Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Penn State Nittany Lions season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Penn State Nittany Lions
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Penn State Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
So when do we start using James Franklin’s name more in the conversation of great college football coaches?
Obviously there’s Saban and Urban in a class of their own, Dabo is another CFP appearance away from knocking on that door, and Jimbo gets included in the need-only-one-name club of current head coaches with a national title. But for what he’s doing, and what he created, Franklin needs to at least be put in that next category of elite coaches.
The guy went to three bowl games in three years at Vanderbilt, but that was nothing compared to the mess he walked into at Penn State. And now, with his personality, his attitude, and his success, he’s turned out to be the perfect head coach to help rebrand and reboot the most unlikeable of programs after the most unthinkable of scandals.
Of course, being successful doesn’t cure everything, but remembering that a big part of the problem in the Paterno era was that a football coach became more than a football coach, Franklin’s doing just about everything right.
He’s winning. That’s his job.
That he’s doing it with personality and flair – and helped in a huge way by having the dream of a franchise representative in Saquon Barkley to help things along – is a huge help.
The guy is more than holding his own in a division with Urban, Harbaugh and Dantonio, and with the big-time recruits coming in, and with the fun teams he keeps putting together, he’s going to keep Penn State in the hunt for the Big Ten title on a regular basis.
And to think, when he started four years ago, the Nittany Lions weren’t bowl eligible, he had to deal with the NCAA world, and there was even some lingering Death Penalty talk.
And now, after two 11-win seasons, it’s time to rebuild again, only this time it’s not going to take nearly as much work.
The defense loses eight starters including the entire starting secondary and most of the top linebackers. But there are good veterans ready to fill in and be fine, and there’s a potential superstar freshman in Micah Parsons about to be unleashed at linebacker.
There’s obviously no Barkley anymore, but Trace McSorley is back for his 13th year as the starting quarterback – at least, that’s how he plays – but the receiving corps loses two huge parts in TE Mike Gesicki and WR DaeSean Hamilton.
The bigger problem is the departure of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to the Mississippi State head coaching job, but at least the experience is there for new OC Ricky Rahne to work with.
The backfield has more than enough talent to replace Barkley – even if it takes a few guys to do it – and while the O line won’t exactly be Wisconsin’s, it’s at least experienced enough to be okay.
And there’s Franklin. He’s going to come up with a winning season, he’s going to put Penn State in the Big Ten title chase despite all the lost parts, and he’s going to recruit a slew of five-star talents to keep it all going.
He’s going to keep doing what elite head football coaches do.