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CHICAGO -- It's perhaps the unofficial sign that Penn State football is nearly back, as the Nittany Lions traveled to Chicago for the annual Big Ten Conference Media Days. Penn State opened the first day with a full schedule of media obligations before concluding the afternoon with podium interview sessions.
In preparation for training camp in just a few weeks in Happy Valley, check in for a few key storylines from the day.
Faces, Next Man Up
For McSorley, amid all the speculation of who's back and who's gone, the only thing that has changed this year are the faces. Otherwise it's business as usual, as the starting signal caller gears up for another year.
"That's really been the biggest difference," McSorley said. "I remember walking out the first spring practice and really looking out an not seeing [Jason] Cabinda over there or Marcus [Allen] and [Troy] Apke, guys who I have looked at for two, three years. Not having Saquon next to me or not looking out and seeing DaeSean [Hamilton]. That was the biggest difference but it got through practice three, four and now you're used to looking out and seeing DeAndre [Thompkins] or Nick [Scott] out at safety."
Having to embrace a sort of "next man up" mentality at various points throughout the last few seasons, that's just the approach McSorley and the offense are taking when it comes to reshaping the offense following some key departures.
"I think the same thing pertains to guys graduating and moving on to the next level and finishing their time in college," McSorley said. "I think that's something we've been able to bring with us this offseason, that the standard is the standard. That championship standard is what we've always operated to and we're not going to lower that because a guy like Saquon [Barkley] is gone. That's what we expect out of our running backs and that's what they expect out of themselves."
Equipped with an offensive line that has big time game experience, depth and cohesion, McSorley noted that it opens the Nittany Lions up to the ability to push the envelope.
"Everyone wants to know how you replace a guy like Saquon but it's obviously the running backs taking some ownership but our offensive line is taking on a big responsibility right now and putting a lot of weight on their shoulders to make it easy on our running backs," McSorley said.
From Franklin's perspective, Penn State's offense has been explosive and led the conference in passing but negative plays, tackles for loss was an area Franklin felt the Nittany Lions could improve.
"The other thing is, we had games where the running game disappeared against upper tiered talent in our league," Franklin said. "I think it's going to help us develop the running back position. I think it's going to allow wide receivers who are developing who may have a little more time to create separation and get open."
Teams to Starting Safety
Scott found his home at Penn State on special teams and it all came from a desire to be noticed.
Now poised to be a starting safety for the Nittany Lions, for the once recruited running back, it's just the way it worked out.
"I tell people all the time, there's 26 reasons why I moved to safety," Scott said. "Saquon Barkley came in the room and it's worked out for me so far. When he [Barkley] jumped over that safety at Buffalo, I had already been hearing murmurs of me possibly playing safety. I literally turned to coach Smith, who was next to me and I was like do you guys still have room in the safety room. I was half joking but at the same time, I was like I might need to have to come back and have that conversation."
Cultivating the identity of the 2018 Penn State defense doesn't happen overnight and for Oruwariye it's a process that takes time.
"I think over the winter and summer we developed a great work ethic and competed a lot but coming into camp it's a different ball game," Oruwariye said. "You have to find that cohesion in the defense, we have to find that chemistry and then ultimately leading into the first game we can start building our identity as a defense."
Spring ball was the perfect place to begin the process, with Oruwariye noting young Nittany Lions taking advantage of opportunities to work alongside the first team only helped shape the progress.
Catching up with Sandy Barbour
Penn State Director of Athletics met with members of the media Tuesday afternoon to talk everything from Lasch facility updates to upcoming milestones in women's sports at Penn State.