshirt juniors, a junior and a redshirt sophomore. Guard Dan Feeney and tackle Jason Spriggs were each projected third team All-Big Ten in the preseason by Phil Steele.
Indiana has allowed 34.8 points and 445.4 total yards per game, ranking 13th in the Big Ten in both categories. They have given up 170.6 yards rushing, ranking 10th, and 274.8 yards passing, ranking 14th.
Nick Mangieri, playing the "Bandit" position on the Hoosiers' defensive line, has 27 tackles, 15 solo, two sacks and an interception. Defensive end Bobby Richardson has 20 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks, while tackle Nate Hoff has five tackles for loss and two sacks.
Middle linebacker T.J. Simmons leads his position group with 45 tackles, including 25 solo. He also has 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. Outside linebacker David Cooper has recorded 41 tackles, 21 solo and two for loss. Forisse Hardin, an outside linebacker, has 35 stops, including 3.5 for loss and a sack.
Allen leads the team with 46 tackles, including 26 solo, and 1.5 for loss. Cornerback Tim Bennett, has made 44 stops and broken up nine passes. Fellow cornerback Michael Hunter has 28 tackles, three for loss, and two pass break-ups. Murphy has 34 tackles and an interception, while Dutra has two picks.
Kicker Griffin Oakes has connected on five of his seven attempts, with a long of 58 yards. Punter Erich Toth averages nearly 41 yards per kick, placing 12 inside the 20-yard-line. Wynn handles the kick and punt return duties. He averages 22 yards per kick return, with a long return of 35 yards.
Penn State leads the all-time series 16-1, on the field. Indiana won 44-24 last year in Bloomington.
What Kevin Wilson is saying about Penn State:
"[Christian] Hackenberg is one of the better players in our conference. He throws the ball quite a bit. They do some stuff that starts with the quarterback and getting the ball down the field to some young receivers that are very, very good."
"Strength of their team is a very, very strong defense, I think first in our league and the country in run defense."
"Penn State is very solid up front. Their one inside player, [Anthony] Zettel is tremendously active. He's a great player."
Contributions on all of the 2014 Opponent Previews provided by GoPSUsports.com Student Writer Paul Marboe.
James Franklin Transcript - Nov. 4
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (4-4, 1-4) head on the road this week for a matchup against Indiana (3-5, 0-4) on Saturday at noon (BTN).
Head coach James Franklin previewed the matchup against the Hoosiers on Tuesday afternoon inside the Beaver Stadium Media Room.
The Nittany Lion defense again turned in a dominant performance on Saturday, limiting Maryland to 194 total yards of offense, including just 33 on the ground. Penn State leads the nation in rushing defense (77.1 ypg) heading into the Big Ten East Division tilt against Indiana.
"Defensively, we're doing a nice job stopping the run and eliminating the big plays," said Franklin. "We need to get more turnovers. That would be helpful for us. Third down, we were excellent (last week)."
This week, the Nittany Lion defense will face a stiff test matching up against the nation's top rusher. Indiana's Tevin Coleman is No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards per game (162.5), rushing yards per carry (8.02) and yards from scrimmage per game (180.0). As a team, Indiana is ranked third in the Big Ten at 274.5 rushing yards per game. Franklin and the Nittany Lion defense are looking forward to the challenge.
"It's funny, me and Bob Shoop were just talking about this. It kind of reminds us of McFadden, who used to be at Arkansas, a little bit," Franklin said. "He's big, he's strong, he's a one‑cut runner. The thing that was interesting too, I was looking at their offensive line, they've got a massive offensive line, but not only that, they have depth and experience."
Core value No. 1 for the Penn State Football program is approaching all facets of life with a positive attitude. That being said, the team is looking ahead with great confidence. The mindset for Franklin and the Nittany Lions will never change and the level of enthusiasm towards getting better each week will never waver. That could not have been more evident listening to Coach Franklin on Tuesday afternoon.
"(We are) in a great mood. Excited about getting out to practice today and getting better and continuing to work with these guys," Franklin said. "(We've) Got a tremendous opportunity. Myself, the staff, the players are more determined and more optimistic than we've ever been."
Correcting the little mistakes on the offensive side of the ball is on top of the priority list moving forward. Franklin is seeing progress each week, but he is looking for the unit to clean up the small mistakes this week at Indiana.
"Offensively, it really just comes down to execution," Franklin said. "There are too many little things. Whether it's footwork, whether it's assignment that we're not doing consistently, and it's not one person; it's one person this play, it's a different person that play. So we have to do a better job there."
The Nittany Lions and Hoosiers are slated for a noon kick on Saturday. The two teams have met 17 times in a series dating back to 1993.
Press Conference Notes
- Ryan Keiser injury update
"I don't want to get into the specifics and details unless there is something to really be told. But he is doing extremely well from everything that we're told. We have a staff meeting every morning at 7 a.m., and that is part of the discussion. I've talked to Ryan's mom multiple times. I've talked to Ryan's wife multiple times. Our training staff as well as our doctors have been involved every step of the way. I think Tim Bream, our head trainer went down yesterday to visit with him. From everything I'm hearing and everything I know he's doing great."
