Following an ugly loss at home to Northwestern, James Franklin says the bye week has come at a great time. Coach Franklin said the team is committed to walk-throughs, mental reps, and footwork, as the team is pretty banged up, dealing with ever-present depth issues, and unable to go full-speed.
The team will practice Tuesday and Wednesday and the coaching staff will be out recruiting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Franklin hopes the bye week will be an opportunity to get younger guys more experience, correct mistakes, and become fresh for Michigan next week.
Q: Did Northwestern’s Anthony Walker impress you? Did you have any idea what kind of a player he was going into the game?
Coach Franklin: I thought, overall, I thought you have to give Northwestern credit. They played extremely well. They’re well coached. They played hard. They played smart. They really did. You have to give those guys credit. Not only him, but a number of players. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We had been playing a certain way for four weeks and had been able to get by with it by being gutsy and persevering and finding a way at the end of games. You can only do that for so long. One of the things that is interesting is you go into the meeting on Sunday and the players are sitting there waiting to see how you’re going to react. We just went in and said, ‘hey guys, all of us could’ve done better, myself included. These are the things we need to get corrected moving forward.’ I think if if you handle this the right way, it can turn into a positive, because it forces you to deal with some of your issues that you have.
Q: Coach, were you surprised with how many problems surfaced against Northwestern? Are they correctable in a short time span or are they more of a long-term project?
Coach Franklin: Really the problems that surfaced are the problems we’ve been having all year and we’ve been getting better in them. It’s not like a whole lot of things popped up on Saturday that are different than the story we’ve been writing all year long. It just came to a head and we played an opponent that didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. We’ve been able to hide some of our deficiencies. I made the comment before that winning minimizes the issues and losing maximizes the issues, but the issues are still there. It’s not like a whole lot of things jumped out this Saturday that hadn’t been there earlier in the year. We just have to have a better sense of urgency getting them fixed. Some of them, you aren’t going to get fixed overnight. One of the things, to me, is a pretty good example of things that we’re going through is we have one scholarship offensive tackle in the senior, junior and sophomore classes. If you look at our scholarship board, we only have one offensive tackle, on scholarship, in three classes. So you have a senior and freshmen, that’s it. Some of these problems, you won’t solve in a week. I think our guys are doing awesome. They’re playing hard and they’re great kids, but it is what it is in some of these situations.
Q: You have a week off and you mentioned some guys are banged up. In your experience, how much can a full week at this point in the season help just getting guys back fresher?
Coach Franklin: Well, where it really helps; when you have guys that are clearly out, it doesn’t help a whole lot. The time is always productive. For the guys that have had the nagging injuries, the nagging ankle or bruised shoulder, you just need the time off. That’s where it’s most valuable and then, obviously, the guys that are playing more reps than they should be but, based on our situation, that’s where we’re at, allowing those guys to get off of their legs a little bit to get their legs back. Those things are really valuable and probably more valuable for us, in our situation, than most. I think that’s where it comes in handy.
Benefit of the Bye:
Q: At Vanderbilt, your record after the bye was dramatically different than your record before the bye. Is there any thing that you can apply from the situation there to the situation now?
Coach Franklin: Yeah, I think so. I think you guys have heard me say before, I think there are some similarities in what we’ve been through in the past and what we’re facing here. Experience counts and I think the way you handle these bye weeks is really important. I’ve worked for a lot of different coaches that have handled them in different ways. What we’re trying to do is learn from all those past experiences, but also do what’s best for Penn State now. One of the big things is a lot of times in normal weeks and preparation, you’re rushing to get the stuff corrected from the week before. You’re rushing to get the new gameplan installed. You’re rushing to work on fundamentals and techniques that you need. What happens is you probably don’t do a good enough job in any of those areas. The bye week allows you to do that, especially when you’re a new staff and trying to install new things. Once you’ve been here for a couple years and you have years of muscle memory built up, in terms of techniques, fundamentals, plays and those things, then it’s probably not as magnified like it is right now. We’re excited about this bye week, the timing of when it comes and hopefully it puts us in a position to play the way we’re capable of playing against our next opponent.