PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington - Fiesta Bowl | Fiesta Bowl

Jason Cabinda

Penn State Nittany Lions

Q. How has the first couple of days gone for you guys how have you?
JASON CABINDA: We went to Fogo de Chao, all kinds of meats and food there. That place was excellent. It was really, really good.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JASON CABINDA: Yeah, I’m sure that the offensive and defensive linemen probably ate to their heart’s content.

Q. (Indiscernible) treating you good?
JASON CABINDA: Yeah, everything so far has been really good. Treated really well. Feel really welcome. Actually met somebody who was at the, was it ’86 or ’87 Fiesta Bowl against Miami? I met somebody at this restaurant we were at. They were telling us how Joe Pa and his offensive line used to go to the restaurant when they came to the Fiesta Bowl. So it was pretty cool. Penn Staters are, like, everywhere.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JASON CABINDA: It was cool. Obviously it’s just kind of how the deal is. They’re going to miss some holidays playing football in college. You get used to it, but we try the make the most of it, at least with the kind of feel our team is, we’re like family. So it still has a bit of a family feel.

But obviously it’s not the best being away from your family. But we always make the most of it. Definitely didn’t feel like Christmas with 70 degree weather and a lot of sun. Still good.

Q. Yesterday, kind of you guys got out here (indiscernible), get that first practice (indiscernible)?
JASON CABINDA: It’s nice when you have so much more time to watch film, get extra work in, do the things you need to do to be successful on Saturday. So it’s definitely nice not having to worry about school and stuff like that.

Q. (Inaudible)?
JASON CABINDA: They have a mature guy at quarterback. They kind of give him the green light to make a ton of audibles at the line of scrimmage. He’s a very smart quarterback. I can tell he has a very high football IQ. He’s good at identifying the defense, and what they’re in.

I think having a ton of disguise and hides is going to be crucial to our success. I think this is probably one of the best backs we faced this year. He’s a very good back. I think he runs hard. I think he has really good vision. He’s able to get to the outside and kind of challenge the edge of the defense.

And then obviously No. 8, obviously he’s big as a returner but also as a receiver as well, Pettis. So they definitely got some weapons. So we’re definitely going to have to eliminate them and kind of reduce their damage what they can do to us.

Q. (Inaudible) how do you prepare for some of these unlike any other —
JASON CABINDA: It’s tough. Obviously you have to look at teams that have faced them, that have done well against them. I think Arizona State had a good game against them. I like the way their defense played. But that’s one of the things you can do is look at other defenses that had some success, were able to pressure them and kind of get them off balance, stuff like that, see what they were able to do well and try to apply that to your game plan and your defense.

Q. When you came into this program four years ago would you have ever been able to imagine that you’d be wrapping up your career in the Fiesta Bowl? The year before you were in the Rose Bowl. Talk about the program where it’s come from to where it is now.
JASON CABINDA: You think about it all the time. I think first year going to the Pinstripe Bowl, it was the most exciting thing ever. We went into the season not thinking we were going to be able to go play in a bowl game. So we were just so appreciative playing in the Pinstripe Bowl.

You look at last year, playing in a Rose Bowl, this year playing in Fiesta Bowl. We really wouldn’t have ever imagined it when we first came in here. So it’s definitely a blessing and we’re super appreciative, super grateful of these opportunities being able to do this.

But definitely it’s been a long road, no doubt about that — a long road, long journey, a ton of work has gone into it. But we’re finally, we’re harvesting the fruits now being able to play in games like this, so super excited.

Q. You played in four different bowl games, four different locales. How many people get a chance to do that? Have you thought about that, how special that’s been?
JASON CABINDA: That’s really cool, too. We’ve been in all different places, all different locations in the country, from Jacksonville, Florida to playing in California, now we’re playing in Arizona. It’s awesome — playing New York. It’s really cool for sure.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about being here, Arizona, just besides football?
JASON CABINDA: I think the best thing about here is it’s so different. I know I’ve never been to Arizona before. I honestly didn’t even know what it would look like besides desert and cactuses. But actually seems like a really cool city, definitely a place I’d like to further explore. But it’s cool.

Obviously the good weather is the best part about it. Being in 70 degree weather every day, that puts us in a better mood in general. So we’re enjoying it, taking it all in.

