The Penn State Nittany Lions are taking the offseason seriously so that they can recover quickly from an uncharacteristic 2020 season.
The Nittany Lions went 4-5 overall — winning 2-3 at home and 2-2 on the road — during a season that will be remembered for game cancellations and postponements and COVID-19 restrictions.
In the first spring ball since March 2019, Penn State head coach James Franklin said the team is not taking anything for granted and is working to build off past successes so they can grow.
Franklin added more coaches on the staff — including offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich — and said all 15 spring workouts are extremely valuable.
Franklin emphasized the importance of making up for lost time, and said he expects the group to go out and practice like a veteran team.
“We’ve been able to keep a lot of the terminology the same, you know, in Penn State’s offense and what we want to do moving forward, and that’s helped us,” he said. “So, you know, we’re in a good place. I think I expect us to practice really well.”
There will not be the traditional Blue-White spring game for the campus community to attend, but the team will scrimmage at Beaver Stadium in front of the university’s first-year students.
Penn State said these students were selected because they were not able to attend games in person last semester during the regular season. Playing in front of a limited crowd of students is part of the university’s phased approach to restore in-person student experiences.
Looking back, Franklin, who has been the head coach at PSU since 2014, said there are “tremendous lessons to be learned from last year.”
“I think last year was an unbelievable opportunity to grow and learn and be challenged in a way we’ve never been challenged before,” he said. “With how the season went with some of the off-the-field things that we were dealing with, from a flexibility standpoint, just the change of a normal routine.”
As for next season, 49-year-old Franklin said he thinks the nation and the state of Pennsylvania are both returning to a sense of normalcy.
“I think for us, you know, our entire focus is on what can we do to best position us for next year,” he said. “We want to try to be able to get back as close to normal as we possibly can. …So that’s kind of our focus.”