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Penn State HC James Franklin Explains why RT Caedan Wallace is Working at Guard, More From Wednesday Scrum

James Franklin during pregame warmups. (Photo by Matt Lynch, Nittany Sports Now)

Penn State coach James Franklin opened up his post-practice media availability Wednesday with an opening statement. 

Here are some key points from the rest of his session. 

JAMES FRANKLIN ON THE STATE OF PENN STATE’S CULTURE

Penn State’s 5-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country, so one would think the vibes are pretty good around the program right now.

The team is about to be halfway through the season, and for Franklin, one of the improvements its made from Week 1 is in putting consecutive practices together.

“I thought our Tuesday practice was as good of a Tuesday practice as we’ve had in a long time,” Franklin said. “I thought our Tuesday practice against West Virginia (Week 1) was really good, but then we didn’t back it up with our Wednesday practice that was right. We’re starting to kind of really figure out how to practice at a really high level on a consistent basis. Whether it’s football or any other industry or sport, being really successful is about consistency.

What are the keys to consistency?

“So that starts in the locker room, that starts with the leadership, whether it’s the seniors, whether it’s the captains, whether it’s the leadership council, whether it’s their attitude. We talk about, the first core value, a positive attitude, coming out with the right mindset and the right attitude from the beginning. No. 2 work ethic, coming out and being willing to work and do what’s necessary.

Franklin also said there’s been “excellent” competition in practice.

“Starting practice with the “good on good” stuff has been really good,” Franklin said. “And then, sacrifice. That’s been something I think that’s been really apparent is guys sacrifice during the week so that they can be successful academically and so that they can be successful on Saturdays, and then they have a chance to be a normal college student Saturday night, but that’s it.”

“Our guys don’t get to do that. They get Saturday night, which is really all they get, and I want them to enjoy themselves, I want them to have a normal college experience. So I think they’re doing a really good job of that right now and we have to continue it.”

JAMES FRANKLIN ON DREW SHELTON

Drew Shelton ended last season playing left tackle for Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

He started this season as a reserve.

The regular starting offensive line times season has been: C Hunter Nourzad, LT Olu Fashanu, LG JB Nelson, RG Sal Wormley and RT Caedan Wallace.

But Franklin’s said that he views Shelton and guard Vega Ioane as starters. Ioane might be in Penn State’s lineup Saturday if regular starter JB Nelson— who got carted off the field almost two weeks ago at Northwestern— can’t go. When Shelton will start again is unclean, but Franklin and the staff feel he’s doing the right things along the way.

“I hope he views himself as a starter and is preparing as a starter,” Franklin said. “Some guys have the ability—it comes easy to them—to flip to either side of the ball. We’ve been getting Caden some guard work. A lot of times, we like guys, if they’re right tackle, to stay right guard, he’s actually comfortable at left guard. That’s unusual. Different stance, different footwork. So I think, at first, Shelton, that transition going from left side to right side was hard on him. But he’s adjusted really well, and I think our coaches and his teammates have a lot of confidence in his ability to do it. He’s approaching it the right way. He’s gotten bigger and stronger. I think last year he was just over 300 pounds, and this year he’s more in the teens, 312, 313, somewhere around there. So he’s doing a really nice job, and tackles are hard to find.”

Shelton, a Class of 2022 four-star and in-state product from Downingtown, was a guy Penn State wanted badly.

“When he was a tackle in the state of Pennsylvania that we were trying to keep home, there’s not a whole lot of tackles in the state of Pennsylvania,” Franklin said. “When they’re out there, we have to do everything in our power to keep them home. So there’s a tremendous opportunity at offensive tackle here at Penn State.”

WAIT… CAEDAN WALLACE IS TAKING REPS AT GUARD?

Penn State came into Week 1 already think at guard due to projected starter Tengwall having to medically retire due to injury.

Now, the depth is being further tested due to Nelson going down against Northwestern.

Wallace is the team’s starting right tackle, but has been taking reps at guard in practice due to “flexibility,” Franklin said.

“When we lost Landon, that changed some things for us,” he’s a said. “I think Caedan is a guy that has the feet and athleticism to play tackle, but he also has the size and the power to play guard. He’s three hundred and I think thirty points, somewhere around there, so he just creates flexibility. That’s good for us, and I think it’s going to be good for him long term as well.”

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