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Amani Oruwariye | Cornerback | Sr./Jr.
Q. Just talk about the White Out and just the environment this weekend and how excited you are to play in something like this. I know Coach said you earned the right for all the attention you're getting and earned the right to play in big games, but talk about what it's like to lace it up and play in an environment like that?
AO: Yeah, we're excited to just get out there, another opportunity with this team, become 1-0, but it's even more exciting being that it's a [Penn State] White Out. You guys know how crazy it is for the average fan. It's like something they won't ever see ever. But we're excited to just get out there and play under that environment, under the lights, and like I said, be 1-0 again.
Q. Everybody always points to last year's Michigan game; is there anything that you guys even take out of what happened last year in Ann Arbor and how the team went 15-1 since then?
AO: Yeah, all we do is evaluate the film and just break down what we could have done better. But we're not taking it as a vengeful game or anything like that, we're just using it as a platform to build off of and adjust from our mistakes in that game.
Q. Getting back to the [Penn State] White Out, what do you remember from your first experience in the [Penn State] White Out?
AO: My freshman year we played Ohio State, and we lost. That was my first [Penn State] White Out. It was crazy. I just remember being on the sideline and just looking around and seeing the sea of white and just how loud the stadium was. That was the loudest I ever heard it. I was just in awe being a freshman coming in here. But it's lived up to the hype each year after that.
Q. If you had to describe the environment to someone who is not into college football and has never experienced it before, how would you describe it?
AO: I don't know, I just would say it's just the loudest thing you'll hear. It's the -- it's just all you hear is just screaming, crazy, fanatic, like crazy fans, and just, like, the whole town is just lit up in white because everyone is wearing white. I don't know, it's just -- you have to experience it most of the time to get a feel.
Q. Switching gears to Michigan, how would you compare this offense and this group of receivers compared to last year since they lost so many guys?
AO: Yeah, last year they had like better experience. They had a lot more experience coming back. But this year they're a little younger. They're still trying to find their identity. But they have some quality guys there. They've got some good guys that will compete, and we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q. Talk about the impact Donovan Peoples-Jones has made as a true freshman.
AO: Yeah, he's a very good athlete. He's obviously someone they look to as a great player and has great potential being that he's playing as a freshman at Michigan. So we're excited to get the opportunity to go against him. But it'll be fun.
Q. If you listed out the good catches that this team has had this year, you may have the best two and you're not a receiver. How did you get to the point where you're that confident with your hands and have you given the receivers any kind of stick for the kind of acrobatic catches that you've made so far this year?
AO: Coach [James] Franklin and Coach [Brent] Pry emphasize taking the ball away and working on the little things that can help us get our hands on more balls, and whether that's on the jugs machine all the time in the summer, just out there making these catches on the field with our own teammates. So we did as much work as we could in the off-season practicing that, and I think it's paying off.
Q. Are you expecting the most physical game you guys have had so far this year?
AO: Yeah, we're exciting a real physical game with them. We know they're going to come at us and we're going to come right back at them, so we've got to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. The receivers will be physical, the running game, everything, so yeah.
Q. Have many people mispronounced your name really bad since you've been here, or did that happen in high school, also?
AO: No, it's been my whole life that they mispronounced it, but it's all right. People are starting to learn it a little bit better now.
Q. When you kind of look at where you guys are headed, James said obviously a lot of extra distractions this week, Gameday, those kinds of things, how has he emphasized that to you guys? Was it a Power Point of, hey, there's a lot of other stuff floating around this week?
AO: He just always is emphasizing control what we can control because there's a lot of -- there's going to be College Gameday, it's a [Penn State] White Out, rankings and this, that and that, that are going on, and he just wants us to focus on what we can control, and that's winning the day, winning practice today, doing everything we can, eating right, sleeping right, nutrition, everything. Just doing what we can do to be the best of our ability when it comes to Saturday, and not worry about the outside stuff.
