Head coach James Franklin is officially on the road recruiting. Having departed after Wednesday evening’s practice, Franklin arrives in Texas today to check on some prospects before working his way back to the East Coast for more high school games on Saturday, with other stops in between. He’ll arrive back to State College either late that night or early Sunday morning to get ready for what he calls a “bonus day” to help prepare for the next opponent – Michigan.
Other assistants are also scouring the country, targeting high school players for their specific position, while offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and defensive coordinator Brent Pry stay home until Friday, putting the finishing touches on next week's game plan, before their recruiting tasks begin.
While the bye week affords the coaching staff extra time to build relationships with and evaluate recruits, it’s also allowed for additional study hours. So there is no resting for these guys.
The coordinators, Franklin said, hang back at the facilities for a couple days “to clean up some of the game plan stuff, get a little bit more of a head start. This week we were able to get some of it, but to be honest with you, we spent a lot of time on ourselves. Not necessarily Michigan. We spent a whole day just on ourselves just in terms of self-scouting tendencies.”
Aside from a scrimmage for the younger players and redshirts who don’t travel to away games, the coaches and players also looked inward to find ways to improve themselves for the second half of the season. They call it self-scouting, like many coaching staffs do, but they’re employing a different technique this week at Penn State.
Franklin asked members from his offensive coaching staff to study his defense and for his defensive coaches to do the opposite. The goal is to provide a different perspective. How would Penn State’s offense attack it’s defense, if it had to? And vice versa...
“I think a lot of times, no different than (when reporters) have got to write an article and you've got a typo in there but you've looked at it so many times you just skip right over it,” Franklin said. “Same thing with us. We're too close to our work sometimes. So getting a fresh set of eyes in there I think is important.”
For the team, players have the option to go home for the weekend. The bye week is about resting up, healing any lingering wounds and mentally preparing for the second, likely most difficult, portion of Penn State’s schedule.
The coaches, meanwhile, don’t get the same sort of rest and relaxation.
Franklin adjusted the timing of the first staff meeting of the day back to 9:30 in the morning instead of 7 a.m., but that's about it. Otherwise, the grind continues until after the season – and beyond.
“We're out ripping and running,” Franklin said. “I would even make the argument sometimes with recruiting, you're trying to maximize that day so much because you only get so many days. Sometimes it's more grueling. Some of the coaches are driving and they won't get to where they're going until 12, 1 o'clock in the morning and you're traveling all day long. For us, it's not like in the old days where you'd go recruit Maryland and just hit every school in Maryland. It's more you're going to see specific prospects all over the country. It's pretty demanding. So we'll get our time off after Signing Day.”