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Penn State Football: Five Things From James Franklin On Media Day

by on August 05, 2017 3:44 PM

James Franklin and the Penn State football program hosted its annual media day on Saturday as the Nittany Lions prepare for a highly anticipated 2017 season and Big Ten title defense.

With plenty to unpack from the day's proceedings and interviews there is almost too much to go over from the fine details to the big picture programs. So with that in mind, here are the five things James Franklin said that you should know from Penn State media day.

For the first time in a long time, Penn State has options up front on offense:

"I think you hope to settle the offensive line, or when you're in a quarterback competition or any of these different positions, as soon as you possibly can," Franklin said. "That's always the scenario. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is let's identify the best five, get them on the field."

"And I think your point is a good one, how long at that position, how much time do you need to really build that chemistry up with each other? I think last year, though, we played -- I think it was seven different combinations on the offensive line, and one of the things that I think we've done a fairly good job of is not recruiting one-position players."

"I think Bates is a really good example of that as a guy that could play center, a guy that could play guard, a guy that could play tackle. We want to recruit true tackles, and tackles could slide down inside and play guard if you had to. But if you recruit too many guys that could only play center and guard, they're kind of sawed off, kind of short-limbed guys. It eliminates flexibility."

"So recruiting swing guys inside that are probably more guard-center body types but have enough length like Bates that could move out to tackle if you had to. So I think that helps us is recruiting guys that can play multiple positions across the line to create flexibility that allows Matt to get the best five on the field. So hopefully sooner rather than later so those guys can build a tremendous amount of chemistry together."

Penn State is hopeful four-star DL Damion Barber will be on campus this Fall after some academic issues:

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"We're confident that Damion's going to be here," Franklin said. "We got some great feedback this week."

Don't expect the big names to get tons of reps during camp, they don't need them:

"Yeah, I think, for Saquon as well as a lot of our guys that have played a lot of football for us, and we know who they are -- I would put Jason Cabinda into that category. I'd put Mike Gesicki into that category. I'd put Marcus Allen into that category. There's a bunch of guys."

"My point is those guys taking the full amount of reps every single day at practice when they've been playing for us at a high level for three years, we don't need to necessarily do that. So if we cut their reps from five to two reps and give those three reps now to the twos and the threes that have an opportunity to kind of use those reps to close the gap and give the coaches more confidence that we feel like we have legitimate depth, that's where the value comes."

"During the games, obviously, those guys are going to be the guys that we're relying on significantly to be playmakers, to be leaders, to have significant impact on the games and in our organization."

"Saquon, obviously, there's a lot of excitement, and rightfully so. Once again, he's earned it. He's a special guy. But we've got a lot of guys that have special roles and have made tremendous impacts here. So we're going to use Saquon in every way we possibly can to give our team the best chance to be successful, short term and long term. And that's obviously running the ball. That's getting him more involved in the passing game because everyone is going to be focused on not allowing Saquon Barkley to beat them as a runner. And then also in special teams as well."

How the program handles depth charts:

"I think that's another good question because we literally talked about that this morning, and how I want to approach it this year -- first of all, I always let -- it's not like we post a depth chart anyway. I just let the position coaches kind of handle that kind of on their own."

"The only one I get involved with is in the quarterback position, like last year me and Joe sat down with the quarterbacks and brought them in and had a discussion about it. But besides that, I want the position coaches to be the head coaches of their position and handle that."

"But what I did say is come Sunday I want an updated depth chart that we can go over as a staff -- offense, defense, and special teams -- and I want that depth chart to reflect, if we were playing a game on Saturday, who would be the guys that were getting reps in and what's the order of it, and I want to communicate that to the players. So I want the players to know, right after this week, if the number three guy just beat you out and you were the number two guy and you're no longer that guy, I don't want it to be a subtle thing in practice where you've noticed one or two reps that guy is starting to get more of. No, he beat you out, and you know that. So now you have the opportunity to fix that before the first game."

"So you clearly know where you stand week in and week out, and I think that's really important. I think it's going to magnify the competition. I think it's going to give the players really good, honest feedback of where they're at. And that's something that I've always believed in professionally, when I was an assistant and now as a head coach. I want to know right away. I always hate, and still do, the HR meeting you have at the end of the year where your boss tells you all year long you've been doing all these things wrong. Don't wait until the end of the year to tell me. Tell me now so we have an opportunity to fix them."

"That's what I want with my staff and with my players. I want them to get immediate feedback so they have an opportunity to fix what we think is a problem or an issue. I think that's going to spike the competition level up a little bit, like I heard in the past around here where the guys that have been covering Penn State for a long time, where it was like 75 different jerseys at practice. First team wore one color. Second team wore another color. Third team wore a different color. When I came here and I walked out of the locker room, it was like 55 different jersey colors. Now, you guys were never allowed at practice. So you probably don't even know what I'm talking about."

"But my point is that instant feedback that they used to get back in the day, you'd walk to your locker, and your jersey color had just changed. You'd gone from first team to second team. And we're going to do the same thing by week but more from a depth chart perspective."

Nelson and Mahon should be good to go:

"They've looked good. All of our guys that have had challenges we're working through. It's not like -- the doc said this the other day, which is a pretty good analogy. You don't go from not running at all to running a marathon. You kind of work your way back into it. That's what those guys are doing."

"They've looked good. I think, when you've got guys like that that are seniors, redshirt seniors, that have played a lot of football, they've got a lot of maturity, so if you're going to have a guy that maybe is a little limited in terms of -- they're not limited anywhere physically, but were limited in their reps -- like I said, you don't go from not running at all to running a marathon. They're probably guys that could handle that situation the best, and they've done a good job with it."

"They look great. When they get in there, they've done a really good job. They're able to run. They're able to move. They're powerful. They're physical. So it's been good for us, but it's not like they're taking the full amount of reps that the rest of the ones are."



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