Don’t ask James Franklin about a signature win even though this would most certainly be one. Penn State plays #14 Michigan at home during a white out on senior night saturday. It’s a chance for Franklin to earn his first ranked win as Penn State head coach. Of course he says his team is preparing like they do for every opponent. But he did admit the one thing that makes this game different is the senior class.
“You think about the sanctions you think about the bowl, you think about the loss of coaches, the loss of personnel and teammates you just think about everything these guys have been through and they’re kind of the glue. They’re the glue that’s kept this program together,” Franklin said at his press conference tuesday.
There’s no denying this class has been through a lot, especially red shirt seniors like Anthony Zettel who was here through Joe Paterno’s firing, the NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, and the head coaches that preceded Franklin. Zettel also had to deal with the death of his father during this season.
“We’ve overcame a lot of adversity being here at Penn State with the sanctions and just all the new coaching changes, ” Zettel said. “It’s been a wild road for us and i think when people as groups get hit with adversity and overcome things I think it just makes them stronger.”
Zettel is one of just four senior starters on this team, but one junior has been put into a leadership role with them along the way. Christian Hackenberg is a three year starter and could enter the NFL draft after this season. I asked him if he’s thought about this being his last home game as well.
“No I mean I really just try and approach each game like the last. It’s a great opportunity for us right now and that’s really where my heads at with it,” Hackenberg said. “I don’t really have to worry about much of any of that just really focus on sending these seniors out right and play to the best of our ability.”
While Hackenberg wasn’t ready to talk future plans he did talk about what he did over the bye. He said he was able to go home to Virginia and even went on a deer hunt. I asked him if he got a kill, he said yes but he wasn’t going to draw any parallels between hunting and football, he just wanted to win this week.
Penn State and Michigan play at noon, the game will be aired on ABC.