STATE COLLEGE — Penn State shifted its focus to Buffalo this week after after a dominant season-opening performance against Idaho.
Penn State coach James Franklin said Penn State will continue to refine the positive points from its 72-point win last week as the Nittany Lions welcome the Bulls to Beaver Stadium on Saturday night.
“I know we have a very well-coached team coming in this week — it’s going to be a different challenge than it was last week,” Franklin said. “We just have to keep getting better.”
The Nittany Lions have turned to situational awareness drills and circumstances to better help players understand what they’ll face moving forward this season.
“Just trying to teach football with as many different ways that we can,” Franklin said. “We use NFL games and college games that I think our guys have watched. I think it’s more realistic when we can show it to them, no different from when we do two-minute situations or four-minute situations in practice.”
Sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth participated in practice on Wednesday, a positive sign for Penn State. Freiermuth took a hit to the head in the second quarter against Idaho and didn’t return to the game.
After last Saturday’s 79-7 win in which Penn State redshirt sophomore kicker Jordan Stout boomed 13 kicks for touchbacks and connected on a 53-yard field goal, Franklin praised the Virginia Tech transfer and explained the strategic advantages of having a special teams player of Stout’s caliber.
“When you can almost guarantee that the team is going to have it at the 25 (yard line) compared to the 28 or the 34 or compared to an explosive play that goes back to a touchdown, it helps,” Franklin said. “It also may factor into your personnel and who you put on that unit. Just knowing that we have a weapon like that not only on kickoffs … but also being able to send them out for a 50-plus field goal.”
Redshirt freshman Jayson Oweh tallied two tackles and one sack in the season-opener. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end played time in four games last year, and said his strategy against Idaho better.
“I felt way more comfortable,” Oweh said. “The first game I played last year, I was just trying to get off the ball and sack the quarterback. This game, I was focusing on all the aspects of the game.”