Penn State coach James Franklin had an interesting request for the press at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week. He was very polite about it, too.
Our offensive line has a chip on their shoulder, Franklin said. I think they worked like that all offseason. So, yeah, I would really appreciate if any of you guys are willing to write some nasty article about them to continue to motivate them to continue to push them throughout the season.
Of course, Franklin was talking about a unit that struggled mightily last fall. With only one returning starter, the Nittany Lions' O-line allowed star QB Christian Hackenberg to be sacked a school-record and Big Ten-worst 44 times.
In turn, the offense as a whole struggled.
The coaching staff is counting on experience leading to a much more effective offensive line this season, even with the departure of second-round NFL Draft pick Donovan Smith. Unlike last preseason, when Smith was the only Lion who had ever started so much as a single game, six returning O-linemen have starting experience this year.
Football players are often loathe to admit media criticism motivates them at any level. But after Franklin's comments last week, returning starting center Angelo Mangiro could only smile while admitting it is true.
He knows that gets under my skin, Mangiro said.
Check out the rest of Mangiro's comments and a clip from Franklin above.