First of all, I want to thank the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, the Yankees organization. We had an unbelievable experience. I've been a part of the bowls. This was run first class. The players had a great experience. The coaching staff, New York was an unbelievable host. Very thankful and appreciative of that.
On the season, the game tonight, we have a way of starting the season in dramatic fashion and ending the seasion in dramatic fashion, starting the season in Dublin, Ireland, ending in New York City. Who could of drew it up better than that?
The way the guys persevered all season, wasn't always pretty, but we stuck together, and to me that's who we are, blue-collar, hard-nosed program.
I took a lot of time in the locker room to thank the seniors. You have heard me say this time and time again, but these guys will be remembered forever, for standing strong when we needed them to stand strong, to lay the foundation for great things to come. Every win we have next year and for eternity will be on their backs.
Can't tell them how much we appreciate them. It really springboards us into the off-season, next season. The future is very, very bright here. Very excited.
Acouple of points I'd like make. Penn State's 28th bowl win, Number 3 in the nation. Christian breaks the Penn State bowl completions, passing yardage, and ties the touchdown bowl record with four. Then Chris Godwin, true freshman, with a 100-yard receiving game. The first of his career.
Really cool. Really excited about moving forward. Again, I want to thank the whole Yankees organization and the Pinstripe Bowl. Open it up for questions.
Kyle Carter ended up with a big catch for you in overtime. How good do you feel for that kid in particular?
Yeah I'm really happy for him, really happy for our whole team. He's an example of things aren't always going to exactly how you imagined it to go, but you keep working hard, keep a positive attitude, good things will come.
I wouldn't trade that catch for 20 other catches during the season or however many yards. That was a huge catch. He came through for us when we needed him.
Christian (Hackenberg) has put up with a lot of criticism this year. Talk about his resilience, particularly the way he played after you were down 21-7.
Yeah, you know, I tried all season long to deflect that as much as I could, not because I didn't think Christian couldn't handle it, but because I've been telling everybody before the season started that, everyone is talking about Christian, Christian, Christian. That wasn't really the issue. We had to make sure we developed the guys around him. There was a lot of production that had left. We knew we had challenges on the offensive line.
We played a team I think tonight, every one of their starters on the offensive line was a graduate senior. I think they had 146 or something starts going into the season. We had one returning starter on the offensive line. I think he had like 21 starts.
It all starts up front. On the offense, on the defense. I'm happy for him. Again, this springboards us into the off-season.
It's tough nowadays. With social media, you can't protect your players the way you used to. But I love Christian Hackenberg. I couldn't trade him for anybody. I think he's got a really bright future at Penn State moving forward. I will fight and defend him until the end.
The defense played so well most of the year. Tonight the offense really seemed to carry the torch. Did you expect that? How good do you feel for that turnaround tonight?
No, I think the offense played well early, then played well late. Every on we kept getting into what we call the strike zone, which is the first area you really can score, the high red zone type area. We'd have a penalty of a turnover that killed us. So we got to get those things cleaned up.
Defense has been great stopping the run all year long. Again, they got a veteran O-line, tight ends, big bodies. They did a great job of shifting and trading tight ends going from heavy sets to regular sets. Not only were they trading tight ends, they also were trading the offensive tackle from one side to the other.
Early on they had us thinking and not playing as fast as we normally play, fast, aggressive and confident. I think that was a factor, no doubt about it.
But I think as the game went on, we said, look, we don't need to make some of our more elaborate calls, let's call base defense and allow our kids to play. I think that was helpful.
On special teams this year, it's been a rollercoaster. Sam Ficken steps up, is a mentor. For him to come out and hit a field goal to send it to overtime, then wins it for you.
I love Sam. He's been that way all year long. He's probably been our best offensive weapon all year long, he really has. Like you say, the way that guy's career started, had some bumps along the way. But, again, to go out here with that field goal, there was no doubt we put pressure on our guys in practice all the time.
Sam has been consistent as any player in our program from the day he arrived. He's been a real good mentor for the other young players, as well.
That's what we want to do. We want to get to a point that at every single position, not only do we have a good player there as a starter, but we have another player behind him that can get the job done, then another player being groomed. We don't have that right now.
I thought Fick did a really good job. Basically it was him, no sophomores, juniors, then a bunch of kickers, punters. He really took those guys under his wing. Fick did an internship this summer on Wall Street. He rang the bell. He rang the bell to start this bowl week. He rang the bell to kick the field goal to end it. I'm really happy for him.
You're playing in a baseball stadium, game ends on an extra point.
It was a football stadium tonight, an awesome one, and we loved it.
You lost Miles right at the end of the first quarter. How much did that affect you, emotionally, strategically?
Emotionally, strategically, that's one position we can't afford to lose a guy, is on the offensive line. Losing him, his leadership, he's a captain, was big.
Dowrey coming in, really battling, playing. I thought Gaia was battling a little bit early, and he battled through it. We talk about guys getting maybe a lot of criticism. That position got as much criticism as everybody.
I proud of Herb Hand, that O-line, that whole group, John Donovan, how he persevered. After Miles went out, we had to run the ball a little bit. We didn't put up big numbers, but we had to help the offensive line out. I think they were able to get it done.
