Penn State begins new era with James Franklin

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm •  Published: August 12, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — James Franklin slams on the brakes of his speeding golf cart, which comes to a screeching, skidding stop, and causes a few of the people in the small crowd milling around just inside Beaver Stadium to practically jump out of their shoes.

Franklin lets out a big laugh as he gets out of the cart.

Penn State's new coach believes in emphatically announcing his arrival. He's done just that since taking over in January, injecting his in-your-face enthusiasm into the program and cleaning up on the recruiting trail.

The toughest part is next. The Nittany Lions are still recovering from NCAA sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky scandal that included a massive reduction in scholarships. They are also still banned from postseason play.

Penn State lacks depth and experience throughout the roster, and is painfully thin at linebacker and along the offensive line.

There is also some front-line talent and potential spread around the Nittany Lions' depth chart, including one of the most promising quarterbacks in the country in Christian Hackenberg.

Here are five things to know heading into Year 1 of the James Franklin era at Penn State, one filled with much hope for the long-term and a fair amount of concern for the short-term:

HACK LEADS THE PACK: Hackenberg started every game for Penn State as a freshman and played about as well as could be expected for someone whose first practice with the team came in August. He threw for 2,955 yards and 20 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.

"Getting that first spring under my belt was good," Hackenberg said. "Feel like the meetings and studying the film and studying the playbook all summer has really helped my confidence, and our team's confidence."

The challenge for Hackenberg is to improve while mastering a new offense in the transition from former coach Bill O'Brien's system to Franklin's.

"But he's been great and I think the parallels and the similarity between the way Billy (O'Brien) does things and the way we do things has been really helpful," Franklin said.

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