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Despite Unusual Format, James Franklin Sees Value In Blue-White Practice

It’s no secret that this year’s Blue-White adaptation is going to be a bit different than in years past.

When Penn State Athletics announced the event last month, it was described as the final spring practice rather than an actual game or scrimmage. Head coach James Franklin confirmed Wednesday night that Saturday’s event will take on a different format this year.

“So, for us, it’s going to be more like a practice than it will be a spring game, but we’ll have some of the bells and whistles that people will enjoy, the students will enjoy,” Franklin said.

Traditionally, the annual Blue-White Game was a scrimmage that saw Penn State split up into two different squads. There’s no doubt that the experience has had its benefits for the players and coaches as they close out spring ball.

“The Blue-White Game, the spring game, is usually an opportunity to divide the team, to divide the coaching staff up, and to play as close to a game as you can,” Franklin said. “There is some advantages to having 75,000 people in there and having everybody split up and allowing some other guys to call the defense, some other guys to call the offense, and getting some of that operational-type stuff.”

However, Franklin believes there’s a large benefit to the practice format, too. With the practice, the team is able to work on some of the finer details to improve the squad, while the game is often catered toward the fans.

“Where you’re going ones against ones, twos against twos, and it’s more offense versus defense, and getting situations covered, and things like that,” Franklin said. “Sometimes, the scrimmage is to make it more digestible for the fans and for TV that it’s more to what they’re used to watching and looking at. Where it’s something like this and it’s more of a practice, you can make an argument that we’ll get a lot out of it from that perspective as well.”

Despite the unique format, Saturday’s Blue-White adaptation is another step toward normalcy as the country continues to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. Franklin said playing in barren stadiums, especially a completely empty Big House, last season was “totally bizarre.” Conversely, the limited fan capacity for Blue-White is a good sign.

“I think every day in our country and every day in the state of Pennsylvania — although we’ve had some setbacks, and I think we’ve probably wished that we were further along at this point with this pandemic,” Franklin said. “There’s signs that we’re getting closer to being back to normal in a lot of different things, whether it be vaccines, whether it’s people’s plans for the fall, whether it’s being able to have some fans at spring games.”

“Again, it’s a step in the right direction, and we’re appreciative of that,” Franklin said.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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