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James Franklin Press Conference Notes: Bowers Out For Season, Givens A Name To Watch

by on August 30, 2016 2:30 PM

James Franklin met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to talk Week 1 of the season and the Nittany Lions' upcoming contest against Kent State to kickoff the 2016-17 campaign. Here are some of the key takeaways.

Freshman tight end Nick Bowers out for year.

While Frankln wouldn't go into specifics about the nature of what appears to be an injury, he did confirm on Tuesday early in his press conference that tight end Nick Bowers will miss the entirety of the 2016 season. The result is an extremely thin tight end corps headed by Mike Gesicki. While yet to play a snap at Penn State, Bowers looked solid during the Blue White game.

"Next man up," Franklin said. "Obviously we're going to miss him. He's a great teammate. I think he has a very, very bright future here at Penn State. Had a great off-season. So we're going to miss him. But yeah, it's next man up. We're excited about Tom Pancoast and what he brings to the table and Jonathan Holland's development."




Left guard is young, but talented.

Penn State's newly released depth chart shows redshirt freshman Ryan Bates getting the nod to start at left guard while true freshman Michal Menet is behind him Bates and Menet both come in at 6-foot-4 with Bates weighing 305 pounds to Menet's 296. In short while Bates has locked down the starting job, Franklin still expects the highly touted freshman to get some time there as well. Both players will work the left tackle combo of starter Brendan Mahon and backup Paris Palmer.

"Ryan is a big, strong physical guy who has had an opportunity last year where we almost burned his red-shirt to play. Very similar to a Menet and some of those guys, like (Connor) McGovern," Franklin said.

"The difference was, is Bates was a little bit more undersized compared to those guys coming in. Needed time to get bigger and stronger in the weight room but was a guy that we were close to burning his red-shirt. That was a big discussion for us in the off-season -- excuse me, during the season last year about whether we were going to burn his shirt. We ended up being able to save his shirt and now he's got four years to have a big role for us."

Kevin Givens is the name to watch.

With the likes of Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson out of the mix and on to the NFL, Penn State has immediately looked to the roster for players that can replace that inside presence that helped turn the Nittany Lion defense into one of the nation's best. With Evan Schwan and Garrett Sickels locking down the defensive end spots, Penn State will turn to Parker Cothren and redshirt freshman Kevin Givens on the inside. Givens in particular is a name that Franklin didn't shy away from when handing out the praise on Tuesday. Givens made the switch from linebacker/defensive end to tackle when he came to Penn State, he's currently 6-foot-1, 275 pounds.

"Kevin did some remarkable things in the weight room," Franklin said. "He's one of those guys, whenever we're testing and it's power clean or squat, that everybody kind of gravitates over to watch him, because he's going to do something remarkable from that perspective. But once again, not all the time does that translate on to the field."

"I played with a bunch of guys, I've been around them my entire career, that were weight room warriors, but didn't always translate on to the football field. And the opposite: I've been around guys that have been weak in the weight room and have been functionally strong in the games or in practice."

"You know, Kevin is a guy that really, it's showed up at both. His work ethic and commitment in the weight room has really translated on the field and his quickness and athleticism at the defensive tackle position has been a problem for guys."

"And typically, you don't have both. Typically you have under-sized guys that have tremendous quickness, but they can get overpowered at times. Kevin is pound-for-pound probably one of the strongest guys on our team, and on top of that, he's got tremendous quickness and athleticism for that position. Sometimes length is a factor at those defensive line positions, as well, when you're going against offensive linemen with really long arms. But Kevin, his hand placement is excellent, and he's able to really get leverage from his height and also from his hand placement. And you combine that with his quickness, his athleticism and his strength, and he's been a problem."

Noah Beh still a work in progress.

Expected to contribute this season at tackle sophomore Noah Beh was noticeably absent from the depth chart on Tuesday. Something that isn't academics or health related according to Franklin, simply a matter of development.

"I think you always want as much depth as you possibly can, and we don't really look at it as just left tackle. It's the tackles in general; the tackle position. The left tackles and the right tackles are all fighting for who is the third-best tackle, who is the fourth-best tackle and so on and so forth."

"And Noah has been a part of that conversation during all of camp. Noah has really shown some nice things and made some dramatic improvement from last season, but there are still some areas that he needs to work on. Those areas have been communicated clearly to Noah, and he's a guy that we still feel like has a bright future here at Penn State. But there's just some areas that he needs to continue to invest in to help him have the type of role that he wants for us on our offensive line."

No worries about nerves with McSorley.

Getting your first ever collegiate start isn't exactly the kind of thing that you can stay calm about easily, but Franklin isn't concerned that Trace McSorley is entering his first ever game week any differently than he has any other week of his career.

"Yeah, I don't plan on having a conversation with him," Franklin said. "His approach has been the same, really, for the last two years. He's been pretty much Steady Eddie, he's a guy that doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low. He's kind of the same guy.

"I talked to his mom and dad, and I thought after being here a couple years, that he would really open up and start talking a lot more. But that's just not who he is; talking to his parents, as well, what I've seen over the last couple years, he's got very, very strong close, relationships with his teammates, but he's a pretty quiet guy and he's very steady in his approach."

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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