Author Archives: Kraigen Rasalla

The Good Things Surrounding the Penn State Football Program during the Pandemic

The Covid-19 Pandemic forced worldwide changes in how we live as a society. Usually Penn State fans are used to saying “We Are”. But, for the last few months, “social distancing” have been the two words most people around the country are saying the most.

The Pandemic forced the cancellation of many notable events in the Penn State Football world. Spring practice, Blue-White Weekend, players attending the NFL Draft, and commencement all went by the wayside. Instead, players are working out on their own, while coaches are communicating with them through Zoom meetings. Blue-White Weekend was cancelled. The NFL held a virtual Draft, thus forcing all players to hear their names called at home. Lastly, instead of walking a stage, players who graduated were honored for their accomplishments virtually.

But, as June begins, and the world is trying to return to some type of normalcy, I think now is a good time to reflect on some of the good things that have happened in the last few months within the Penn State Football Program. Obviously, fans have high expectations for the 2020 Nittany Lions after coming off an 11-2 season and a Cotton Bowl victory. But, let’s back on what we know has happened before we look ahead to the a very uncertain summer and fall of 2020.

Former Nittany Lions Finding New NFL Homes

While professional sports leagues were postponing their seasons because of Covid-19, the NFL Free Agency period was getting started. Several former Penn State players signed on to new teams ahead of the 2020 NFL season.

Blue-White Weekend Virtual Tailgate

Blue-White Weekend is more than just seeing a Spring Football game in Happy Valley. So, with it being cancelled in 2020, it was a huge loss for the Penn State community. But, the Penn State Football Program was able to at least salvage a little bit of that feeling fans get when they pay a visit to Penn State for Blue-White Weekend.

The Penn State social media team was able to put together a virtual tailgate for fans, players, and coaches to enjoy and come together as a community. There were trivia events, Spring Game schedule poster release, Blue Band show, live check-ins from coaches, including Head Coach James Franklin, and replays of classic Penn State games.

Although the numbers fell short for a traditional Blue-White Weekend, these numbers were still pretty solid in bringing together the Penn State Football community.

2020 NFL Draft

The NFL offseason was the excitement of the last few months for sports fans. This time, it was the NFL Draft that had people locked in to see who their favorite teams would select. There were zero Nittany Lions selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

But, Penn State fans didn’t have to wait long to hear one of their own have their name called in the second round. Yetur Gross-Matos went 38th overall to the Carolina Panthers where he will play for former Penn State player and current Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. Shortly after, the Denver Broncos scooped up KJ Hamler with the 46th pick, making him key piece to a now young, formidable wide receiver corps in Denver.

In the middle to late rounds, former Nittany Lions were scattered across the draft ticker. John Reid went in the 4th round to the Houston Texans, where he will play for former Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien.

Cam Brown was picked by the New York Giants in the 6th round. He will have some familiarity on the coaching staff as recently departed Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer is now in the same role with the Giants.

The final Nittany Lion selected in the 2020 Draft was Robert Windsor, who joined Brown in the 6th round when the Indianapolis Colts selected him at 193rd overall.

NFL Undrafted Free Agents

Yes, Penn State had five players hear their name get called by Roger Goodell in the virtual NFL Draft. But, they had several more sign with NFL teams as undrafted free agents. Here is the list:

Micah Parsons Hype

Since he was a 5-star high school recruit, Penn State fans have known how talented LB Micah Parsons is. After an All-America sophomore campaign, it is hard not to be excited to see how high Parsons may go if he decides to enter the 2021 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper Jr. certainly did not put a damper on the expectations with his early Big Board for the 2021 Draft where he ranked Micah Parsons at #5.

Recruiting Wins

Despite recruiting being in a dead period because of the global pandemic, Penn State has been fortunate to continue to thrive on the recruiting trail. As of May 31, they have the 17th best overall class on 247Sports and 12 commits currently in the class. Prior to the pandemic, only two players were committed to the blue and white. Liam Clifford, the brother of QB Sean Clifford, and Nate Bruce were the only two commits in the 2021 class. But, since March 26, 10 players have forced James Franklin to tweet “We Are… Better”.

