Penn State has another bye week to look forward to following back to back losses to Northwestern and Michigan. Coach Franklin says the team is looking forward to refining "everything" with Ohio State coming to town next week. Hopefully the team can channel some of its frustration into productive play.
Q: Coach Franklin, what happened in the second half at Michigan last week? Getting started out of the second half, what happened? Was it just a different scheme that Michigan threw at you in the second half or just things weren’t going the right way?
Coach Franklin: Michigan was able to do some things defensively, not a whole lot different than what they did in the first half. But they just had more success; able to stop the run more consistently in the second half and able to pressure our quarterback. Those are the things that we’ve been really dealing with all year long. I think probably one of the biggest differences in the game was field position. We weren’t able to consistently punt and if you look at the swing that happened and field position with special teams, it was dramatic. I don’t think it’s a whole lot different than what we’ve been challenged with all year long and it’s just staying positive and keep working through it. But, it wasn’t anything schematically that really changed in the second half.
Bye Week #2:
Q: And you have a bye week, what do you guys work on at this bye week to get ready for Ohio State?
Coach Franklin: Everything. We have got to play faster, we’re not playing as fast as we need to play right now; aggressively. And that’s really in all three phases. I think that special teams and offense, that’s probably what everybody’s focused on. But, I think in all three phases we can play faster and more aggressive. I think being able to consistently run the ball on offense and being able to consistently protect our quarterback is probably our biggest challenge right now.
Q: Coach, at this point in the season, when things aren’t going as well as you might like, is it difficult for everyone to sort of reset goals and stay on point? Is that a concern?
Coach Franklin: Not whatsoever. We are 4-2 right now and there’s a lot of teams across the country that would love to be 4-2. I think last year at this same point, they were 4-2. We knew there were going to be some challenges and issues going into this season. I couldn’t be more positive or more excited about being at Penn State. So are the rest of our coaches and the direction of this program and where were going, and excited about the opportunity to play a really talented team in Ohio State the following week. Not a whole lot is changed or is different and we’re as positive and optimistic as we were heading into the season.
Q: You had said after the sanctions were lifted that your guys had little bit more of a hop in their step in practice and in games. Do you still sense that hop in their step is still present and are you concerned at all about any loss of confidence given back to back losses?
Coach Franklin: I don’t think there is any doubt when you have back–to-back losses, that there is an effect to that, and emotional effect to that. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We have challenges and things that we need to get better at. I think the coaches and the players are as optimistic and as positive about this season and our future as we’ve ever been. We’re disappointed in the last two weeks. There’s areas that we need to improve and that we can play better at. There’s a very bright future here and we’re excited about where we’re going and what we’re going to have the opportunity to do next week against Ohio State. It’s a great opportunity and a great challenge.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Christian (Hackenberg) since Saturday and what is his state of mind right now?
Coach Franklin: I talked to Christian after the game. I talked to him on Sunday; we practiced on Sunday. I’ll talk to him again today. He’s like a lot of us. He’s a competitor, he wants us to play well and wants us to win. He wants to be able to play well and all those things. He’s frustrated and we’re all looking at ourselves at things that we can do better. But, he’s been really good. He’s been really good with his teammates, he’s been really good with the coaches. He came up to me on Sunday and we discussed a few things right before practice started. He’s a competitor and he’s been really good.
Q: Hey James, Rutgers is coming into Columbus this week you guys were obviously fortunate to get a win out there. Can you just tell Ohio State fans a little bit about what they’re going to see in this Rutgers team? What were your impressions of the Scarlet Knights?
Coach Franklin: They are kind of what you’d expect from Rutgers. They’ve kind of had the same model now for the last, I don’t know, 5-10 years. They are very aggressive on defense, they are very active, move the front around, load the box up. Very aggressive when it comes to pressures and things like that and they are very athletic and quick. Probably, if you are just going based on size, Ohio State will have the size advantage. I think Rutgers does some really nice things defensively to make up for their lack of size. And then offensively, they are able to run the ball, they are able to mix the pass in there and got some guys that can beat you, some weapons and some guys in open space. They are big and physical on the offensive line. Special teams, I think they’ve blocked as many kicks as anybody in the country. And they’ve been pretty consistent there and they’ve got some playmakers. They are a tough, hard-nosed, blue collar team. I know they’ll be prepared next Saturday to play at Ohio State.
Q: James, how advantageous is it to have a bye week right now where you can sort of reset things after these two losses and have two weeks to get ready for Ohio State?
Coach Franklin: I think obviously byes are important for all of us, any program enjoys a week off where some guys that are banged up and nicked up and things like that. Nagging sprained ankle, not anything that’s going to stop you from playing in a game but limit you in practice and limit you playing up to your ability. Bumps and bruises and things like that. It’s really valuable from that perspective. It’s valuable to make you not feel like you got to rush through the film from practice. Not only make the corrections, but also focus on the opponent you are going to play and be able to study them. It’s just taking time. Taking time to get some footwork and technique and fundamentals. It’s also time to spend with the young guys, for the future. There’s so many things that go into it. It allows the coaches more time to get out on the road and recruit which is very, very important for what we’re trying to do here long term. There’s so many benefits that go into it. You are able to sit back and be able to watch Ohio State this week and see how they play; see how prepared they are. There’s so many factors that go into it.