Q. Have you become a fan of the cactus?
JASON CABINDA: I have. Me and Cam Brown were kind of messing around outside. We heard from somebody that some cactuses, I guess, they can, like, not throw their needles at you, but they’re jumping cactuses. So we were trying to throw rocks at some of the cactuses to see if the spikes would move and stuff. So we were messing around and stuff.

Q. Who would have thought you would be able to play with cactus?
JASON CABINDA: Right. First time I’ve ever been near cactus ever, so that’s pretty cool.

Q. Ever been to Seattle? Known anybody in Seattle?
JASON CABINDA: I’ve never been to Seattle. Don’t know anybody in Seattle to be honest.

Q. Run across any of the Washington coaching staff on the recruiting trail or at any point?

Q. What did you know about Washington before you found out you were going to play them?
JASON CABINDA: I followed them last season. Jake Browning, he was a Heisman candidate at one point last year. So I was following them a little bit. I knew he was a really good quarterback, and I remember he was from the Elite 11 and stuff like that.

But I knew they were a good team. I knew they were a good team. They played really hard, they had a really good head coach. That’s all I really knew. I didn’t really need to be watching film of them or anything like that.

I didn’t really watch film of them until we knew we were playing them and stuff like that. But they’re a good team. They’re definitely are what I would expect them to be. They’re a good team. They play hard. They play physical. So — really hard on special teams as well. So we’re definitely preparing our butts off, and we’re going to be ready when the time comes.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Parker Cothren

Penn State Nittany Lions

PARKER COTHREN: Very grateful. When I first got here, they said we wouldn’t be in a bowl game until my senior year. And we’ve been blessed with Coach Franklin coming and bringing a lot of these good recruits, a lot of good friends that I made throughout the years. And it’s just been a blessing to play in the bowl games, great experiences, a lot of fun. And I’m glad I get to play one more game.

Q. What would you say Coach Franklin has done for this program? How have you seen (indiscernible) grow just under his energy and his whole attitude?
PARKER COTHREN: He’s really big on the principle and mindset and making sure everyone has a positive attitude all the time. We have core values. He’s really brought the team closer together. More like a brotherhood than anything. So I think that’s a good aspect of what he’s brought and helped our team out with.

Q. What’s your team impression of being in Arizona in the valley (inaudible)?
PARKER COTHREN: So far it’s really cool. I think everyone here would agree with me. That’s the first time I’ve ever been out here, first time I’ve seen a wild cactus growing on the ground. I thought that was neat. I didn’t realize how tall they were. It’s been awesome so far.

Q. Some of your teammates mentioned the landscape and scenery is a little different — you’re not bundled up in a winter coat or any of that stuff. Is the climate refreshing for you playing in this game?
PARKER COTHREN: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t really get too cold. Doesn’t get too hot either. Seems perfect here. I don’t know why anyone would leave.

Q. Talked with Curtis. I got a kickball game later today. I said give me one Cothren to kick a home run at the end of the game. Is it Curtis or Parker?
PARKER COTHREN: I’d go with me.

Q. No debate from you?

Q. Is that because you’re so good or you know Curtis wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure?
PARKER COTHREN: I think he could handle it if he wanted to, but I’m pretty clutch in those type of situations. I think I could handle it.

Q. All the bowl experiences, you talked about Arizona, you’ve been enjoying. You’ve seen New York City, Florida, you’ve seen LA — this is quite a variety of experiences so far the last few years. Can you talk about that part of it, how much fun you have been able to have as a team, all the places they go to?
PARKER COTHREN: It’s awesome. Especially being when I was getting recruited to Penn State we didn’t know if we would ever be able to get to go to a bowl game. That second year I was there we were able to go to the Pinstripe Bowl. We were all thankful. We had a great time there in New York.

And then just every year since it’s been getting better and better, and it’s so much fun. And this year’s no different. We’re having a great time, and the Fiesta Bowl is probably my favorite experience so far. I think it’s awesome.

