James Franklin and Sean Clifford Discuss New Relationships on the Team

posted August 11, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack McCune

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An eventful day five of training camp ended with a press conference for Penn State head coach James Franklin and redshirt-senior quarterback Sean Clifford Wednesday night as the faces of the team talked about their relationships with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and true freshman wide receiver, and Clifford’s brother, Liam Clifford.

Franklin emphasized connections while discussing the two. He said he wants many more Yurcich-Clifford conversations than his own conferences with the quarterback during team practices and that he deliberately goes to the defensive drills during camp, which allows him to  observe the offense from afar in a passive perspective.

“I want [Clifford] to have that one voice, that one guy talking to him so he’s getting a consistent message all the time,” Franklin said. “I love being on the defensive side [of practice] and watching the quarterback and watching the operations and watching his eyes. … We want to make sure that there’s consistency in what we’re coaching and consistency in our message, [and] that really hasn’t changed with Mike.”

That one-on-one connection has been apparent with Liam as well, Franklin said, as he’s had his brother to lead him on the right track to becoming one of Happy Valley’s own. Franklin thinks Liam is ahead of most freshmen both mentally and physically because he’s been able to talk to Sean about football, about the offense the head coach runs and about Penn State as a whole.

Sean said those conversations were always meant for something more, but now that Liam is part of the pack, it’s business as usual.

“It’s always something that we’ve wanted to do,” Clifford said when asked about playing alongside Liam. “It’s a family affair now. The Clifford brothers are here to stay, … [but] he’s my teammate now, so he’s got to work. … I treat him the same as any other player.”

Liam isn’t getting too much attention from Yurcich just yet, but Sean certainly is. Clifford highlighted the simplicity of Yurcich’s coaching, saying the offensive coordinator will ask him straightforward questions, and he’ll give an easy answer back without beating around the bush, and that helps him break the game down better.

“He just wants to know what you’re doing,” Clifford said. “He just wants to get inside your head. … I’ve really appreciated his leadership and how hard he’s pushed me so far and the whole unit.”

Training camp has just begun, but with only about three weeks until the season kicks off, Yurcich will have to pick Clifford’s brain at a quick pace to get ready for the opener.

 

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