Penn State Nittany Lions: Trayion Durham

Planning for success: Penn State

September, 19, 2013
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Cornerback Jordan Lucas swears it's not as bad as it sounds.

Yes, UCF compiled 507 yards and 34 points in shocking Penn State last week. But that's last week. And Lucas said his team was looking forward to Saturday's game against Kent State and a shot at some redemption.

"We just need to make plays," the first-year starter said. "We need to tackle better, as everybody knows. And when we have a guy wrapped up, we need to bring him down. That's really it. We need to execute."

The Golden Flashes don't have the same firepower as UCF. And their best player, Dri Archer, who's been compared to NFL tailback Darren Sproles, is "unlikely" to play this weekend. That creates the perfect recipe for a confidence-boost with this Penn State defense.

Kent State tailback Trayion Durham has averaged just 3 yards a carry so far this season. The Flashes are just 1-2 -- with their lone win coming against FCS school Liberty. And that was still a 17-10 struggle.

"We're just going to play a little bit more aggressively and stick to our keys," Lucas said.

This might offer Penn State's defense a bit more closure, or more confidence, but it won't do much to answer any lingering questions. Central Florida boasted a high-powered attack, which should help PSU prepare for the Big Ten season -- seeing as their three October opponents are averaging at least 42 points per game.

But Kent State? With a defense that surrendered 41 points to Bowling Green and an offense that's ranked No. 108 in scoring, the Flashes aren't exactly the best measuring stick for the Nittany Lions.

PSU is nearly a three-touchdown favorite this weekend. Will the Lions be tested? Probably not. But it should be a good pick-me-up after a loss.

"We just got to continue to lift each other up," safety Ryan Keiser said. "We just have to continue to do what we do."

This is Penn State's final game before a bye and the start of the conference season. It's a chance for Deion Barnes to pick up his first sack and start answering some questions about his play, another game for the outside linebackers to gain experience and a shot for Lucas and Co. to improve the secondary.

It's a different kind of game than Central Florida. But it's important for PSU to win this one big so it can be more self-assured in preparing against Indiana. This team knows what it has to do; it's just a matter now of executing.

"We have to do better," Bill O'Brien said, "and will do better."

Early look at Purdue Boilermakers 

July, 31, 2013
Every day this week, NittanyNation will continue taking a closer look at a different game this season and how the matchup stacks up for PSU. Up today: Purdue.

Darrell Hazell finished last season with one of the nation's most impressive coaching performances, leading Kent State to an 11-win season and coming within a heartbeat of an Orange Bowl berth.

Purdue's new head coach will need another one of the country's best performances just to get the Boilermakers into a bowl.

Hazell will need to break in a new quarterback and a new stable of receivers. Purdue will need to replace its best defensive player in DT Kawann Short. And it will need to fight past a tough non-conference slate that includes Cincinnati and Notre Dame.

Hazell's up for the challenge, but make no mistake about it: This is a rebuilding season for the Boilermakers. Hazell turned around a struggling Kent State squad from 5-7 in his debut season to 11-3 in Year 2. This will probably be a similar first season for Hazell record-wise, and there'll be plenty of bumps along the way.

Early look at Kent State Golden Flashes 

July, 23, 2013
Every weekday over the next two weeks, NittanyNation will take a closer look at a different game this season and how the matchup stacks up for PSU. Up today: Kent State.

The Golden Flashes boast one of the most dynamic tailbacks in all of college football.

If we believed what our mothers told us -- and didn't say anything unless we had something nice to say -- that would be the end of this preview, however. After a Cinderella season where Kent State came within a heartbeat of the Orange Bowl, the Flashes' luck has run out.

Gone is head coach Darrell Hazell, who left for Purdue. Gone are three offensive linemen who combined for more than 120 starts. Gone is the four-year starting QB. Gone is three-quarters of the secondary.

Gone is just about every reason Kent State could be considered a threat. Except for tailback/slot receiver Dri Archer. This team was a threat last season -- but this season? The Flashes are somewhere between Eastern Michigan and Syracuse in terms of talent.

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