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Hamler and PSU look to Surprise a lot of people this College football season

UNIVERSITY PARK – The boys are back in town.

Its the dawning of a new season of Penn State football.

There is a hint of mystery and anticipation as the season gets underway.

With the absence of Trace McSorely and other numerous starters from last year, the hopes and dreams might come at the hand of a freshman quarterback.

During its annual media day Head Coach James Franklin addressed this and many other issues at this year’s Penn State Media Day.

“Our big kind of philosophy this year, our mantra this year that we are going to talk about all the time is “championship habits,” said Franklin. “Just big believers in the habits that our guys have on and off the field that are really going to allow them to be successful in both areas, as well. So it’s all of it. It’s all of the little things, all the details. It’s how we practice. It’s how we meet. It’s how we prepare. It’s how we are in the community. It’s how we are in class sitting in the front row taking notes early, all those things.”

With a room filled with local and national media Franklin brought his excitement and positivity about the squad that will take the field for the 2019 season.

“So really, really excited. I think that’s going to be a name that you guys see in practice and it’s going to be a name that I think is going to have a chance to have an exciting year for us,” Franklin added.Looking forward to it. Excited about it. Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of us. Again, I want to thank you guys for all coming out and supporting us. I also want to thank the administration, Sandy Barbour and President [Eric] Barron, and then Scott Sidwell, who is new with us and doing a great job, as well.”

With practices getting underway this week, the Nits will be gearing up for its first game of the season against Idaho.

KJ Hamler will be looked at to step up his game to add some new roles for the wide out.

“ Obviously the first thing is, you know, him having the ability to be great at the slot position, said Franklin. “Also, having the flexibility — Mac Hippenhammer is back obviously being with Coach [Rob] Cooper and the baseball program. Had a great year. He’s just one of those guys, he’s a natural football player. It makes sense to him. The game makes sense to him, very similar to baseball, as well. I could see us in some situations where we want to get Mac on the field, so that may be 10-personnel, or we want to get Mac on the field and we want to move KJ outside. It could be for a specific match-up that game. It could be things that we are trying to get done and trying to get the ball in his hands where now he becomes the first option in the quarterback’s progression.”

Defensively, the Nittany Lions could bringing in a stronger defense than last years squad.

Micah Parsons will be one of the leaders to the defense.

“I know our guys are confident right now,” said Franklin. 

Franklin will be looking for leadership from returners Shaka Toni , Hamler, Stephen Gonzalez and Bauer for offense.

The Lions will be bringing a very young team to the table this season which the coach doesn’t seem too worried about but with it he acknowledges that it has its positives and negatives.

“So obviously, the positives are you’ve got a bunch of guys that are hungry and are excited and that have something to really prove and got a chip on their shoulder. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” said Franklin. Obviously,  the negatives, are you lack experience, and experience counts and experience matters. There’s no doubt about it.”

“Experience playing major college football, experience playing in Beaver Stadium, experience playing in all these different venues that we are going to go to on the road, that is a factor. There’s no doubt about it. But that’s our job. Our job is to help these guys gain as much experience and as much confidence as we possibly can, and also create depth.”

“So that’s the other area, probably will show up on special teams. You know, a lot of times, those guys that you’re looking for from a depth perspective on offense and defense, they may have significant roles on special teams, and it’s impacted our depth there. There’s no doubt about it. I think there’s arguments that you can make in both directions. Obviously for us, we’re focused on all the positives, but we have an awareness, obviously, of the challenges that come with it.”

Overall though the coach is happy with the direction the team is heading.

“I think we are really starting to kind of hit our stride in terms of understanding what everybody expects, standards, how we work together, how efficient we are, and that’s been a real positive, so pleased with that.”

The season is less than a month away as it hosts Idaho.

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