Penn State’s James Franklin urges upbeat approach, Lions seek offensive consistency, and more
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The Franklin Doctrine
Penn State football coach James Franklin has often heard skepticism about his buoyant public persona — that it’s all just a put-on, that nobody could possibly be that upbeat.
Those who know him well swear that’s how he really is, and he has often said the same. Franklin added a new twist to that theme while serving as the keynote speaker at Penn State Harrisburg’s commencement on Saturday.
Per Pennlive.com’s Ryan Baillargeon, he said:
“My greatest strength is my passion and my drive. My greatest weakness is my passion and my drive. I think it’s very, very important that everybody understands those things.”
His point to the graduates was the importance of a positive attitude — not surprising, considering he said when he was hired in January 2014 that he planned to do back handsprings out of bed every morning.
That’s a stretch, but only a small one:
“People ask me how I’m doing and I say, ‘I’m living the dream,’ because I am. I’m the head football coach at Penn State. I’m a Pennsylvania product — I grew up in this state — so the fact that I’m able to come back home and be able to be the head coach of Penn State University is unbelievable. So I’m living the dream every single day.”
According to Baillargeon, Franklin wrapped up his 10-minute speech by giving the graduates an odd piece of advice: Stay broke as long as possible.
“Make decisions that are going to be in your best interest and your family’s best interest five, 10 years down the road. All of you have been broke up to this point. Embrace it a little bit longer.”
Stretching the field, and the imagination
Mike Gross of LNP Media Group believes the PSU offense, effective as it was last year, can be better in 2017. That’s not just because the Lions return nine starters on that side of the ball, but also because they will be better able to explore all facets of an attack orchestrated by Joe Moorhead.
Two of Penn State’s biggest offensive concerns heading into the season are finding a replacement for Chris Godwin and doing a better job on third down.
The Godwin issue has been discussed ad nauseam, and the conclusion is that Juwan Johnson is the most likely candidate to fill that role.
There are other possibilities — Irv Charles, DeAndre Thompkins and Brandon Polk among them — and it’s likely that veterans such as Saeed Blacknall and DaeSean Hamilton will step up their production.
Whoever plays wide receiver can be expected to delve deeper into Moorhead’s playbook and show wrinkles that have yet to be seen. And that, Gross believes, will transform the offense from the big-play attack it was last year to a more consistent, move-the-chains unit — one that is likely to convert more than 32.6 percent of its third downs, as was the case in 2016. That rate was 117th among the nation’s 128 FBS teams.
Hockey team adds another Finn
Finnish forward Aarne Talvitie, who hails from the same hometown (Espoo) as current Penn State defenseman Erik Autio, verbally committed to play for the Nittany Lions on Sunday.
The 17-year-old Talvitie, the eighth member of Penn State’s 2018-19 recruiting class, also follows in the footsteps of Autio’s brother Oskar, who committed on April 25.
Talvitie generated 13 goals and 24 assists in 46 games with the under-20 Espoo Blues program this past season, and according to the Daily Collegian might be taken in the NHL draft in June. He is ranked 58th by NHL Central Scouting among European skaters.