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Penn State Football: Five Questions Heading Into James Franklin's Weekly Press Conference

by on September 13, 2016 6:00 AM

Coming off a heartbreaking comeback loss to Pitt this past weekend Penn State coach James Franklin is set to speak to the media on Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference. With the Nittany Lions 1-1 on the year Penn State will look to rebound this weekend against a Temple team that upset the Nittany Lions last year in the season opener.

While the Owls are significantly different squad this season, there is still plenty on the line for this Saturday's kick, mainly a chance to get back in the win column and avoid the in-state sweep.

With that in mind, here are five things to expect as Franklin answers more than a few pressing questions.

1. Tackling

For two straight weeks, and to a certain extent for the third or fourth straight year Penn State was plagued with tackling issues. From bad technique to broken arm tackles the Nittany Lions gave up a good number of yards after contact on Saturday. While that may not lead to a second straight loss this weekend it almost certainly won't help the cause against the likes of nearly any Big Ten team on the schedule. So with that in mind it's almost a guarantee this will come up sooner rather than later on Tuesday.

2. Defensive front progress

There isn't much question that no matter how good their replacements were that Penn State was going to take a step back on the defensive front after losing Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson. That's something you just can't get around overnight and Penn State certainly hasn't. Even with that caveat there certain seems to be a steep learning curve with this bunch, not unexpected but something that appears to be a bit problematic in the early going. Penn State was able to make up for giving Pitt every yard it wanted on the ground isn't going to prove to be an effective formula for the longterm.

3. Better starts

For two straight games Penn State has started slow and opponents have taken advantage of that. In truth that's probably to be expected given that the Nittany Lions are just eight quarters into a new offense, but all things  considered that excuse will only last for so long. Penn State seems capable of executing the offense eventually as the game goes along, but that's the sort of thing you can only get away with for so long. This might be less of an issue as there is more and more tape on teams as the season goes along, but start slow against Michigan in two weeks and there probably won't be a Pitt comeback in the works.

4. Shootouts the way to go?

Penn State seems to be set to play the game as a race to 40+ points, which isn't a bad game to watch, but it can be a hard type of game to win on a regular basis. If James Franklin doesn't expect the defense to get substantially better, then this could be one of the higher scoring seasons in Penn State history. A bit ironic considering the Nittany Lions appear to be going from having lots of offensive issues to now being an offense-first team, even if by circumstance not design. So are high scoring games the way to go this year?

5. Health

Saeed Blacknall and Jason Cabinda both missed the Pitt game due to injury and plenty more players picked up knocks along the way. Franklin isn't going to address their status or anyone's health for that matter in detail but that doesn't mean somebody won't ask about it.



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