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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Maryland

In this week's conference, James Franklin discussed the missed opportunities against Ohio State, Carl Nassib's impressive season so far, and Penn State's aggressiveness on offense.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we'll bring you news and notes from James Franklin's weekly press conference. This week, Franklin discussed the Indiana game, the effectiveness of the offense, and the quality of Ohio State as a whole.

Opening Statement

  • Franklin mentioned that the team had an opportunity to at least be 10-0 against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but they didn't take advantage of those opportunities. That doesn't usually bode well against such a team on the road.
  • After Ohio State made some plays, Penn State got tentative, which is not usually how they play. Need to be more aggressive.
  • Turnover margin is still a positive, even if they didn't win that battle on Saturday.
  • Carl Nassib is still doing way, leading in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles.
  • Field position is still a problem. It's been a problem for a year and a half. They need to find a way to be good in practice AND during the games. This is an emphasis, especially because of Maryland returner Will Likely.
  • Franklin mentioned the crossover between Penn State and Maryland: Players, coaches (Franklin and Mike Locksley worked together at Maryland), fans, etc.


  • On Wendy Laurent and Derek Dowry: Wendy did some better things. However, the team did not win the battle against Ohio State's defensive line. Paris Palmer has played better, but both him and Andrew Nelson tend to get pushed around.
  • On being aggressive in relation to Christian Hackenberg: There are some plays that he'd like to take back, but the team has to also make sure they make plays for Hackenberg. The push that Ohio State's defense had against the team's tackles had an effect as well.
  • On the punters: Last year, they moved away from directional punting and started booting it as far as they could. That conversation came up again, but it's not something the team will be doing this week, given Will Likely.
  • On Mike Locksley: The staff has to be prepared for anything: fake punts, double-passes, onside kicks (like Indiana did). Maryland will do whatever they have to do to get a win against Penn State, and the team has to be prepared for everything while not chasing ghosts.
  • On the tight ends: They're making strides in being more complete tight ends. However, they need to clean up the dropped balls. They're more willing and able blockers. Franklin had a conversation with Mike Gesicki to reiterate that Franklin believes in him.
  • On Franklin's "open tryouts" quote: They had a conversation about it, but chose not to do it. Instead, they're focusing on getting the two guys who clearly are able to perform in practice to actually perform during games. Unlike the NFL, there are no kicking coaches in college, so the whole staff has to do a good job of getting over the hump mentally.
  • On Franklin's philosophy for developing punters: It's a combination of few things: 1) No scholarship punters/kickers. 2) Development. 3) Roster composition. 4) Mental "fortitude."
  • On Pat Narduzzi's comments: Franklin doesn't want to read into anything. There are comments Franklin's made in the past that people read into a bit, and he doesn't want to do the same thing. He's happy for their success, but Franklin's focus is on Penn State. Franklin listed every school in the state of Pennsylvania and said they're all doing well. Franklin does not like the back and forth between the coaches, though. He talked to Herb Hand about it.
  • On leaving Hackenberg in late: They could have put Trace McSorley in, but people will notice that the team is competitive, so they're going to have a hard time waving the white flag (by putting backups in before the game is over). As long as the medical staff says the players are ready to go, they'll put the players in.
  • On "not waving the white flag" vs. the long-term health of the players: One could argue that putting the backups in gets them experience, but Franklin isn't sure how valuable that experience really is. It's a fine line, but Franklin's approach is going to be to continue to do everything to fight and win the game.
  • On Franklin's involvement with the offense: There's not an aspect of the program that Franklin is just sitting back and letting it happen. He's very involved in every aspect of the offense. Since the Temple game, Franklin has taken a different approach to his involvement with the offense. When trying to be the head coach, there are many responsibilities that one has to be on top of outside of coaching the kids directly. Franklin has never been in a situation where the head coach is also one of the coordinators. He's taken the approach where he'd suggest the direction the offense should go in (run, move the pocket, etc.), but he's not the one calling the plays.
  • On Chris Godwin: He's got physical skills. He's a big, strong, fast guy. What's really stood out about him is his maturity and work ethic. He's a guy you can depend on.
  • On leaving the starters in until the end of the game (again): "You're going to ask the same question for the fourth time, I'm going to give the same answer for the fourth time." There's a fine line. While there's a point where it needs to be done. But there isn't an exact point or an exact time where it needs to be done (at this point Franklin challenged Ben Jones to a pickup game. He gets to pick from the rest of the beat guys to assemble his team).
  • On the team's offensive identity: The team is behind where they want to be. It goes back to things already discussed. Some of the challenges are not quick fixes. The team is improving, but the team won't be fixed overnight.
  • On a specific play and why it didn't work: After the fact, it's easy to see how and why a play didn't work. But at the time, the reasoning behind the decision to choose a specific play is based on what the play is supposed to accomplish.
  • On Saquon Barkley: It's a combination of the offensive line improving and Barkley having some special qualities, especially his ability to make people miss tackles. It's gradual improvement by the offensive line, but Barkley is definitely a factor.

That's all for this week's edition of press conference notes. If you'd like to read the full transcript or watch the full press conference video, follow the links below:

Conference video.