Our big plan going into this game is they were going to bring a lot of overload blitzes and we needed to be able to sort those things out and slide into it. Their DBs weren't used to covering for very long. They're used to getting to the quarterback, getting the ball out of his hands. That's how the defense is devised.
As the game went on, the fact we were able to slide, pick those guys up, and give Christian time. We've been talking all year long, if you give the guy time, he has a chance to be successful, and he was. We have young guys stepping up.
I don't talk about injuries very often. DaeSean Hamilton has had a pulled hamstring for the last four or five weeks. We had Godwin in position to make some plays for us, he did. DaeSean was still able to play in a limited role. But I'll be happy when we get all these guys healthy and we get some of the new guys in and really be able to create the most competitive environment in the country and practice every single day.
Christian just looked more comfortable. Part of that I'm sure he didn't have bodies crashing around him all time time like all season. Also was he healthier just from having a month off? He looked sharp.
Yeah, I think that makes sense. But I don't know if that's necessarily reality. He's a big, strong, physical guy. Was he banged up and bruised and sore and uncomfortable? Yeah. That's kind of how it is in this game.
I think more than anything, we were able to, more times than not, protect him tonight, mix in the running game. I've been saying since day one, if we can give him time, give our receivers little time to work their routes, I think we can be pretty good on offense.
We were able to do that tonight. I think that was th ebiggest difference. Ricky Rahne, Herb Hand did a good job of having some indicators with their defense. Blitzes, certain people, where they lined up, certain alignments, we had a pretty good idea that the O-line and the quarterback could anticipate where the pressure was going to come from.
With that, we were able to get a body on a body, get a hat on a hat, give him some time to make some plays. He was able to do it.
Today the remark was made that you were going to be the one to bring back Penn State football to its former glory. Do you agree with that after this win?
No. It has very little to do with James Franklin. It has to do with the fans, with the alumni. I saw Franco on the sidelines. It has to do with all the former players, the current players, the assistant coaches, the trainer, the doctors, the video. It has to do with our fans that show up and sell out every single game.
We're all a part of this. I think we've been fractured. We've been fractured in the last probably three years. But I think experiences and games like this has restored the hope. Everybody has a part in that.
I believe when Penn State is together, we're all pulling the rope in the same direction. Doing what's best for the students, doing what's best for the players, doing what's best for the community as a whole, then the sky is very high for Penn State.
We didn't see Jordan Lucas start tonight. What went into that? His sack in the late in the game, talk about that.
He didn't play the first quarter because of a violation of team rules. He sat out the first quarter. I think that's why he sacked the guy because he was really angry by the time he got in the game.
But we have rules. We're going to hold our guys accountable. I want to make sure you understand it wasn't a big deal. He showed up a few minutes late for curfew. Visiting his family in New York. We have rules. We're going to hold everybody accountable. Jordan understands that.
He has a bright future moving forward. He wasn't happy at first, but he handled it the right way. I was proud of our coaches making that decision, as well.
You said DaeSean the last three or four weeks, is that real-time or the season?
If you watched the season, he was hobbling around, fighting through. When you get a real hamstring, the only thing that's going to solve that is time.
We tried to lay off. What happens is you try to lay off, he feels good, then you come out on game day, he feels good for the first quarter. He tried to pull out of a leg tackle, it started to bother him. We had to get him out of the game again.
As a redshirt freshman, he had a heck of a year. Real bright future moving forward. I'm excited to see all the work those guys can put in in the indoor facility with Christian.
Geno Lewis had a big game after some struggles.
Geno has a lot of ability. We saw it early in the year. He's got great ball skills, tremendous leaping ability. He's a smart guy, a competitive guy.
i'm excited because there's a lot of room for growth in his game: route running, his quickness, explosion, those types of things. I'm excited to see where he's going to be come spring ball with the right mentality and work ethic.
I want all our guys to go back and study every single play and game throughout the year. I want them to go back and watch the last three years before coming to Penn State, watch that film, understand it inside and out. Evaluate everything, starting with myself, all the way down through the program, so we can refine this thing and get better, so that come spring ball, then through spring ball, we're hitting on all cylinders going into the next year.
The kicking game of Boston College, they've had issues all year long. Were you aware of that? After the missed extra point, what was the message to your team?
We knew that was a factor, for sure. We thought we had the advantage there in the field goal situation with our field goal kicker versus theirs. That showed up tonight. That factored in.
I didn't say a whole lot. I'm not a big believer in the pregame speech or the half game speech. We do it, but I do my talking during the week. We have team meetings every single day.
They were aware of that. We covered that in detail. Bob and Huff covered that. It's not like we had to talk about it at halftime or after that play. Our guys were prepared for that. They knew that was an area we had an advantage and it needed to be an advantage for us.
Early in the game when we had the ball in the strike zone, we had penalties or turnovers. I think we could have got a few more points on the board, it would have made a little less crazy at the end.
Again, we're trying to help the Big Ten out, ESPN, to get the ratings up, so that's why we did it that way (smiling).
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