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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Illinois

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In this week's conference call, James Franklin discussed the bowl eligibility, the missed tackles epidemic, and the challenge presented by Illinois.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we'll bring you news and notes from James Franklin's weekly press conference. This week, Franklin discussed the Maryland game, the rumors that he's interested in the Miami position, and the shifts in the offensive line.

Opening Statement

  • Franklin mentioned that Penn State is the only team with its only losses coming against undefeated teams.
  • Penn State reached bowl eligibility after 8 games this year, compared to 10 games last year.
  • Maryland was very unpredictable, playing a defense (and an offense) not seen on film.
  • Coaches and players need to improve against tempo teams and teams with running quarterbacks.
  • On offense: The biggest part of the game was explosive plays.
  • Franklin is proud of Geno Lewis. They go to him in critical situations, and he delivers.
  • On special teams: They neutralized Will Likely with well-timed punts.

Questions

  • On the defense allowing yards and points: Mobile quarterbacks and tempo offense have created some challenges. That, and the team isn't tackling well. Practice will be modified to keep the team fresh.
  • On the Angelo Mangiro/Wendy Laurent shifts on OL: They're both centers. They're both guys who can take control. Their body types whose bodies are suited for center. However, they're both veterans and leaders, so it's beneficial to have them on the field.
  • On the Trevor Williams interception: After the fact, you'd want to knock the ball down. But in the heat of the moment, you're trying to make a play.
  • On Saquon Barkley (away from the ball): Really well, especially since on Saturday it was all cover-0 and cover-1. He's going to be closer to 100 percent this week than he has been recently. He wasn't able to break tackles this week, but he'll continue to work on doing so.
  • On modifying practice: With 10 consecutive games and the team's scholarship situation, more modifications need to be made to keep the team going.
  • On the open field tackling issue: It's a combination of depth, tiredness, technique, etc. It's an epidemic in college football. Teams must be disciplined in order to perform well, and avoid bad habits.
  • On Illinois' offense: Wes Lunt knows how to throw the football, and Illinois can do well on offense. It'll be a challenge on both fronts. Illinois' pass protection is one of the better ones in the conference.
  • On Geno Lewis: What he needs to do in order see more time it to be more consistent, both in practice and in games.
  • On Wendy Laurent: He's more competitive and confident. He's changed his body. He's experienced and mature.
  • On the turf being replaced: *zZzZzZz*
  • On the Miami opening: Franklin is surprised it took this long to have that question asked. "I don't like it. It causes a distraction for our team. I have no idea where this is coming from. I've worked my ass off to get to Penn State, and this is where I want to be. We have work to do." Franklin's focus is 100 percent on Penn State, and he won't address those questions anymore.
  • On third downs: It's going to be a major factor in the game. The team needs to convert more. Franklin expects to see a similar game plan on defense from Illinois as he did from Temple, Ohio State, and Maryland.
  • On Joey Julius: Joey Julius is the starter, but Tyler will get opportunities. Something Franklin is thinking of doing is probably splitting kickoff duties from kicking field goals. That way each guy can focus on one thing.

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, come back later this afternoon.