James Franklin took to the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as part of Big Ten Media Days. Before beginning his 10th season in Happy Valley, the veteran coach answered a variety of questions about the upcoming year. As always, you can read the full transcript by clicking here. But, here are some of the abridged highlights.
Franklin’s opening statement backed up what a lot of us are feeling - this is a talented and deep squad that enters the year with high expectations. Franklin specifically said that this group has fewer questions than his teams in the past. He highlighted the offensive and defensive lines as having as much depth as they’ve had in any of his past years. Meanwhile, he did mention the secondary (replacing Joey Porter Jr. and Tig Brown) and wide receiver as areas where his team is still sorting through its depth to see who will be on the field the most. He noted that Drew Allar will draw a lot of attention, but that he is battling with Beau Pribula for the starting spot as camp prepares to open.
Franklin was asked about Penn State’s current NIL structure, something that the coach has been critical of in the past. He credited athletic director Patrick Kraft with making some improvements, but said there’s still work to be done.
Later, there was a question about the Big Ten’s new flex scheduling process, a change that left Penn State without a protected rival on its schedule. Franklin more or less evaded answering the question in any meaningful way, noting that the Big Ten was looking to do the best it could to put multiple teams in position to make the soon-to-be-expanded college football playoff.
Asked about how new players - whether they be transfers or incoming freshmen - were adjusting to life in Happy Valley, Franklin said that it was too early to tell and he was hopeful that camp would begin to show how many instant impact players he’d have on the roster. He name dropped Abdul Carter as a player who didn’t have any buzz around him last July, but who by midseason was a major talking point of Penn State’s defense. He said he hopes others will make a similar jump this year.
How’s the Shrimp?
Penn State’s media day contingent had dinner at famed Indianapolis restaurant St. Elmo’s Steakhouse earlier in the week. Franklin was asked how he and his players rated the location’s famed shrimp cocktail appetizer. (Local BSD writer speaking here - it’s fire). Apparently Adisa Isaac bit off a little more than he could chew, so horseradish intake might be the only weakness with Penn State’s defensive end group.
What goes into a competition?
Franklin noted, as we’ve often heard, how everything is charted with different position battles in the preseason. He did say that he would like to see the quarterback battle decided sooner rather than later, mentioning how important that position is compared to others. He said that coaches would be keeping a close eye on how each quarterback moved the offense, the confidence shown in them by their teammates, along with those stats that are kept.
“Neutral” field game
Franklin was asked to look all the way ahead to Penn State’s final regular season game - a trip to Detroit on Black Friday where they’ll play against Michigan State. He said the one downside was that the game would come on a short week, but he thought there would be overall positives of playing inside and that he believed there would be a great crowd.
Facing the Big Two
Franklin was asked about building a roster to compete against two very different kinds of teams that have dominated the Big Ten East - Michigan and Ohio State. Franklin took the general approach that recruiting, development, and game planning really comes down to what he - along with his coordinators and coaches - believe to be the best way to maximize Penn State. He did, however, acknowledge that his staff was certainly aware of what Ohio State and Michigan were doing.
Obviously Count: 14 - it’s still the preseason, obviously