Home Kobe shoes Media Day Takeaways: James Franklin, Mike Yurcich, Manny Diaz and Stacy Collins

Media Day Takeaways: James Franklin, Mike Yurcich, Manny Diaz and Stacy Collins

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Penn State football media day started earlier this afternoon, which means one important thing: I’m sweating football is back in Happy Valley, folks. Oh yes. It feels good.

I was present at State College for my fourth media day, and the day went on as usual. We heard from head coach James Franklin, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and special teams coordinator Stacy Collins. We were then able to head out onto the field to speak with position coaches and any non-freshmen on the roster. Later in the day we were able to watch the first 30 minutes of training.

Due to the length of the words – 1,000 words from the coaches alone – I am saving my conversations with the players for Monday. I will have a training report on Sunday morning.


  • I said it last year and I’ll say it again: press conferences are usually the most pointless part of the day compared to interviews and training on the pitch. Franklin is good at not saying anything. Yurcich is a total trainer. All of Stacy Collins’ dialogue can be summed up as “everything is a competition”. I always thought Brent Pry was the most caring, and he was replaced by Manny Diaz who, having been a head coach before, is very good at giving very little. Still, there were a few takeaways from the press conference portion of the day.
  • Franklin said a lot of the same things he said on Big Ten Media Day last week regarding the team’s question marks being the offensive line and linebackers. He didn’t add much to the offensive line, again saying they’ll have to prove it on the field. As for the linebacker, he went out of his way to mention Keon Wylie as someone who trains and impresses at MIKE. It’s still overall a competition between Kobe King and Tyler Elsdon, but I find it remarkable that he praised Wylie when he really didn’t need to. Just something to remember as we approach the season.
  • PennLive’s Dave Jones probably drew Franklin’s best response when he pointed out that during James’ tenure, every other post group had at least one season of being a legitimate force – except for the line. offensive. Surprisingly enough, Franklin really didn’t push back on the premise. He said they won a Big Ten Championship and that couldn’t be accomplished without a strong o-line, but other than that he was pretty honest with his answer saying that all the components that go into a line solid offense – “scheme, fundamentals, coaching and recruiting” – have played a role in the overall offensive line struggle over the past eight seasons. He pointed out that some of the personnel changes over the past few seasons were because of this, and that he feels there has been a real focus on offensive line play this offseason. So, as Franklin said: we’ll see.
  • When asked about transfers, Franklin and Mike Yurcich both pointed out how impressed they were with Mitchell Tinsley from a maturity standpoint. Franklin said that Tinsley “understands some of the things his teammates don’t” and explained this by saying that Tinsley was living with Sean Clifford, to which Franklin succinctly said “clever”. Franklin also pointed to the consistency Tinsley has shown and that he is a reliable passer.
  • Franklin was asked about the impact USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten would have on recruiting in California. Although he admitted that any time schools from another state joined the conference it would open up that state to more recruiting, Franklin ended his spiel by saying that State College’s airport — or lack thereof – embarrassment in terms of recruitment. from a national perspective. Not many LAX -> State College flights, apparently.
  • Franklin mentioned the coaching staff needs to do a better job of getting the backup snaps when game results are already decided — that is, 35-0 in the third quarter. This puts these substitutes in a position where they have more playing experience, so if they are called up they will be a bit more seasoned. Why has this been a struggle for Penn State in the past? As Franklin said, “ego”. Wanting to put more points on the board on offense or wanting to keep a shutout on defense.
  • Collins was next and really didn’t divulge much outside of punter, kicker, punt returner, punt returner and gunners are all set for competition. He led on the fact that Amor Barney is ahead of Alex Bacchetta and Gabe Nowsu for punting work, while Jake Pinegar and Sander Sahaydak are battling for kicking work.
  • Potential punt return options: Parker Washington, Mitch Tinsley and Marquis Wilson. Potential kick return options: Daquan Hardy, Omari Evans and Nick Singleton.
  • Manny Diaz laid out his defensive philosophy of generating turnovers, but stressed that this is only really possible if the defense stops on first and second downs. “You have to put offenses third and long,” Diaz said. “That’s when most defenses cause turnovers.” Sure, and Diaz alluded to it, but that’s easier said than done. It definitely looks like Diaz’s defense will be more aggressive than Brent Pry’s – whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.
  • I feel like the leader to start at 3-Tech next to PJ Mustipher was Coziah Izzard, but I think it should actually be Hakeem Beamon. When asked about the defensive line, Diaz mentioned Beamon after before Izzard, which in this blogger’s mind seems remarkable. I’m sure they’ll both get plenty of shots, but it sure looks like Beamon is “back”. I will have more on him in a future article because I was able to discuss a little with him.
  • The focus of Yurcich’s press conference was on Sean Clifford. He said how much better they were than last year when it came to “payments, language and communication”. He also said he didn’t feel like Clifford was “overreacting,” which can sometimes happen with a 4th or 5th grade guy who feels like the time is right. Now, of course, Yurcich wasn’t going to say anything negative, but being in his second year with Cliff should be good for both of them.