Penn State Nittany Lions: Robbie Gould

Penn State: Helmet stickers

September, 1, 2013
Recognizing the best and brightest from the Nittany Lions in the season opener:
  • Safety/linebacker Stephen Obeng-Agyapong: Syracuse targeted Obeng-Agyapong after Mike Hull went down, but the safety-turned-linebacker stepped up in a big way. He ran the gamut of defensive statistics with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. The situational player's two turnovers directly led to six Penn State points.

  • Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones: Who paced the Nittany Lions' defense in tackles? That would be none other than the 6-foot-3, 318-pound senior. He cut through double-teams and the Syracuse line like the great PSU tackles before him and wound up with 8.5 tackles -- including a sack and 3.5 tackles in the backfield. Jones was absolutely unstoppable, and the Orange didn't get very far trying to rush inside.
  • Quarterback Christian Hackenberg: He made a few mistakes, as Bill O'Brien mostly stuck to a conservative game plan. But he played relatively well -- extremely well for a true freshman who's been on campus less than three months. He went 22-of-31 for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 54-yard touchdown strike to Eugene Lewis was the nicest pass of the game and really showed off his arm. If that play didn't offer a glimpse of his potential, none did. He should be something special -- and a win in his first career start is definitely a great beginning.
  • Kicker Sam Ficken: He needs to put Robbie Gould on his Christmas card list. He talked with the former Penn State kicker throughout last season and really came on strong Saturday by nailing all three of his field goals, including a career-long 46-yard attempt. This isn't the same Ficken as last season, who some thought might just be the worst FBS kicker in the country. Early last season, they might have been right. But this year? Excuse the pun, but he's started off on the right foot.
  • Wideout Allen Robinson: Sometimes, stats just speak best. He had seven catches for 133 yards -- accounting for 48 percent of Hackenberg's passing yardage -- and only played in the second half. He basically single-handedly drove PSU to its first score by catching two balls for 76 yards and a TD ... on a two-play drive. Plus, nearly all of his yardage came after the catch. Robinson is the best receiver in the Big Ten, and he could be in the NFL at this point next season.

Ficken improving, not dwelling on past

November, 14, 2012
Sam Ficken stared at his bedroom wall -- sometimes before brushing his teeth, other times after hours of practice -- and remembered.

The sophomore kicker had tacked a PSU-Virginia game program to that apartment wall so he couldn't forget. He didn't want to make the same mistakes. He didn't want history to repeat itself. And he didn't want his career to be defined by that 1-of-5 performance in a 17-16 loss.

[+] EnlargeSam Ficken
AP Photo/Andrew ShurtleffPlace-kicker Sam Ficken walks off the field dejected after missing a last-second field goal at Virginia.
Nothing motivated him more than that magazine. But now, nine weeks after that performance, Ficken said he awakes with thoughts of the future instead of regrets about the past.

"I actually ended up taking that down about a week ago," he said. "I'm trying to move on from that game, I'm trying to forget about it. So I'm trying not to dwell."

Ficken has gone from being a constant source of disparaging Tweets and student chatter -- a kicker whom the crowd would, somewhat mockingly, scream loudly for after a converted extra point -- into a player who's made his last six field goals. Fans no longer hold their collective breath when he steps on the field, and Ficken's confidence has been rising as steadily as his field goal percentage.

"He's a very, very laid-back guy that cares about his teammates," Bill O'Brien said. "It's nice to see him improve like he has."

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Nittany Lions in the NFL: NFC offense

August, 22, 2012
Michael RobinsonSteven Bisig/US PresswireMichael Robinson (right) has become one of the better fullbacks in the NFL after playing quarterback at Penn State, making the Pro Bowl this past season.
NittanyNation takes a look at every Penn State player currently playing in the NFL -- where they are, what their role is and what their careers have looked like.

NittanyNation will look at offensive NFC players this afternoon after glancing at offensive AFC players this morning:

Stephfon Green, RB, Detroit Lions
Height/weight/age: 5-10/193/23
Role: Battling for a roster spot as the No. 4 RB
PSU career: Green burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2008 -- but that turned out to be his best season. He had 578 rushing yards and found himself in Joe Paterno's doghouse by his senior season. He finished his career with 1,351 yards and 14 scores.
NFL career: Went undrafted. Green has six carries this preseason for 92 yards -- including a 76-yard scamper for a score against the Baltimore Ravens.

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