Q. Last year they were number four; you guys are number five. They edged you out. There was a lot of debate between these two teams. You get to face them head to head now. They didn’t fare so well in the playoffs. You get to face this team now. Talk about the fact that you guys get to show what you guys are all about. You didn’t beat USC last year, had a great game. Get to face Washington. What kind of motivation do you have in this game to win it?
PARKER COTHREN: That’s all our motivation. Last year left a sour taste in our mouth at the Rose Bowl. And that’s the last thing we want to happen this year. We’ve been working hard ever since they announced who we’re playing, we’ve been studying the film. We went over their game plan, learning their scheme. And I think we have a good plan to attack these guys and stop their run and their quarterback.

Q. A lot of people describe both of you guys as being complete teams. Do you see mirror images when you see some of the stuff that Washington can do, they’re balance, can do a lot of things offensively?
PARKER COTHREN: They’re a great team, good offensive line, good receivers, good quarterback, awesome running back. So they’re a complete team; so are we. I think we’ve been game planning them, like I said. I think we will be all right, it will be a good game plan.

Q. Expect it to be a smash mouth game. Their running game with Gaskin, he’s a little bit more physical on film. What do you see from him and their offensive line and kind of what they want to do in the running game?
PARKER COTHREN: If you watch the films, pretty easy to tell their offensive line is very physical. They play hard and we’re kind of used to that playing Big Ten. A lot of offensive lines play that style of football.

We’ve been watching them, game planning them. The running back is very good. He’s quick, runs hard. So we’re trying to contain him, stop the run. And I think it will be good after that.

Q. Do they kind of remind you of a Big Ten team more than Pac-12 team? (Indiscernible) Pac-12 team on your mind, spread it out a little bit obviously. But these guys kind of they build everything off the run?
PARKER COTHREN: They play more Big Ten style football than the other Pac-12 teams, I think. So I think it’s a good matchup honestly. I think it will be a good game.

Q. How do you think the defensive line has improved as the year’s gone on? Why are you guys better right now —
PARKER COTHREN: Just experience. We had a lot of young guys taking a lot of reps early in the season. Just with that you just need more experience to play at a higher level. And I think they’ve gotten that. So now it’s like we have no freshmen on the team. Everyone’s an upperclassmen, they’ve played enough snaps that you’re confident, you’re not as nervous as you are in the first couple of games. I think that’s the most improvement, probably, just experience.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge that you see from Jake Browning? I mean, Myles Gaskin, (indiscernible) running, shifty in the holes, but Browning just has a (indiscernible) pocket?
PARKER COTHREN: Right, he’s very good at extending plays. That’s what we’ve been talking about, trying to make sure we cage him in the pass rush. Don’t let him spin out and extend the play like he does very well. So that’s really what — we’ve been watching him and trying to keep him contained as well as Gaskin.

Q. Does going up against Trace and the other shifty quarterbacks help you prepare against Jake?
PARKER COTHREN: Absolutely. We’ve been going against them all year and both of them are very illusive. They’ve been preaching caging the quarterback since camp in August. So I think all that throughout the year is going to help us out in this game.

Q. Is there another guy that you’ve played against that you could say, oh, he reminds me of Jake Browning or Jake Browning reminds me of him?
PARKER COTHREN: No, I’m not going to compare him to anybody. I think he’s a good player.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Brent Pry

Penn State Nittany Lions

Q. (A question about replacing Jason Cabinda.)
COACH PRY: … and he takes coaching very well and he wants to understand more and more. He’s what I would say is a 400 level player mentally. And he’s like a coach on the field.

I think that that’s one of the challenges this spring. We’re fortunate we’ve signed three guys at the position that will come in early as well as the guys currently in the unit. Cam Brown is a candidate, has played a lot of football now to this point. Of course Ellis Brooks, a young man that we redshirted that we’re really excited about. Jan Johnson is another guy very similar to Brandon Smith — a guy that walked on and really caught our attention, physical guy that gets the game, that’s smart.

So it’s obviously a challenge replacing somebody like Jason. But we’ve been able to recruit at a high level and we’ll have — I’m excited about the candidates, the pool we have to draw from.

Q. How much does it hurt not having (indiscernible), not have his athleticism on the field. Unfortunate to not have him (inaudible)?
COACH PRY: Manny is a very good talent. Still a lot of developing to reach his potential. But when you have a guy like Brandon Smith that’s able to step up once again and play with the maturity and execution that he does, as I mentioned, we’re three, four weeks into this and really haven’t missed a beat. So feel very fortunate to have Smitty in the house.