4-star OT prospect Landon Tengwall gave his commitment on March 26, becoming the first player to commit during quarantine. From there,  players were committing left and right.

4-star S Jaylen Reed from Michigan committed to the Lions on April 9th. The very next day, Penn State landed three commitments. Another 4-star S, Zakee Wheatley committed, adding to the secondary depth of the 2021 class. Then, James Franklin once again dipped into enemy territory by landing brothers DB Kalen King and LB Kobe King out of Detroit, MI.

The next week, CB Jeffrey Davis Jr., became the 4th defensive back to commit to the 2021 class. On April 29, Franklin received commitments from two players. 4-star QB prospect Christian Veillux committed, fitting Franklin’s highly coveted “one QB per class” rule. That same day, Sander Sahaydak from Bethlehem, PA committed to Penn State. Sahaydak is the #1 kicker on 247Sports in the 2021 class.

As the calendar flipped to May, 3-star prospects Rodney McGraw, a defensive end from Indiana, and Lonnie White Jr., a likely future WR from Malvern, PA, both committed to Penn State. But, since White Jr. committed on May 7, the recruiting trail has been relatively quiet.

Covid-19 has certainly forced many changes within our society. But, fortunately, good news has continued to come from the Penn State Football Program during these difficult times. Hopefully, there is more to come in the next few months!

Top Reactions to the Lawsuit Filed against Penn State, James Franklin

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed by former Penn State DB Isaiah Humphries and his representatives against Penn State, James Franklin, and ex-teammate Damion Barber. The lawsuit accused Penn State players of hazing Humphries and numerous other players, Franklin and his staff of knowing about the hazing, and essentially accusing the Penn State coaching staff of setting Humphries up to fail in practice.

So, with such a huge story coming out with details that have such strong claims against the Penn State Football program, of course social media was a buzz about the lawsuit. Those in the anti-Penn State crowd of course made their headlines and comments revolving around the “I am going to Sandusky you” threat mentioned in the lawsuit. And others made their comparisons to the Jerry Sandusky scandal when this lawsuit came out yesterday afternoon.

But, many in the Penn State community, including the players and the university itself, gave their thoughts on the lawsuit and many of them are quite suspicious of why this lawsuit was filed.

First, here was Penn State’s official response to the lawsuit.

It appears that Penn State did their own investigation and sent their results to the Centre County District Attorney. The District Attorney went over the case and decided charges should not be pursued. The case seems pretty cut and dried based on the statement from the university.

Now, many of the players that were on the team with Isaiah Humphires gave their reactions, as well.

This one is from 2019 Penn State captain Garrett Taylor.

Taylor was in the same position group as Humphries and as a captain, his word carries a lot of weight with the team, the coaches, and the media that covers the team. Another captain and another member of the defensive backs group Jonathan Sutherland, a player who had racist comments toward him this year and handled them with the utmost grace, seems to side with Taylor here.

Lamont Wade, yet another player who was in the Penn State defensive backs group with Humphries added several comments on Twitter, as well. In addition, Wade entered the transfer portal after the 2018 season, just as Humphries did. However, Wade obviously came back to Penn State and had a big 2019 season while Humphries opted to transfer to the University of California. Here is what Wade had to say.

All three of these players beat out Humphries on the depth chart and Wade seems to think that has something to do with this lawsuit coming out yesterday.

Cam Brown, another captain of the 2019 team, added his comments.

Former Penn State Offensive Lineman Ryan Bates took to Twitter and was very adamant on the lawsuit. He later deleted the tweet from his Twitter account.

Overall, it seems that from the Penn State players that this is the case of a disgruntled player who did not earn his playing time and wants some type of revenge for it. The university has conducted their investigation and the Centre County DA reviewed the case and found no reason for charges to be filed. Specific financial terms have not come out of what Humphries and his camp are looking for from this lawsuit.

But, the consensus around the Penn State Football program is that these allegations are false and they are willing to strongly defend the program until this lawsuit is settled.

Former Player Sues Penn State and James Franklin

A lawsuit has come out revealing hazing allegations involving the Penn State Football program and its players. Former Penn State Isaiah Humphries claims to have been hazed by former teammates Damion Barber, Yetur Gross-Matos, Micah Parsons, and Jesse Luketa. In the lawsuit, Humphries names Penn State, James Franklin, and Barber as defendants.

