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James Franklin says Penn State football is different in this one key area. Here’s how it can impact the 2023 season

According to James Franklin, improvement in one key area has made this fall camp different from previous years for Penn State football.



James Franklin, Penn State football
Penn State head coach James Franklin high-fives his players after the Nittany Lions scored a touchdown in the second quarter against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in State College. The Nittany Lions fell to the Buckeyes, 44-31. Hes Dr 102922 Psuosu

In less than 36 hours, we’ll have our first look at the 2023 Penn State football team. As the preseason No. 7 team in the country, all eyes are on the Nittany Lions to make waves this season. Most of the college football world is high on the weapons that Penn State touts on its roster this year. But for head coach James Franklin, the elevation of talent behind the first line of the Nittany Lions’ depth chart has made the difference this fall camp. This week, Franklin explained how much depth has benefited Penn State as it prepares for the 2023 campaign.

Depth has been a critical weakness for the Nittany Lions in previous years

It’s no secret that Penn State has an extremely talented first wave of core players this season. From legitimate first-round draft picks like Olu Fashanu, Chop Robinson, and Kalen King to emerging stars like Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen, and Abdul Carter, the Nittany Lions’ first team is stacked in 2023.

But Penn State football has had plenty of stars before. The Nittany Lions have stumbled in previous years when the two and three-deep players couldn’t stack up to that of Ohio State and Michigan. Penn State has hung around against top teams late into the fourth quarter, but just hasn’t had the stamina or depth to keep pace in the foot race.

James Franklin says building depth has been critical for Penn State this offseason

However, things may be changing in Happy Valley. James Franklin has reiterated several times this offseason how much he believes the depth of this Penn State team has improved from years past.

During media availability Wednesday night, Franklin was asked how he handles the development of the positional pieces on the roster to match the expectations of the team’s star players. While Franklin expressed that the program has gone about things the same way it always has, he noted that having more depth pieces in camp has made the team stronger overall.

“…We really approach it the same way every single year,” Franklin said. “Every team in the country has strengths. And every team in the country has some areas that maybe you don’t have the depth that you need at the time or have some deficiencies and need to play a certain style to disguise some of those deficiencies early on. I mean, no one’s got the perfect team or the perfect roster. So we’re approaching it the same way that we always do.

One of the things I think has been very different in this camp is, a lot of times, it’s difficult to develop the threes because you may have a third group somewhere that doesn’t have the depth, so it impacts of development of all the other groups. Us being able in college football to bring 120 [players] into camp over 110 I thought had a significant impact in that. I thought that made a lot of sense.”

Elite rosters stand in between the Nittany Lions and the College Football Playoff this year. If Penn State football wants to achieve its goals this fall, then the level of play across the roster needs to elevate as well.

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A third-generation Penn Stater, Matt is Editor-in-Chief for Basic Blues Nation, co-host of the podcast PSU Tailgate Talk, and a credentialed member of the Penn State football media. Matt also works as a staffer in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Matt lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a small army of pets.