Franklin: Seniors ‘held this place together’

Central Mountain graduate Von Walker (25) is out for the season but still scheduled to be one of the 17 seniors introduced before Saturday’s game.

Central Mountain graduate Von Walker (25) is out for the season but still scheduled to be one of the 17 seniors introduced before Saturday’s game.

STATE COLLEGE — A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.

About the Spartans: They might be the best 1-7 Big Ten team ever, having recruited well in recent years but suffering a big dropoff record-wise after appearing in the College Football Playoff last season. … RB L.J. Scott is a 240-pound load who’s tough to stop. He has 935 yards rushing and averages 5.6 per carry. … Inconsistent QB play has hurt as they’ve rotated several players. Tyler O’Connor lost his starting job earlier this year but has reclaimed it. He’s completing 60 percent with 16 TDs and 9 INTs. … They’re coming off tough 17-16 home loss to No. 2 Ohio State in a game they failed on a two-point conversion with 4:41 to play.

Senior day coming up: Franklin said Penn State will remember this group of seniors forever and lauded the group, saying: “They’re special guys. I think they’re going to be remembered as the class that really kind of held this place together and also left out of here by making sure the program was headed in the right direction before they walked out the door. Very, very proud of those guys. Very, very appreciative, as well.”

Emotional day: Senior day always brings out a bunch of emotions for the players, and it will be the same for Franklin. “I’m going to have a hard time on Saturday with these guys,” he said. “I typically try to fight it as much as I possibly can. I’m fine doing that in closed quarters, team meetings, these guys individually. You don’t want to be out there blubbering in front of 100,000 people in the stadium. It’s not the right tone you want to set for your team that’s about to play a tough, physical Big Ten football game.”

Welcoming lettermen back: Franklin was asked about the support of PSU’s large contingency of lettermen now that the program is once again on solid footing. There have been some issues in the recent past where the lettermen didn’t always support the program, but some, including LaVar Arrington, have remained steadfast supporters. “I think obviously winning helps,” Franklin said. He went on to add, “The challenges you guys all know. We’ve talked about it before. When you have the same group of men here as coaches for 30 to 50 years, 40 years, there was a sense of family. Guys could come back forever. Whenever you have that much change in that short period of time, it’s difficult. I think the ones that have come back and got around our staff, got around our team, see how we’re doing things, have been great. I think we’re slowly getting more and more of those guys back.”

Thanksgiving week logistics: South Carolina coach Will Muschamp made news Tuesday when he said, “Thanksgiving is a meal, it’s not a day,” which drew a lot of comic reaction from around the nation. Muschamp was talking about how the holiday doesn’t stop a team from getting prepared to play. “I don’t love it, to be honest with you,” Franklin said of the schedule changes brought about by Thanksgiving. The team didn’t return home Sunday morning until 5:15 a.m. Typically that would mean pushing things back a bit the following week, but this week doesn’t allow it. Franklin, who called himself a creature of habit, said, “Monday is off. Tuesday, because I have the radio show tonight, we have to move practice up earlier. We moved practice up earlier. That cuts out of game planning that we already are cut short on. There’s a lot of kind of gymnastics that go with it.” The coach did point out the Lions will practice Thanksgiving morning.

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