Coach Franklin wants PSU O-linemen to get ‘nasty’
A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Georgia State (0-1)
Kickoff: Saturday 7:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium
About the Panthers: Member of Sun Belt Conference and in just fifth season of FBS competition. They’ve gone 10-40 in those five years, including 3-9 last season. … Opened season two weeks ago with 17-10 home loss to Tennessee State and are coming off a bye. … Coached by Shawn Elliott, who two years ago took over as interim head coach for South Carolina when Steve Spurrier retired after six games. He went 1-5 down the stretch with the Gamecocks, losing the final five games.
Last time vs. Penn State: First meeting
Line: Penn State is favored by 38 ¢; over under is 53 1/2
Nice and nasty on O-line: The Lions’ offensive line was expected to be much improved this season, but it had some issues in pass and run protection Saturday against Pitt. “We’re playing solid,” Franklin said. “I think we can play better.” The coach then went on to address one interesting issue about the makeup of O-linemen. “Offensive linemen are the nicest human beings on the planet,” he said. “I’ve said this before: If my daughters choose to marry football players, I want them to marry offensive linemen. They are just big, nice, happy, jolly guys that put the team first. They are the ultimate teammates. But that’s also one of the challenges. They typically have been big kids their whole life, and being able to find offensive linemen that will get on the field and play with a nasty streak and a nasty demeanor, and then be real gentlemen off the field, that’s what we want.”
Handling high expectations: It was brought up that after PSU’s men’s hockey team reached No. 1 and struggled last season, coach Guy Gadowsky approached Franklin about how to handle the extra pressure. Franklin said he approaches others, as well, including wrestling coach Cael Sanderson. “Obviously two completely different sports, but to sit there and talk to Cael and his staff about how he’s built it, what are the things that he emphasizes and why, what do they look for in recruiting, how do they practice. I got a tour of their facilities. I sat in their office. It was really good.” He also called soccer coach Erica Dambach and women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose great resources.
Sleep observation: You can often tell how a big of a game is or is not by how much time is spent during Franklin’s press conference on unusual subjects. Tuesday, it was sleep – monitoring how much players get so that they are at optimal performance. “It’s a device called a WHOOP that they wear on their wrist, and they wear it constantly,” Franklin said. “And what’s nice is if they are not sleeping and they are up too late, I can tap in and my face pops up and I can yell at them to go to sleep. No, I’m kidding.” The technology allows coaches to stay on top of REM sleep, deep sleep and “where they are getting the most value,” Franklin said.
No nostalgia for current players: PSU’s 1982 national championship team was honored Saturday at Beaver Stadium, and Franklin was asked if the players on this year’s team were able to enjoy any experiences with those greats. “To be honest with you, I don’t think anybody was around them,” the coach said. “I know that sounds crazy and it sounds like it’s a shame. I remember when we went to Ireland, everyone was like, wasn’t it a wonderful cultural experience. The hotel was nice. The practice field was nice. But our schedule doesn’t really allow you to do that when it’s an actual game week. … They came into town. They are busy doing their events. They didn’t get here until probably late Thursday or whatever it was, and then we’re busy doing our stuff.”
Penn State will open the 2021 season on the road at Wisconsin, which was the most intriguing aspect of some Nittany Lions future schedules released Tuesday. Here are the schedules for 2020 and 2021:
2020: Sept. 12 at Virginia Tech , Sept. 26 Northwestern, Oct. 3 at Michigan, Oct. 17 Iowa, Oct. 24 Ohio State, Oct. 31 at Indiana, Nov. 7 at Nebraska, Nov. 14 Michigan State, Nov. 21 Maryland, Nov. 28 at Rutgers
2021: Sept. 4 at Wisconsin, Sept. 11 Ball State, Sept. 18 Auburn, Oct. 9 at Iowa, Oct. 16 Illinois, Oct. 23 at Michigan State, Oct. 30 Indiana, Nov. 6 at Maryland, Nov. 13 Michigan, Nov. 20 at Ohio State, Nov. 27 Rutgers
Note: Two non-conference games still need to be scheduled for 2020 and one for 2021.