Franklin Talks Team Confidence, Complementary Football and Fans Returning to Games at Team Media Day

posted August 8, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack McCune

The long-awaited 2021-22 Penn State football campaign begins in four weeks as the Nittany Lions will head to Madison, Wisconsin, to face the Badgers on Sept. 4.

The festivities have already begun, though, as head coach James Franklin addressed the media Saturday at Beaver Stadium just past noon during the team’s 2021 media day after training camp began the day before.

“It’s great to be back out at practice on the grass with the guys running around,” Franklin said. “I think we’ve had a really productive offseason and summer.”

Franklin emphasized trust, support and sacrifice for his team, assistant coaches and fans respectively throughout the press conference.

The trust among his players, Franklin said, comes from familiarizing them with their role for the upcoming season throughout the training camp process, like getting senior Jesse Luketa reps at both the defensive end and linebacker positions and ensuring redshirt senior Sean Clifford that he is their starting quarterback.

He highlighted that this is just the beginning, and the starters aren’t set in stone.

“There’s some … young guys that I won’t list at this time,” Franklin said. “But after one day at practice, you think maybe some of those guys may or may be able to factor in. … It’s not a foregone conclusion that somebody can’t win a starting job, or somebody that I didn’t mention will earn a significant role over the next couple of weeks.”

His relationship with his players isn’t his only focus as he said he’s looking forward to working with both old and new faces on his staff with a prominence on familiarity.

Franklin said he knows defensive coordinator Brent Pry inside and out as Pry enters his sixth season at the helm, while he’s excited to get to work with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and the friendly system that is similar to the offense he ran at Vanderbilt.

While he said it’s a pass-heavy scheme, Franklin is excited for his rushers like junior Noah Cain and transfer John Lovett with the impact they can make.

“You still want to make sure you have the ability to run with power,” Franklin said. “You want to be able to run the ball when everybody in the stadium knows you have to run the ball.”

The Beaver Stadium faithful will be sure to pay close attention this year after fans were missing last season due to COVID-19. Franklin is thankful that home games will be back to full capacity, but he said it will take a continuing effort to ensure the safety of fans as the pandemic continues. He mentioned his daughter is in the hospital but only as a precaution.

“This is not a political statement,” Franklin said. “The more people that can get a vaccination, whether you completely agree with it or not. …That gives us the best opportunity to be in that stadium and as close back to what we would describe as normal as possible.”

 

Jack McCune is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jxm1237@psu.edu.