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October 16, 2018

Connor McGovern

University Park, Pennsylvania

Q. Let met just start by asking about Indiana's defense. They have had a tough run defense against you guy the last two years. What do you see from them and why do you think that this time might be a little bit different?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Definitely Indiana prides itself on stopping the run. They like to load the box. They are always constantly blitzing, moving guys around. So it makes it a little bit challenging, especially seeing the fronts that they are going to give us because they like to constantly stunt and move around.

I like the challenge this year because we are always communicating up front and I think no matter what look they give us, we'll be able to run the ball any time during the game.

Q. Damion Barber was mentioned by James Franklin just shortly ago about a guy who is going to need to step up with Fred out for the season. You've worked with him on the scout team week-to-week. How has he worked on his game since he got to campus? Where is he? Do you think he's ready to contribute?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I definitely think he's ready to contribute. Since he's got here, he's dramatically I improved, constantly working with hand placement and getting off the ball. I think that's one of his strong suits, husband --

Q. The past two games had any impact on the team's confidence in general, and how do you try to restore some of the confidence that could have been lost?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I don't think we lost any confidence as a team. Right now, sticking together, coming out every day, especially this week, focus on ourselves and just come out prepared against Indiana this week.

Q. Trace shouldered a lot of the blame for the offense's lack of suss success against Michigan State. How has the team rallied around him? He seemed defeated after the game and was pretty hard on himself for his performance.
CONNOR McGOVERN: Definitely he took it real hard, but it affected all of us, that loss. No one wants to loss, especially will I two in a rope at home. This week he with just have to come out and keep working harder.

I know Trace is going to step up, be a big-time leader and be very vocal and that's how we all have to be this week to prepare against Indiana.

Q. Who beyond Trace are the real leaders that people look up to on this team?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Offensively or like defensively or just in general.

Q. Yeah, all three.
CONNOR McGOVERN: Definitely offensively, Trace, then Miles, Mark Allen is always helpful throughout everything.

I think every position has their guys that are more vocal than others but then you have other smaller people that maybe don't communicate as much vocally but through their actions, do all the right things people look up to. There's a lot of those throughout the entire time.

Defensively, the same way, Nick Scott is a vocal leader but there are a lot of other smaller guys, that might not say anything, but everyone looks up to them as how they are playing.

Q. A couple examples of those guys?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Just for example, I think the whole offensive line. We are not very vocal people but we always do your jobs and I think people look up to us and try to copy us, how we do, same mindset we do, just come out every day and try to get better and stuff like that.

Q. Trying to find my train of thought here. But Tom Allen, the Indiana coach, joked Monday that sometimes he for gets that it's not Saquon Barkley back there; that he feels like Barkley just switched jerseys with Sanders. As someone who is able to watch Sanders, do you ever forget that Barkley isn't back there? How do you think he compares, and what kind of season do you feel like Sanders is having so far?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I think Miles is doing a wonderful job. You've seen the past two years, the sparks he's had and now he's finally being able to show what he truly is, and he's just able to ignite the field.

Saquon is a phenomenal player, but Miles in his own right is a great football player, too, and he's finally being able to show that.

Q. You talked about losing a couple games at home here. What was the open date like? Were you feeling sorry for yourselves? James mentioned that he didn't think -- this might have been the first time you haven't improved as a team the last game. Just seems like, not to take anything away from Michigan State, but seems like things were missing.
CONNOR McGOVERN: I don't think things were missing. I don't feel like we weren't fire on all cylinders. Communication definitely lacked a little bit, but I just think we have to really focus on this week and coming back and just preparing against Indiana and make sure we get things done this week.

Q. Going into last week, did you guys -- were you surprised at all that you guys went in against the top-ranked rush defense and wanted to run the ball as much as you did?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I was not surprised at all. That was one of the things we talked about in the offensive line room, taking that more personal. We wanted to show that we were able to run the ball against the best in the country and we were able to.

Q. What does that maybe do for you guys moving forward, knowing that the ground game had success against them?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Definitely shows that we can -- against the best of defenses, we're able to move the ball how we want to and up front we can come out and dominate people.

Q. Connor is an outside pass rusher but Shane Simmons, maybe you've faced him in practice on stunts, but what were you seeing out of him before the season, before his injury and I guess were you able to see how he did on Saturday?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Definitely Shane has a very high motor, always constantly moving, fast foot at the edge and speed to power guy. Hurt not having him a little bit but he's back to where he was, very confident in him and I know he's able to get his job done.

Q. Koa was talking about grades and being graded. Did anybody in the offensive line grade out as a winner last week?
CONNOR McGOVERN: Overall we had a couple guys grade out as winners, but talk to Coach Limegrover more about that. He'll have more of the details about that.

Q. The offensive line has made a lot of improvement since last season but where do you think the biggest stride has been made?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I definitely think in our communication the past two years, that kind of has been slacking. This year, multiple of us have played together for so long, and just more natural and a lot more comfortable with each other, and I think that's where we're slacking the past two years, just the comfortability.

Q. Was there a game or a play this season where it came together?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I feel like definitely against Pitt it came together. Week one against Appalachian State, we were still working out some of the things, like obviously during camp you feel comfortable. But then getting live reps that will challenge, you, but then week two game and I know we were all solid together and ready to play.

Q. You're one of the few guys starting back in 2016 on this team. You were 4-2, unranked. Had not been ranked in about five years. You're 4-2 this year, ranked, but it has a much different feel about the program. What does that say about expectation and how do you think internally the team is handling that, and is it fair to hold this team to a high standard?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I think it's always great to have very high expectations. Two years ago, no one believed in us at all and we were the only ones in that room that truly believed in what we could do, and we kind of kept pushing that and now expectations are really high; that we should always be at that same standard and we just have to keep pushing that every week, basically. Just come out and prove that we're improving every week and it's going to start this week with Indiana, just focus on that.

Two years ago, it was a little bit different circumstances, just because no one really truly believed in us, and now we have these high expectations.

Q. Is the locker room comfortable with the great-to-elite and pushing for that, and to follow that with a loss to Michigan State, does that create tension or walking on eggshells?
CONNOR McGOVERN: I don't think there's any like doubts or anything like that. We're all just believing in each other and just going to come out and work harder this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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