Franklin gives Penn State faithful glimpse of his style

Posted: April 14, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - James Franklin failed to reach his first attendance quota as Penn State's head football coach, but he came close.

He wanted more than 80,000 to attend the Nittany Lions' annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage Saturday, and 72,000 fans filled Beaver Stadium. The game counted as Penn State's 15th and final spring practice.

Franklin wasn't demoralized - he joked that his personal counter tallied 82,000. Regardless of the total, the coach fired up the Penn State faithful with his active coaching style. He stood on the field, right behind the offense all game, and he led the crowd in a "We are" chant after the first quarter.

"I don't think there's any doubt that we're special," Franklin said. "I was very, very impressed. I had never been to a game here before, so running out into that stadium was an unbelievably emotional experience for me."

For the first time, the players witnessed how their new coach operates in a live-game situation.

"We've really bought into the program," linebacker Mike Hull said. "Before that, I think we were still stuck on how [former] Coach [Bill] O'Brien did things."

The scrimmage also offered a glimpse into how Penn State's roster will shape up next season. Many of the Lions' clear starters received few reps, likely because Franklin wants to keep his team healthy amid concerns over depth. A bulked-up Christian Hackenberg completed 4 of 10 passes over three series.

The Blue squad - composed of mostly first- and second-team players on offense and defense - dismantled the White squad, 37-0. Freshman quarterback Michael O'Connor took most of the snaps for the Blue team.

The surprise standout of the game was sophomore running back Cole Chiappialle. Although he's a walk-on who might not play a regular-season down in 2014, Chiappialle rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Bill Belton touched the ball once, and Zach Zwinak did not play.

Alosi suspended. Franklin said guard Anthony Alosi is indefinitely suspended from the team. The redshirt junior was recently charged with simple assault and harassment in connection with an incident on Jan. 31.

New recruit. Penn State received an oral commitment for its freshman class of 2015 from Adam McLean, a highly recruited defensive lineman from Gaithersburg, Md. He also received scholarship offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and Notre Dame.

Joe Juliano contributed to this article.

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