Q. You guys always self-scout, but presumably a little bit more during the bye week because you have extra time. What have you seen, just either you or the DBs, things you want to do better down the stretch?
AO: As a group, like I said, we want to take the ball away as much as we can. We want to challenge receivers all the time. We're going to be put on an island sometimes so we can stop the run game, but we embrace that. We worked on it all off-season. But we just want to play to the best of our ability, like I said, and just try to make takeaways.
Q. I think Grant Haley has only had to make eight coverage tackles so far this season. What have you seen from him on film if you're paying attention to him or in team meetings, maybe coaches are pointing out what Grant is doing? What is it about his technique that's got him on that level this year?
AO: Yeah, I mean, Grant [Haley] is a great player. He pays attention to the details, the little things that coach teaches. He watches a lot of film, like all of us. But yeah, he's just very particular in his game, and he works on his craft all the time, and he's someone that the younger guys, and even [I], look up to as far as a work ethic and technique and stuff like that. But he's really taken his game to the next level.
Connor McGovern | Offensive Line | So./So.
Q. If you were to make a College Gameday sign, what would you say?
CM: I don't really know. I'm not very artistic, so I'd probably give it to somebody else to make. I'm not really sure what I would actually make.
Q. What's the difference between RPO blocking versus when you might be blocking and you know you're going to pass it or you know you're going to run it?
CM: It's hard to say. When you know you're passing, you're sitting right back. But there's other times when you're in the run and you think it's going to run, and you're up on the second level. Next thing you know, the ball is being thrown over your head, so sometimes you have to have like a little voice in the back of your head, make sure you're not downfield too far, make sure you're following the linebackers, and the most important part is not getting down too far to make sure you don't get the flag on you.
Q. Does it make it a little harder to block for a run or block for a pass when you're kind of blocking for both at the same time and then waiting to see what happens?
CM: It makes it a little bit more difficult, but nothing I can't handle.
Q. What are the challenges of going up against an interior lineman like Maurice Hurst and how dangerous he's been this year?
CM: He's very fast, explosive off the ball, so we have to counter that. A big part is getting hands on him fast and bringing our hips through and making sure he can't shed a block.
Q. What are some of the challenges when it's a three-man front and he straight up overuses your technique as a nose tackle?
CM: Kind of knowing which side he's going to pick. He's going to go backside or front side A gap and bringing what guard with me to help me and get up to a certain backer.
Q. If you had a friend who was not into college football and had never been to a [Penn State] White Out game, how do you describe to them what that is like?
CM: It's very hard to describe. My first game, first-ever Penn State game, was the Ohio State [-Penn State] White Out a few years ago, and that blew me away. Before that I was never a Penn State fan, never really thought about it much, and that changed my mind, and that's kind of one of the reasons I fell in love with this place. The enthusiasm the fans have and how much people just care about football here.
Q. How do you feel you've made the adjustment to center, and how are you guys trying to improve the straight-ahead run game?
CM: I feel very comfortable with the transition now, being more of a leader, being more vocal, and up front we just have to be more physical, blow them off the ball, and sustain our blocks.
Q. Is there any difference, last year you guys were really moving the ball on the ground toward the end of the year, and it seems like this year you're still trying to find your way there; is that fair to say?
CM: I feel last year we were at the same place -- I feel we're better as a group. The chemistry is a lot stronger. Again, we just have to be more physical up front and sustain our blocks.
Q. Coach mentioned the [Penn State] White Out is kind of like, the only thing more exciting is Christmas morning, so with all the distractions with the rankings and the [Penn State] White Out and Gameday being here, days and games and weeks like this, does it validate your decision to come to Penn State? Why is it so much fun?
CM: Back in high school, that was my first-ever game here, the [Penn State] White Out, and I'd say everyone -- if you're a college football fan, you have to experience at least one [Penn State] White Out in your life. They're a lot of fun, a lot of fun to play in, especially under the lights at night. It's a lot of fun.