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Marcus Allen | Sr. | Safety
Q. Thoughts on being at the Fiesta Bowl?
MA: I'm just blessed to be at a bowl. And we're definitely truly blessed to be in the Fiesta Bowl. This is a beautiful bowl. A great bowl to be in and something that a lot of guys would die to be in our shoes.
Q. Thoughts on playing Washington?
MA: Washington is a great school. I think playing against these guys is going to be a great game. Two teams that are going head to head, both have dynamic players, elite players, just competing at the highest level. I'm just excited to play those guys.
Q. Penn State is in the same state as the Steelers, in the Pittsburgh area?
MA: My father, he's from Pittsburgh, and, like, I have a lot of family out in Pittsburgh. And just playing in the state of Pennsylvania feels good, because got a lot of family coming up to the games and everything. It's not a far trip.
So it feels good to play in that area. State College, Happy Valley fans, they are great. It's a great fan base, and they go crazy.
Q. You would like to work in sports media?
MA: Yes, that's definitely the work field that I want to get into. Just sitting here right now, I'm sitting back and observing everything you guys are doing, trying to like take mental notes on how your approach is and everything.
Q. Thinking about your future in the NFL?
MA: Oh, definitely. Yeah, of course. That's definitely my main goal, reach the NFL. But right now my focus is on Washington.
Q. How does it feel to be a journalism major, to be experiencing this media day?
MA: It's great. I've experienced going to the Big Ten Media Day as far as going with all these interviews and just observing and taking mental notes on how the reporters come and like what questions they come with to the interview. They bring up a lot of interesting questions that I would basically just take mental notes on and try to mix up my own questions that I would want to ask.
I remember at Big Ten Media Day, it seemed like repetitive questions, and I thought, like, it was getting kind of boring at a point in time.
So when I went back home, it was, like, I went and took notes and see what I would do, like, do different to make it more interesting, because some of the guys were, like, getting kind of bored and just out of it.
So me personally I would want to be the type of person that would want to bring light to the interview and make the interview way more exciting.
Q. With this team, Penn State, 20 years since they've been in the Fiesta Bowl, but they're 6-0, is that added motivation to win this one?
MA: Definitely it gives you a lot of motivation. To be honest, we motivate ourselves. We motivate ourselves every day. We have an expectation and a standard that we have to live by and that we're expected to live by and live up to. As far as motivation, that's just adding to it.
Saquon Barkley | Jr. | Running back
Q. What do you want to pursue after your career in football?
SB: I want to do something -- I want to pursue something that I love and have a passion doing. And talking about sports is fun to me, and debating about sports and arguing about sports is something I do with my roommates and my teammates all the time. So you guys definitely are giving me a lot of help with the microphone in my face and cameras all in my face throughout these last three years.
So definitely made me more comfortable in that area and that kind of thing. It goes hand in hand. So why not have a football player talking about football? He's been through it. He worked through it. He did the work. He understands the game.
I think a great example is Tony Romo. I forgot what game it was. He was able to call out plays. I think he did a great job of anchoring that game. So why not? I think it goes hand in hand. I think I have a passion for that and a love for that.
Q. You were talking to Penn State alum Tony Stewart yesterday?
SB: Tony Stewart, the cool thing about Tony Stewart he's from Lehigh Valley area, and he played for Central Catholic. And when I was in high school, one of my coaches, Coach [Harold] Fairclough was actually one of his teammates. We were talking about that. He was telling me he knows Fairclough and stuff like that.
It was cool to see a guy -- he's so successful even outside of football, and he comes from our area, comes from Lehigh Valley, cool to be able to talk to a guy like that. And he gave me great advice, told me if I ever need anything just to give him a phone call.
Q. Talking to him, did it briefly bring back a rush of memories -- your time at Lehigh Valley, that kind of thing, here I am three years later?
SB: Yeah, time definitely made you go down memory lane when you talk to a guy from Lehigh Valley and especially Central Catholic. My last memory of Central Catholic, my senior year and we were down by 28 points at one point and it was obviously fortunate enough to come back and win the game.
But definitely it's been a blast. These three years have flew by. It's been amazing. And I'm so thankful and so blessed to be fortunate to have the opportunity to play at a school like Penn State and be able to represent Lehigh Valley. And hopefully I continue to represent it in the right way, and just be able to make people back home proud and make my family proud.
