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Penn State Football: Cabinda Not Buying Into Potential Trap Game Fears

by on August 10, 2017 2:00 PM

Pressure it seems, is one of the larger narratives heading into Penn State's upcoming 2017 season.

Can the Nittany Lions handle the pressure of winning each week, the pressure of starting off the year with a Top 10 ranking and the pressure of having a better than average chance at making the playoffs this year?

The answer, along with a few more tangible issues will determine how the season goes.

That is unless you're Jason Cabinda, who doesn't think the pressure is any greater than it has ever been.

"I mean I think the pressure is just being 1-0 that week, whoever the opponent is that week, the pressure is to beat that opponent." Cabinda said after practice on Wednesday.

"We don't look down the road, it's as simple as that in our mind. Whoever we're playing that week, we're doing absolutely every second of the day to make sure we're doing everything we can to become 1-0 at the end of the week. To say playoff mode, I don't know if those are the words I would use, but we play with a sense of urgency because we want to win every game."

If that sounds a little like company-line-cliche that's because it is, but Penn State and Cabinda have both proven that the message works. The Nittany Lions spent a good portion of last season in do-or-die situations and 1-and-0'd their way the Big Ten Title. So it might be cliche, but it has also worked.

And that's no small feat for a team bringing back most of its key components. Penn State might very well be favored in every game but a trip to Columbus but there are trap games to be found on the schedule. Wins at Iowa and Northwestern won't come easy, and Indiana is lurking with a new coaching staff while Maryland could play spoiler late in the year.

So the real challenge is passing that on to younger players who will see bigger and bigger roles on both sides of the ball. But as Cabinda pointed out, the youth excuse no longer exists on a team not short on experience.

"I think that starts with Coach Franklin and the kind of mentality he instills in us, our approach, that's how we do things around here. From a veteran standpoint the leaders on the team, it's our job to make sure that approach and that mentality trickles down to the young guys and we've done a good job with that," Cabinda said. "We're a veteran team now, we're no longer a young team. We have a lot of guys who are juniors and seniors on the field making a ton of plays and showing the younger guys those things. It makes it easier when you've got a lot of older guys showing the younger guys the ropes and how things are done around here."

If they can do that, the sky might be the limit for this team. If they can't, the Nittany Lions will only have themselves to blame if an early season letdown is the result of looking a few weeks ahead to more than a few season-defining games.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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