For the nation’s college football programs, spring has come and gone with no workouts, no practices, and no way of knowing what players at the other end of the various Zoom meetings are actually learning everything that’s being taught remotely, preparing for a new season that might not start on time.

For Penn State’s James Franklin, it’s unlike any challenge he’s faced in 25 years of coaching.

“As football coaches, we’re part of the paranoid population,” he said last week during a conference call.

“Spring ball is a sprint. You go to a meeting and you're sprinting to discuss what you need to get installed for that practice. Then you go out and try to execute it. It's like a constant sprint. This is like, OK, let's talk through details. Let's have a discussion. Let's have a conversation. Let's take quizzes and tests.

“I do think from a strictly learning perspective, this has been really good. The problem is there are physical aspects that we’re not getting -- muscle memory, fundamentals, techniques.”

Without the usual physical interaction, the coaches don’t have all the teaching methods they need to satisfy all the different types of learners on the team, Franklin said.

“There are guys who can learn on a computer screen,” he said. “There are guys who need to learn by taking notes and getting up on the board and drawing the play. There are some guys who need the physical reps to learn. Some of our learners aren’t getting what they need.”

Franklin said there’s no way presently to hold his players accountable in their workouts, with the focus being more on academics and learning the playbook. He said once the players return to campus, a gap will be seen between those who are self-driven and others who “need the structure and the discipline of the program.”