I hope I can continue to do that. But, yeah, it has flew by. And anytime we talk to a Lehigh Valley guy it definitely brings back memories.
Q. What impresses you the most about this Huskies defense, all the weapons they have?
SB: So defensive-wise, they're amazing. The numbers, if you look at the numbers, they're like ranked in the top five in everything in college football. And it's kind of amazing to actually, when you look at the numbers, if you just look at them number wise, where you look at the film and break down the film and look at them as a team, they're even more impressive, they stand out even more.
That defensive line is big, it's huge. And the thing is they're huge and they're athletic. They can move well, move pretty well. They're not just big guys, like, they just take up space. They take up space, but they're powerful, they're fast, they're explosive. And that front seven, I think they do a really good job especially in the run defense, they're the number one run defense in the country.
It's going to be a challenge for our team. But I do think they haven't seen a team like us either. And I do think we're going to present some challenges for them. And I do think we have a great game plan to attack them.
So at the end of the day it's football. So we have to execute. And at the end of the day if we execute better than them, we're going to win. And if they execute better than we execute, then they'll get the win.
Q. How is your O line? Describe the O line?
SB: I think my O line is fantastic. You gotta give a lot of credit to the O line. I think my O line gets bashed a lot, which I don't understand how. Not to be cocky, I was finalist for a lot of awards, a lot of major awards. And I can't get that without my O line. A lot of people try to give me a lot of praise but try to bash the O line which doesn't make sense because as a running back it goes hand in hand.
Great example, I think you talk to any of the great backs or good backs in college football, Bryce Love had a heck of a year. Royce Freeman, all those backs had great years and are mentioned in those categories for awards. But at the end of the day, Bryce Love doesn't rush for 2,000 yards without his offensive line, or I don't become a Doak Walker finalist without my offensive line.
I think my offensive line has done a tremendous job this year, especially if you watch football you watch the game, a lot of teams try to do a lot of things that take, I guess you could say take me out of the game or take the running game out of the game, and presents different fronts and different looks and movements and twists and this and that.
And it's a challenge, makes it hard for the offensive line. But the offensive line has done a great job this year, and they continue to do a great job. And they know the challenge that we have. And they know that we're going against the top rush defense in the country. We faced one at one point in Michigan, and we started off the game with a bang. And we had a great offensive game, put up a lot of points and moving the ball pretty well.
So, the offensive line knows every week it's up to them. And we go where they go. And they're more excited for this challenge, and I'm excited to see how we face, how we go against them.
Q. From here to Seattle, not that far, kind of a home game for the Huskies. How do Penn State fans travel for those who don't know on the West Coast?
SB: The best way to describe that is look at that USC game last year. We're in LA, kind of USC territory, and you could make the argument we had more white than they had like, red and yellow.
You'll see, you'll see at the Fiesta Bowl how Penn State travels. Penn State fans are amazing. We have the best fans in the country. I'm not just saying that because I'm biased. I truly do believe that. And they travel well.
And it may be on a West Coast, it may be technically more of a home game for them, but I think Penn State fans will hold their own and help us out in that area.
Jason Cabinda | Sr. | Linebacker
Q. After the game, what's in the future for Jason Cabinda?
JC: After the game, obviously going to go ahead and prepare for the draft. That would be the number one thing, see how things go from there. Then after football's done, might end up seeing me doing something similar to your job. We'll see.
Q. Obviously there's tons of guys always coming back to Penn State, as well as finally on a winning team, wearing Dan Connor's number. Do you plan on picking any of their brains?
JC: Actually, I just messaged Gerald Hodges the other day. And I kind of had a couple of questions for him, asked him for some tips, advice on post-college career in terms of how to prepare for the draft, if he could go back, what would he change, kind of things like that. And reached out to NaVorro [Bowman]. Those guys will hopefully be able to mentor me and give me some advice.
Q. Are you going to stay on campus?
JC: No, I think I'm going to be in Florida.
Q. Can you tell us more about your experience with the cactus?
JC: There's a guy at the restaurant that was talking to us about a jumping cactus. I guess that's what he was talking about. That's the reason why we were taking rocks and we were kind of like throwing, trying to see if the thing was going to move.
