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Phil Trautwein explains why the Penn State offensive line can be great this year

At Penn State media day, Phil Trautwein explained how offensive line has become one of the strengths of the Nittany Lions football team.



Penn State football, Nolan Rucci, Transfer Portal, Wisconsin
Penn State football offensive line coach Phil Trautwein talks to a reporter during football media day at Beaver Stadium on Sunday, August 6, 2023, in State College.

Offensive line has often been viewed as the Achilles heel of many Penn State football teams during the James Franklin era. But in less than four years, Phil Trautwein has turned the unit into one of the program’s greatest strengths. Going into 2023, there’s a good argument to be made that the Nittany Lions offensive line is among the best position groups on the team. It hasn’t been easy, but the turnaround has been due just as much to Trautwein’s efforts off the field as his work on it.

Phil Trautwein says mental approach is major part of Penn State offensive line turnaround

It’s no secret that Penn State boasts perhaps the best offensive lineman in all of college football in Olu Fashanu. But the Nittany Lions have talent and depth across the offensive line this fall. Phil Trautwein is also recruiting high-level talent at a rate rarely seen in Happy Valley over the last decade. The turnaround has been impressive. But according to Trautwein, the potential has always been there. The turnaround up front has been due, in part, to a newfound work ethic.

“I would always say that there’s talent, but now, the talent knows how to work,” Trautwein said at Penn State football media day Sunday. “They know what to do. They are great kids that just want to be great.”

Trautwein explained that success on the offensive line doesn’t happen overnight. The challenge has come in getting his players to embrace the time and effort it takes to develop up front. “As you know, offensive line has always been a developmental position,” he said. “When you recruit great talent and they don’t understand that, they just become average. But when you recruit great talent and get them to work hard and understand what they need to do – be a technician, understand the game of football – then they become who they want to become. And they become greater, and they bond because they do all the hard work together.”

Success up front has perhaps never been more critical for Penn State football than it will be in 2023. Breaking in a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2019, stability in the pocket will be critical for whoever lines up under center. Furthermore, you can expect the Nittany Lions to rely on their talented running backs to get them through the heart of the Big Ten schedule. Penn State fans should be excited about the trajectory of Phil Trautwein’s room, but also understand that the biggest tests still remain ahead.

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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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