Q. What have you seen from Myles Gaskin on film, the shiftiness —
COACH PRY: Too much. Yeah, too much. I woke up thinking about him this morning. He’s just a very dynamic back. We’ve seen backs similar, that model. But I don’t know that we’ve seen one as good at it, just the cuts and the explosiveness, the balance, sees the hole, can catch the ball out of the backfield. Super impressed with him.

Q. Who would you liken him to (indiscernible)?
COACH PRY: I’d say some guys, one of the guys that stood out to us in that model is the tailback from Maryland. One of those guys you really have to capture. He beats angles.

Q. Todd Johnson?
COACH PRY: No. It wasn’t Johnson.

Q. Harrison?
COACH PRY: Yeah, Harrison. And if you asked our players they’d tell you the same thing. Harrison would be similar type back. This guy does things at another level. That’s one of the biggest challenges we face in the ballgame.

Q. Looking at film, anything unique about them that stands out, that you haven’t seen for a while?
COACH PRY: They’re just well balanced. There’s elements of Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, and there’s elements of Ohio State. They do a very good job. Multiple personnel groupings, multiple formations. They make you defend a lot and prepare for a lot.

They’re able to run the ball. I think they’re a bread-and-butter run team that sets up the play action. And they on third down and second and long, they can spread you out with the best of them. They have the athletes to do it. And they have a quarterback that is a super game manager, can make all the throws and makes great decisions.

Q. In your career, have your paths crossed with any of the Washington staff, recruited any of those guys on the other side?
COACH PRY: I don’t think so. We have a young man named Koa Farmer that starts at field backer for us. And Koa was recruited by the University of Washington. He’s a California kid. Other than that, which I think I’m probably thankful for because last year’s Rose Bowl, Clay Helton and I had worked together, and we saw how that turned out for us defensively. So we’re glad.

Q. You mentioned Ellis Brooks a couple times today. What have you seen from him in his redshirt year that makes him a candidate next year?
COACH PRY: Ellis has some qualities that remind me of Jason. Very bright. Very mature understanding of the game.

He is a physical player. He is a very good tackler. So there’s qualities of Ellis that remind me of Jason, which is obviously a positive. And we’ve seen that through this redshirt year.

Coach does a good job of putting guys in position where we can evaluate them during that redshirt season and develop them. So he’ll be a guy right in the mix. Going to be right in the mix.

Q. Coach has a reputation of dialing something up once a game. How much time — you’re smiling already — how much time can you really spend worrying about that kind of stuff?
COACH PRY: Let’s put it this way — we’ve rolled back about 10 years and covered a bunch of different tricks and gimmicks and gadgets. And I’m sure we won’t see one of those. We’ll see something.

We’ve tried to incorporate it every day into our practice where the guys aren’t surprised when it occurs.

Q. Any of those that are your favorite that you saw?
COACH PRY: It’s a laundry list. I don’t like any of them.

Q. Staying with Washington, what’s been your thoughts on Dante Pettis as you watch him as a receiver and in the return game? What’s in the discussion about staying within your scheme but at the same time paying attention to what he does too?
COACH PRY: You have to know where he is obviously. A side note, I think 26, their freshman, you have to know where he is. Oh, my goodness, he’s a good football player. And they use him, he could line up at receiver, at slot, tailback.

But Pettis is a highly gifted guy. When I think about the better backs we’ve seen over the last couple of years he’s right there in that top list. He just breaks angles. When you got guys you can coach, coach, coach, and vice a guy and be in your gap and be on the edge, and he beats your leverage and beats your angle. And that’s tough.

So you have to go above and beyond to leverage this guy. And we’ve worked very hard the last couple of weeks at capturing our backs in scout work. And again we’re fortunate we’ve got a guy like Josh McPhearson and a guy like Journey Brown, very good backs in their own right that can beat angles and do things. So he’s been obviously a focus of ours in our preparation for these guys.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Marcus Allen

Penn State Nittany Lions

MARCUS ALLEN: I will say the experience is like it’s a great experience as far as like with the family part as far as your brothers, interacting with your brothers every day, the relationships you have with the coaches and everything. But the grind is something real, going from like meetings to practice, to study hall and then trying to get in some practice film, watch over your opponent and everything.

