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Franklin, Lions block out ‘noise’

UNIVERSITY PARK — On Sept. 16 James Franklin tweeted out his excitement for the return of Big Ten season, and like most of Franklin’s tweets, the caption above read #WeAre.

Below, in the 81 comments, there was support, praise and encouragement with messages that read “‘Trusting the process,” and “Thank you for everything you did to fight for this season.”

Penn State is now 0-4, heading into a home matchup against Iowa with the chance of being 0-5 for the first time in program history.

The challenges the Lions have faced so far this season include a loss of key players, coaching mishaps, critical mistakes on the field, miscommunication and team connection, 44 false positive cases among staff and players, and a loss of support from those outside the program, generally over social media.

Linebacker and leading tackler Ellis Brooks said the distractions have been addressed.

“The outside noise is something the team can control,” he said. “In terms of the positive and negative aspects of social media, people are going to be people and your effort, your drive and your focus can’t be determined on other people’s thoughts.

“It can’t be determined on other people’s expectations of you.”

Brooks, in his redshirt junior season, hasn’t ever been and isn’t a fan of using social media during the season.

Teammates kicker Jake Pinegar and defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher feel the same way.

“Social media during the season is never really a good thing just because when you are doing good, people are going to be there to pat you on your back, and when you are doing bad, those same people are going to be there to say something and kind of stab you in your back,” Pinegar said. “It’s not encouraged to use because of the two-sided stuff that goes on.”

Pinegar is tied for three career records, including No.7 for extra point percentage with .964, No. 14 on the career field goals made list with 27, and No. 20 on the all-time scoring list with 190 points.

Mustipher, a defensive tackle who made a career-high eight tackles against Ohio State, said social media “can’t get in our head.”

“It doesn’t really affect me and how I live my life and how I prepare and go about my business,” he said. “Social media is going to be social media at the end of the day we have a job to do. We have to be the best versions of ourselves each week.”

Franklin, one of four current FBS head coaches to lead his teams to a bowl game in each of his first nine seasons as a head coach, has accepted that social media is a way of communication – particularly among college students — and something he can’t control.

“When you win there are still things that have to be corrected and when you lose you have to go about it in a way that that young man can grow and not be defensive,” Franklin said. “It’s more challenging than it has ever been and social media plays a large role in that. It’s really hard as a head coach to insulate the players from a lot of the noise out there.”

Gianna Galli is an intern assisting the Mirror with Penn State football coverage this fall.

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