Franklin Happy to Have Healthy Hack Back

Penn State coach says his quarterback’s growth was “stunted” by a difficult 2014 season but that Hackenberg is rounding into form this spring.

It seems every time Penn State coach James Franklin mentions junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg this spring, he reveals another nugget of interesting information.

At his pre-spring press conference, Franklin said, in hindsight, he was angry with the criticism Hackenberg received in 2014.

“I don't know if it was fair, just or realistic,” the coach said.

Saturday, Franklin went into detail about how the beating Hackenberg took last season -- he was sacked 44 times, more than any other TEAM in the Big Ten -- physically and mentally impacted the then 19-year-old.

Hackenberg had 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2014, with four of those scores coming in the Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College. As a freshman, he had 20 TDs and 10 picks.

“When you get hit that much, you start falling into bad habits,” Franklin said of Hackenberg's 2014 campaign. “You start drifting. Your footwork is not as clean. Falling off throws.

“Last year, you know, he was so focused on everybody else and trying to help them that it stunted his development in some ways,” Franklin added. “So I'm glad he's able to get back to being focused on those things.”

And what are those things?

“More than anything, it's just the management of the games,” Franklin said. “It's getting us into the right plays. It's getting out of the bad plays. It's getting the playmakers the ball. It's managing the clock. It's all of those things.”

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