It’s a lot that goes into this. I guess a lot of people outside looking in don’t get to experience it. So it’s easy to like judge or like critique the player, but you don’t know how much work and how much grind that we’ve really put into this. And this is basically our life. We don’t have that much free time or down time. So outside looking in, just take that into consideration.

Q. You had great individual moments at Ohio State. You had great team moments over the last couple of years. Yet that statement win at the end of the year, how important is it for you to go out in your last game with a win?
MARCUS ALLEN: It’s very important. These are my boys, my brothers. Want to go out one last time with a win, end it with a bang. I’m never going to be able to play with these guys, like this group of players again and these coaches.

We went through a lot, my past experiences with Penn State, going from not competing in a bowl game to being in the Fiesta Bowl. That right there that’s a blessing. And I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

Q. Can you talk about your time here in Arizona and just your impression of the state, the scenery and the culture and food?
MARCUS ALLEN: The scenery is great. That’s what I was saying last time. It’s something I’ve never seen before. Experiencing this and like being able to see like the desert and like the cactus and like the mountains while we’re practicing is something different, is something very, very like exciting to see. I like it a lot.

Q. Some of your teammates are saying that the cactus look like Looney Tunes?
MARCUS ALLEN: It looks different. When I see a cactus, it doesn’t look real but it is. That’s something that’s interesting to me.

Q. Can you talk about dinner last night, the kind of food you had and what that was like for you?
MARCUS ALLEN: The bacon, the chicken-wrapped bacon, yeah, that was great, that was really, really good. They had a lot of — they had steak coming in. They just have a lot of meats that you could choose from: Pork. The food, the thing that was different as far as the place that we went to yesterday was like they had like a card. One side of it was green, the other side was red. So like whenever you were like done, like I’m full, you flip it to the red side, like stop, I’m good from this. But I had it on green for a while, and I held strong.

Q. Did In-N-Out live up to the hype?
MARCUS ALLEN: Yeah, it did, it definitely did. It was a great place to eat.

Q. Talk about the weather. You’re not out there in a winter coat, not freezing, don’t see your breath during practice?
MARCUS ALLEN: Yes, definitely a different experience as far as the month and how hot it is. But for some reason at night it gets a little cold, gets a little chilly out here. So it’s like it reminds us of Penn State.

Q. Can you talk about Washington’s running backs, the challenges; is there something specific that stood out looking at them?
MARCUS ALLEN: They’re explosive and dynamic players. I would say Myles Gaskin is an explosive running back. And he has a unique jump cut that I took note on. So, like, he’s a really good player and I respect his game.

Q. What’s your favorite play from Saquon, watching from the sideline or watching —
MARCUS ALLEN: In game or practice?

Q. One of each. Is he better in practice or in games?
MARCUS ALLEN: Like when he had chances to like practice like run the ball and, like, when he was live and stuff, he made crazy plays.

I’ll say my favorite play as far as Saquon in game was the Rose Bowl last year. Rose Bowl last year, and the Iowa jump, when he hurdled the player and stayed on his feet.

Q. Is that how you remember him, or what other ways do you —
MARCUS ALLEN: It’s a lot of memories that we have together. Like, we shared a lot of those with each other. We hang out a lot.

It’s a different relationship that I have with Sa outside of what you guys have with him. You know what I’m saying? I’ll remember him as far as being Saquon, the Saquon I know, Saquon that be dancing. Saquon could dance, too, if you all don’t know.

The same way I’m doing it, he’s probably better. I ain’t going to lie. He’s good at it. He never try to show it. But I’ll remember that. I’ll remember the Saquon as always joking. He’s funny. So it’s a lot of memories we have together.

Q. Talk about your trips (inaudible)?
MARCUS ALLEN: That was awesome. That was a great experience. Being able to see some of the NFL guys up close. That was a great experience. I got so see Shazier in person and Antonio Brown, guys that are dynamic players.

Q. Get a chance to talk to any of them?

Q. Coach Pry just said, I’m not sure if he realized it, but you played three-quarters of your snaps last season at linebacker. And that was a credit to how versatile you are. Do you view yourself as that way, as somebody up there grinding it out?
MARCUS ALLEN: You see me down there in that box most of the time, too. I see myself — I can play linebacker. I can play safety if needed. Whatever Coach want me to do, I’ll do it without hesitation. So I can do it whatever he wants me to.