Q. You freak because you want to get it out. It's in there, you have to like get a doctor's help to pull all the needles out. They can cause some damage.
JC: That's crazy. That's nuts.
Q. You obviously didn't hit one of them?
JC: I don't think I'm going to test any other cactus out after hearing that.
Q. Do you remember handing out posters as a freshman? What was that like?
JCABINDA: Yeah, I do, downtown State College. That was cool. Showing face, walking around State College being a new guy, it was nice.
Q. What's life look like for you now? How are things?
JC: Totally different. No doubt. You're treated different. You're looked at those guys that class that kind of brought this place back. It's definitely a different buzz about Penn State when you walk around downtown than there was my freshman year.
So it's cool. I mean, it's good. It's good for us. I think obviously a lot of work was put into it. But I think this place deserves that buzz again, you know what I mean? So definitely different than when we first got here. When we first got here obviously expectations have always been high, but not as high as they are now.
I think our freshman year, if they knew we were top-10 playing in a Fiesta Bowl, people would be going crazy now. It's like we're playing in the Fiesta Bowl and people are angry we're not playing in the National Championship. So it's definitely different, but it's good to have those expectations.
Q. Do you miss it yet?
JC: Not just yet. I don't think it's hit me yet. But it's definitely going to. It's going to very, very soon.
Q. I remember last year people said you felt like a washed up old guy?
JC: That's probably how I'm going to feel, to be completely honest. I think it will hit me most when I'm not always around my friends all the time, stuff like that. I'm just going to miss the heck out of my teammates.
Just times in the locker room. All the laughing. We got some characters and some clowns on this team that can make everybody laugh. I think we're going to miss that the most.
Q. Are you looking forward to all those workouts, you got that next chapter right around the corner?
JC: No doubt. No doubt. It's a grind you've got to embrace, I'm excited for it, to be honest.
Q. What's the highlight so far being this trip?
JC: Probably Topgolf last night. Topgolf and Fogo de Chao, those were both really good. Fogo de Chao was amazing.
A lot of good food. It was never ending. And then Topgolf last night was really cool. Anytime we have any kind of game, something like that, we make it a competition in some way, shape or form. It was super competitive. Saquon [Barkley's] team and my team competing for points. It was fun.
Q. There's been some rumor that Saquon is terrible at golf?
JC: He's not good at all. I was pretty good. I was actually pretty good yesterday. I was making a lot of points. I think the guys can attest to that.
Q. Can you break down his swing?
JC: I don't think it's his swing. I don't think he was keeping his eye on the ball. Hitting skippers. Didn't look pretty.
Q. The food aspect?
Jason Cabinda: The food's been great so far, especially at Topgolf. They had this beef brisket that was really, really good.
Q. What is a post Jason Cabinda linebacker?
JC: Guys like Cam Brown and Koa Farmer, some of those guys who have a lot of snaps under their belts right now.
And obviously you have Micah Parsons coming in, try him out at Mike linebacker. Ellis Brooks, the young Ellis Brooks, who I think has a lot of characteristics that can translate to that Mike linebacker position. Hard worker, excited for him. And Jan Johnson as well. I think he's a sleeper in the room.
As you see, when he gets in here, he has a nose for the ball, finds himself around the ball, physical guy. I think he's a guy who could also make an impact.
Q. Do you have a relationship with Micah Parsons at all?
JC: Not much. I've obviously been around him from a recruiting aspect. Besides that not too much. Confident guy, guy who is confident in his abilities, a very skilled player. Unique skill set. So I think he can do a lot for us.
Mike Gesicki | Sr. | Tight End
Q. Thoughts on converting to the tight end position from high school to college?
MG: Everybody said, ‘oh, great tight end, this, that.’ I'd never played the position before in my life. Then I get back, I get out to my first practice at Penn State and [then-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach John] Donovan said, “all right, guys, we're going to get in the stance,” started us off in three-point stance. I've never done it before. I don't know how. I'm just so awkward trying to get down there and fit in with the rest of the guys.
I literally started from scratch in this position. And now sitting here four years later have been able to grow and develop into the player that I am today. But it's also been unbelievable coaching starting with Coach Donovan, who was able to coach me for my first two seasons here and kind of show me the ropes to the position.
