ShareThis Page

Penn State begins to learn new football coaching staff's terminology, routes

Chris Adamski
| Sunday, March 16, 2014, 10:06 p.m.
Penn State coach James Franklin answers questions by radio announcer Jeff Byers at the intermission of the wrestling match against Purdue at Recreation Hall on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State coach James Franklin answers questions by radio announcer Jeff Byers at the intermission of the wrestling match against Purdue at Recreation Hall on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in University Park.

UNIVERSITY PARK — Since being hired as Penn State's coach more than two months ago, James Franklin has talked big.

Big on recruiting. Big on Beaver Stadium attendance. Big on returning the program to nationally elite status.

When it comes to the most elementary of on-field official acts, though, Franklin sees no need to be brash.

Franklin and his staff will oversee their first Penn State practice Monday when the Lions open up with their first of 15 spring practices at the Lasch Building fields.

“We're not out to win spring ball,” Franklin said.

“Some coaches are so worried about winning spring practice — we just want to get better fundamentally and technique-wise.”

The Lions will practice Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for each of the next four weeks with the exception of April 4.

The final spring practice will be the annual Blue-White Game at 1:30 p.m. April 12 at Beaver Stadium.

With players adjusting to a new coaching staff, spring is vital to learning and digesting new schemes and terminology.

“You really want to learn the playbook and get that down and everything to the point it's just like we knew our old playbook,” tight end Jesse James said.

Players have been watching film of Vanderbilt, the Franklin staff's former team.

Monday provides the first opportunity in a formal setting for players to act out some of the slight modifications made to how Bill O'Brien handled things.

Players don't describe the changes as overly significant outside of some verbiage.

“We've got to change our blocking steps a little bit, and the routes are a little bit different and the reads,” James said.

Franklin said his staff didn't watch too much film of Penn State's 2013 season for purposes of evaluating his players. Like O'Brien did, they're taking more of a “clean slate” approach.

“We're more trying to get our teach tapes and our install tapes put together,” Franklin said. “I want to lay the foundation in terms of work ethic, mentality and how we compete. Lay the foundation from a knowledge standpoint of how our offense, defense and special teams schemes work now, so when we come back in the summer the guys have a legitimate chance to compete for starting jobs.”

Position battles won't be won or lost in March and April, but players recognize this is their first chance to impress their new bosses. They might not be overtly competing for playing time, yet, but the groundwork established over these next four weeks will better equip them to do so when the time comes in August.

“Spring is a lot more about individual development for every guy on the team,” safety Jesse Della Valle said. “Everyone is kind of focusing on sharpening his skills, sharpening his footwork, things like that.

“Personally, I want to make sure that I'm ready to play, I'm mentally prepared, I'm physically prepared and … getting better going into camp in the summer.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.