Q. If they were recruiting you now, they would be recruiting you as a linebacker, because they’ve got to change the way they’re bringing kids in. Would you have picked Penn State if they were viewing you as a linebacker, or were you DB all the way?
MARCUS ALLEN: I would’ve picked Penn State if I was a center…


PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Curtis Cothran

Penn State Nittany Lions

Q. He’s a presence?
CURTIS COTHRAN: He definitely has a presence.

Q. Young guy like Jason?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Yeah, somewhat like Jason. He’s definitely out there. Even though a lot of times we’re doing those scrimmages, especially once it starts to get to 3s and 4s, a lot of those guys might not know what they’re doing all the way through and through, but he’s definitely vocal about what he wants to do, flying around, making plays. Nice to see.

Q. I heard you had some good food?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Yeah, Fogo de Chao.

Q. What’s the best part of that?
CURTIS COTHRAN: I’d probably say the best part was the flow thing — I thought it was cool how they — what do you call it? Where you put your glass on — they have like the paper coasters. One side is green, one side is red. You have it green the whole time. They just keep coming around giving you meat.

And after a while, then if you get hungry, you flip it over. They just stop serving you. It’s crazy how all on flow it was.

I never had a restaurant where you’re literally finishing one thing, then they’re bringing you another. Finishing one thing, they’re bringing you another. It was pretty cool.

Q. What was your favorite cut?
CURTIS COTHRAN: My favorite cut. I think it was steak wrapped in bacon or something like that. I’m pretty sure steak wrapped in bacon. It was really good.

Q. (Inaudible)?
CURTIS COTHRAN: I didn’t know that. It sounded, to be honest with you, it sounded familiar. But I wasn’t really too sure what it was.

Q. What about like some of the stuff that’s not out here, you also had In-N-Out?
CURTIS COTHRAN: We had In-N-Out. It was pretty good. I had a good time. In-N-Out was really good. In-N-Out was really good. It’s like obviously people have a whole new atmosphere. But it was really good for sure, for sure.

Q. Did you get a chance to try Whataburger?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Never tried Whataburger.

Q. So what have you seen in Myles Gaskin? Does he have a comparison in the Big Ten maybe?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Myles Gaskin, I said that I think he runs a lot like almost like guys from Ohio State where he’s able to make a lot of elusive plays.

And also those guys, also remind me guys from Maryland, same thing, very shifty and very shifty. And he’s able to improvise a lot of plays and able to make a lot of moves and be able to make things happen when they’re not there sort of in a sense. He’s really good at that. Their O line is great.

Q. Wanted to ask about the holiday, Christmas holiday, spending it with your teammates away from home in a state — like how different was that?
CURTIS COTHRAN: I mean, it’s definitely different. There’s been other bowl games we haven’t got to go home. It’s not my first time around. But also at the same time I’m used to northeast; it’s cold. That type of thing. It might be snowing.

But I like it out here. I like how warm it is and it’s not cold, get to have a good time and be with your brothers and hang out. It was a good Christmas.

Q. 70 degrees, how nice has that been at practice?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Nice to go to practice not see your own breath. A lot of times we’d be practicing inside our like indoor facilities, but it’s nice just getting a change of scenery, change of weather, going to places I’ve never been to before. I’ve never been to Arizona. So it’s the first time I’ve been here, it’s been a pleasant surprise.

Q. The food, the topography. Does that add to this experience? You look at the Rose Bowl last year or the year before, take stock of that, been able to see a bunch of stuff?
CURTIS COTHRAN: I definitely have. It’s definitely been exciting, like you said, just going out and seeing other areas and certain things.

Like I’ve never been to the West Coast until obviously the Rose Bowl last year, and it’s nice to route towards this way again. Definitely been a different experience.

A lot of places I never grew up thinking I’d see. So it’s cool.

Q. When you look at Washington offensively, what jumps off the page, main challenge?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Main challenge, I would say their running backs are very elusive. They have a two tailback, he’s able to do a whole lot of things. He can hit the hole where he needs to hit it or bounce it outside, make his own plays happen. And the same with the backup as well.