The hazing allegations are of both sexual and threatening nature. There are several key points that Humphries mentions in the lawsuit that build his case.

  • Forcing victims on the ground and shoving their genitals in their face or putting them between the victims’ buttocks and humping them.
  • Jesse Luketa threatened to gun down Humphries if he ever visited “his city” in Canada.
  • Players would say “I am going to Sandusky you” in the locker room in reference to the Jerry Sandusky case.
  • Hazing occurred in places on campus such as the Lasch Building.
  • Coaches witnessed the hazing but did not do anything to stop it.
  • Underclassmen were threatened with sexual assault.

Humphries entered the transfer portal after the 2018 season and claims in the lawsuit that he did so because of the hazing. He ultimately decided to go to the University of California. He sat out the 2019 season because of transfer rules.

Humphries’ lawyer for the case is attorney Steven F. Marino. Marino is the same lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the James Franklin and the university in the fall of 2019. He represented former team doctor Scott A. Lynch, who filed suit because he claims James Franklin urged him to have injured players return to the field.

More to come as more details come out, players react, and the university and Coach Franklin speak to the media.

Penn State Names Their New OC

After Offensive Coordinator Ricky Rahne left for the Head Coach position at Old Dominion, Penn State had an interesting decision to make. Would they stay in-house and hire a JaJuan Seiders to be their new OC? Tyler Bowens will be the interim OC for the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, so would he get an audition for the job? Instead, on Thursday, Penn State named Minnesota Offensive Coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca as their new Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach.

Penn State fans have some familiarity with Ciarrocca, familiarity that left them upset in November, but should excite them in December. As the Minnesota OC and QB Coach, Ciarrocca and the Minnesota offense carved up the Penn State offense in their November 2 matchup.

The Gophers dominated the time of possession battle and Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan had the game of his life. He threw for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 18 of 20 passes in Minnesota’s 31-26 victory. Seeing the efficiency of the Minnesota offense that day certainly hurt, but this was a possible preview of how the future Penn State offense could look.

As for 2019 as a whole, the Golden Gophers were 24th in the country in scoring offense, averaging 34.3 points per game.

Looking ahead, Penn State will continue to use run-pass-options in their offense under Ciarrocca, making the transition from Ricky Rahne to Kirk Ciarrocca quite seamless.

For The Glory would like to welcome Kirk to the Penn State family!

 

Week 16

Offense:

Saquon Barkley, Running Back, New York Giants (Team Captain)

  • Barkley had perhaps his best game of the season in Week 16. He ran for 189 yards on 22 carries and a 67 yard touchdown run. He also caught four passes for 90 yards and a touchdown with a long of 51 yards in the Giants’ wild 41-35 victory in overtime against the Redskins.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

  • Gesicki caught six passes for 82 yards with two touchdowns in the Dolphins’ 38-35 victory in overtime.

 

Chris Godwin, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Godwin missed the Week 16 loss to the Texans with a hamstring injury. However, he was named to his first career Pro Bowl team.

DaeSean Hamilton, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos

  • Hamilton caught all six of his targets for 65 yards and one touchdown in the Broncos’ 27-17 win over the Lions.

 

Jesse James, Tight End, Detroit Lions

  • James hauled in just one catch for 12 yards in the Lions’ 27-17 loss against the Broncos.

Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears

  • Robinson led the way for the Bears offensively. He caught six passes for 53 yards in the Bears’ 26-3 loss on Sunday night.

Miles Sanders, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Sanders compiled 156 total yards in the Eagles’ victory over the Cowboys on Sunday. He had 79 yards rushing with a touchdown and 77 receiving yards on five catches in the pivotal division matchup. He sealed the deal with this big run in the 4th quarter.

A.Q. Shipley, Center, Arizona Cardinals (Team Captain)

  • Shipley led an offensive line that paved the way for 253 yards rushing in a 27-13 upset victory over the Seahawks for the Cardinals.

Donovan Smith, Offensive Tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Smith returned to action for the Buccaneers after missing Week 15. Unfortunately, his return was not enough as the Bucs lost 23-20 to the Texans.