- Franklin on the Indiana offense:
"They're averaging 274 rushing yards per game, number three in the Big Ten, and number 10 nationally. I think that's what this game is really about. Our rush defense versus their running back, who is leading the country in rushing right now. They return seven starters. They're a spread, no-huddle, tempo offense. The last three games they've had 11 big plays. Ten runs, one pass for a total of 615 yards. Explosive offense. That's what you watch them, they may go zero yards, one yard, zero yards, two yards, and then an 80-yarder. That's kind of who they've been."
- Franklin on the Indiana defense:
"They've improved dramatically over the last couple of years. They've got nine starters returning. They're a three-four defense. Really big up front. I think they were starting to develop some depth as a four-three defensive line. Now they're only playing with three defensive linemen on the field, but you look at them, they've got 300-pounders almost three-deep. You look, they're a cover four defense. They do a really good job in the secondary running around. They're a multiple pressure defense."
- Franklin on the Indiana special teams:
"They have a really fast slot receiver as well as specialist, Shane Wynn, No. 1. That's kind of who they are on special teams as well. Shane Wynn is their punt returner and kick returner. Their kicker has a really strong leg. He's made a 58-yard field goal this year, and that is 21 touchbacks. "
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Senior kicker Sam Ficken is quietly putting together one of the best seasons of
any placekicker across the country.
Following a 4-for-4 effort in Saturday's game against Maryland, Ficken was named one of three stars by the Lou Groza Award on Monday. Additionally, he was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week for the fourth time in his career. The Indiana native nailed three field goals of 45-plus yards, a feat no other Penn State kicker has accomplished since at least 1982.
For the season, Ficken has been virtually automatic, going 17-for-19 on field goal attempts and 17-for-17 on PATs.
"He's been playing extremely well," said head coach James Franklin. "I said that to you guys in the spring. I said that to you in the summer. He's also an example of a guy who's been here; he's a senior, he's done everything right both on and off the field. He's graduated. You're talking about a veteran player, who's seen it and done it and that shows up on the field."
Ficken's only unsuccessful field goal attempts in 2014 are two kicks that were blocked. He's been a model of consistency since spring practice began in March.
"Of course, everything right now seems to be going right for me," said Ficken. "With Ryan Keiser being out Chris Gulla is doing a tremendous job filling in for him. When they do their job correctly it makes my job a whole lot easier, and I have to give them credit for that."
Ficken and Keiser developed a tremendous rapport on field goal attempts during the past two seasons. When Keiser hurt his hand and could not hold in the latter stages of 2013, Ficken's percentage dropped. Ficken went to work in the offseason to build chemistry with a second holder to make sure it did not happen again in 2014 if he needed to work with someone other than Keiser.
With Keiser out for the remainder of the season, Ficken's work with Gulla during the offseason proved to be paramount on a perfect kicking Saturday.
Ficken is ranked No. 3 in the nation in field goals made per game (17; 2.13 pg) and No. 10 in the nation in accuracy at 89.5 percent.
The senior has been just as clutch as he has been accurate this season. In the fourth quarter of games this year, Ficken is 5-for-5 on field goal attempts. That includes a game-winner against UCF and a kick that sent Penn State into overtime against Ohio State.
"My mindset is if they send me out I am expected to make the kick," said Ficken. "The score of the game adds a little pressure on how big the kick is, but in my mind, every kick is important."
Penn State travels to Indiana for a noon kick (BTN) on Saturday in Bloomington.
Lions Top Nation in Rushing Defense
After limiting Maryland to 33 rushing yards on Saturday, the Nittany Lions returned to the No. 1 spot in the nation in rushing defense. Through eight games, the Nittany Lions have allowed 77.1 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Lions are now third nationally in total defense. Penn State opponents have accounted for 273.4 yards of total offense against the Lions this season. The Lions are ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense (17.8 ppg).
Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:
QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in passing yards (2,038), passing yards per game (254.8 ypg) and completions per game (22.88).
WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is eighth nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (7.8). He ranks 18th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 91.0.
LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is seventh in the nation in tackles (11.5 per game). He is second in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in solo tackles per game at 6.5.
K Sam Ficken - Ficken is third in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 2.13.
Early Look at the Hoosiers
Indiana enters the weekend looking to snap a three-game slide. The Hoosiers dropped a 34-10 decision at Michigan on Saturday.
The Hoosiers are 3-5 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play. Indiana knocked off then-No. 18 Missouri on Sept. 20 (31-27) before the Big Ten season began.
With starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld out for the season (shoulder), Indiana has turned to true freshman Zander Diamont as the leader of the offense. The Hoosiers boast one of the top rushing offenses in the nation, thanks to junior Tevin Coleman. Coleman is nation's leading rusher at 162.5 yards per game. He is third in the nation with 1,300 total rushing yards and fifth in the nation in yards per carry (8.02). He has rushed for 11 scores in 2014.
Penn State and Indiana will meet for 18th time on Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 16-1 all-time against the Hoosiers.
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