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VIDEO: Purdue Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with sophomore cornerback Jordan Lucas and senior offensive lineman Eric Shrive leading up to the Minnesota game.

Jordan Lucas

Eric Shrive

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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Purdue Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions have just eight more quarters of football inside Beaver Stadium this season.

With the Minnesota game in the rearview mirror, O'Brien previewed Saturday's home clash against Purdue on Tuesday afternoon during his weekly teleconference.

9445013.jpegWith three games to play, O'Brien put the season in perspective.  Everyone on the coaching staff and in the locker room wants to be 9-0, but the Nittany Lions are 5-4 heading into the final three weeks, and all Coach O'Brien wants to see is a step forward each day the team steps onto the field.

"We've played in the four losses, the four teams that we've played have a 30‑8 record," O'Brien said.  "One team is undefeated, one team has one loss, one team has two losses, one team has five losses.  When we play a schedule like that, we don't have a lot of margin for error, whether it's coaching or playing, and so we've got to do that this week.  We have got to come out ready to go and try to play mistake‑free football and play as good as we can."

The Lions have not let losses linger under O'Brien (6-1 after a loss during the last two seasons).  Monday and Tuesday practices have been strong all season long.  It's a testament to the makeup of the team and how it can move from one gameplan to the next without losing focus.

"With our guys it's never a matter of focusing on who the opponent is," O'Brien said.  "It's not - it has nothing to do with records or anything else.  It's about playing the best football we can play and trying to get better from the mistakes that we made last week."

Without a postseason to look forward to, the Nittany Lions know they have three more opportunities to get better.  O'Brien addressed what the team has to look forward to without a bowl opportunity to compete for after the regular season draws to a close.

"People question what is there to play for," said O'Brien.  "There's a lot to play for.  There's the respect of your opponent, there's your teammates, there's the tradition of Penn State football.  I don't think at Penn State there will never be a question of what is there to play for, let me put it to you that way."

This week, focus is on a Boilermaker team that has dropped seven-straight games.  Under first-year head coach Darrell Hazell, Purdue has five true or redshirt freshmen in its starting lineup on offense.  It's a building process for Hazell.

"We respect Purdue, Coach Hazell I think is an excellent football coach, just his first year there," O'Brien said.  "He's putting in his offense, defense, special teams.  He's working hard in recruiting and got a lot of respect for Darrell."

On the defensive side of the ball, O'Brien said there is a lot to build on following a shutout in the second half at Minnesota.  Penn State held Minnesota to just 140 yards of offense after making adjustments at halftime.  Penn State heads into the Purdue game looking to carry the momentum from a solid defensive half.

"I think there were a lot of positives in the second half," O'Brien said.  "I think we stopped the run well.  I think that we challenged receivers more.  I think we need to just - we need to challenge some receivers a little bit more, you know what I mean, and I think that we play good run defense, I really do."

Kick is slated for noon on BTN inside Beaver Stadium for the Military Appreciation Day against Purdue.

Press Conference Notes:
- Injury Update - Coach O'Brien said that linebacker Ben Kline is out for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle.  Kline tore the muscle on the second play of the game at Minnesota, and he went on to play the entire game with the injury.  Kline will have surgery to fix the injury.  Additionally, Allen Robinson has a shoulder issue, but O'Brien said he expected Robinson to play on Saturday.

- Coach O'Brien on the improvement true freshman Adam Breneman has made throughout the season.

"I thought he played very well against Minnesota, I really did.  I thought he blocked well and I thought he caught the ball when it was thrown to him.  He made some big plays for us in the game.  So he's a guy that I think - another guy along the lines of the last two guys who's a young player who's got a really bright future here.  He's a great kid, practices hard, practices hurt.  He's had some ankle issues and foot issues this year, and he's practiced with it and done a nice job."

- O'Brien on the rigors of a season and practice in November:

"As it goes into November here, we're going to shorten practice a little bit and do some things at a faster pace and not have them out there until 6:30 at night, maybe have them out there until 6:00, get them back there, get them something to eat and get them studying again.  That's something we're going to continue to look at and strategize about."

