Franklin Talks Brown, Sutherland, COVID Changes On the Road
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — “Did you say Indiana?”
Penn State head coach James Franklin took the podium Tuesday afternoon to discuss Journey Brown’s status, the matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers and much more.
Franklin opened by addressing the “Penn State United” initiative that details jersey decals, stickers on helmets and merchandising relating to the ideas of unity and brotherhood.
“We wanted to do something that showed our unity,” Franklin said.
Next, Franklin addressed the topic on everyone’s minds: the status of Journey Brown. It was first reported on Monday night by Lions247 that the junior running back is being treated for a medical condition and will potentially miss the 2020 season.
Franklin reiterated the statement that was released the night prior.
“This thing isn’t decided,” Franklin said when asked about Brown’s availability. “It’s still to be determined.”
Brown will travel with the team and continue to be a part of the program regardless of whether he plays or not.
It will be a next-man-up mentality for the Penn State running back room, which is led by position coach Ja’Juan Seider. Brown is viewed as a leader, being the eldest member in the position group.
The Penn State backfield, which rotated in and out in 2019, retains sophomores Noah Cain and Devyn Ford, along with freshmen Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee.
In other news, it was announced Sunday that Jonathan Sutherland will be the first Penn State player to wear No. 0, switching from his previously worn No. 26.
Franklin mentioned that he received text and calls from at least eight different players who wanted the jersey number, but he also mentioned that every player understood the decision.
The attention now shifts to Saturday. The Nittany Lions are opening the season on the road for the first time since 2015, as they take on an Indiana team that has given them trouble in years past.
“This is the best Indiana football team they’ve had in my six years in the conference,” Franklin said.
Franklin mentioned that he has a healthy respect for Indiana’s program and head coach Tom Allen, who sees much of his Hoosiers team returning. Last year, the Nittany Lions escaped Indiana with a 34-27 victory in Beaver Stadium.
The team will travel to Bloomington on Friday as scheduled, but this year, the overall routine for traveling on the road will not be the same with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Franklin revealed that the team would not eat on the plane or buses in order to keep face masks on while traveling. Franklin also said that the team will be staying in a larger hotel farther away from the stadium with players lodging in single rooms.
“We’re trying to educate everyone on our policies and protocols to keep everyone as healthy as we possibly can,” Franklin said.
With the season starting in under a week and much speculation about where this Penn State team will finish, Franklin alluded to the significant depth the team has, more than in years past.
“I’ve been confident with our process,” Franklin said. “This is a tough league… You better be ready to play week in and week out.”
Andrew Field is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.