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Executive producers give a `Friday Night' preview

Maureen Ryan
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

For those of you who have a lot of love for "Friday Night Lights" and don't want to know a thing about what happens in the show's upcoming second season, which starts Oct. 5, I have three words for you: Stop reading now.

What follows are details about the show's upcoming season from its executive producers and actors. I spoke to executive producers Jason Katims and Jeffrey Reiner, as well as a host of the show's actors, on Tuesday after an "FNL" panel at the Television Critics Association press tour. Here's what I was able to find out (and trust me, I'll be writing lots more about "FNL" as its second season approaches):

Again with the spoiler alert. Stop reading if you don't want to know Season 2 plot details!

When the second season begins, it's eight months after the Season 1 finale, and Tami Taylor (Connie Britton) is in labor. She gives birth to a baby girl, whom Tami and Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) name Gracie.

Through the first part of the season, Tami and Eric will have scenes together, but Tami is still in Dillon and Eric is in Austin as an assistant coach at the fictional Texas Methodist University.

A conflict arises between Smash Williams (Gaius Charles) and Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) when people attribute the state win to Smash. "As lovely as he is, if Smash has an Achilles heel, it's his ego," Katims says. "So Smash runs with that rather than crediting Saracen and the rest of the team." That conflict leads to an altercation between the two during a game.

The new coach of the Dillon Panthers is from Tennessee, and his approach is, according to Katims, "my way or the highway." He definitely does not want to live in the shadow of Coach Taylor, and the new coach's attitude "rubs the players the wrong way," according to Katims. The new coach also retools the offense to favor Smash, which fuels the antagonism between Saracen and Smash.

Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) is still going out with Saracen but starts flirting with a musician. "It causes friction and ultimately bigger problems in her relationship with Matt," Katims said.

The guy who tried to rape Tyra Colette (Adrianne Palicki) returns to town. "It's eight months later, and Tyra feels like this guy is following her, and he is," Palicki said. "The poor girl, she finally gets out of her rut of feeling like the town floozy, and she's getting her bearings ... and then she's thrown back into that world."

Something major on that front happens to draw Tyra and Landry (Jesse Plemons) even closer together. "We still get to play a lot of the fun of Landry kind of pining after Tyra, but (Plemons) also gets a lot of very, very dramatic material as well, which he really proved to us that he can handle." Reiner seconded that and said that the return of Tyra's attacker, Mike, "raises the dramatic stakes big time."

As for Plemons, he says of Landry's feelings for Tyra, "He's still head over heels for her."

Jason Street (Scott Porter) is now a full-fledged assistant coach for the Panthers, and this job leads him into some conflict with his former teammates because he can't really be both their friend and their coach. Street also gets back partial use of one hand and starts to think that maybe he can recover even more from his devastating spinal injury.

After a really rough year, Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly) joins an evangelical church and gets baptized. The church is one that her family does not belong to, and that causes conflict. "She's been through so much. She's seeking answers," Katims said. "She just found this thing that makes a lot of sense to her and has given her some direction. She felt really lost and betrayed by her father, and her family's been torn asunder."

The father of Landry is introduced on the show; he's a former Dillon Panther football player who is a local cop.

Landry tries out for the football team. I am not making this up. The attempt to get on the Panther team is an attempt "to try to seek some sort of approval from his father," Plemons said. Does Landry have a chance of making the Panthers squad? I doubt it, but Katims would only say, "We'll see. The thing about Landry is, he's tenacious."

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