The Lions will be kicking off against the the Akron Zips at noon on Saturday in Beaver Stadium. Student and regular tickets sold out this year, a feat that can be credited to the Lions’ unexpected yet incredible performance in 2016.
Head Coach James Franklin is cautious to reference the previous season, however, as he maintains that the focus is now solely on the weekend ahead of the team.
“Obviously we're excited about the start of the season,” said Franklin. “I think we're in a really good place right now…
The ever-anticipated depth chart was also released this week.
Fans noted that the usual started such as quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.), running back Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) and tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) were all listed in their rightful starting spots.
Some surprises also cropped up as new names have risen to the starting position.
Juwan Johnson (Glassboro, N.J.) and DeAndre Thompkins (Hubert, N.C.) are listed as the starting wide receivers. Both players saw playing time in 2016, but are now poised and ready to accept their roles as starters.
Linebacker U is alive and well, too.
Captain Jason Cabinda will be accompanied by Manny Bowen (Barnegat, N.J.) and Koa Farmer (Lake View Terrace, Calif.). Farmer made the switch to linebacker last year when the Lions were facing a linebacker deficit due to multiple injuries.
The other head-turner on the depth chart is that true freshman Sean Clifford (Cincinnati, Ohio) is listed third on the quarterbacks list.
Despite Clifford being only recently ushered into his role as a Nittany Lion, Coach Franklin noted that the coaches and team have tremendous faith in this skilled quarterback.
“Obviously Clifford is a guy that we were excited about coming in,” said Franklin. “Probably was much further ahead than we had anticipated mentally.
Since the two teams’ first meeting in 1999, Penn State has won all five contests. The teams’ most recent face-off was in 2014, when Penn State won 21-3, which is nothing compared to Penn State’s 70-24 victory in 1999!
The Zips were 5-7 last season and ranked third in the MAC. Their big wins included a 47-24 win against the Virginia Military Institute and a 35-25 win against Ball State.
Are you ready for football, Penn State? We sure are! So bring your tailgating gear, your team spirit and your love for all things Penn State and get ready to rumble this Saturday for a noon kickoff in your second home - Beaver Stadium.