Penn State Players Post-Game Quotes

January 1, 2022

DE Smith Vilbert

On his experience at the Outback Bowl and his first extended playing time
"It felt good because all of these guys have faith in me. At practice and stuff like that, they can see how consistent I've been. And it felt good that Coach believes in me enough to keep me out there. Most of the guys knew it was my first time starting so I just appreciated Coach believing in me and telling me I could start this game. I went out and did the best I could do."

On tying the Outback Bowl record for sacks
"I didn't even know about that. Thank you!"

Safety Ji'Ayir Brown

On playing 19 different players on defense
"It's unheard of to have 19 guys and have those guys come in, execute and make stops the way we did. A lot of people doubted that we were going to get a lot of points put up on us, you know, and we pretty much held our own out there. We were going against a great offense in Arkansas and a shoutout to their offensive coordinators. They are great at what they do. But it was a great game and I was very impressed with our 19 guys that played."

On the difficulty of missing six starters while preparing for the bowl game
"It wasn't difficult, you know. More guys will just have to step up. It's these guys' time and everybody is looking forward to these moments. Young guys coming up are looking forward to coming out, starting the game and playing in a role they didn't play all season. It was great to see those guys out there... It's a 'next man up' mentality."

On being limited in practice until today's bowl game
"It was tough, you know. I just watched the guys from the side and took mental notes. That's what pretty much prepared me - the mental notes and watching a lot of film. I watched a lot of extra film and I came out and was able to execute the day the way I wanted to."

On whether he felt pressure to make big plays without Jaquan Brisker
"No. You know, I've always been a guy who feels like I should make the play or I've got to make a play when they come to me. I never try to force it. I like to just make the plays when they come to me. Without Jaquan [Brisker] there, it really wasn't that much different. It is nice to have him there though, you know. We all know Jaquan is a great player."

WR Parker Washington

On how he feels after his first game as the No. 1 receiver
"I was just happy to have another opportunity to play with our family and our team. I feel like it was a learning experience for everybody. We just have to take any momentum we have from this game and mistakes, and just build off of them to be ready for next year."
On what next year will look like with him and the other receivers
"We're just going to step up where we need to step up. Especially with the other guys, we know they'll be ready in the [wide receiver] room, as well. We just have to come in, focus every day and build on it each day."

On practicing punt returns and when he realized it would be his job
"Every day, we call it 'daily skills'. We get punt returns and catch them every day. I was very familiar with that and I was working behind a great returner, as well. I just knew if he wasn't playing or if he wasn't available, I would have to step up."

On his one-handed grab
"I was just ready to make a play for our team and it was a big third down, I believe. I wanted to come down with it in any way possible... And it had to be one-handed this time. I think I was more juiced up for the third-down completion. I was definitely juiced up about that and excited to keep the drive going to see our offense make more plays."

DE/LB Jesse Luketa

On what the defense proved to themselves in the Outback Bowl
"I think the 'next man up' mentality. I'm extremely excited for my brothers and their decisions to pursue their dreams and aspirations, but I'm even more excited for the young guys to step up and have that opportunity today. I think we displayed that, you know, it doesn't matter who is on the field. The goal is to stop the ball, whether it's running or passing, and I felt like we did a good job at that."

On moving back to the linebacker position
"It was just second nature."

On why Arkansas was so effective in the second half
"They found where they were able to maximize with their quarterback zone read, and they kept attacking. We have to be better with our adjustments and whatnot, but that's why I'm excited for the young guys."

On his assessment of the defensive while missing six starters
"I think we played a great defensive game. I felt as if they had too many rushing yards. That's just an area that we need to be better in and it's in the little details. Trusting our keys and being gap-accountable."

On what he thought of the young guys, particularly Smith Vilbert
"I'm not surprised at all, you know. This is exactly who Smith [Vilbert] is going to be moving forward. He's an extremely talented player and he's finally going to be able to come into himself and display that. He can be as dominant as anyone in the country."