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Penn State’s home-opener is no place for a trap game

Nittany Nation

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa (WTAJ) — Like he does every week, James Franklin began it with a tweet:

The “1-0” ritual tweet is a twist on Franklin’s long-running trend of focusing on opponents on social media. Traditionally the tweet might have read “Ball State, Ball State, Ball State.” The “1-0” doesn’t refer to Penn State’s record, but rather its focus this week. As Penn State eagerly awaits its home-opener, Franklin was asked about the message.

“It’s subtle things, little subtle things that you say in the press conference that the fans and the players pick up on, that your staff picks up on. It’s subtle things about your demeanor and your approach out at practice,” he said.

The Penn State football coach summed it up simply saying its important to focus on this week’s opponent, and only this week’s opponent. Franklin worked hard to not even say the team names Auburn, or Wisconsin in his answer, committing to the plan to help ensure the message stayed consistent.

“It’s subtle things that people pick up on,” he added. “So, I try to make sure that we don’t do that and that
message is consistent, so whether they go down and they’re getting gear from our equipment people, that there is no cracks in it. There is consistency.”

Franklin’s routine was spotlighted this week as some perceive Ball State as the classic trap game. With a ranked road win at Wisconsin in the mirror, and a White Out game against Auburn on the horizon getting caught up in the schedule could be easy, but with 107,000 fans expected to be back in attendance, it’s hard to imagine Penn State losing sight of Saturday afternoon.

“It’s going to be a sellout stadium. Fans are excited to see us play,” said safety Ji’Ayir Smith. “They haven’t seen us play in over a year. It’s going to be great. I’m really looking forward to seeing my name on the jumbotron when they do the starting lineups. That will be great.”

Saturday is Penn State’s first home game with a full crowd since a November win over Rutgers in 2019. It’s Penn State’s first game against Ball State, the defending MAC champions. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m.

The Nittany Lions jumped up to no. 11 in this week’s AP poll following their 16-10 win over Wisconsin.

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