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Penn State Football: 5 (of Many) Offseason Goals

Penn State football might be heading toward the depths of the offseason, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things to talk about. A to-do list for a program like Penn State’s is pretty much endless, but here are five — of many — goals to consider as the Nittany Lions turn the page and head into the month of May.

Endless Reps: It’s safe to say that of all the things impacting Penn State’s upcoming season in a newly expanded Big Ten, that the work of its receivers will be among the most important. If the Nittany Lions are able to give Drew Allar reliable and consistent targets, there’s no real reason to think that Penn State will struggle in 2024. If they can’t, it could be another slogging season with some underwhelming offensive performances against the league’s best. A lot of that will come back to how Penn State’s receivers approach the offseason and the months ahead when nobody is really watching. If the Nittany Lions can find a legitimate No. 1 receiver, that will go a long way towards more offensive stability. There are options on this roster you can imagine stepping up into that role, but seeing is believing with this bunch. A surprise considering how good Penn State has been at receiver over the years.

Nice To Meet You: If you were going to make a list of the things that made Penn State’s defense so good under Manny Diaz, one of the first things on it very well may have been the simple fact that Penn State’s defensive players loved Diaz. It’s not hard to imagine that Tom Allen — a likable personality in his own right — will be able to win over his new team without much effort, but sometimes the best thing you can do this time of year is get to know everyone. With the college football season only getting longer, relationships and the ability to battle through adversity are only going to become more and more important. The more Allen can get his players to buy in, and the more new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki (who, frankly, comes off a lot more likable than his predecessor) can get his side of the ball to do the same, the better off Penn State will be. And that buy-in isn’t about scheme; it’s about people.

New Faces: If you count West Virginia, even after last year’s meeting, Penn State is facing six teams on the schedule in 2024 that the Nittany Lions have no real regular familiarity with. Bowling Green, Kent State, USC, UCLA, Washington and West Virginia all pose unique and new challenges for Penn State this season on a schedule that would have blown the minds of many people just a few years ago. Add in coaching changes at Michigan (which Penn State does not play this season), UCLA and Washington, as well as a new quarterback at Ohio State, and you’ve got a whole bunch of unknowns heading into the year. James Franklin has already stated that there’s only so much you can do to prepare for teams that will look completely different this season than last, but it seems safe to assume that this year will involve plenty of scouting and plenty of film work to get familiar with new teams.

Messaging: The expanded playoff and a new Big Ten give James Franklin something approximating a fresh start. Not to say that old results don’t matter, but with so many things changing, it’s hard not to wonder what will happen next and where Penn State will fall into the equation. How all of this unfolds remains to be seen, but it’s a safe bet that it will come with some drama. How James Franklin messages his way through the new landscape, its ups and its downs, will be a big part of how fans embrace those new challenges and a big part of how much they continue to buy into Franklin being the one to navigate them.

Make Them Happy: Penn State has hinted at and given some information out regarding upcoming construction to Beaver Stadium and the impact it will have on fans both in the stadium and in regards to parking. But the better the communication gets and the better the plan is explained to everyone — especially fans who might be displaced — the happier everyone will be. Nothing hurts fundraising like annoying all the people you want to donate to the cause. This is Pat Kraft’s first big PR and communication challenge of his tenure at Penn State. Can he manage to get this project underway without leaving everyone in the dark up until the last minute? It might be impossible to make everyone happy, but it’s not impossible to give it an honest, transparent effort.