And then [current offensive coordinator and past tight ends coach Ricky] Rahne taking over from there, and continuing to develop me and instill confidence in me. And now this past month having Tyler Bowen come in and a former O line coach speak about footwork and hand placement and just that nasty mentality of being a blocker. So it's been a very interesting journey that I've taken from that first practice to now. But it's been one that has helped me be where I am also.
Q. I think Adam [Breneman] told me he showed you how to get into a three-point stance. Is that true?
MG: Yeah, so he showed me. I was trying to learn from Jesse [James] right there on the spot. But ultimately it was something that I was not very comfortable doing because I've always come out of the two-point stance, and just being able to run off the ball. And now getting down in a three-point stance, hand in the dirt, all that kind of stuff, I was able to learn from a few different people and coaches. And now I am where I am.
Q. They had you at tight end because of your size?
MG: Coming out of high school I was about 6-6, 220, 225.
Q. Sort of a prototype?
MG: They knew with the frame that I had I could put more weight on and all that kind of stuff.
Q. But you had honestly never played tight end before college?
MG: Never played the position a down in my life ever. So it was something that I had to learn and grow into. And now I'm sitting here four years later, and I was able to develop into being able to be who I am today.
Q. You knew you were being recruited as a tight end? That wasn't a surprise?
MG: I did. I knew it was coming. I was just trying to delay it for as long as possible because I was always playing wide receiver.
Q. I wanted to ask you about quarterback Trace McSorley. Are there certain things that stand out just in your relationship with him?
MG: Trace is -- obviously off the field -- a great guy, great teammate, great friend, to me. And on the field, I think the thing that stands out the most is obviously he has a great arm and he can make the throws, and he's so smart in his reads and he doesn't make mistakes in that aspect of it. But the thing that you can't coach, you can't teach, he's a great competitor.
So I think it's kind of thrown around all the time talking about Trace that he's a winner. But obviously I mean the numbers don't lie. He's won a ton of games in his past two seasons being a quarterback at Penn State. And I think that if that's one thing that I take away from Trace's game, he's a competitor and he's a winner.
Q. The same thing comes up when they talk about Washington quarterback Jake Browning. So I guess it's just a commonality among quarterbacks at this level. You have to have that?
MG: Yeah, the quarterbacks are the guys that make the team go. So I think it starts up top and then trickles down to everybody else. But if you're going to be a good quarterback, an elite quarterback here in college football, which Trace and Jake Browning are, you have to have that quality.
Q. Does his running ability ever surprise you?
MG: Not really. He's an athletic kid. I think coming out of high school he was actually recruited to play safety. And now obviously being quarterback -- and I think he shows off his athleticism sometimes with his running ability. And that's something that is huge for offense, because defenses have to respect that. And that's kind of when some of our big plays have -- he's about to take off, defense sucks up and he puts it over their head.
Q. He's not that big of a guy either?
MG: No, he's not. But he's tough as nails. He takes shots and gets right back up. He's been out there for the past I think 27 games starting or whatever it is.
Q. So he's durable?
MG: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Q. Luckily he's the size he is because that time you tried to leapfrog him?
MG: Yeah, I just got over him --
Q. What's it been like to play in the same lineup as Trace the last two years?
MG: It's been great. Him being my quarterback the last few years has been unbelievable. We've obviously had a ton of success together. And this team's had a ton of success with this team being our quarterback.
So I think he's done a great job on the field leading us, but off the field leading us as well. And there's nobody else that I want back there throwing me the ball and making plays for our team.
I think that he's given me an opportunity to have a ton of success these past two seasons so I'm really appreciative of him.
DaeSean Hamilton | Sr. | Wide Receiver
Q. Thoughts on your upbringing and your brother?
Parents were doing military things, deployed in different places. Me and my (older) brother (Darius Hamilton), we obviously went to school together. We were only two years apart. We went to school together.
It was really me taking on the role of another caretaker for him, basically just raising him myself and along with my parents' aid and things like that. And just always looking after him. So taking on more of a big brother role for him especially, because he's special needs and things like that, to take on a bigger brother role at a younger age, help me mature and doing all the things I was doing, making sure I was looking out for him and worrying about myself secondhand. That's where the relationship and that bond came from.