Ross Travis, Tight End, Indianapolis Colts

  • The former Penn State basketball star caught one pass for 19 yards in a 38-6 blowout victory over the Panthers.

Robbie Gould, Kicker, San Francisco 49ers

  • Gould converted all four of his extra point attempts and made two field goals on Saturday night. His 33-yard field goal as time expired gave the 49ers a 34-31 victory over the Rams.

 

Sam Ficken, Kicker, New York Jets

  • Ficken drilled all three of his field goal attempts, including a long 54-yarder in the Jets’ upset 16-10 victory over the Steelers.

 

For The Glory Offensive Player of the Week:

Saquon Barkley- In a week of huge performances from former Penn State offensive stars, Barkley shined the brightest in Week 16. His 279 total yards and two touchdowns set him apart from the rest of the Penn State stars as he led the Giants to their 3rd victory of the 2019 season.

Defense:

Adrian Amos, Safety, Green Bay Packers

  • MNF

Troy Apke, Safety, Washington Redskins

  • Apke had one pass breakup in the Redskins’  41-35 loss against the Giants.

Jack Crawford, Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons

  • Crawford recorded one tackle and 0.5 sack in the Falcons’ dominant defensive performance against the Jaguars.

Grant Haley, Cornerback, New York Giants

  • Haley once again did not play in the Week 16 battle against the Redskins.

Austin Johnson, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans

  • Johnson started his first game of the 2019 season and tallied three total tackles in the Titans’ 38-28 loss vs. the Saints.

DaQuan Jones, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee Titans

  • Jones started along side of Johnson and made one tackle in the loss against the Saints.

Sean Lee, Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

  • Lee had a season-high 17 total tackles with one tackle for loss in the Cowboys’ 17-9 loss against Philadelphia.

Jordan Lucas, Safety, Kansas City Chiefs

  • Lucas had one hit on the quarterback in the Chiefs’ dominant defensive effort where they allowed just 3 points to the Bears on Sunday Night Football.

Carl Nassib, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Team Captain)

  • Nassib made two tackles, including a sack in the Bucs’ loss to the Texans on Saturday.

Amani Oruwariye, Cornerback, Detroit Lions

  • Oruwariye did not play in the Lions’ 27-17 loss to the Broncos.

Nick Scott, Safety, Los Angeles Rams

  • Scott did not record any defensive stats in the Rams’ loss against the 49ers on Saturday night.

Cameron Wake, Defensive End, Tennessee Titans

  • Wake has been placed on injured reserve.

Anthony Zettel, Defensive End, Cincinnati Bengals

  • Zettel did not play in the Bengals’ loss to the Dolphins in Week 16.

For the Glory Defensive Player of the Week:

Sean Lee- The former Penn State linebacker had a vintage performance. He racked up 17 total tackles in a strong defensive effort. But, unfortunately, could not lead the Cowboys to victory against the Eagles.

 

Inactive Players:

Ryan Bates, Offensive Tackle, Buffalo Bills
Saeed Blacknall, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
Brandon Bell, Linebacker, Carolina Panthers
Mike Hull, Linebacker, Miami Dolphins
Brendan Mahon, Offensive Guard, Carolina Panthers
Connor McGovern, Offensive Guard, Dallas Cowboys
Trace McSorley, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
Shareef Miller, Defensive End, Philadelphia Eagles
Kyle Vasey, Long Snapper, Atlanta Falcons
Stefen Wisniewski, Guard, Kansas City Chiefs
Trevor Williams, Cornerback, Arizona Cardinals

Penn State Early Signing Day Recap

The Early Signing Day period, which has become essentially the official National Signing Day, saw Penn State sign 27 prospects in their 2020 class. As of 2 PM ET on Wednesday, Penn State has the 12th best class nationally and the third best class in the Big Ten behind just Ohio State (3) and Michigan (11). Here is a breakdown of the 2020 recruiting class that James Franklin and his staff brought in on Wednesday.

