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Penn State Football: Franklin And Team Set To Begin Practice Monday

by on March 17, 2014 3:00 PM

Penn State football starts a new chapter on Monday as the Nittany Lions taking the field and begin practicing for the first time under head coach James Franklin.

Franklin took time on Monday to answer questions about the 2014 edition of the Nittany Lions but he too can only wait and see what some of the answers will be.

Even so, while Franklin and his team may still just be getting to know one another that doesn't mean he's expecting anything less from his team and its approach to everything that it does. 

"We need to go out there with the mindset that we've been here for three years. We know how to practice. We know what the expectations are. We can't allow the fact that this is our first practice for us to use it as an excuse not to go out there and fly around," Franklin said on Monday.

"We need to go out and practice like a veteran team, a veteran staff and a veteran organization. That's kind of our goal — to hit the ground running. They understand when they hit the field, they're running. There's no walking on the field ever. I told them the first day that if you don't know where you're supposed to be or go when the horn blows, then sprint in a circle until you figure it out."

For some Nittany Lions, hitting the field running with a new head coach isn't a new idea. Some players have had as many as three head coaches while at Penn State, five if you count the interim tags used with Tom Bradley and Larry Johnson Sr. It's something Franklin understands all too well.

"For a lot of guys, I'm their third head coach in a very short period of time," Franklin said. "And I think they're very close as a team and the players, but we need to make sure we're very close and have great chemistry as an organization."

That shouldn't be too hard though as Franklin has been described by many of his players as a "players coach" someone who can relate to them in a way unique to many head coaches. So as both coach and player get acquainted, Franklin won't have to worry too much about his players buying into his way of playing and practicing the game.

While practice may no longer be called "THUD" as it was under Bill O'Brien, Franklin's own way of keeping the team healthy has an equally unique name.

"I think that you can get a lot of work done without going full contact," Franklin noted "I think we can get a lot done with what we call tag-off. Tag-off is basically two-hand touch."

Penn State will take the field Monday afternoon for the first practice session of the year under Franklin, the Nittany Lions have been working on film and schemes since the start of spring break though, getting a little extra homework to take with them.

"We'll run 15 installs. Offense, defense, special, how we break it up; they were able to get two or three of those in written form before spring break to look at; Install one of the defense might be cover one, they'll get what's expected in written form, but also film to go along with it."

"For us it's a little bit different. It's a little weird, because we're showing them film that is not Penn State film, but it's the best example of what we can show them at this point. And as we get better examples from practice, then we can start taking Penn State examples and replace that film. We'll also splice in some NFL film running the same plays or schemes because I think that helps with the players."

So did Penn State players do their homework over break? Franklin will find out starting Monday.

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