Q. And so where he is your brother at now?
DH: He's actually here. My parents flew in last night with him and my sister. They got in around midnight last night. They'll be at the game.
Q. So that's pretty special.
DH: Yeah, for him to be able to see my last game, it's going to be pretty cool.
Q. I know there's different levels of autism?
DH: His is nonverbal. I was too young at the time to understand. So nonverbal. He hasn't been able to talk since I can remember. I've never heard him speak a word, things like that.
Him on the spectrum, he's nonverbal. But he knows, like, we basically communicate through sign language and through gestures, things like that. He's still able to communicate and things like that.
Q. How meaningful how has that changed you and your life to deal with?
DH: It's made me mature a lot more at a young age, especially with the fact that obviously at a young age I didn't know really anything else.
A lot of young kids don't have to go through things like that, but since that's all I knew, that's basically how I live my life. Just making sure I was taking care of my brother, and anything he needed I was going to be able to provide for him just like my parents would be. I was like a third, fourth parent for him, including my sister.
So that's really all I knew at a young age, made me mature. And it humbled me at a young age as well, really not to take anything for granted and to know that he would probably give anything to be in my position and everything I'm doing in my life.
Q. Are your parents still in the military?
DH: Both retired, 20-plus years.
Q. Your brother lives with them?
DH: My brother lives -- he's 24 and he lives at home with my mom and dad, yes.
Q. How old is your sister?
DH: My sister is 13 years (older) -- so she's 35.
Q. How does that relate over to football?
DH: The things in football that I'm doing is for him. Like I said, it's humbled me and allowed me not to take anything for granted, because, like I said, a lot of things I'm doing he's not able to do.
And I know he would probably die to be in the position I'm in. So a lot of things I'm doing, I'm making sure I'm not taking it with a grain of salt and I'm putting my all in it, and doing things to make him and my family proud. That's my motivation and my why for a lot of things I'm doing.
Q. When he's nonverbal, does he understand what's going on when he goes to a football game?
DH: A little bit. Doesn't necessarily follow, but he knows like when people are making a lot of noise something good has happened, obviously.
I don't know if he can necessarily spot me out on the field, but, yeah, my parents basically let him know what's going on, kind of communicating, pointing to see where I'm at, things like that, that's how he's able to understand exactly what's going on.
Q. Mike Gesicki, friend club, would you say you guys are pretty close?
DH: Me and Mike, yeah. I always like to give Mike a hard time, act like he's not my friend at all. We've been best friends for quite some time now.
All started with just being on the football field together, making plays together, and going through hardships, through college being able to bond through things like that and bonding off the field, hanging out a lot of times, and obviously spending a lot of time with one another.
And him and I, I guess, started that friendship club and things like that, but then I say Mike's one of my better friends on the team.
Q. Are there any new additions to the friend club?
DH: Tommy Stevens, like he said before, he was one of my -- he's actually one of my good friends now, too. I love Tommy to death.
Talking to guys like Nick Bowers and Ryan Buchholz. I barely talk to those type of guys, but they're friends with Mike, so I extended my little friend circle a little bit. But a lot of those guys, talked to them a little bit, and they're pretty funny, getting to know them a little more over the years. It's been cool.
Q. What can you tell us about Tommy [Steven’s] new role, the Lion?
DH: I found about that a couple of days ago. I don't know what that is. But Tommy is dynamic, running the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball anything. Tommy is another weapon for us on offense.
And we always try to find a way to get him involved and things like that, because we know he can make plays when the ball's in his hands. He loves his role. He knows he's going to take whatever he can and make the most of it. And he's been doing a great job of that.
Q. What can you say about Mike's career, the ups and down, you've had a front row seat for all of it?
DH: Mike's done some legendary things here. He's one of the better guys with better ball skills and better receiving tight ends, better tight ends I've seen overall.
But, yeah, his career here has been kind of a bumpy one in the beginning. But these past few seasons has been amazing for him. He's done a lot of great things.
And obviously he deserves all the credit. And he deserves all the recognition because he's worked hard for it. And it's something that he's really taking pride in, putting a lot of work into his craft, and it shows up on Saturdays.