The 2020 Class By The Numbers

According to 247Sports, this class features 11 4-star prospects and 16 3-star prospects. Two of the prospects, Ji’Ayir Brown and Norval Black, come from the JUCO ranks by way of Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA. As a whole, the 27 recruits that signed on Wednesday come from 14 different states, districts, or countries. Here is the breakdown:

  • Pennsylvania (4)
  • Virginia (4)
  • Maryland (4)
  • Florida (2)
  • Michigan (2)
  • New Jersey (2)
  • Canada (2)
  • Connecticut (1)
  • District of Columbia (1)
  • Indiana (1)
  • Nevada (1)
  • New York (1)
  • Ohio (1)
  • Texas (1)

In terms of the roster, it seems that James Franklin was able to fill out a well-rounded class that has depth all the way around. Franklin added a QB in this class in dual threat QB Micah Bowens from Nevada. They also added two running backs in the 2020 class, just one year after adding Noah Cain and Devyn Ford in the 2019 class. Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee are both 4-star prospects from Florida who will add to an already crowded running back room.

In addition, six wide receivers and tight ends are within this class. TE Theo Johnson is the #3 TE in the class and is a 4-star prospect. Three wide receivers, KeAndre Lambert, Parker Washington, and Jaden Dottin are 4-star prospects, as well. Malick Meiga, a 3-star recruit from Canada, is a 6’4″ WR, and the previously mentioned Norval Black is a 3-star prospect from Lackawanna College.

On the offensive line, Penn State signed five prospects on Wednesday. All five are 3-star prospects, according to 247 Sports. Three of the lineman are offensive tackles and two are slotted to play on the inside at either guard or center. J. Christ, Jimmy Christ that is, is the top rated offensive lineman of the group. He stands at 6′ 7″ 295 lbs from Virginia. Olu Fashanu is a tackle and Golden Israel-Achumba is a guard, both listed at 6′ 5″ 320 lbs, also both from the DMV area. 6′ 5″ 290 lb tackle Ibrahim Traore and 6′ 4″ 300 lb guard Nick Dawkins round out the offensive lineman from the 2020 class. Dawkins is the son of basketball legend Darryl Dawkins.

On the defense, James Franklin made it a priority to continue to beef up the defensive line. Seven defensive linemen signed with Penn State on Wednesday, the most signees of any position in the 2020 class. Cole Brevard and Coziah Izzard are both 4-star prospects listed at defensive tackle. Zurriah Fisher from Aliquippa is also a 4-star prospect that is a 6′ 3″ 255 lb defensive end. The other four defensive ends are Amin Vanover (DE), Brandon Taylor (DE), Bryce Mostella (DE), and Fatorma Mulbah (DT). They are all 3-star prospects.

Behind them, two linebackers, including class headliner Curtis Jacobs, will be Nittany Lions in 2020. Jacobs is the highest ranked player in the Penn State 2020 class, according 247Sports. He is listed as the 44th best prospect in the entire class. The other linebacker in the 2020 class is Tyler Elsdon from Pennsylvania. Elsdon is an inside linebacker who is the 5th best prospect in the state.

Penn State also signed three defensive backs, including 4-star prospect Enzo Jennings. Jennings is the 157th ranked player in the nation. He projects as a safety for the Nittany Lions. The other two defensive backs are rangy 6′ 2″ cornerback Joseph Johnson and JUCO transfer Ji’Ayir Brown.

Tyler Warren is listed as a 6′ 6″ 235 lb athlete. He has high school quarterback experience but has the size of a tight end. It will be interesting what kind of mold the Penn State coaching staff places on Warren when he steps foot on campus.

For more here is James Franklin recapping his 2020 recruiting class with Big Ten Network

For a complete rundown on all 27 recruits from 247Sports, click here.

 

 

 

#10 Penn State is Cotton Bowl Bound

Penn State fans were hoping to be California Dreamin’. But, instead, they will settle for their third New Year’s Six Bowl appearance in four seasons. After finishing 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings, Penn State will head to Dallas to play in Cotton Bowl.

The Cotton Bowl will be played on December 28th at 12 PM on ESPN.

After an impressive(?) showing in the Big Ten Championship, #8 Wisconsin will go to the Rose Bowl to face Oregon.

Penn State will face the #17 Memphis Tigers, who won the American Athletic Conference Championship and qualifies for a NY6 bowl as the highest ranked Group of 5 team. This is Penn State’s first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 1975, where they defeated Baylor, 41-20.

