Penn State PC: DE C.J. Olaniyan

The Nittany Lion senior talks about playing in his home state of Michigan and much more.

Penn State defensive end C.J. Olaniyan is going home this weekend.

Kind of.

The Nittany Lion senior defensive end hails from Warren, Mich., north of Detroit. Saturday, Penn State takes on Michigan in Ann Arbor, less than an hour away from Warren by car.

So Olaniyan has spent this week trying to scrounge tickets, and has found himself in a competition of sorts with PSU defensive tackle and fellow Michigan native Anthony Zettel.

Olaniyan talked about that and much more during a press conference at Beaver Stadium Wednesday.

Q. C.J., DaeSean (Hamilton) was just saying he's been looking for tickets for this week and you and Anthony (Zettel) have been getting most of them. How many have you collected so far?

C.J. OLANIYAN: I have a lot of people that are trying to come right now. I'm thinking around 25 or 30 people, 30 tickets. If I can get more tickets, I'm going to have more people come.

Q. So are you on pace to beat Anthony? Who is going to come out on top there?

C.J. OLANIYAN: Anthony, he's been coming at me saying I'm taking all the tickets, but I kind of did an educated count of how many people offered him tickets. It's going to be a close race. So if I could get more tickets than him, that's definitely going to be the goal.

Q. And James said before that for some games, he knows players are going to be a little bit more up for certain games than others. You're from Michigan, what does this game mean to you? And for you, is this a little bit more special than the average game?

C.J. OLANIYAN: It's a little more special because I get to play in front of the people that help raise me as far as my high school coaches, high school teachers, family and friends. That's probably the only thing that makes it extra special.

Q. Can you talk about the challenges that the Michigan offense brings, especially with the quarterback who is as versatile as (Devin) Gardner is?

C.J. OLANIYAN: Michigan football is always known for their run game and they have been very successful at the run game this year. I know as far as us as the D-Line, if we rush the passer, we have to have lane integrity and make sure we discipline ourselves, because Gardner, if he sees an opening, he's going to take it. And the traditional run game, we have to make sure we follow our keys and just come out there and play.

Q. There's obviously been a lot going on with Michigan the past few weeks, and obviously considering their record, probably not where Michigan fans would want it to be. Being from Michigan and seeing obviously how that program has affected the state, do you expect the crowd or anything, the atmosphere around the stadium to be any different than normal considering what's happened this year with them?

“Being from Michigan, I know that there’s a lot of great fans of Michigan, so no matter their record, and how they are playing, their fans will always come and support. And the mind-set we have going into the game is we are going to treat it like every other road game.”

C.J. OLANIYAN: Being from Michigan, I know that there's a lot of great fans of Michigan, so no matter their record, and how they are playing, their fans will always come and support. And the mind-set we have going into the game is we are going to treat it like every other road game.

Q. At this point, how much do you feel you've improved from this time last year to this time this year? I know during the spring there were some areas you wanted to focus on in terms of improvement. How much progress have you made in those areas?

C.J. OLANIYAN: I feel I came a long way. Every day I'm still trying to improve. Because the day that -- you never stay the same; it's either you go backwards or you improve, and that's kind of always been my approach. Just try whenever we go out there, whether it's practice, film or in the classroom, I tried my best to improve. I'm not satisfied with where I am but I'm happy, I'm still trying to improve.

Q. You mentioned a lot of families going to this game. Is your daughter going to this game, as well, or is she going to stay here in State College?

C.J. OLANIYAN: I think her mom decided they was going to stay in State College. I'm not sure if things will change.

Q. Curious if you guys have been able to follow along at all Devon Still and his daughter and her cancer treatment? Have you been up to date on that, and especially those of you that have been around for a while, have you reached out to him at all?

C.J. OLANIYAN: Yeah, we've been up-to-date. The whole Penn State organization, we've kind of been trying to reach out to him and help out and talk to him the best way we can.

I spoke to him a couple times through a phone, text message, just to tell him that the whole team is behind him. Him and his family is in our prayers.

Q. Penn State has played Michigan here in State College three of the last four times I think it was, so you have not had a chance to play in the Big House, if I'm correct. Is it kind of cool to finally get to play in that stadium after growing up in that state?

C.J. OLANIYAN: Yeah, it's always nice to go back and play at your hometown. Just I'll be looking forward to just playing in front of my family.

Q. With a running quarterback like Garner, you mentioned that Michigan always likes to run the ball. But for you and the defensive ends, you guys like to really get after the quarterback, get past the line of scrimmage fairly quickly. Is it tough to stay at home when you know that there's a quarterback that can get up field really quickly?

C.J. OLANIYAN: It just means we have to be a little bit more disciplined and we can't get our gaps from the D-tackles all the way to the D-ends. When we rush, we have to close the pocket. We can't give them too much window to be able to escape out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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