Sep. 16—Staff writer Joey Wright will catch up with the voices in the opposite press box each week this season. Next up: Steve Jones, a 1980 Penn State graduate who is the play-by-play voice of Nittany Lions football.
Illinois and Penn State have played some thrillers in the last decade, including an overtime game in 2013 and the longest game in college football history in 2021 (nine-overtime win by the Illini). How do you see this one playing out?
"Obviously Illinois comes in one in the game and it's a game that I'm sure they feel they need it at this stage of the season, especially with the Big Ten opener. Penn State is off to a good start and the key for them is to just keep going. ... This is going to be a really important matchup for both teams."
"Quarterback Drew Allar is off to a terrific start. In his first two starts, he's already thrown four touchdowns, no interceptions, high completion percentage. They run the ball effectively. So they have balance to this point. I feel like the in the trenches, they've played pretty well. They've been able to get two takeaways and converted them into 14 points while not turning the ball over themselves. So that's been the story of Penn State, for the most part, except for a few penalties against Delaware, they have played mistake-free football. For the most part, they've played efficient football and that has been the hallmark of this team through two weeks."
On a personal level, what does it meant to you to be the play-by-play voice of your alma mater?
"For me, this has always been a special place and having that opportunity up in the broadcast booth, working side by side with Jack Ham is a special opportunity. You have the best seat in the house to look at a football team that means a lot to you as an alumnus, all the teams going all the way back. James Franklin has done a great job with the program. It's an exciting program to watch. It's a deep program to watch. I tell everybody all the time a couple of things. One, I work with great people. Number two, the coaches and the players on the field are the ones that do all the hard work. I just have the opportunity and the good fortune to be the one to tell everybody.
Aside from Beaver Stadium, what are some of your favorite opposing venues to call a game in?
The opportunity to go and do three Rose Bowls in my career, that's a great stadium to do a game in. Obviously doing games at places like Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio State are great to go to as well. But I think a place like Illinois, for example, I think Illinois is a great tradition with a great set up there. You're right on top of the field. The fans are terrific. So there's a lot of really fun places to go to and it's not just limited to the big places. Every place has its own personality and I think Illinois has always had a great personality to it."