- Coach O'Brien on the improvement senior Alex Butterworth has made in 2013:

"He's done a really good job.  Larry Johnson has been working with him a lot, does a good job with him.  I think the snapper has helped, Zach Ladonis.  A lot of it is about operation where you get a good snap and you're right in line with the punt, and then, his own confidence has grown.  He's kicked some big punts for us this year, and that's been important.  He put that one inside the 5‑yard line.  That was an unbelievable punt, and just continued to work on consistency, but he's one of the most improved guys on our team."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Monday Notebook: Lions Looking to Bounce Back at Home

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions own a 6-1 record under head coach Bill O'Brien during the week following a loss.  Following Saturday's setback at Minnesota, Penn State returns home to face Purdue (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten).

The Lions held Minnesota scoreless in the second half of Saturday's 24-10 setback in TCF Bank Stadium.  Offensively, Penn State manufactured two very good drives into the Minnesota red zone during the fourth quarter, but came up short on both chances.

Penn State begins a stretch of two-straight games at home before the season finale at Wisconsin.  Just eight quarters of football remain in Beaver Stadium for the 2013 season.

Penn State and Purdue are slated for a noon (ET) kick on BTN.

9405946.jpeg- Belton Joins 1,000-Yard Club
Junior running back Bill Belton became the 41st player in Penn State history to top the 1,000-yard mark for his Nittany Lion career.  Following his 47-yard outing at Minnesota, Belton has 1,043 career yards in Penn State Blue and White.  The New Jersey native has two 100-yard games this season, including a career-best 201-yard performance against Illinois.  Belton also has 13 catches for 144 yards and two touchdown receptions.

- Robinson Remains in Nation's Top Five; Nittany Lions in the Stat Rankings
Junior, Allen Robinson is ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game at 122.9.  Additionally, Robinson is No. 4 nationally in receiving yards at 1,106.  He is No. 8 in receptions per game at 8.1.  The Michigan native owns the Penn State season receiving record following Saturday's game.  He is leading the Big Ten in receptions per game, receiving yardage per game and receiving yards.  Robinson has 159 more receiving yards than Michigan wide out Jeremy Gallon, who is second.  Freshman Christian Hackenberg is second in the Big Ten in passing at 243.0 yards per game.  Sophomore Jordan Lucas is ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in passes defended with 12.

- Purdue Results

The Boilermakers enter the week 10 matchup on a seven-game slide.  Purdue suffered a 38-14 setback to Iowa on Saturday in West Lafayette.  The Boilers defeated Indiana State, 20-14, in week two.  Purdue played Notre Dame tough the following week before falling 31-24.  Since then, the Boilers have lost all five of their conference games.  Purdue has scored just 21 total points in their last four games.

Freshman quarterback Danny Etling leads the Purdue offense.  Etling has thrown for 819 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 48 percent of his passes.  Running back Akeem Hunt is Purdue's leading rusher and receiver.  Hunt has rushed for 325 yards.  He has 33 receptions for 313 yards and two receiving touchdowns.  Justin Sinz is second on the team in receiving with 25 receptions for 194 yards.  As a team, Purdue has scored just three rushing touchdowns.  Sophomore defensive back Anthony Brown leads the team in tackling with 51 stops.

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VIDEO: Bill O'Brien Postgame at Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Watch Bill O'Brien address the media following Saturday's 24-10 setback at Minnesota.

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GAME BLOG: Penn State at Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Welcome to live in-game coverage on from Penn State's Big Ten road contest against Minnesota inside TCF Bank Stadium.

Check back here throughout gameday for the all-new interactive blog coverage for 2013.


PHOTO BLOG: Penn State at Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Welcome to's Photo Blog from Penn State's road clash against Minnesota.  Stay tuned for updated images from behind the scenes and during the game.


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Minnesota Gameday Preview - Lions Meet the Golden Gophers

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Gameday Central | Game Notes | Minnesota Scouting Report | Press Conference Roundup

VIDEO: Player Q&As with Adrian Amos & Adam Gress

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coming off a 24-17 victory over Illinois, the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2) travel to Minnesota (7-2, 3-2) on Saturday to meet the Golden Gophers at noon (ET) inside TCF Bank Stadium (TV-ESPN2).

9390452.jpegPenn State and Minnesota are set to collide for the Governors' Victory Bell for the first time since 2010.  The Nittany Lions own an 8-4 on-field record against the Golden Gophers.  The two teams will not meet again until Oct. 1, 2016 in Beaver Stadium.

