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Franklin Pleased with Team's Energy, Progress at Camp

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TC_Lions Den.JPGVIDEO: James Franklin Training Camp Update - Aug. 14

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are constant reminders within Penn State Football to focus on the program's four core values.

1. Positive Attitude
2. Unrivaled Work Ethic
3. Compete in Everything
4. Sacrifice

Since the day he arrived on campus in Happy Valley, head coach James Franklin has instilled those values into every player on the roster. As a byproduct, the coach of the Nittany Lions has been pleased with the team's enthusiasm each time it has stepped onto the field during the first two weeks of camp.

"It's been great. We've had great energy at practice," Franklin said. "Guys are flying around. We've gotten better. I've dramatically seen us get better. Especially on special teams...I like where we are at right now."

Training camp has been marked by good progress on both sides of the ball and on special teams. On special teams, Franklin highlighted the improvement from the team's corps of punters as a unit that has made significant strides when he addressed the media following Thursday's practice.

Collectively, though, the first 12 days of camp have been positive for Franklin and the coaching staff.

"I think we've got some really good football players. I really do," Franklin said. "I think the staff being together now is really valuable. And I see it showing up in a lot of different areas - how we plan, how we come out here and how we are effective. I don't know if there is anything that has surprised me, but overall, I've been pretty pleased with what we have been able to do."

On the defensive side of the ball, Franklin noted that the unit has impressed him since he arrived at Penn State. Headlined by a deep defensive line and a veteran secondary, the Nittany Lion defense has put together a strong two weeks of training camp.

"I've been very pleased with our defense as a whole," Franklin said. "When you look across the board at the guys we have on the field, really all 11 starters and some more depth, I think our defense has a chance to play really well. I think they can play fast and play with confidence. With the strength of our D-Line, I'm depending on those guys to help the secondary, as well. Because hopefully the quarterback isn't going to be able to hold onto the ball very long."

Guided by sophomore captain Christian Hackenberg, the Nittany Lion quarterbacks are another group Franklin has enjoyed watching progress during camp. Hackenberg continues to evolve within the offensive scheme following a strong offseason. Behind the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Franklin said that true freshmen Michael O'Connor and Trace McSorley are battling for the No. 2 spot.

"I've been really pleased with Hack and his improvement from the spring and his command of the offense across the board is better," Franklin said. "The No. 2 battle is interesting. (Trace) McSorley, all of the things we thought about him when we recruited him - he's a winner, he's smart and he's picked it up really well...I think (Micheal) O'Connor has had a great summer. Dwight Galt has said that he may have had the best summer of anyone on the team. But McSorley is right there. And that's what we want. We want competition at every position."

Training camp continues on Friday, which marks the end of the summer academic session. Penn State will practice once on Friday before two sessions on Saturday. The team's focus remains on maximizing each day with improvement. Franklin said that the squad will shift into UCF mode soon, but right now, the emphasis is still on Penn State.

"I'm excited about that game and going there," Franklin said. "I think it is a really good team. If you look at that roster, they have almost everybody back...I think it's going to be a tremendous challenge. It is a veteran team. It is a veteran coach."

Penn State will meet UCF in the Croke Park Classic on Aug. 30 (8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2) in Dublin, Ireland.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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