Five things to watch during Penn State’s spring football practice

Mar. 11—Penn State begins spring football practice Tuesday with hopes again of making a run at the Big Ten championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Things, however, are different for the Nittany Lions, the Big Ten and the sport as a whole.

Penn State coach James Franklin has new three coordinators for the first time during his tenure in State College, which began in 2014.

The addition of UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington gives the Big Ten 18 teams from coast to coast. With the expansion, the conference will eliminate its two-division format for one.

The CFP also is expanding, going from four teams to 12 and increasing the Lions’ chances of finally making the playoffs.

Penn State’s journey to reach the CFP begins this week. Here are five things to watch during spring practice, which ends with the annual Blue-White Game April 13 at Beaver Stadium:

1.Change is constant

Staff changes have become common in college football, even at a place where they had seldom been made for more than four decades.

This is the seventh straight season that Franklin has at least one new staff member.

He knew he would have a new offensive coordinator once he fired Mike Yurcich last year with two games left in the regular season. But he didn’t expect defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to leave to become head coach at Duke or special teams coordinator Stacy Collins to leave for the same job at Boise State to be closer to his roots.

Franklin hired Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki to replace Yurcich, ex-Indiana coach Tom Allen to replace Diaz and Vanderbilt assistant Justin Lustig to replace Collins. In addition, graduate assistant Danny O’Brien will coach the quarterbacks because Kotelnicki will spread his time among all the positions on offense.

Kotelnicki’s hiring is the most interesting one. He spent the last 11 seasons…


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