Penn State has perhaps its most anticipated game in two years ahead of it this weekend Auburn comes to Happy Valley.
In front of a White Out crowd, the Nittany Lions will look to move to 3-0 following wins against Wisconsin and Ball State to start the year.
But the week has not come without controversy, as plenty of storylines have developed that include coach James Franklin.
Here’s what to take away from his Wednesday post-practice media session.
For the second day in a row, Franklin has had to address rumors connecting him to USC following the firing of former coach Clay Helton earlier this week.
And once again, he kept his words to a minimum, as he prefers to avoid all distractions during a game week, especially one of this caliber.
“I've decided that I'm gonna handle this internally and talk to our team,” Franklin said. “It happens every single year. I'm not worried about it, I'm not worried about distractions in the media and with the fans. I'm worried about my team.”
Another issue that came up regarding the rumors surrounds Franklin’s No. 1-ranked 2022 recruiting class and how the rumors affect that situation.
Once again, he said it’s something that will be talked about internally with the recruits and their families.
Franklin was additionally asked why he won’t outwardly say “no” to rumors, which he promptly responded to by saying he has in the past.
“Really no matter what you say, People aren’t happy with it,” Franklin said.
Difficulties scouting Auburn
Meanwhile, Franklin and the rest of the Nittany Lions have a critical game ahead of them this weekend.
Auburn is off to a dominant start while playing some inferior teams, but the Tigers should be an intriguing challenge for Franklin’s group.
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With the way Auburn has started the season and being led by a first-year head coach, it’s difficult for the Nittany Lions to plan for Saturday’s game.
“They've blown out the first two opponents, so you don't have a lot of legitimate game tape from this year,” Franklin said. “You’ve got a new head coach, got a new offensive coordinator, got a new defensive coordinator, and not having two games to really be able to figure [Auburn] out.”
Scouting a top-25 team is already difficult enough, but a lack of tape really puts the Nittany Lion coaches in a tough spot.
But while the film from this year’s Auburn team is not ideal in terms of preparation, Franklin has resorted to scouting the coaches’ previous regimes to get a feel for what they could see Saturday night.
“You're looking at film from Auburn, you're looking at film from South Carolina, you're looking at film from Boise [State], you're looking at film from really all over the place to try to figure out who and what they're going to be,” Franklin said. “That's why early season games can be challenging.”
Adam Taliaferro returning to Happy Valley
With all the festivities surrounding Saturday's game, the one that may mean the most to James Franklin surrounds former Nittany Lion Adam Taliaferro.
Taliaferro’s story is well-known at this point, as he suffered a paralyzing injury in a loss against Ohio State in 2000, but he later regained his ability to walk despite being given slim chances to do so from doctors.
Now, the former Penn State cornerback will be an honorary captain for his alma mater this weekend and will once again be honored in front of a Beaver Stadium White Out.
Franklin made sure to touch on how much Taliaferro means to the program.
“Adam is awesome,” Franklin said. “Obviously a highly recruited kid coming here. [He] was very well thought of while he was here then the injury happened.”
Franklin then went on to say how Taliaferro’s story is one that many of his own players should be inspired by and that he’s a great representative of the university.
“This community rallies behind all of our players, and then to see Adam battle through this, and then be able to walk, and then going to law school and getting a law degree, and being on the board at Penn State,” Franklin said. “He is involved in politics now. He's just an awesome guy.
“I think he's a great example of perseverance and positive attitude. I'm a big fan of his”
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