PSU notebook: What can fans expect

A capsule look at the news and notes from Friday’s Penn State press conference with James Franklin and the assistant coaches:

No news on names: Franklin was non-committal on whether he will keep names on the jerseys or go back to the traditional no-names version. He did sound, however, like the names could be removed. “We are going to show tremendous respect for our traditions and for our history and for our past,” Franklin said. “That’s very, very important that we understand our past so we can embrace the present and work towards our future. But we’ll make that decision, and we’ll have an a announcement when the time is right.”

Who’s calling the plays: Offensive coordinator John Donovan called the plays at Vanderbilt, and while Franklin said no final decision has been made, it would appear Donovan will continue to handle those duties. “More likely than not that will be John’s role,” the coach said. “John called every single play over the last three years at Vanderbilt. I did have recommendations, and I did have input, but John called every single play.”

All jobs up for grabs: Franklin made one thing clear Friday: “There are no returning starters at any position. At any position,” he said. “Every single day these guys are going to wake up in the morning and they’re going to earn their job. Obviously, we have guys that have tremendous experience, and you guys all know who they are, but we’re going to create the most competitive environment we possibly can.”

Up in the press box: Donovan and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop both prefer to be in the press box calling plays during games. That’s more in tune with modern coaching philosophies, but of PSU’s coordinators in recent years, only the offensive tandem of Galen Hall and Jay Paterno was up in the press box. “I want to stay as far away from Franklin as I can on game day,” Shoop said with a laugh. Donovan compared it to playing chess. “You don’t play chess by looking at it at eye level. You look at it from the top down so you can see where the pieces are and where you want to go with it. You’re away from the emotion, which is good, and you can kind of be in a vacuum so to speak. But it’s also bad because you don’t get a sense for how the kids are, and you can’t look in their eyes.”

Defensive philosophy: Shoop said his core principles are passion, toughness and team. The goals will be to stop the run, prevent big plays and create turnovers. He wants the defense to include “relentless pursuit” and “never-ending pressure.” He didn’t commit to a 4-3 or 3-4 base scheme and said he will tailor it to fit the personnel.

Offensive philosophy: Donovan runs a pro-style offense with pro terminology. He inherits a star quarterback in Christian Hackenberg and said, “We’ve seen some film. He’s got a lot of talent. We’re really excited to work with him. I know it’s hard for him because he had such a tight relationship with Coach [Bill] O’Brien. I was fortunate enough to work with Coach O’Brien in two spots – Georgia Tech and Maryland – so I’ve had communication with him and he loves that kid.”

Franklin fills media role: While Donovan was answering questions downstairs in the Beaver Stadium media room, a question boomed from upstairs, and it was from Franklin. “How many points a game are we going to score next year?” the coach asked with a big smile. Donovan responded, “As many as it takes to win.”

Stabilizing force: It was pointed out to Franklin that some members of the team are going on their third head coach during their career at PSU. He called the players “resilient” and added, “This program had stability for a very long time, and we need to get back to that.”

The ultimate goal: Franklin had a terrific answer when asked why he loves recruiting so much. “I love winning. Winning is fun,” he said. “I like to be considered a good football coach, and it’s amazing how those two things are affected when you have really good players. The plays work better with really good players.”