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James Franklin, Penn State Football Completely Bought Into 1-0 Mentality

If there’s ever been a time for Penn State football to stick to James Franklin’s 1-0 week-by-week mantra, it’s now.

There’s rightfully plenty of buzz surrounding the Nittany Lions. The team was ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff committee’s first top 25 rankings of the season on Tuesday night, and the team is riding high with a clash against No. 1 Ohio State looming large on the horizon.

With all of this in mind, the Nittany Lions’ focus remains on their game against No. 17 Minnesota at noon Saturday. Franklin reminded everyone of this with one of his trademark tweets shortly after the team’s No. 4 ranking was released:

Despite earning his team’s highest-ever ranking from the College Football Playoff committee, Franklin wasn’t even watching the rankings show when it was released. In fact, the head coach was in his office when it came out. He only found out because he could hear a couple of the team managers yelling. The head coach described hearing an “explosion of noise” from the locker room when the ranking was revealed.

Nittany Lion fans are no stranger to this 1-0 mentality from Franklin. Now in his sixth year at Penn State, he has constantly reminded players and fans to stay focused on the task at hand and to not get ahead of themselves.

Franklin still remembers when his mantra truly started to take hold with his team.

“Early in the year we won the Big Ten Championship, I think it started to be kind of ingrained in who we were,” Franklin said. “It’s grown from there, and I think this offseason has helped as well.”

The 2016 Big Ten Championship year was obviously a huge season for the Nittany Lions. Other than the conference championship, Penn State finished with an 11-3 record that included an iconic victory over Ohio State and a Rose Bowl appearance — all with first-year starting quarterback Trace McSorley at the helm. Considering all of this success, it’s easy to understand why Franklin has stuck with his 1-0 mentality since then.

The head coach also feels that the mindset’s importance is still growing in his players and staff. Franklin is proud of how many guys have taken the mindset to heart.

“I think maybe early on, guys were saying ‘1-0’ but not really living it and believing it,” Franklin said. “I think our guys are now. The reality is, you only have so much energy to spread around.”

Several key Penn State players have confirmed that they have certainly lived by their coach’s 1-0 mentality. Journey Brown is a huge fan of the idea, as he discussed at the team’s weekly press conference on Tuesday. The redshirt sophomore, who currently has 297 yards on the ground and four total touchdowns on the year, said that he’s always been a supporter of it.

“It just takes a lot of stress off you. You don’t have to worry about the future. You don’t have to worry about what happened before,” Brown said. “You focus on what’s coming up, and what you’ve got to do. That 1-0 mentality — I bought into that when I first got here. It’s just kind of my own type of method. Focus on the now, and worry about the other stuff later.”

As the Nittany Lions prepare for their third matchup against a ranked opponent this season, not overlooking the undefeated Golden Gophers is absolutely crucial. Penn State’s national ranking or what other opponents lay ahead are irrelevant, and star defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos assured that the 1-0 mentality is in full effect this week.

“You approach it all the same way, like this is our championship, like this is the week,” Gross-Matos said. “With that mindset, I feel like it creates a culture of winning.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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