With a win in the Cotton Bowl, Penn State would win their 11th game for the third time in four seasons. In addition, it would be their second straight victory in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

What do you think of the College Football Playoff Committee’s decision? Do you like Penn State playing in the Cotton Bowl?

Penn State Extends James Franklin through 2025; Now, It Is Time to Start Appreciating Him

Rumors swirled throughout the week that James Franklin may be receiving a contract extension after his Penn State Football Team won their 10th game for the third time in four years. Those rumors came true on Friday when Penn State’s Committee on Compensation unanimously approved a new deal for the Penn State Head Football Coach. Although the official terms have not been released to the public just yet, the deal will run through the 2025 season.

This is excellent news for Penn State as they keep one of the best coaches in the country. Here is Franklin’s tweet after his extension went public:

Penn State has had quite a run under James Franklin since 2016. As you can see here, the Nittany Lions have been one of the best programs throughout the country over the last four years.

The “Underappreciated” Coach

That right there is the definition of a model of consistency. But, Senior punter Blake Gillikin has described Coach Franklin as “underappreciated” in recent talks with the media. In my opinion, he is downright disrespected by some in the Penn State fan base and quite honestly, I am sick and tired of it.

James Franklin is one of the best head coaches in the country. And that is not just my opinion. The stats back that up and national writers and analysts say the same exact thing. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is one College Football writer who certainly understands how great of a coach Franklin is. In an article from before the 2018 season, Feldman had this to say about Franklin.

“… you’re a fool if you don’t think Franklin is one of the 10 best coaches in the sport right now. If I’m ranking the Top 5 coaches in college football right now, Franklin’s one of them.”

You can read the full article here, but a subscription to The Athletic is required.

But, that is just the opinion of one of the most respected College Football writers in the country. Unfortunately, there are some Penn State fans throughout the country who do not see James Franklin as that Top 5 coach. Here are some examples.

Since 2016, Penn State has a record of 41-11, with a winning percentage of 78.8 percent. How many Power 5 conference teams have a better winning percentage than Penn State during that span? Six, just six. Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Wisconsin. What programs around the country have we outperformed during that stretch? LSU, Washington, Michigan, and Notre Dame, just to name a few.

Yes, winning on average ten games a year is very mediocre football. What else would we expect from James Franklin and Penn State?

Yes, I hope Penn State wins the National Championship next year, too. With James Franklin as the Head Coach it is reasonable to say they have a chance every year. But, Penn State has not won a National Title since 1986. Did you run out of patience when Joe Paterno was leading Penn State to an unbeaten season in 1994 and not being named National Champions? Or losing heartbreaking games on the road in 2005 and 2008 as Penn State’s only defeats? If 2020 is finally the time to call it quits, then I am more than happy to have this “fan” find another team to cheer for when they win it all and bash them when they come up just short.

 

Sir, believe it or not, some bowl projections have Penn State going to the Rose Bowl. THE ROSE BOWL. Is that a mediocre bowl game? Penn State went to the Rose Bowl in 2016 and lost 52-49 in an all-time classic. The team that beat them had the #3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft at QB in Sam Darnold and one of the top wide receivers in the NFL today in Juju Smith-Schuster. Then in 2017, Penn State went to another New Years’ 6 Bowl in the Fiesta Bowl and won it against Washington. That is a pretty good looking participation trophy sitting in the Penn State trophy case.

I am not even sure if this is true and nor do I care enough to look it up. But, how much did this fan miss any of the players that left? I am sure he did not miss them at all. Did he miss Danny Dalton’s 0 catches for 0 yards this year for Boston College? But, I am sure he was on his feet cheering when Lamont Wade was wrecking havoc against Ohio State this year.

Players leave programs and it is not always because of the head coach. Some leave because of playing time. Danny Dalton is a good example of this, as Pat Freiermuth beat him out in 2018. Some players leave because of family matters, as well. But, yes, please blame James Franklin for an 18-22 year old college kid making a grown up decision.