Fueled by Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week Bill Belton's first 201-yard performance, the Lions notched third-straight home win last week.  Belton became the first Penn State player to eclipse 200 yards since Larry Johnson did so in 2002.

Junior Allen Robinson, who leads the Big Ten in receiving, caught 11 passes for 165 yards against Illinois.  Freshman Christian Hackenberg became the Big Ten's first 2,000-yard passer of the season, and he leads the conference in completions (164) and passing yards (253.0 ypg).

The Gophers enter the weekend red-hot after winning three-straight conference games.  Minnesota outlasted Indiana last week in a 42-39 victory in Bloomington.  The Golden Gophers rank fourth in the Big Ten in rushing at 221.1 yards per game.

Minnesota has utilized two quarterbacks in 2013 with Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner sharing the snaps.  Nelson averages 117.8 yards per game, while Leidner throws for 45.8 yards a game and adds 47.6 rushing yards per contest.  Leidner has rushed for seven touchdowns.

Welcome to the Gameday Preview for Penn State's road trip to Minnesota.

Pregame Reading:
What to Watch For - Penn State
9424882.jpeg1. Tempo is a big factor in head coach Bill O'Brien's offensive gameplan every week.  But like he said on Tuesday, this week there will be extra emphasis placed on how the Nittany Lions manage their tempo.  O'Brien said Minnesota's ball possession offense plays into the offense's game because the last thing an offensive coach wants to do is put a defense on the field without much rest.  With that in mind, keep an eye on the Nittany Lion rushing attack.  Belton's big performance last week was a byproduct of superb run blocking from the Nittany Lion offensive line and tight end corps.  The unit has made very good progress throughout the season, and O'Brien said he felt like last week was its best game in terms of run blocking.

2. Against a team that ranks near the top of the Big Ten in rushing offense, the Nittany Lion defense will be looking to establish the line of scrimmage when Minnesota has the ball.  O'Brien and the Nittany Lion defensive players said this week that the Gophers are an old-school power running team that wants to line up and play a physical brand of football.  Minnesota runs the ball nearly 75 percent of the time on offense, and the Nittany Lions will need a strong afternoon from DaQuan Jones and the defensive line to slow down the rushing attack.  The Gophers threw for 298 yards against Indiana last week, but the physical play at the line of scrimmage is the key for the Lion defense.

3. Allen Robinson's success in 2013 is a direct product of the work he put in during the offseason.  The Michigan native got stronger in the weight room, faster and improved his route running ability.  With four games to play, Robinson has already eclipsed his yardage total from 2012 with 1,043 yards.  The leading receiver in the Big Ten stands just 42 yards away from Bobby Engram's Penn State season record.  Ranked second in the nation in receiving yards per game (130.2), Robinson has made at least 10 receptions in a game three times this season.

What to Watch For - Minnesota
1. Minnesota has scored 21 of its 30 offensive touchdowns on the ground this season.  Under head coach Jerry Kill, the Golden Gophers are just 2-8 when they fail to score a rushing touchdown, including both of its Big Ten setbacks this season.  Junior running back David Cobb leads Minnesota in rushing with 803 yards and six touchdowns.  Quarterback Mitch Leidner is Minnesota's second leading rusher with 381 yards and seven scores.  In all, Minnesota has four players with three or more rushing touchdowns in 2013.  The Golden Gophers average 4.7 yards per rush.

2. Keep an eye on Minnesota's defensive line.  Coach O'Brien noted that Gopher defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is among the top linemen the Nittany Lions would face all season.  The senior leads the Gophers in tackles for loss (9.0) and has 2.0 sacks.  Defensive end Theiren Coackran is second on the team in tackles for loss (8.0), and he leads the team in sacks with 5.5.  Defensive tackle Cameron Botticelli has made 5.5 TFL and has one sack. 

3. With wins over Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana during the past three weeks, Minnesota enters the game playing with great confidence.  A sound football team on both sides of the ball, the Gophers have been consistent during the past three games.  Additionally, the Gophers have scored six touchdowns on defense or special teams this season  (2 INT returns, 1 fumble return, 1 blocked FG return, 1 kickoff return, 1 punt return).

