The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 17, 2013

Penn State Football: Selinsgrove's Ryan Keiser works the mic

By Tim Owen
For The Daily Item

— STATE COLLEGE - It's not only Bill O'Brien who does the talking. At the Penn State football news conference, which is held in the Beaver Stadium media room each Tuesday, a couple student-athletes are selected to speak after the head coach. This week, a Selinsgrove graduate sat at the dais.

O'Brien chose junior safety/special teams do-it-all Ryan Keiser as one of two upperclassmen to represent the team and answer questions from approximately 50 media members who were in attendance.

Here's what Keiser had to say:

n On Penn State's 34-31 loss to UCF on Saturday. The Penn State defense surrendered 507 total offensive yards, including 288 through the air. The Nittany Lions have two sophomores (Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas) starting at cornerback, so Keiser was asked how, as an upperclassman, he would help them rebound from defeat.

Said Keiser, "We just have to continue to lift each other up. We just have to play better and continue what we do in practice every single day. (Williams and Lucas) are going to get better. It's going to be a learning experience. We're going to get better from it and move on."

n On Kent State. The Golden Flashes enter Beaver Stadium for a 3:30 p.m., kickoff Saturday that will be aired live on Big Ten Network. They carry a 1-2 record after getting thumped at LSU last week, 45-13. This week they're hoping to regain .500 status with a win against the Nittany Lions, although they are 0-9 all-time against Big Ten teams.

Said Keiser, "They're a good team. We're just preparing for Kent State. We're focusing every single day on winning every day -- one day at a time and get ready for Saturday."

n On kicker Sam Ficken. Keiser has served as Ficken's holder since Ficken got the starting nod at the outset last season. After some early season struggles in 2012, Ficken has become one of the most accurate kickers in the Big Ten. He has converted 15 of his last 16 field goal attempts, and set a school record with 14 consecutive field goals made with a kick versus Eastern Michigan on Sept. 7.

Said Keiser, "Sam's been great. He keeps his head up all the time and he's having a great year. I'm proud of where he's at."

n On quarterback Christian Hackenberg. In recognition of his 262-yard one-touchdown, zero-interception performance against UCF, Hackenberg earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades for the second time this season.

Said Keiser, "He's been improving. Obviously, Coach O'Brien has done a great job with him. I'm not too sure of what all goes into being a quarterback, because I don't play that position, but from what I've seen he's been doing a good job."

n On playing in Beaver Stadium, which saw 92,855 fans file into the stadium on Saturday for the Nittany Lions' matchup against UCF. Keiser admitted that, especially early in his career, it was an adjustment to get used to playing in front of such a large crowd. It's certainly a lot different from high school, even his state championship season at Selinsgrove.

Said Keiser, "It's been great. It is awesome playing in this stadium. It's a lot different than high school, but I've adapted to it over the years. But I love playing here. It's awesome."

Keiser suffered an undisclosed minor injury during the Eastern Michigan game and, as a result, O'Brien listed him as "questionable" leading into last week's game with UCF. But he played sparingly and collected two tackles against the Knights.

Per team policy, Keiser didn't comment on the injury during his media availability Tuesday. However, he's expected to be a full participant against Kent State.