James Franklin Talks Offensive Line, Expectations At Big Ten Media Days
James Franklin discussed his excitement for the upcoming season Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. Here are some of the highlights from Franklin’s 15-minute press conference.
“I think the expectations are always big at Penn State. Where it’s changed is nationally,” Franklin said. “We’re not going to spend a lot of time at all talking about last year. We’re going to start from the ground up and rebuild it.”
A trio of Penn State’s senior leaders in Mike Gesicki, Marcus Allen, and Jason Cabinda joined Franklin on the hour and a half flight from State College to the Windy City. Gesicki and Allen talked about the program’s culture and its goals for the fall before Lift for Life two weekends ago. Tuesday, they showed off their Big Ten championship rings for good measure.
Franklin also mentioned the vast improvement of Matt Limegrover’s offensive line, which he believes will be one of the Big Ten’s top units this season.
“With the talent that we’re surrounding Saquon Barkley with [on the o-line], it’s going to be tough to stop him.”
Barkley and redshirt junior quarterback Trace McSorley are already being hailed as two of the main contenders for this year’s Heisman Trophy in Joe Moorhead’s second season running the offense. While 2016 is seen as the campaign that elevated Penn State back into the national spotlight, Franklin thinks his staff’s performance the previous two years was what truly set the team up for greatness.
“I’d make the argument that our best years coaching were  and . We set the groundwork in those years,” Franklin said.
Allen, who led the Penn State defense in total tackles last season with 110, said Franklin installed a standard for the upperclassmen to uphold when arrived. Allen and Cabinda are as seasoned as it gets, and both will be plenty comfortable calling out Brent Pry’s pre-snap reads when Sept. 2 rolls around.
Franklin maintained that two of the most important competitions heading into preseason camp are at defensive end, where Penn State will need to replace both starters, and long snapper. Torrence Brown and Shareef Miller are the safe bet on the outside, while Franklin said Kyle Vasey has impressed this summer and is poised to grab the latter job.
After fielding one of the youngest teams in college football the past few seasons, this year’s Nittany Lions return a ton of starting experience. In typical Franklin fashion, though, the 45-year-old coach easily deflected a reporter’s question about the all-important Pitt rematch in week two.
“We open the season against Akron, and I would love to talk about Akron, Akron, Akron, Akron, Akron…”
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