Each week, we'll bring you news and notes from James Franklin's weekly press conference. Today, Franklin discussed the current state of the program and Penn State's week one opponent, Temple.
- Franklin has a lot of respect for Temple head coach Matt Rhule. He feels Rhule is doing a great job at Temple. Games between Temple and Penn State have gotten closer and closer over the years. He expects Temple's offense to be better this year. Temple's defense is one of the best at making turnovers, which is something PSU needs to limit overall, but especially against the Owls. Franklin is looking forward to opening the season in Philadelphia, which allows for Penn State fans to go to the game.
- Performance or academics is not the reason why Adam Breneman isn't listed on the depth chart. Franklin won't disclose the reason why he's not listed (sounds like ongoing health/injury concerns, but that's purely speculation). Breneman is one of the most positive guys and one of the biggest leaders on the team.
- Franklin is a believer in the complete college experience, not just wins and losses. He wants the guys involved in community service. Experiences like Red Land Little League and Hershey Hospital makes for complete players on and off the field. Impact in the community is important.
- Andre Robinson had a good camp. Some areas that need improvement, but has a bright future at Penn State. Along with him, 12-16 other freshmen could play this season. (For reference, six freshmen – not including Robinson – appear on the depth chart for this week's game.)
- Chris Godwin is very intelligent on and off the field. Mature, useful in the community. All of those things are showing up this year. If you had a list of characteristics you were looking for in a player, he's going to have a checkbox in almost every one of those.
- Franklin feels much better about the offense. Christian Hackenberg is more relaxed as a player and leader because of the offense's progress. Players are understanding their responsibilities much better than last season. Natural growth and maturity helps the team, especially having an offseason with the playbook. OL built on the foundation of their bowl game, and the four returning starters are ensuring Palmer is coming along well. Palmer has shown great work ethic, and bulked up from ~276 to ~300 since his arrival.
- Kicking competition is within a percentage or two between Joey Julius and Tyler Davis. Julius is slightly ahead. Confident and consistent, but Franklin wants him to be more detail-oriented.
- Anthony Zettel has earned respect from the team based on his play and his demeanor. Franklin is proud of how he's handled adversity, but won't get into specifics when it comes to personal matters (referring to Zettel's dad's battle with cancer).
- Mike Hull was a special player. Replacing him will be a challenge. Nyeem Wartman-White has done pretty well, but it's a group effort. NWW's weight might be a difference-maker, however.
- Franklin would like to have four tight ends, but three should be good.Brent Wilkerson had a strong camp. Mike Gesicki is much bigger and stronger. Kyle Carter is the savvy vet who's played a lot of football here. Would love to have Adam Breneman available for this week, but things will go as they go. Tight ends can help in the running and passing game more so than last year because they've bought in to the blocking aspect of the position. They're bigger and more prepared for it.
- This year both coaches and players are more ready for the season. Last season at this time they felt like they could have used two more weeks of practice and preparation. This is not the case this year.
- While it was painful last year, having played so many freshmen actually ends up helping this season because it brings experience, and it allows them to bond with each other and the older players. But, a lot of the older guys are used to "earning your stripes, or rite of passage," so it was a shock to them.
- Franklin is a huge fan of Carl Nassib, says everything that is right with the world is personified in Carl Nassib. Believes he'll have a huge year for the team.
- DeAndre Thompkins is more confident, and bigger. He's an example of how redshirting can work for kids.
- John Donovan will be in the booth this season. Ricky Rahne will be on the sideline.
- The freshman starters will earn their "rite of passage" by being eased into the rotation. Maybe play first and second down (for running backs), but not third, to avoid the more complex blitzes. By game eight or nine they'd no longer be "freshmen." Franklin said he wouldn't consider playing the freshmen if he didn't think they were ready for the responsibility.
That's all for this week's edition of press conference notes, folks. Look for the full transcript later this afternoon.