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James Franklin expects ‘huge piece’ of Penn State offense to return from injury

James Franklin is optimistic for the impact that this returning Nittany Lion will have on the Penn State offense.



Penn State Football, Penn State offense, James Franklin, Harrison Wallace III, Trey Wallace
Sep 9, 2023; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin walks on the field during a warm up prior to the game against the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football was self-admittedly dealing with some “bumps and bruises” the last time we saw the Nittany Lions take the field at Northwestern two weeks ago. But the bye week presented an opportunity for James Franklin to get his team rested and recovered before the stretch run of the season. While important at all positions, health is nowhere more critical than at WR, with the Nittany Lion passing attack coming under the microscope in recent weeks. Saturday, Penn State expects to have WR Harrison Wallace III back from injury for the first time in almost a month. In his weekly press conference, James Franklin highlighted the return of Trey Wallace as critical for the Penn State offense.

Trey Wallace is “huge” for the trust within the Penn State passing attack

Harrison Wallace III emerged from fall camp as Penn State’s No. 2 WR, but has been battling an injury for quite some time. Absent from the Nittany Lions’ two road trips to Illinois and Northwestern in Weeks 3 and 5, respectively, Wallace played 24 snaps against Iowa in Week 4. However, it was clear that the redshirt sophomore WR was limited.

Last week, James Franklin indicated that Wallace was expected to play against Northwestern. But a reaggravation of the injury leading up to the game instead kept Wallace out of the 41-13 win. The bye week came at the right time for Wallace’s recovery, as Franklin anticipates having the WR back for UMass this weekend.

During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Franklin highlighted how Wallace’s health can impact the Penn State offense through the air.

“I think getting Trey back is a huge piece of that puzzle,” Franklin said of developing trust between QB Drew Allar and the WRs. “I think it helps KeAndre [Lambert-Smith]. I think it helps Drew. I think it helps our team. I think it helps our offense. I think it helps Coach Yurcich in calling the game. But, I think that will really help us having those two guys [Wallace and Lambert-Smith] both on the field at the same time.”

What’s the injury status of other key Nittany Lions?

Much like last week, Trey Wallace was the only injured Penn State football player James Franklin discussed at length.

Franklin again didn’t go into detail on the status of OL JB Nelson, who exited the Northwestern game on a cart and has not been seen in the last two practice viewing sessions. RB Kaytron Allen, who also left the Northwestern game with an apparent injury, was back at practice last week and tonight.

“In terms of health, I think we’re in a pretty good place from the things that we talked about in terms of the number of reps our guys have had in games, the number of guys we’re playing,” James Franklin noted on Tuesday. “I think we’re in a pretty good place from that perspective. I mean, obviously, you’d always love to be totally healthy, and we’re not that, but I think we’re in a pretty good place.”

Coming into Saturday as a heavy favorite, it’ll be critical for Penn State to have its starters shake off the bye-week rust and get out of the game before risking injury. A near six-score favorite this weekend, the Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to take on No. 3 Ohio State next Saturday.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place,” Franklin said. “The reality is we need to be in a good place going into this game, and we need to be in a good place coming out of this game, as well.”

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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