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James Franklin Anticipating Success With New Penn State Football Staffing Structure

Penn State football is midway through its first week of practice without offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich after the team fired him on Sunday. Following the firing, the team announced running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and tight ends coach Ty Howle would take over as co-offensive coordinators until a new candidate is found.

James Franklin reiterated the fact that the team will need staff to step up and put in extra hours until the season concludes and someone can step into the permanent role.

Penn State’s players are also going through a transitionary period following Yurcich’s dismissal. Despite the hardship with the new staff alignment, Franklin said he’s happy with the way the team has reacted and believes it has been a successful week of practices so far.

The biggest change comes for Drew Allar, who had a close relationship with the ex-coordinator dating back to his recruitment period when Yurcich was one of the first to offer Allar a spot at Penn State. Along with his role as offensive coordinator, Yurcich served as the quarterbacks coach. Now, graduate assistant Danny O’Brien is running the quarterback room.

“I’ve been in the quarterback meetings with Danny. [He’s] done a great job,” Franklin said. “It’s been very collaborative, everybody in the room, all week long. I think that’s been a real positive.”

Franklin and O’Brien have a long history together, too. O’Brien played for Franklin while he was at Maryland, and the coach has had nothing but praise for O’Brien in recent weeks. Prior to taking over the room, O’Brien was the man on the sideline for Allar while Yurcich called plays from the booth for every game this season.

Franklin also said his team has lots of love for O’Brien. After Yurcich was fired, Franklin said Allar came to him personally to tell the head coach just how much he wanted O’Brien to remain with the program.

“I recruited him… there’s a trust there personally, and there’s a trust there professionally,” Franklin said of O’Brien. “I’ve got a ton of respect for him. I’m biased because I’ve known him a long time, but I think the staff feels a similar way.”

Franklin had many positive thoughts on the new offensive structure and said that he expects success on Saturday, but only time will tell.

Franklin’s teams have historically struggled coming off of losses, something that became evident in the Nittany Lions’ narrow victory over Indiana the week after the loss to Ohio State. This week, Penn State will face an even more difficult task with not only having to bounce back but having to bounce back with a new staff at the helm of the offense.

While Franklin has been an offensive coach for his entire career, he says that he likes each individual unit to have autonomy and perceives each side of the ball as its own team with its own way of being managed.

“As we all know, I’m ultimately responsible and take full responsibility,” Franklin said of the loss Saturday. “But I’ve also said multiple times that I want a head coach of offense, I want a head coach of defense, I want a head coach of special teams.”

When offensive playcalling first came under scrutiny earlier in the season, Franklin hinted at the self-sufficiency of each unit but noted the fact that he’s often on the headset recommending situational plays like taking a deep shot or reminding his coaches of what is working in any particular game.

On gameday, Franklin likes each position coach to be the boss of that position and won’t micromanage his staff. That philosophy extends to other aspects of the program, and Franklin doesn’t see it changing anytime soon.

“I’m not running the defense, I’m not running the offense, I’m not running the spreadsheets, but I’m involved in all those things,” Franklin said. “I’m also involved in academics, I’m also involved in fundraising, and I’m involved in recruiting. I’m involved in every aspect of this program.”

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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