The Final Word:
Following an overtime victory, the Nittany Lions are looking to build momentum on the road before returning home for two-straight weeks.  With four games to play, the message Coach O'Brien delivered to the team after last Saturday's game was that he feels like the squad has a great opportunity for improvement before the season draws to a close.  Meanwhile, Minnesota is looking to build on its surge during the past month with its fourth-straight conference victory.  Ball possession for both teams will play a big role in deciding the outcome on Saturday.  With an 11 a.m. kickoff locally, it is shaping up to be a chilly start to gameday as the Nittany Lions play their second-to-last road game of the 2013 season.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2013 Opponent Preview - Minnesota

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Each week, will preview the upcoming opponent on the Penn State schedule.  Here is a week eight glance at the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

9420100.jpegJerry Kill is in his third year as head coach of the Golden Gophers.  Kill has a record of 16-18 at Minnesota and a career mark of 143-91.  Tracy Claeys has served as the Acting Head Coach on the field for the Gophers in recent weeks.

Minnesota is bowl-eligible for the second-straight season with a 7-2 (3-2 in the Big Ten).  Last year, Minnesota fell 34-31 to Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The Golden Gophers enter the weekend on a three-game win streak after outlasting Indiana, 42-39, on Saturday.  Minnesota compiled 573 yards of total offense, including a season-high 325 yards through the air.  Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson threw for 298 yards on 16-of-23 passing and four touchdowns.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner also completed a pass for 27 yards and ran for a touchdown.  Running back David Cobb gained 188 yards on 29 carries and added a 27-yard run for a score.  Derrick Engel caught a pair of touchdowns as part of a four catch, 97-yard day.  Maxx Williams and Drew Goodger also caught touchdown passes.

The Minnesota defense gave up 496 yards to the Hoosiers.  Safety Cedric Thompson led the defense with nine tackles and a TFL.  Aaron Hill returned a fumble for 21 yards.

The Gophers' offense ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (31.4 points per game) and 11th in total offense (366.4 yards per game).  A focus on the running game has produced the Big Ten's fourth-best rushing attack (221.1 ypg).  Minnesota is ranked 12th in the conference in passing offense (145.3 yards per game). 

However, the Gophers play mistake-free football.  They've turned the ball over only eight times this year and average only four penalties per game, both best in the conference.  They also control the clock, with a time of possession of 33:09 per game, almost seven minutes better than their opponents.     

Nelson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 942 yards, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.  He's also run for 295 yards and five scores.  Leidner has also appeared in all eight games, completing 59 percent of his throws.  He's rushed for 381 yards and seven touchdowns.

The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Cobb averages 5.4 yards per carry for a total of 803 yards and six scores.  He's fourth in the Big Ten in rushing yards.  Sophomore Rodrick Williams has three rushing touchdowns.

Engel and Maxx Williams are the top targets for Nelson.  The 6-foot-2 Engel has 22 catches for 361 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 16.4 yards per catch.  Williams, a 6-foot-4 tight end, has 251 yards and three scores on 15 receptions. 

Minnesota is sixth in the conference in scoring defense (24.9 points per game) and total yards (383.9 yards per game).  They are also sixth in rushing defense (142.2 yards per game) and ninth in passing defense (241.7 yards per game).  The Gophers have forced 13 turnovers.   

Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman anchors the defense.  The 6-foot-6, 311-pound Hageman has recorded 28 stops this year, including nine for loss and a pair of sacks.  He also has an interception.  Defensive End Theiren Cockran ranks third in the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks.  Cockran also has eight TFL and has forced three fumbles. 

Linebacker Damien Wilson leads the team with 50 tackles, 27 solo.  He also has 5.5 TFL and a sack.  Fellow linebacker Aaron Hill has recorded 48 tackles and an interception.

Thompson also has 48 tackles, 33 solo, and an interception.  James Manuel and Briean Bobby-Calhoun both have returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Junior Marcus Jones is a dangerous return man with both a kick and a punt for a touchdown.

Penn State is 8-4 on the field in the all-time series and won the last meeting, on the field, 33-21 in 2010 at TCF Bank Stadium.   

Contributions on the 2013 Opponent Previews provided by Student Writer Paul Marboe.

VIDEO: Minnesota Week Player Q&As

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - talks with junior defensive back Adrian Amos and senior offensive tackle Adam Gress leading up to the Minnesota game.

