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Playoff ranking not keeping Penn State players down

Jill Beckman

Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2017, 2:02 PM

Penn State head coach James Franklin, stands on the field and watches Michigan during pre-game warm ups, before an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

The Nittany Lions were practicing when the first College Football Playoff poll of the season was released Tuesday evening. When the players walked in the locker room, they saw the news on TV.

Quarterback Trace McSorley’s initial reaction was that the No. 7 ranking was better than he expected, especially with undefeated teams such as No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 10 Miami ranked lower than Penn State.

But that doesn’t make it ideal.

“Obviously, for us, it’s not where we want to be,” the quarterback said after practice Wednesday. “We want to be in the top four. I wouldn’t say we’re happy with it. We got our work cut out for us now.”

McSorley admitted he didn’t think Penn State would drop too far from its second-ranked spot in the last AP poll. After all, the Nittany Lions lost to Ohio State on the road by only one point, 39-38.

With that loss came support from outside the team.

McSorley said letterman Lee Rubin reached out to him, Jason Cabinda, Saquon Barkley and Marcus Allen to say he couldn’t be more proud of how the Nittany Lions represented the program.

After the loss, Trace McSorley heard from lettermen like Lee Rubin, as well as former teammates pic.twitter.com/IOikWIdorQ

In addition, McSorley’s inbox filled with messages from former teammates and Nittany Lions to share encouraging words.

“Keep your head up.”

“Proud of you guys.”

“Keep grinding.”

Coach James Franklin is dealing with the loss by meeting with first- and second-year players Thursday to talk about what they learned from the experience, whether they were at the game or watched it on television.

James Franklin will meet with the first- and second-year players tomorrow to have a conversation about the first loss of the season pic.twitter.com/1T3hgLlTdC

“I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a head coach or someone in a leadership position is you constantly do all the talking, and I think you have to spend more time listening and kind of hearing it from their perspective,” the fourth-year head coach said.

Franklin said when he meets with those players in group settings, they often don’t want to speak up.

“But to be honest with you, I kind of want to hear from them what they have to say,” Franklin said. “Then once they get done talking I’ll probably plant a few messages with them — just with the intensity and the opportunities, those types of things.”

Jill Beckman

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