Don’t Hate, Appreciate

Penn State fans: we are so lucky to have James Franklin as the Head Football Coach at Penn State. Ask Vanderbilt how lucky we are. Franklin posted back-to-back 9 win seasons at Vanderbilt before he left for Penn State. AT VANDERBILT. Before Franklin got there, the Commodores went 2-10 in the two seasons prior. And since Franklin left, they are just 27-47 with a winning percentage of 36.5 percent.

I know Penn State fans are grateful for the job Bill O’Brien did in 2012 and 2013 in keeping the program together through sanctions. But, not as many fans are grateful for the job James Franklin has done after O’Brien.

Still dealing with the NCAA sanctions, in 2014, Franklin took the eventual National Champions to double overtime at home and won the Pinstripe Bowl with 65 total scholarship players. According to Franklin, due to injuries and redshirt players, that number got down to 41 during the season. In 2015, he led them to another bowl game despite not having his program back to full scholarship numbers. Then, since 2016, all he has done is win.

  • 2016 Big Ten Title
  • Rose Bowl Appearance
  • Fiesta Bowl Victory
  • 3 undefeated seasons at home
  • 3 10-win seasons
  • 2 11-win seasons
  • 2 Top-10 AP Poll finishes

The numbers show that James Franklin is one of the top college football coaches in America. Now, that he is receiving a contract extension to stay at Penn State, it is now time to appreciate just how great of a coach he is.

 

 

 

 

News and Notes from James Franklin’s Press Conference

Can you believe it? The final regular season game of the Penn State Football season is here. The Nittany Lions will look to reach the 10-win plateau for the third time in four years when they face Rutgers on Saturday. Here are the highlights from James Franklin’s press conference ahead of the game.

Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers

Rutgers comes into this game with a 2-9 record and looking at a last place finish in the Big Ten East. Offensively, they usually line up with 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 RB or 2 WR, 2 TE, and 1 RB. Franklin is impressed with OL Kamaal Seymour, RB Isaih Pacheco, and QB Johnny Langan.

On defense, Rutgers allows 37.5 points per game, which is 124th out of 130 teams nationally. But, nonetheless Franklin noted several players on the Scarlet Knights’ defense. DB Damon Hayes, LB Tyshon Fogg, and DL Willington Previlon are players to watch on Saturday for Rutgers.

On the Rutgers special teams, watch for their punter, Adam Korsak. Korsak is a Ray Guy Award Semi-finalist, which is an award for the best college punter. Unfortunately for Rutgers and Korsak, he has 71 punts on the season, but has an impressive average of 43.7 yards per punt.

Senior Day

With the final regular season game taking place on Saturday at Beaver Stadium, the Penn State seniors will be honored before kickoff. 16 seniors in total will be honored prior to their final home game. James Franklin thinks that they deserve the credit for the turnaround of the Penn State Football program. For their efforts, they should all receive a nice ovation on Saturday afternoon.

Sean Clifford’s Status

After sustaining an injury against Ohio State, a game in which he did not return, Sean Clifford will be a game-time decision for Saturday. Franklin could certainly see Will Levis stepping in and replacing Clifford, just as he did in Columbus. But, like former QB Trace McSorley, Franklin describes Clifford as being difficult to pull off the field.

Will Levis

Speaking of the backup QB, James Franklin shared some of the high praise he gave to Will Levis in their personal conversations. Franklin thought that the redshirt freshman’s performance on Saturday was remarkable. What stood out to James Franklin was that not only did Levis play well, but also the team played well around him. Most importantly, the team believed in Will and rallied around him to close a 21-0 deficit to 21-17.

The Most Improved Group

Sticking with the quarterbacks, James Franklin believes that this unit is the most improved group on the entire roster since the beginning of the season. He cites the question marks surrounding the position at the beginning of the year after Trace McSorley graduated. But, both Sean Clifford and most recently Will Levis have both proven to be able to fill McSorley’s shoes admirably.

Underappreciated?

Penn State punter Blake Gillikin spoke to the media recently and described his head coach as “underappreciated”. James Franklin certainly appreciates the praise from one of his senior captains, but he does not get caught up in the noise from the outside.

He looks at coaching as being tucked in a submarine where he is able to ignore much of the outside noise. He can certainly go and find the noise on social media. But, instead, he is more concerned about the players who deal with students and fans on campus every day.

