By: Thomas Frank Carr
The first press conference of the year is always a bit interesting. There’s a certain tension in the room. Much like players who are tired of hitting each other and want to compete against another team, media members have seen and heard the same things for a month now during camp. They haven’t had a chance to see the opponent play, and are just as ready as everyone else to see the games unfold. Here are interesting tidbits that came out of today’s media session.
Depth Chart At A glance:
There aren’t any surprises on the depth chart, as most position battles were resolved last week. On offense the line will be from left to right, Brandon Mahon, Ryan Bates, Brian Gaia, Derek Dowrey, and Andrew Nelson. Nelson had a couple looks at left tackle throughout the spring and summer but will move back to right this fall. Expect freshman Connor McGovern to push Dowrey for playing time early this year if Dowrey struggles.
“Conner McGovern has a little bit of a head start being here for spring ball, and Michael Menet is another guy that’d one some really nice things and has been able to get a lot of reps with our guys and our number one unit in practice…. Obviously the earlier (they play) the better.”
Sanders Getting Freshman Treatment
Miles Sanders is in the same position that Saquon Barkley was in last year. Though we haven’t heard the rave reviews about Sanders like we did Barkley, he’s still expected to see the field this year. Don’t’ forget that Saquon was also buried on the depth chart and wasn’t considered the starter until midway through last year. He will probably come one slower than Barkley, but Sanders will see the field this year. Franklin mentioned him as one of the ‘green’ lights this year for the freshman class, meaning that they do not plan on redshirting him.
Again, not a surprise, but more of a concern with Kevin Givens and Parker Cothren slated to start for the Nittany Lions. The defensive line averages 273 pounds per person as of right now. This small front will have to win with quickness and explosiveness the way that Franklin described of Givens.
Barkley Manning Kick Return:
Saquon Barkley is listed as the 2nd kick returner on the depth chart for this Saturday’s game. He will likely see a couple touches at that position, as two kick returners are employed regularly by teams. Franklin said that there is a balance between letting Barkley play special teams and putting him on the field too much,
“I think Saquon is probably the one guy, has been pretty strong, had a pretty strong voice all offseason that he wanted to be more involved on special teams and have a bigger role and bigger impact on the team. So we talked about being able to use him maybe not as your full-time kick returner but be able to use him at spots.”
Red, Yellow, Green Lights:
Franklin reviewed the ‘light’ system on Tuesday. Green light is expected to play, Yellow is possible but would like not to play, and red is a definite redshirt player. They are as follows
Greens: Punter Blake Gillikin, Running back Miles Sanders, Offensive Lineman Conner McGovern
Yellow: Linebacker Cam Brown, Lineman Will Fries and Michael Menet, and defensive end Shane Simmons.
All other freshman are Red.