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Football is coming back, but Franklin knows there will be lots of changes

Penn State will get some semblance of a return to normalcy with a football season beginning next month, but nothing will be truly normal this year for the players or coaches.

James Franklin addressed some of the issues during a recent Zoom call.

“The biggest thing for all of us is we just can’t look at anything like how we’ve done it in the past,” Franklin said. “This is all different. The schedule’s gonna be different. Camp, if you call it camp, is going to be very different.

“From a practice perspective, from a meeting perspective, leading up to the season it’s just going to be very different,” the coach added.

The only way to get through all of the differences brought about by the coronavirus pandemic will be to understand going in that this will be a strange year.

“We just have to approach it that way,” Franklin said. “And if you try to keep forcing it back into the normal model, that’s not gonna work.

“So it’s going to be being creative and thinking outside the box and working not only with the staff and the training staff and the medical professionals, but also our players. And talking to them as well to come up with what’s best for Penn State football moving forward.”

Franklin said he’s tried to learn as much as he could about the changes from watching other college and NFL teams play so far.

Everybody’s in the same boat in a lot of aspects, so coaches across the country probably will have to lean on one another to see how others are adapting.

“I watch some of these games,” Franklin said, “and listening to these coaches and what they said after the games and how things worked out — whether that’s in the NFL or whether that’s college — a lot of the mistakes and a lot of the issues that we always see early in the season, I think are magnified right now.”

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Once Major League Baseball returned this summer, a lot of players got injured right off the bat, and the injury problems have persisted throughout the abbreviated season.

The NFL has played two weeks of games, and already some major stars have suffered injuries, including former PSU star Saquon Barkley.

Penn State and Big Ten players now have to get ready for a season after so much uncertainty and after having had very little physical contact for a long period of time. That could wind up being an issue as the season begins and goes on.

“When was the last time a Big Ten football player tackled anyone?” Franklin asked.

“Most of us, we had no spring practices. So there’s also an aspect of that that we’ve got to get ramped back up to get some tackling in. Because you can’t go from last season to your first game and never tackle. So there’s got to be a time and a place for that, as well.”

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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