Yes, Franklin admitted he does care what people think of him and his program. But, as he is getting older, James Franklin is learning to be confident that there is a lot to be proud of at Penn State and that deserves appreciation in itself.

Penn State Thanksgiving Traditions

With so many players being away from their families for Thanksgiving, the Penn State coaching staff brings players to their houses to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. The most important thing for Franklin and his staff is to make their players feel at home for the holiday. Often times, families of the players will even make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner at Franklin’s house.

James loves how his players interacts with his daughters and how they feel at home throughout the day. He noted how players don’t stop in for a plate and then go back to their dorms. They typically eat several plates, fall asleep, watch football, and make themselves at home while they are away from home.

Evaluating the Success of the Program

Many Penn State fans are passionate and expect Penn State to win every game on their schedule, which many programs cannot say their fans expect them to win every game. But, Franklin knows he draws criticism sometimes despite the success the program has had since 2016. In the end, Franklin would not trade the success of this program for anything.

As Penn State is nearing their third 10-win season in four years, with the one year they did not being a 9-win season, this is the model of success Franklin wants. He wants to be consistently great and hope things break right for him in a certain year so they can win the Big Ten and enter the College Football Playoff. Franklin prefers that success model as opposed to inconsistent seasons with a random spike of success.

Overall, James Franklin is proud of the success at Penn State, but is not satisfied with it either.

Justin Shorter

According to Pete Thamel, former 5-star recruit Justin Shorter entered the transfer portal on Tuesday. The news broke during Franklin’s press conference, so as expected, Franklin did not have much to say on the topic. But, it is something to keep an eye on the rest of the week and into the offseason.

 

 

Top Penn State Moments vs Ohio State

With Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff implications on the line on Saturday, Penn State-Ohio State is bound to have a great moment or two this Saturday. So, to get you ready for Saturday, here my top 5 moments of the Penn State-Ohio State rivalry since 2000.

Honorable Mention #1: Mike Hull Blocked Punt (2012)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R0IDgCV260

Honorable Mention #2 Alan Zemaitis Pick 6 (2003)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_UkXlt8RhI

#5: Anthony Zettel Pick 6 (2014)

Penn State came out of halftime down 17-0 against #13 Ohio State. With the Buckeyes looking to take total control of the game, Anthony Zettel dropped into coverage and picked off Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. Zettel returned the interception for a touchdown and turned the bleachers at Beaver Stadium into a trampoline.

#4 Mark Rubin Forces Terrelle Pryor to Fumble (2008)

Like the 2014 game, Ohio State had all the momentum and the Penn State defense came up huge. With a 6-3 lead in the fourth quarter and driving down the field, Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor took a QB sneak on 3rd & 1 and for some reason bounced it outside. Penn State safety Mark Rubin was there to make the stop and forced the game changing fumble in the process. Penn State recovered the fumble and won the game 13-6, keeping their undefeated season alive.

#3 Zack Mills 69 Yard Touchdown Run (2001)

Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno needed just one more win to pass Bear Bryant on the Division Coaching Wins list. But, things were looking bleak as the Nittany Lions were down 27-9 in the third quarter. But, a magical play by Penn State freshman QB Zack Mills would prove to be a magical day for JoePa as he passed the Bear and notched win #324.

 

#2 Tamba Hali’s Sack and Forced Fumble (2005)

It was the biggest game at Beaver Stadium in several seasons. It was one of the first White Outs, as well. Up 17-10 against Ohio State late in the fourth quarter, the Penn State defense needed to step up just one more time. They did just that when Tamba Hali came flying off the edge and sacked Ohio State QB Troy Smith. The hit caused Smith to fumble and flip over his head while Scott Paxson scurried to jump on the loose ball and secure Penn State’s biggest win of the 21st century to that point.

 

#1 Marcus Allen Field Goal Block (2016)

Was there any doubt? Penn State charged back to make it a 21-17 game in the fourth quarter against #2 Ohio State. Ohio State rushed their field goal unit out to try to make it a 7 point lead. But, you know what happens next. Penn State went on to pull off the upset, 24-21, won the 2016 Big Ten Championship, and earned a Rose Bowl bid. Ever since, Penn State has been one of the top programs throughout the country.

 

 

 

 

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