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Interim OC Ricky Rahne, WR Chris Godwin Excited After Last Practice Before Bowl Game

Penn State is in Jacksonville this week practicing for the TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia, visiting the Wolfson Children’s Hospital, and watching offensive linemen “sumo wrestling” in the ocean. But as much fun as it sounds like the team’s having, there’s a job to do this Saturday. Interim offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne and wide receiver Chris Godwin spoke to the media after their last practice of the season.

Rahne will serve as John Donovan’s replacement for the bowl game, while the recently hired and full-time offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is in an evaluating role.

“I just want us to go out there and play fast, play aggressive, and play with a swagger,” Rahne said. “Everything’s not gonna be perfect, it never is, but I want us to go out there and play hard.”

Rahne was James Franklin’s quarterback coach and was promoted into the play-calling position over the team’s other offensive coaches. But just because the spotlight is on him doesn’t mean the challenge is his alone to face.

“There’s a bunch of different guys I called,” Rahne said. “Ron Prince who I worked with, I called Dave Brock who I’ve worked with, I’ve asked Coach Franklin for help, I asked Coach Moorhead what he thought, there’s a bunch of different guys so I’ve had an incredible list of guys who’ve helped me in my career so obviously I’m gonna lean on those guys as much as possible.”

“[Franklin]’s given me suggestions here and there and things like that, obviously he’s been busy doing a lot of different things, but he has given me suggestions and I have taken them and worked them into how we as a staff have worked them into how we see the offense going,” Rahne added.

Chris Godwin came up after Rahne to break down the week from a player’s perspective. The last practice featured a jersey swap, where every player traded with someone else and practiced in new numbers.

last taxslayer bowl football practice
Carl Nassib can be seen wearing No. 8 in the background. Other notables were No. 81 Hackenberg, No. 43 Barkley, and No. 6 Godwin.

“I’m good friends with Malik Golden,” Godwin explained. “If I didn’t wear No. 12 in college I think 6 would be the number I would go with.”

He went on to explain what is happening in the picture above. It was the seniors’ last practice ever, so they chose who they wanted to carry them off the field. Center Angelo Mangiro selected offensive linemen, Matt Zanellato picked fellow receivers, and the always eclectic Anthony Zettel, well…

This is Godwin’s second bowl game. He had a quiet regular season in 2014 before erupting in the Pinstripe Bowl for 140 yards and a score. Since then, he’s become one of the Nittany Lions’ top threats in the aerial game, and he wouldn’t be surprised to see another breakout performance this weekend.

“I think there’s a lot of guys who are capable of doing the same thing that I’ve done, it’s just a matter of getting the right opportunities and taking advantage of it. I think Saeed Blacknall has a good chance, he’s a very explosive player.”

The glaring roadblock to another weapon’s emergence for Penn State is the nation’s No. 1 passing defense. Godwin praised Georgia as “great guys who work together really well,” and he has his work cut out to mimic his other great performances this year.

“It kinda puts a chip on our shoulder because we know the kind of offense we can be,” he said. “When we’re clicking on all cylinders we can be a really effective offense, and that’s big for us, so we’re gonna go and try to play the best we can play.”

Still, Godwin thinks the tools are in place, especially with the new face calling plays. He called Rahne more outgoing, and he’s excited for the “flair” that he’ll add.

“He’s a great guy, we all love Coach Rahne,” Godwin praised. “He’s a very smart guy, very intelligent, he knows what he’s talking about as far as football, and we’re basically running the same offense just with his flair on it. We’re excited about it, we’re excited about the opportunity to play under Coach Rahne while he’s calling the plays.”

“There’s definitely a bit of his own flair to it like I was saying earlier. He calls thing a little bit different in different situations, whether it’s second and short or third and long, so it’s pretty interesting,” Godwin added.

“He talks to the players, he likes to see the plays that we like and the plays we aren’t really feeling, he communicates a lot with us about what we want to do.”

Ricky Rahne, Chris Godwin, and the rest of the players and coaches are excited for Saturday and rightfully so. Kickoff is set for noon on January 2 on ESPN. Godwin summed up Penn State’s collective feelings about the game.

“I definitely think it can define our season.”

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About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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