James Franklin Refuses To Publicly Release Depth Chart Ahead Of Penn State Football’s Season Opener
Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium in two days, and James Franklin has yet to name a starting quarterback.
At a press conference last week, Franklin said that his staff hadn’t held any meetings with respect to the starting position yet. At Tuesday’s availability, Franklin admitted that the depth chart is pretty much set, however, he just doesn’t see the point in sharing it publicly.
“We try not to put that information out there because I don’t necessarily see the value in it,” Franklin said. “The most important thing is the guys in our locker room.”
Just like Franklin, everyone else also already knows who will be the starting quarterback this week. Ever since Sean Clifford’s curtain call in the Rose Bowl, it’s been evident that Drew Allar will take over the offense this season, but Franklin is still reluctant to make it official.
This type of sentiment has recently caught traction across college football’s landscape, with West Virginia head coach Neal Brown also declining to name a starter during a press conference earlier in the week. After Brown’s decision to not name a starter, Franklin could be displaying some gamesmanship with Brown to try and create a competitive advantage by not giving West Virginia any information on personnel.
However, the advantage that keeping the starter a secret creates could be deemed as minimal and unnecessary. Franklin said on Tuesday that he anticipates Garrett Greene to start at quarterback for the Mountaineers, and while Brown did admit that he wasn’t sure who his team would see on Saturday, he noted Allar’s playing time from last season.
Allar was featured in 10 games during his true freshman season, throwing for 342 yards with four touchdowns. Beau Pribula, the quarterback Franklin maintains Allar is in a battle with, spent last season on the developmental squad.
Aside from the flaws of the competitive advantage argument, there are still valid reasons for deciding to keep the starters a secret, however.
Due to updated availability report restrictions adopted by the Big Ten, coaches are no longer under any obligation to share their starting rosters, no matter how frustrating it can be for onlookers outside program confines. Franklin, along with other coaches, gain nothing from officially naming starters but could potentially lose a healthy amount of internal chemistry and leadership.
Franklin claims that potential noise across media outlets after naming a starter could affect the locker room negatively and create more harm than good. Even though players already generally know where they are in terms of the depth chart, Franklin worries that official announcements could introduce distractions.
“Whether it’s from a leadership or a chemistry standpoint, we’ve got it,” Franklin said. “So all the other stuff out there in the universe or the internet or wherever else, I don’t think that’s a huge factor for us.”
Along with avoiding distractions, Franklin may be accidentally heightening the atmosphere of an already extremely anticipated game.
“This is kind of like the sneaky White Out,” Franklin said. “The place will be filled to capacity with Penn State fans.”
Assuming the starter isn’t leaked, waiting to see who comes off of the bus first and leads the team into the stadium, as is tradition for a Penn State starting quarterback, is an exciting prospect.
An amplified crowd would only hurt the Mountaineers, as if it wasn’t difficult enough to play a primetime season opener in Beaver Stadium, and the official announcement of one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in Penn State history as a starter on the video board will assuredly stir up the crowd before kickoff.
“This will be a really good example on week one of why college football is so great,” Franklin said. “ All the things that go with it, the tailgating, what it does for the town and the community and hotels and restaurants, it’s just really cool.”
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