James Franklin Discusses Depth And Program Stability After Tuesday’s Practice
As the season opener against Akron on Sept. 2 draws closer, Penn State coach James Franklin took some time after practice to address the media about several components of his team heading into the season.
Franklin briefly spoke about how his new contract provided stability not only for his family, but for the program as a whole.
“For me, it’s about stability. We’ve started to build something here that can really be special,” Franklin said. “It provides stability for my family, but it also provides stability for my assistant coaches and their families. It provides stability for our players and it provides stability for recruiting.”
Even though he won’t officially release the depth chart until next week, Franklin said has made up his mind about almost every position battle across the board.
“I think we have a pretty good idea of where we are at,” Franklin said. “We are onto Akron now and have shifted from solely focusing on Penn State. What you saw today is a good indicator of what our depth chart will look like. We won’t officially make those decisions until next week but we’re close.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Franklin is pleased with where the unit is and the development of players who are stepping into starting roles for the first time.
A few players stood out among the rest in his mind; one in particular figures to break through as the team’s lockdown No. 1 cornerback with incumbent starter John Reid likely done for the year.
“Defensively, I would say that Christian Campbell has a really good camp and we are excited about him,” Franklin said. “The defensive end position has been a major area of emphasis for us knowing we had to replace a lot of production. We feel really good.”
He also noted Juwan Johnson stood out this offseason and is expected to be a focal point of the Nittany Lion offense this year. “Juwan is a guy that has really stood out overall and we think he has a chance to have a really big year for us,” Franklin said.
The 6-foot-4, 226-pound receiver received quite a bit of praise from the man throwing him the ball, too.
“His size and speed makes it really tough for defensive backs to handle,” Trace McSorley said. “Him being 6-foot-4 and being able to run a 4.4 is a problem for defenses. He’s had a great work ethic and has really improved his route running, technique, and savviness in his routes.”
Franklin’s closing remarks focused on the improvement in situational football from his entire team, especially from his quarterbacks.
“I think the area that we have improved the most with Trace and Tommy is in two-minute and red zone situations,” Franklin said. “What happens is those guys have so much confidence in their athletic ability, they always think they’ll make a play. However, when you are in a two-minute offense you can never afford to take a sack. They are doing a better job situationally of when and when not to do those things; it is much more valuable for us to throw the ball away.”