Trace McSorley | Jr. | Quarterback
Q. What do you see as your role here?
TM: For me, how I see my role is I'm coming in, knowing the ins and outs of what we're doing from a game plan perspective, knowing why we want to run the ball versus a certain look, who we're trying to put in a bind based off of leverage and number, and being able to execute our game plan from a run-game perspective, and then from a passing-game perspective being able to change up our protection, make sure we're protected up and we're not short on the pressure or short on anything like that. And then being able to react to defenses and know where we're trying to go with the ball versus certain coverages.
And for me it's not really trying to force the ball down the field; it's getting the ball in playmakers hands where they're in open space, and they're able to do something with it after that.
Q. Washington’s defensive line is considered one of the best in college football, and they stop the run well. How does that impact your game plan?
TM: For us, it's going to be kind of doing some things in the run game that allows us to maybe get the ball in the edge based off how certain guys play or being able to take advantage of numbers and angles advantage, things like that. They are extremely good up front, so it's been a difficult challenge for us, trying to put ourselves in what we feel is the best opportunity to be successful in the run game.
But they are going to be -- they're tough up front and it's going to be a mentality thing. When we come out of offense with our offensive line, and kind of our mentality on offense is being able to say these guys are really good, but we're going to have to change our mindset a little bit to have to grind out some tough running yardage.
Q. Thoughts on the impact of the offensive scheme?
TM: I think it's able to impact games in a couple of different ways. One in the run game being able to add a dimension, as far as being able to put the ball in our running back's stomach and possibly being able to pull it and run. And make the defense account for that, so they can't all jump at the running backs and just go right at our running game, being able to keep the defense honest.
And the passing game, being able to scramble, give a little bit of extra time for our receivers to get open or if everyone's coming up, being able to turn a negative play into a positive play.
Q. If you run you just run?
TM: It's situational. Third down, get the first down. That's your mindset. But once you get the first down, if you don't need to take an unnecessary hit, get out of bounds or slide and preserve yourself. That's obviously something that we want to do.
Q. What is your relationship with Jake Browning?
TM: We both did the Uplifting Athletes thing in Chicago. They actually had us rooming together, so we were roommates for that trip. We would hang out, got to know each other a little bit, check out Chicago. It was a good time, really enjoyed it from then on. We've been staying in touch a little bit.
Being able to watch him every time, being able to catch a Washington game on TV. Check him out. He's obviously one of the top passers in the country, a guy that's a big threat to our defense. And I know they've put a big emphasis on being able to contain him. But just had a good time with him in Chicago and just being able to kind of stay in touch with him from there.
Q. Kind of funny how it's turned out where your teams were then and where they are now?
TM: You never really do know. At that point I hadn't been named starting quarterback yet. He just finished up his first year. And these last two years they went to playoffs last year and now we're playing each other in the Fiesta Bowl. To see where our teams have come the last two years, it's pretty cool.
Q. Did he strike you in any particular way? Did anything stand out about that weekend together?
TM: Not really. I mean talking to him you could tell he's kind of all-business kind of guy. He's dedicated to football. That's what he wants to be successful at. And he's going to do what he can to be the best that he can be. And I think that's something that we're both alike in that way.
Q. Doing anything fun outside the area?
TM: When we first got here we had some free time, go out check out Scottsdale and some of the things that it has to offer around here. And then the last couple of days we went to the Fogo de Chao restaurant and had a good time there. And last night we had Topgolf. That was fun. It's been an awesome experience so far. Definitely enjoying it.
Q. What do you think of the area in general?
TM: It's awesome. Being out here in 70-degree weather, sunny, can't really ask for much more than that. Personally, I kind of like how it always smells like really good Mexican food. I love tacos and Mexican food. I love that.
Q. What is it about this team that makes you guys click so well and be so successful?
TM: First off, I'd probably say it's our chemistry. How we are off the field. These are guys here, I mean best friends between DaeSean [Hamilton] and Mike [Gesicki], Jason [Cabinda], Saeed [Blacknall, me and Saquon [Barkley], the list goes on and on. Just our chemistry and continuity off the field, I think, really helps us on the field.
We're that much more comfortable with each other on the field. We know where guys are going to be at and how they're going to run a route or go through the mesh or whatever it might be. Just our chemistry off the field it helps us huge on the field.