Lions Will be Working Weekends

Sunday in-season practices are a part of the new Penn State staff's approach to game prep.

The Penn State football program is going to have some very busy weekends this season -- and we're not just talking about game days.

Under new coach James Franklin and his staff, the Nittany Lions will practice on Sundays, which is a change from the schedules used by Joe Paterno and Bill O'Brien. Then the players will have Mondays off.

So that means there will be games Saturdays and then practice the very next day. On weekends where Penn State is on the road, flights to and from the various destinations will obviously be included into the schedule.

Why practice Sunday, leading to such hectic weekends? In short, Franklin wants to turn the proverbial page from one game to the next as quickly as possible.

So Sunday's light session will focus on cleaning up errors from the previous game and then the start of preparations for the next opponent. The day will be especially busy for the staff, which will meet to hash things out before the players arrive -- doing everything from grading the different areas from the previous game to getting a head start on the next opponent by watching film that has already been put together by graduate assistants.

“After the staff meeting, we break up offense and defense, and start coming up with a preliminary game plan,” Franklin explained. “We'll have dinner. That evening, we'll go out on the field. We'll run 'em to get all of the lactic acid out of them.

“Then we'll do a very, very light practice and walk-though,” he added. “We'll walk through the mistakes from the game. And then we'll walk through, say, for example … the offense will run their base runs and walk through against (the opponent's) base defense. They'll do their base passes against their base defense. And then they'll do base protections against their top pressures, is really what we'll kind of do. And then the same thing with the defense. But it's a walk-through deal and then we get out of there.”

Here is a general overview of how game week will be under the new Penn State coaching staff.


We covered most of this above.

“What we like is that Sunday allows you to put the (previous) game behind you.”

“What we like is that Sunday allows you to put the (previous) game behind you,” Franklin said. “The previous game, put it to bed. And now starting Monday, there's no more talking about the last opponent. Whereas if you use the Monday model, you're splitting Monday, and talking about the last opponent and your next opponent.”


Franklin said the coaches are “grinding all day long” on the next opponent on Mondays. However, the players are completely off.

“It allows the players to take night classes and lab classes and whatever they may do,” Franklin said. “And then we get a good portion of the game plan done.”


The coaches finish off the game plan early in the day. Later, the players are involved in a regular practice and meetings. In these sessions the team will work on different facets of the game plan, with Franklin giving the examples of normal downs and introduction to the goal-line sets.


In terms of practice and meetings, this is similar to Tuesday. However, the focal points of the game plan are likely to change. Franklin said Wednesday could include third-down and red-zone plays, as well as more goal-line work.


By this point of the week it is more about recapping than learning.

“Thursday is kind of a review of everything,” Franklin said.


This is a walk-through day. A very light session. Also, coaches hold all meetings during the day so they are free Friday night. This allows them to either travel to recruit or, as Franklin said, “Go to see their kids if their kids are playing high school football.”


“Saturday you might have another walk-through, depending on what time the game is,” Franklin said. “You'll have the walk-through that morning, and then we kind of go play the game.”

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