Adrian Amos

Adam Gress

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Bill O'Brien Press Conference Roundup - Minnesota Week

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien previewed the Nittany Lions' first clash against Minnesota since 2010 on Tuesday afternoon in the Beaver Stadium media room.

9418257.jpegComing off a 24-17 overtime victory over Illinois, O'Brien and the Nittany Lions are prepping for a physical matchup against the 7-2 Golden Gophers (Saturday at 12 p.m., TV-ESPN2).  Minnesota, which has won three games in a row, is an old school, power running team, O'Brien said on Tuesday.

"They run the ball very well.  They run a power scheme," O'Brien said.  "They've run the ball about 75 percent of the time, and that's what they do.  That's what they believe in.  Those are the type of players they have."

The Golden Gophers average more than 33 minutes of ball possession per game.  Of Minnesota's 584 offensive plays in 2013, O'Brien said that nearly 75 percent of them are running plays.  As a team, Minnesota has rushed for 1,990 yards through nine games in 2013.

"They have two good backs," O'Brien said.  "Guys that are good.  The quarterback can run the ball, so they have good scheme runs.  They're very well-coached.  This is a very, very good team.  It's one of the better teams we've played this year."

Because Minnesota is a ball possession team that makes very few mistakes, O'Brien said that the coaching staff would take ball control into account for gameplan and mix tempo to ensure the defense gets the breaks it needs.  On offense, running back Bill Belton is poised to again be a factor in the Penn State offensive attack.  The Nittany Lion junior tallied 201 yards against the Illini last week.

"To watch a guy like Billy who, like I said, has really improved in the classroom," O'Brien said.  "He wasn't doing well in the classroom when I got here.  He's doing better there.  It's still a work in progress for him academically, but he works hard at it.  Obviously, he's playing well on the field, so it always makes you feel good when good kids do well."

Belton's big day last Saturday was a byproduct of a strong afternoon for the Nittany Lion offensive line.  O'Brien said on Tuesday that he felt like offensive line played one of its better games, in terms of run-blocking, against the Illini.  The focus is now on a physical Minnesota front led by 6-foot-6, 311-pound defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman.  Hageman leads Minnesota in tackles for los with 9.0.

"[He's] one of the better defensive linemen we've gone against," O'Brien said.  "He's explosive.  Plays with good pad level.  He's quick.  Seems to me that he's going to be - has a chance to be a first or second‑day draft pick.  He's a very good player."

With four weeks of football left, the Nittany Lions still see a great opportunity in front of them.  Regardless of the outcome from the previous Saturday, it has been well documented that the Nittany Lions walk onto the practice field Monday afternoon ready to improve and focus on the next task at hand.  This week has featured the same.

"I think we've played tough," O'Brien said.  "I think we've battled hard.  We've competed... I think, like I always say, we've had a good practice last night, Monday, and we're up to the challenge for Minnesota.  Minnesota's an excellent team."

Kick is slated for noon on ESPN2 inside TCF Bank Stadium, place the Nittany Lions have played at just once before.

Press Conference Notes:
- Injury Update - Coach O'Brien said on Tuesday that Akeel Lynch is day-to-day with an MCL sprain, which is what kept him out of the lineup on the Illinois game.

- Coach O'Brien on the decision to receive the opening kickoff or defer the choice to the second half:

"That changes week to week.  We talked about that as a staff.  It's a game‑to‑game decision that we do.  It's based on the weather.  It's based on the sun here in Beaver Stadium where the sun is.  I know it sounds crazy, but based on things we want to do on special teams in the beginning of the game and the throwing game.  It's based on the other team and their offense.  Like, for instance, if you're playing Navy, you know, a ball possession team or maybe Minnesota, maybe you take the ball first because you know you may not get many possessions, things like that.  So there are a lot of factors and it's really game‑by‑game."

- O'Brien addressed Matt McGloin's first NFL appearance during the press conference on Tuesday.

"I couldn't be more proud of Matt McGloin - a self‑made guy, competitive guy.  He deserves everything he's getting, and maybe he'll get his shot to start.  But he led them down the field.  I think they had a couple long drives.  I know one was a touchdown drive.  Nothing that he does surprises me, and it shouldn't surprise anybody.  He's a guy that's worked very hard to get where he's at."

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony