Nittany Lions Host Media Day as Training Camp Opens

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Media Day Press Conference Videos:

James Franklin - John Donovan - Bob Shoop - Charles Huff

Media Day Press Conference Transcript | Media Day Photo Gallery | Practice I Photo Gallery

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A crowd of more than 170 media members packed the Beaver Stadium media room on Monday for the 2014 version of Penn State football media day.

Head coach James Franklin kicked off the festivities with an entertaining press conference. Coordinators John Donovan, Charles Huff and Bob Shoop followed Franklin on the dais before the Nittany Lions arrived at the stadium for nearly 60 minutes of open media on the finely manicured sod in Beaver Stadium.

"Obviously, we are very excited," Franklin said. "It's been seven months since we arrived. We've gotten a lot of work done in a short period of time. We are excited to get going, working with these guys day in and day out...I think the staff has done a great job preparing. The players have been unbelievable."

Franklin is thrilled with the academic success the team has produced during his seven months at the helm of the program. The Nittany Lions had a strong spring semester, and the best academic summer session, collectively, in the history of the program.

"We are really looking forward to seeing all the progress the players have made since spring ball ended," Franklin said. "Not only physically, but also mentally which will allow them to play fast. You're also excited to get out and watch the new guys in the program to see which guys look like they may figure in."

MDay_blog_1.jpgPenn State took the field just before 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon to officially begin preparations for the 2014 season. The Nittany Lions are allotted 29 practices before the season-opener against UCF at the Croke Park Classic in Dublin.

"There is a lot of excitement and a lot of good things going on," Franklin said. "We have 26 days before we open the season against Central Florida. Last night, I addressed that with the team. It will be here before we know it for all of us. But that is the last time we are going to talk about it. We are in a time period where our focus is on Penn State and becoming the best Penn State we could possibly be."

Franklin said that there would be a point in two weeks or so into camp that the team will flip a switch into game preparation mode for UCF. For now, though, the Nittany Lions will work to maximize each day to improve in all phases of the game. Under NCAA rules, the Lions must wait five practices before putting the pads on Saturday.

"The plan going in ahead is to maximize our practices," Franklin said. "We are going to maximize the hours. We are going to do all the things that we possibly can right now. Again we have a little bit of a juggling act with the academics which is always going to be priority No. 1 for the first two weeks, so that's a challenge."

The Nittany Lions will practice each day this week in the afternoon. The season kicks off at 8:30 a.m. (ESPN) on Aug. 30.

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Notes:
- Coach Franklin joked with the standing room only crowd in the media room that there must not have been much in the way of news going on in Pennsylvania on Monday.

"We really appreciate everyone coming out today. You guys have been awesome since the day we arrived."

- Coach Franklin's family moved into State College on Friday evening. He is thrilled to have his wife and two daughters in town.

"Now what was great was yesterday we were able to have two meals with the players. They came and had lunch and dinner with us. My daughters love it. I wish I could spend more time with them but what they wanted to do, as soon as we got there to lunch and dinner, they didn't want to sit with us. Shola went and sat with one group of players. Addie went and sat with another group of players. And I love that. My wife loves it. I love it and it's awesome for our family and it's good for our football team, as well. They get to see me in a different light and I think that's important."

- Franklin on what he wants to see in terms of improvement from 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg:

"That's a great question and we are looking for improvements from Hack, but I'm going to be honest with you, where our focus really is, is all the pieces of the puzzle around Hack. You know, that's going to allow him to continue to develop, making sure that we are able to protect him with our offensive line, making sure that we are able to be balanced offensively and be able to run the ball with our offensive line and tight end, having a huge impact in that, as well, and finding some wide receivers to make up for the production we lost, all these things factor into it. So obviously I want him to be more and more confident so he can make really good decisions in terms of protecting the football, get the ball out of his hand as quickly as he possibly can, and what you like to see with a quarterback I know in this system is, they get to a point where they feel like the defense can't be right. You know, that you understand the offense so well, that if you play cover two, wonderful, I'm going to attack the weakness here. If you go cover three, go here; if you go man coverage, here is my man beater. If you throw pressure, I'm either going to go hot or readjust the protection to pick it up. When you get to a point where you feel like the quarterback has all those tools at his disposal, the confidence skyrockets and they feel like the defense can't be right and that is unbelievably valuable."



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