STATE COLLEGE — When Penn State debuted its Week 1 depth chart, it did so with a rotation at the left tackle and right guard spots on the offensive line.
Steven Gonzalez and Mike Miranda were pegged at starters at left guard, while C.J. Thorpe and Miranda were penciled in as starters at right guard.
Two games into the new season, Miranda said the rotation has been beneficial in more ways than one.
“I feel the biggest thing is we’ve all gelled together, especially with this guard rotation thing,” Miranda said. “I feel like our chemistry has been really good since we started camp. We’ve worked really hard on building that chemistry.”
Despite not wearing a full-time starter tag, Miranda says he approaches each game with the mindset as though he's starting.
“I still prepare the whole week like I always do,” Miranda said. “I still watch just as much film. I still eat my Starburst before the game like I do every week. Nothing really changes.”
Miranda and Thorpe have known each other since their days in the 2017 recruiting class. Sharing snaps on the line during practices and games have reinforced that friendship.
“C.J. is one of my better friends on the team,” Miranda said. “He’s probably one of the guys I’ve had one of the longest relationships with starting out in the recruiting process and then getting here. Obviously, him being in the same room with me for most of his career, we’ve kind of built a relationship over the past three years.”
The position-by-committee approach isn’t exclusive to the offensive line. Penn State has also shuttled in four running backs (Ricky Slade, Journey Brown, Devyn Ford and Noah Cain) and a quartet of safeties in Garrett Taylor, Lamont Wade, Jonathan Sutherland and Jaquan Brisker.
“I think you’ll see all four of those guys play all year long,” Penn State coach James Franklin said on Wednesday of his safeties. “And again, what I think you see there is you see competition with veterans, so it’s a little bit different. Although Brisker is a new guy to campus, he’s still an older player.”
Franklin hinted at the same thing regarding his running backs. All four have shared carries through the first two weeks.
“Where we are now is it hasn’t changed,” Franklin said. “Yeah, you’d love to have someone either jump out and be dominant, or you’d love for the whole group to play at a really high level. But it’s going to be one of the other. You’re going to have four guys continue to rotate because they’re all playing at a really high level, or you’re going to have one or two guys separate themselves from the pack.”