STATE COLLEGE, P.A. (WHTM) — Penn State football got underway in full swing this week, with Saturday’s media day the first opportunity for us to see the Nittany Lions as they begin prep for the 2022 season.

Allie Berube and Jared Phillips were up in State College to hear from coaches and players and break down some of the biggest storylines heading into the fall at Beaver Stadium.

Avoiding Complacency

Penn State roared out to a 5-0 start last season, but it was all downhill from there. The Nittany Lions finished 2-5 from there before losing in the ReliaQuest Bowl to Arkansas. Head Coach James Franklin mentioned during media day Saturday the importance of avoiding complacency when things are going well for Penn State and remaining focused to avoid any setbacks in the second half of the season.

Improved Depth

Aside from a lack of focus, injuries no doubt played a part in the Nittany Lions’ second half collapse. One of James Franklin’s biggest points of emphasis during camp and even into the season is getting more reps for second and third string players so when the injury bug eventually does hit Penn State, the reserves will be ready. Beyond maintaining that next man up mentality, the staff and players believe despite losing eight Nittany Lions to the NFL Draft, this group may not be as talented, but they’re deeper.

New Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz

For the first time in James Franklin’s nine year tenure at Penn State, there will be a new face guiding the Nittany Lions defense. Former Miami Head Coach Manny Diaz joins the Penn State staff as defensive coordinator along with Anthony Poindexter as co-defensive coordinator. Diaz brings an attacking style of defense to Penn State, with a focus on forcing turnovers and creating disruptive plays.

Replacing Jahan Dotson

The centerpiece of those eight Nittany Lions drafted this spring was wide receiver Jahan Dotson. The 16th overall pick to the Washington Commanders had a terrific senior season, catching 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. Penn State plans a by-committee approach to replacing that production this season, with big expectations for junior wide receiver Parker Washington and redshirt senior transfer Mitchell Tinsley.