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Penn State football: James Franklin talks expectations and the 2023 offseason

Penn State football is heading into a massive season full of massive expectations. Here’s what James Franklin has to say.



James Franklin, Penn State football
Nov 26, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin leads his team on the field prior to the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions won 45-12. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State football is coming off a huge year in 2022, going 11-2 overall and winning the Rose Bowl. However, the Nittany Lions fell short against the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes, the two teams that have haunted James Franklin’s tenure in State College. Recently, the Lions’ head coach was asked about his program’s offseason expectations and progress, and he provided a great deal of insight.

James Franklin talks 2023 expectations

For a young team like Penn State football, tuning out the offseason noise can be challenging. With youthful faces across the board and many experts already considering Penn State as a Big Ten and College Football Playoff contender, the Nittany Lions are doing their best to ignore the noise and stay focused on their first task: West Virginia. For 10th-year head coach James Franklin it’s not about defining success right now, but rather being prepared to define success this fall.

“Really we don’t do that. It’s not like I sit here and kind of come up with this for our program,” James Franklin stated on The Hard Count Podcast. “We just want to have a great camp and put ourself in the best position to beat West Virginia on national television, 7:30 primetime game here in Beaver Stadium, and then build on that.”

1-0 mentality still king in Happy Valley

Just as we have seen for the past decade of football in Happy Valley, it’s not about a preseason goal; it’s about going 1-0 every weekend. That is the culture that James Franklin has built with Penn State football, and it’s one that the Nittany Lions have achieved great success with over the years.

“I think if we can build on that Week 1 and get better each week of the season to put us in the best position to compete for a Big Ten championship and get a chance to get into those plays and see where it goes from there that’s what’s important to us,” Franklin said.

2022 success remains in the rearview, bigger and better lie ahead

Yes, Penn State football ended their 2022 season with a bang, securing a 35-21 victory over then-8th ranked Utah, who had just defeated USC for the PAC-12 title. Penn State football dominated the Utes in the Rose Bowl, resulting in the program’s fourth 11-win season and a top 10 finish in the past six full seasons. Despite this significant achievement, James Franklin understands that last year’s success does not impact this season’s goals.

“You know, again, we finished the season well, we got a ton of talented players coming back. We still have some question marks. But that’s what the offseason is about those types of conversations. I get it,” Franklin continued. “We’re just trying to get better today. I thought we had a good practice today.  We got to be ready to play well against West Virginia and see where it takes us.”

Prep for Michigan and Ohio State taking priority despite WVU being on the clock

Michigan and Ohio State have been thorns in James Franklin’s side since taking over as head coach of Penn State football. However, in 2022, the gap between the Nittany Lions and the rest of the competition seemed clear. Penn State dominated every opponent last year, except for the Big Ten’s best. Michigan defeated PSU with a score of 41-17, while the Buckeyes extended their winning streak to six in a row with another significant victory at Beaver Stadium.

The 1-0 mentality still remains crucial for Penn State football, but preparations for the two most significant games on the schedule have already begun, according to Franklin.

“We are getting ready for West Virginia and we have done our first four opponents.” Franklin stated. “We literally just finished those breakdowns. But then we will get a head start on Michigan and we will get a head start on Ohio State,” Franklin said. “Obviously, we understand the importance of those two games.”

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