Definitely going to be a great challenge just corralling them and being able to do our best job against them. A lot of things as far as like the Rose Bowl last year, we feel like as a defense we didn’t play our best game so we want to be able to come out here and kick it up a notch.

Q. Obviously New Year’s is a new year. How much has that been in the back of your mind last year (indiscernible)?
CURTIS COTHRAN: It’s been gnawing away at me. It’s never the way you want to be able to leave out and obviously seeing how hurt those seniors were last year, the way that that ended. Me being a senior this year, I mean, I definitely want to go out on a positive note. This is something I’ve definitely been looking forward to for a long time.

Q. Who are some of the young players that impressed you as the season has gone on, especially in bowl practice sessions?
CURTIS COTHRAN: I’d probably say the two guys that really stepped up to me as far as making plays and those type of things have definitely been Yetur and Shane Simmons. Both of those guys, they come to work every day.

I mean, just keep pressing away. Sure, they’re trying, especially toward the beginning of the season you’re learning a lot of things on the fly, you never had full game reps and those type of things.

But, as you said, as the season got on and they got more reps and those type of things, they seem more comfortable, make a lot more plays. Pretty proud of those guys being able to step up and embrace their role.

Q. What about young guys that impressed you?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Young guys? I’d probably say a lot of times as far as, a lot of times we’re versus the scout team, I’d definitely say Journey Brown. Journey is going to be a great back once he gets his opportunity and his chance.

He definitely comes out, and he gives us the best look of any running back that we need, whether we need a guy that’s just going to hammer between the A gaps or you need a guy that’s more elusive be able to do those things.

He’s definitely impressed me in the fact he’s been able to simulate those backs, being able to do a good job for us. When we get to Saturdays, it’s like we’re playing the same exact guy we’re playing in practice.

Q. I’m asking some of the veteran players what their first encounter was with Coach Franklin. Do you remember the first time you met him and what were your first impressions of him?
CURTIS COTHRAN: First thing — trying to remember the first time I met — that was a long time ago.

Q. I’m trying to figure out —
CURTIS COTHRAN: No, I remember he showed up to the team meeting. We had a team meeting. We were going to meet him. Because obviously I had been with O’Brien before.

So it was a lot of us older guys, we showed up at the team meeting. He comes in with a suit on, talking to us, we’re like this guy is going to be awesome, this is going to be a good time.

Q. What was it that made you think this guy is going to be awesome?
CURTIS COTHRAN: He was just confident. He was confident in his plan and confident in what he wants to get done and what he wants to be able to accomplish.

And we saw over time, as you start to trust in him, start to believe in him, because obviously at first you’re used to doing things one way with a certain coach, you’ve already bought in with him.

Then coaches change and you have to buy in with a new concept, things like that. But definitely just buying into that new mold and getting things the way that he would want them done. And obviously it’s paying off for us now: Rose Bowl last year, Fiesta Bowl this year.

Q. The question is, is he really like that? Is he like — we always see him in press conferences. So I ask you: Is that who James Franklin is, this outgoing, always, always positive guy?
CURTIS COTHRAN: Yeah, I would say so. I would say so for sure. That’s definitely the way he leads his team and what his mantra is and what his foundation is on.

A lot of things, core values: A positive attitude, good work ethic, compete in everything you do and must be willing to sacrifice.

But positive attitude is I feel in my head, as far as I go, positive attitude affects the other three. Because if I don’t have a positive attitude in the first place, then it’s not going to work out.

But that’s definitely something he’s implemented with us and always staying positive and being able to work and have fun at the same time. And that’s definitely something that’s proved positive for us.

Q. How long did it take you to memorize or get to know those four core values? Last year at Media Day, I was asking some players and they were having trouble remembering. James actually said ask any of the guys what the core values are and they’ll tell you. Did it take you a while to…
CURTIS COTHRAN: It didn’t take too long. Probably after the first year I was pretty good. Team meeting room now, it’s literally everywhere you look. You can’t run from it. But I think that’s part of — about the first year. Second year guys with him definitely were able to get it.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Grant Haley

Penn State Nittany Lions

GRANT HALEY: We have good guys coming back, Amani Oruwariye will be back and also and John Reid should be back as well. And you have Tariq and Lamont, and there’s a freshman, who has not redshirted, but Donovan Johnson, I’m excited for his future, those guys right there.

