Penn State's James Franklin preaching patience to underclassmen awaiting their shot

Penn St Practice Football
Penn State coach has been blasting music at practice to get the Nittany Lions used to crowd noise.

James Franklin said the new word on the team is “patience.”

Backup running backs Miles Sanders and Andre Robinson have no other choice than to exhibit patience. After all, they’re playing behind one of the “better football players on the planet,” Franklin said.

But coach Charles Huff and Saquon Barkley have created a “culture” to set a good example for the underclassmen.

“How Saquon works, how Saquon is in the community, how Saquon goes to class,” Franklin said, “it’s hard for anybody else not to do it if Saquon’s doing it.”

The fourth-year head coach said it’s a “challenging, tough” situation for the backups because they’re good enough to be starters. And that doesn’t end at the running back position.

Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens would likely start on top teams across the conference, but for now, the redshirt sophomore has to be, well, patient.

“For them, it’s a positive that they’re able to watch someone and learn from someone,” Franklin said. “What we tell those guys all the time is, ‘When you get an opportunity, you have to maximize that opportunity. So, when you go in, you have to do something with it.’”

In Penn State’s 56-0 shutout against Georgia State last week, the second-strings, third-strings and even fourth-strings saw action, which showed off Penn State’s depth.

Sanders, a sophomore, rushed three times for 44 yards and a touchdown, while Robinson, a redshirt sophomore, rushed twice for 39 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re starting to create that depth at a lot of positions, which is good, and we’re going to need it,” Franklin said. “There needs to be a little bit of patience with some of our personnel. Their time is coming, and they just need to be ready when it does.”

Handling crowd noise

Penn State’s practice field may sound like a sold-out stadium twice per week, but that’s only because the team blasts music and crowd noises to emulate a game-day environment.

The sounds can range up to 105 decibels with the crowd noise audio, according to Franklin. Along with crowd noise and music, they practice to the opponent’s fight song.

It makes sense. If the team practiced in silence and players could clearly hear each other on the field, they would be in for a shock on game day.

But just because it’s beneficial doesn’t mean they like having to shout to each other during practice.

“Well, I don’t think anybody likes it,” Franklin said of the loud noise. “The coaches don’t like it, I don’t like it, the players don’t like it. You have a headache by the end of practice. Your ears are ringing.”

But he does it to be prepared for tough stadiums.

Franklin uses Tuesdays to teach — quietly — and the team practices with the crowd noise and music for the entirety of Wednesday and Thursday practices.

After practice Wednesday, Franklin said the end zone, where the speakers are located, is louder than Beaver Stadium on a game day.

But this isn’t anything new. The team has been practicing with it since the beginning of camp.

He learned his lesson years ago an offensive coordinator when he waited until the week of a game to practice with the noise.

“I’ve been in enough [stadiums] that I think I know what we have to do to be prepared for them,” Franklin said.