Penn State coach James Franklin designs a better spring game
April 20, 2017 12:00 AM
Michael Reaves / Getty Images
Penn State coach James Franklin wants to get more competition out of his players in the annual Blue-White scrimmage on Saturday.
By Omari Sankofa II / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Penn State fans can look forward to a handful of changes in this weekend’s Blue-White spring game. One of the changes involve which personnel will be on the field during the game.
On the team side of things, head coach James Franklin said he plans to mix up minutes between the projected starters and backup players during the game. By evenly distributing starters and key reserves on both the Blue and White teams, Franklin hopes to create a more competitive scrimmage — a move that could have positive results for both the team and fans watching the game.
“I think we’ve always wanted to do that,” Franklin said. “You want to make it more of a game so that we have a better evaluation.”
“Just to make it more competitive,” he said. “For it to be a true evaluation, that’s what we do in practice all the time, go good versus good, and we want to be able to do that for the game as well. Obviously I’ve already mapped it out.”
To prepare for the scrimmage Saturday, the Nittany Lions practiced inside of Beaver Stadium for the first time this year last Friday. Franklin said the starters for each team will be announced Friday.
“I don’t think we have a lot of competition out here so it’ll be good either way,” senior cornerback Grant Haley said. “We’re just excited to get out there and put on a show for the fans.”
Franklin also said instead of having a full punt return unit on the field, the team will instead stick with a single punt returner.
“If the Blue offense is out there and they go three and out and punt, we’ll put the Blue punt team on the field,” Franklin said. “I think that’s how we did it last year. And they’ll punt to only a punt returner. We won’t put a White punt return team out there, just a White punt returner out there for the White team and do it that way.”
Penn State’s 2017 Blue-White spring game will start at 3 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium and will air on Big Ten Network.
Farmer finds home
After bouncing between safety and linebacker, senior Koa Farmer finally settled in at linebacker last season after a five-tackle, one-sack performance against Maryland on Oct. 11.
Farmer went on to fill in for sophomore outside linebacker Manny Bowen, who was suspended for breaking unspecified team rules during the Rose Bowl. Farmer rode that momentum into spring camp, and Franklin said he has performed admirably in practices.
“Farmer is a guy who’s bounced from safety to linebacker to safety back to linebacker again,” Franklin said. “He’s got everybody really excited. He’s finally found a home and comfortable. I’ve had a lot of conversations and arguments with Koa about this is where I felt like, since he got here, was the right place for him, but we weren’t going to force him there. He’s been fighting genetics for a long time.”
Omari Sankofa II: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @omarisankofa.
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