They know what the standard is as a defense. And especially in the corner room, we’ve had a great couple of years. And I’m excited for them to really show off their skills and for Penn State fans to kind of fall in love with them like they did with us.

Q. (Inaudible)?
GRANT HALEY: I think it will be special. As a team, having the chance to hang out with each other in Arizona, it’s special just off the field as well. You get to hang out with guys who never probably have been to Arizona or been out to the West Coast. Especially when we come to the game, obviously we want to win.

The last two years we haven’t been successful in that aspect. And just going out there, especially for the seniors and getting that win, is something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives and with people coming back sets the tone for the 2018 season. So if there’s anything that we can do, it’s just a win and that’s what matters to us this weekend.

Q. When you look at Washington, what stands out as far as managing (indiscernible) —
GRANT HALEY: I think Browning, he’s the quarterback. He’s a versatile quarterback. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s clearly the leader of the team. And going against him will be a good challenge because as good as he is inside the pocket, I mean sometimes he’s even better outside the pocket.

And him running, him getting outside of contain and us collapsing the pocket will be a good challenge for us because you never know, we could end up covering for eight, ten seconds. And it’s a challenge for us and it’s a challenge for “D” line. And we’re excited to go against a quarterback that’s good in all aspects of the game.

Q. (Inaudible) is there anybody similar?
GRANT HALEY: I think running games-wise they’re like a Big Ten offense, a little Stanford in there with the way they run the power. Then a lot of Big Ten teams run the split zone as well. When they get in the spread they kind of remind me of our offense.

They have a good balance and they use a lot of different players. And they have a very fast team and a lot of versatile players. And I think what they do, they do it, they do it right and they know what their game plan is and they execute it very well.

Q. Marcus was telling me back when he was a freshman he was trying to figure out the game plan and all that, how he would come and bug you for help. What do you remember about that?
GRANT HALEY: I remember it was Keiser got hurt on the Thursday practice, Ohio State, and I remember because our rooms freshman year were right next to each other.

I remember he knocked on my room all night that night, Thursday, my dorm room. And the next day I remember he came into the room with me, because I was roommates with Jordan Lucas, and he was in there for like an hour. You could tell how nervous he was and everyone was trying to calm him down.

You know it, you’re fine, but it was a funny thing but it was also one of those things where you learn how important this game of football is to him. It was awesome to see that and be able to help him to be successful in that first game he started.

Q. Someone asked him in general about being nervous, and he said that’s not him. So what did nervous Marcus look like?
GRANT HALEY: I don’t know if I want to say nerves, but it was like one of those things where he always talks about if he didn’t do great in the game, all his friends would make fun of him.

But I think he was more nervous not knowing the plays and not knowing what’s going on. But he knew as a football player he trusted his ability to be out there with those guys, but I think it was just more of the plays and where you’re supposed to be at at certain times.

Q. Have you thought at all — you’ve seen guys in the past leave the bowl game, go to a training site. Have you figured that out?
GRANT HALEY: I’ve figured everything out. I’m just focused on this game right now and just the rest of it will take care of itself going into the next year.

Q. The Rose Bowl (indiscernible) — talked to Brent, and he said he would be lying if it didn’t, the way the game went. Does that loss still stick with you? How important is it to kind of right that wrong since you’re here?
GRANT HALEY: Yeah, definitely still sticks with us. You think about it, the bowl games that you play, they kind of are leading into the 2018 season.

And we kind of went in, last year went into 2018 with a losing record, that’s how we thought about it. And we were not satisfied with ourselves as a defense. We gave up 40 something points and however so many yards to their offense.

And Coach Pry, especially now that it’s become the bowl season, since the last game ended, he’s reiterated we lost last year. We didn’t send those seniors out the way they deserved to be.

And he’s right. And we need to — we’re a veteran team. And when it’s time to have fun at the bowl game we’re going to have fun.

But I think I’ve seen a change in people’s demeanors when it’s time to go to practice, everyone’s focused on practice. I think that’s what’s special about this group of guys. And we know what happened last year. And we’re excited to go out there and finish off with a win.