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Back From Ireland, Penn State Prepares For Home Opener

(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Jeff-Hatthorn Jeff Hathhorn
Jeff grew up in Sharpsville (Mercer County) and has a BA in Journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Following a win in Ireland, the Nittany Lions are back in University Park for the home opener against Akron at noon Saturday. James Franklin’s team was able to come back and beat Central Florida 26-24 on a Sam Ficken field goal.

“Overall, we did what we had to do to win the game,” Franklin said. “We had that ingredient. The guys knew how to get it done. We basically controlled the game for the most part and then lost the lead late in the game. A lot of teams can’t rebound from that and our guys were able to do that.”

Christian Hackenberg set a school record with 456 all-purpose yards against UCF and receiver DaeSean Hamilton set a freshman record with 11 catches. But, as with most coaches, Franklin has areas he wants to see improved by Saturday.

“Offensively, we have to score when we get in the red zone, although I thought (Sam) Ficken did a great job for us, and our scoring in the red zone was 100 percent. We were 5 for 5 but only 1 to 4 when it comes to touchdowns, which is what we want to be able to do. Defensively, eliminate big plays and cause more takeaways like we talked about. Special teams, we have to eliminate the penalties.”

The Nittany Lions are 3-0 all-time against Akron, the last meeting coming in 2009. The Zips are now part of the Bowden coaching family, son Terry is in his third year as the MAC school’s head coach.

“You look at all the success that he’s had, his time at Auburn and all the different places that he’s been,” Franklin said. “Obviously, a very, very tenured coach, and I would say that about their staff. They have got a really veteran staff. They returned 15 of 22 starters on their team offensively. That’s nine defensively; that’s six offensively. They are 1-0 after beating Howard.”

Penn State received 47 votes from writers contributing to the Associated Press college football poll this week. PSU hasn’t been ranked since 2011.

“Rankings and those other things like that, that’s great for the media and that’s great for the fans but that’s outside of our control,” Franklin said. “So we don’t spend any time talking about it or discussing it or studying it.”

Franklin has coached in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12, NFL and even Ireland, but never a game in blue and white at Beaver Stadium.

“I think the first time you walk through the tunnel and you look out there and you feel the energy, probably arriving at the stadium and walking through the crowd with our new entrance that we are coming into the stadium and things like that,” he said. “So it’s probably going to be a couple minutes walking into the stadium and probably going to be 15 seconds when you first run out. But after that, it’s back on to the game.”

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