PSU Football Notebook: Georgia State Week

UNIVERSITY PARK – Week two is already in the books and per Penn State head coach James Franklin’s weekly Sunday tweets this season, it’s time to turn toward Georgia State.

Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott joined the Sun Belt Conference football head coaches call this afternoon to talk Saturday’s upcoming outing. It’s the first meeting in program history between the two teams as the Nittany Lions enter the week at 2-0 following a 33-14 win against Pittsburgh. At 0-1 on the year, Georgia State returns to action following an early bye week, having dropped a 17-10 decision to Tennessee State in its season opener.

Among his weekly conference call questions, Elliott was asked about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

“You know I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of good backs in my time and he ranks right up there,” Elliott said. “He’s powerful, that’s the thing about it. He’s just got so much strength and you have to gang tackle this guy, you have to rally to the football. I don’t think anybody in college football can bring him down alone and that’s a huge, huge compliment to the strength and conditioning staff up there. What a tremendous amount of body control and strength they have put into this young man.”

With 432 all-purpose yards across two games, there’s certainly no doubting Barkley’s playmaking abilities. In the win against Pittsburgh, Barkley registered 88 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown, in addition to four catches for 45 yards and another touchdown. He hauled in another 50 yards on a pair of kick returns to earn one of five spots on the Paul Hornung Award Week 2 Honor Roll.

Under The Lights

Penn State will host Georgia State in its first night game of the 2017 season, marking the first Nittany Lion non-conference matchup under the lights since hosting UCF Sept. 14, 2013. At 45-31 all-time in night games, Penn State has also won five of its last six evening outings.

Also interesting to note, among teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference, Penn State has only met Coastal Carolina once in program history. While Coastal Carolina was not a member of the Sun Belt in the 2008 meeting, the Chanticleers joined the conference in July 2016.

Strong, Physical, Fast

Elliot also made mention of Penn State’s secondary, calling the unit both talented and skilled.

“They can matchup with pretty much everybody in the country,” Elliot said. “Strong, physical and fast.”

Penn State’s secondary has embraced every sense of Elliot’s description this year, with the Nittany Lions opening 2017 with at least one interception in back-to-back games for a second consecutive year.

While it wasn’t a pick, safety Marcus Allen followed interceptions by Grant Haley and Troy Apke with his first career safety, marking the first Penn State safety since Devon Still notched a sack in the end zone at Minnesota in 2010.

“I just read it,” Allen said. “I knew it was coming, we practice that a lot during the week so I ready that and just reacted. I saw the lineman starting to widen out, trying to arc left, then I saw number 22 just start going back and I reacted.”

Last Word – Pittsburgh

At halftime Andrew Nelson’s message to the rest of his offensive line was simply to remember what it feels like have fun. After sustaining an injury that sidelined him for the final eight games of the season, Nelson made his return to the field against Pittsburgh.

“Sometimes people can lose sight of the fun,” Nelson said. “That’s something that when I got back out there and I was a part of a drive to go down there put it in the end zone, I was like, I’m having a lot of fun out here. I told the guys, when you watch from the sideline for a long time and you finally get back out there, you realize how much fun it was when you were out there playing.”