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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As he does every week, Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference. Cornerback Grant Haley and offensive lineman Ryan Bates also joined him for a pair of additional media sessions.
The second-ranked Nittany Lions are fully underway in preparations for an upcoming road trip at No. 6 Ohio State.
"To get into Ohio State, we have so much respect for the university as a whole and the football program and their history and their tradition," Franklin said. "Obviously Urban Meyer is one of the most respected coaches in college football and has been very successful there and everywhere else he's been."
The transition from more than 110,000 cheering fans clad in white to nearly 104,000 fans cheering against Penn State isn't one that's unfamiliar for the Nittany Lions, as they prepare to enter another tough road environment at Ohio Stadium.
"I think we're going into a hostile environment, also something similar to the Beaver Stadium atmosphere," Haley said. "I think the coaches have a good game plan, good working practice with loud music and just the intensity that we're going to see on Saturday. I think from a leadership standpoint, we just have to keep everybody focused. Last week was last week and we're trying to stay focused on Ohio State and going 1-0 this year."
For Franklin the experience at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium is valuable and the Nittany Lions will draw on the same practice methods this week, cranking the music during practice to an often uncomfortable level.
"This week, we're going to do it starting today - Tuesday - we're going to do it all week long to make it as difficult as we possibly can make it," Franklin said. "As you guys know, I think I told you earlier in the year we went out and bought one of those decibel meters for practices and for games so we can literally replicate the type of music that's played in the stadium, crowd noise, chants, songs, how loud it is, the whole deal."
Even with the practice simulation though, experience certainly makes a different, especially for someone like Bates, who will make his first trip to Ohio Stadium Saturday.
"I think that us playing Iowa this year at Iowa they had the "stripe out" and it was a night game and it was loud," Bates said. "I couldn't hear myself think let alone hear [quarterback] Trace [McSorley] make some calls. Honestly, I think that if we could play the way we played versus Iowa in that environment, I think we can play anywhere."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on what he sees in Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett ...
"I see J.T. playing with a lot of confidence right now and he's obviously surrounded by a lot of talent and he's doing a great job of distributing the ball to that talent. So, again, you got an experienced play making quarterback and playing in a scheme that really accents his abilities and his supporting cast."
- Bates on confidence ...
"Playing football, confidence is the biggest thing you can have really. If you're not confident in yourself, then who is going to believe in you if you don't believe in yourself really?"
- Haley on the combination of leadership styles between himself, linebacker Jason Cabinda and safety Marcus Allen ...
"I think a video on Twitter or something the other day, Jason kind of put it perfectly - we mesh together well. Jason's that vocal leader, I'm more of the lead by example guy, and Marcus kind of combines the both like with his character and his goofiness."
- Franklin on the benefit of experiencing a hostile environment earlier in the season and how he'll prepare the team this week ...
"I think we all know it's tough to do. It's tough to come and play at Penn State. It's tough to go on the road and play at Ohio State. But that's the situation we're in and I want our guys to embrace it. I'm going to try to make practice as difficult as I possibly can. Typically we do light music on Tuesday, because there's still a lot of teaching going on from a game plan perspective and then Wednesday it is full throttle, piercing eardrums, headaches for the coaches at the end of practice, it's not a whole lot of fun."
- Bates on whether Michigan was the best game Penn State's offensive line has played this year ...
"I'm not sure. I know last week we played really well. I'm not sure if it's the best one we played all year. There are always corrections we have to make. After the game, you watch film and you see the mistakes you made on technique and the mental errors you made if you blocked the wrong guy, there's always places to grow."
- Haley on managing emotions when it comes to reflecting on his past performance against Ohio State ahead of this week's matchup ...
"I don't think I use last year as any advantage for me. I think that our coaches do a great job of keeping us level-headed, keeping us focused, keeping the outside world away from us in terms of like social media and TV. So I think that we're a mature group of guys, so I think that having guys like [DaeSean Hamilton], guys like even Trace [McSorley] and Saquon [Barkley], leaders on offense and leaders on defense, I think people can just reiterate the message of what we want to do each and every week."