UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin kicked off game week media availability, meeting with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview the newly released depth chart as well as the 2016 season opener against Kent State.
The Nittany Lions open the 130th season of Penn State football Saturday with a 3:30 matchup (BTN) against the Golden Flashes in Beaver Stadium. Franklin took time to meet with several media members, answering an assortment of game one related questions.
"It's amazing to me that time has flown by and we're already in week one of the season," Franklin said. "I am excited to watch the team open the season in Beaver Stadium starting at home. We've been very, very pleased with what they did this summer as well as in camp. [The team] had an excellent camp in our opinion."
new changes will be on display in full force Saturday afternoon, but perhaps
one of the largest changes comes in the debut of quarterback Trace McSorley,
who will take the reins of the offense for the first time. Nerves and jitters
are no issue for McSorley though, who has been described by Franklin as "Steady
"He's a guy that doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low," Franklin said. "He's kind of the same guy."
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton shared the same thoughts on McSorley's calm nature ahead of the opener.
"I haven't seen any nervousness from him," Hamilton said. "Ever since he was announced as a starter, he took that role and ran with it. He's just ready to lead this team to the best of his capabilities."
Along with McSorely, Penn State fans will get a chance to see the new up-tempo style offense, engineered in large part by first year offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead.
"Joe's done a great job, not only from a schematic standpoint, but I really think just the leadership and the motivation on that side of the ball has been really helpful," Franklin said.
With a stacked group of receivers featuring starters in Hamilton, Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall along with a running back group led by Saquon Barkley all the pieces of the offensive puzzle are certainly present.
"My focus is on, let's get to the stadium and let's allow people to form opinions based on what they see," Franklin said.
The Nittany Lions enter 2016 with a new look on the defensive line following NFL departures. Among many changes, Parker Cothren not only moves into a starting role this year, but also a leadership role.
"I worked harder this year than I probably have in the past, having everyone look to me when they have questions, trying to be that guy that AJ (Austin Johnson ) and (Anthony) Zettel were to me, to them; taking that leadership role," Cothren said.
Penn State will also see significant leadership from its senior class, which consisting of just 12 senior-eligible players is tied for the second-fewest in the FBS. Among the group of seniors are captains Brian Gaia, Brandon Bell and Von Walker.
"Of the things that I think are interesting, you look at our three senior captains which we are very, very proud of what those guys brought to the table this summer, and the team voted for those guys," Franklin said. "It was overwhelming."
ON THE QUOTE BOARD
-Parker Cothren has worn his No. 41 jersey nearly his entire life across all sports he has ever played. Why No. 41?
"It actually started back in elementary school when my favorite channel on TV was 41. When asked what number I wanted to be, I said 41."
And that favorite channel? Cartoon Network.
-The first release of the depth chart featured five true freshmen who could all be called upon to make an impact in their very first season in the Blue and White. Franklin has confidence in the physical ability of his newest Nittany Lions.
"They are ready to play," Franklin said. "Mentally they are catching up day by day. Will Fries is a guy who has done some good things in a short period of time on campus and earned a lot of people's respect."
"Connor McGovern had a little bit of a head start being here for spring ball, and Michal Menet is another guy that's done some really nice things and has been able to get a lot of reps with our guys and our number one unit in practice."
-Making the move to the slot, DaeSean Hamilton took spent time in the offseason building strength and increasing muscle mass to adjust to bigger defenders.
The advantages of making the move?
"Just going against guys that aren't really used to covering, people that have played wide receiver or that have played outside and are finally moving inside, going against safeties, they are the more aggressive guys that are looking to come in and stop the run, especially in the Big Ten which is a run-heavy conference," Hamilton said.
"Then going against linebackers, as well, being able to just definitely
take advantage of that mishmash because they definitely don't cover a lot,
especially against wide receivers. It's really just putting my advantages to
everyone else's weaknesses, so it really has played out in my favor and it's
been a good move."