Taking a deeper dive into what went wrong for Penn State Football this season

Head coach James Franklin of Penn State Football (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Head coach James Franklin of Penn State Football (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Penn State Football, James Franklin
Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

James Franklin and the Penn State Football coaching staff

While James Franklin is at the very top of the program, there does need to be accountability at each level, including his staff and the players themselves.

Although that is not to say that Franklin has nothing to do with failures, because he absolutely does.

Both Trautwein and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich have received a lot of criticism this season, and it makes a lot of sense based on how each of their units have performed. However, both of them have had proven success at their previous stops, prior to coming to Penn State.

What is the common denominator? James Franklin.

Once again, everyone is responsible in some capacity.

If Franklin does not allow Yurcich and Trautwein to have the reigns of their units, the two of them could be held back. There is no way of knowing if that is true or not, but it is worth mentioning.

Looking at the offensive line over the course of Franklin’s tenure at Penn State is a great example. Regardless of who the offensive line coach has been or who the players were, that position has always struggled.

Since Franklin took over in 2014, Penn State Football has only had a total of 4 offensive linemen get drafted;

  • 2015 – Donovan Smith (2nd round)
  • 2019 – Connor McGovern (3rd round)
  • 2021 – Will Fries (7th round)
  • 2021 – Michal Menet (7th round)

Michal Menet is the highest-rated offensive lineman that Franklin has signed at Penn State. He was a high 4-star, a borderline 5-star recruit in the 2016 recruiting class. This means that he would probably be projected to be a 2nd round pick in the future if he stayed on his current trajectory, but he fell all the way to the final round of the draft.

Once again, that “common denominator” and the underlying theme to every offensive line that Penn State Football has had since 2014; Franklin was the head coach of all of them, and none of them were very good.

While I believe that criticism and credit are a two-way street, meaning that if a head coach can be blamed for a certain unit’s failures, they can also be credited for successes.

An example would be if Franklin gets some of the blame for the offensive line’s failure, he should also get some credit for the secondary’s success.

At the end of the day though, he is the common denominator among two of the primary issues for this team; the offensive line and the offense as a whole (mainly play-calling). The coaches of each of those units have had success in the past, but their success has oddly come to a halt once they get to State College.