James Franklin optimistic about Penn State taking big step in 2020
All the talk in the B1G is surrounding Ohio State right now. After three-straight conference titles and an appearance in the College Football Playoff last season, the Buckeyes enter the 2020 season as the team to beat. But if there’s one team that can dethrone the three-peat conference champions, it might be Penn State.
The 2020 season is full of expectations in State College. With a plethora of talent returning from last season, a second-year starting quarterback in Sean Clifford, a loaded running back room and the best linebacker in college football with Micah Parsons, many think this could be the year the Nittany Lions crack the College Football Playoff.
It sounds like James Franklin is pretty confident in reaching that goal, as well.
Franklin spoke with David Pollack and Kevin Negandhi on ESPN’s College Football Podcast, and highlighted some of the reasons he’s excited about the coming season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys, and you’re right, having a guy like Micah Parsons, he’s an eraser,” Franklin said, per 247Sports. “Whether the defense is run exactly the way it’s supposed to or slightly off, he still has a chance to erase some of your issues and make you right. We’ve got experience on the D line. We’ve got experience in the secondary. I think we’re more athletic. I think we’ve got more playmakers. One of the areas I think we can really improve on defense is turnovers, which is an area we’ve needed to improve. Offensively, we’ve got maybe the best running back room in the country. We have experience on the offensive line. We’ve got one of the best tight ends in college football. We’ve got an experienced quarterback who won 11 games last year.
“We have to solve some issues at wide receiver in terms of experience returning and production returning. But we like those guys. The thing that nobody ever wants to talk about, we love our specialists. We’ve got a group of specialists, kicker, punter, snapper, that we’re excited about as well. We’ve got a lot of good things going for us, but we have to find a way to get W’s and get our chemistry and morale right.”
Last year, Penn State was supposed to be in a rebuilding season. Instead, the Nittany Lions cranked out 11 wins, with the only losses coming to Minnesota and Ohio State — both road games.
With all that’s returning, many expect Penn State to be in the running to win its first B1G title since 2016 and creep into the College Football Playoff for the first time. Certainly beating Ohio State will be a tall order, but the Nittany Lions have plenty of talent to hurdle that obstacle.