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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Rutgers Week

In his weekly press conference, James Franklin spoke about offensive improvement, what it takes to make a rivalry, and Rutgers' effective special teams play.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we'll bring you news and notes from James Franklin's weekly press conference. Today, Franklin discussed the current state of the offensive line, the Temple loss, and Penn State's week two opponent, Buffalo.

Intro Speech

  • Offense: No sacks, 200+ rush yards, 7 explosive plays. Defense: 7 tackles for loss. Special teams: big plays, blocking is efficient. On the missed punt block: he came in so fast and so cleanly that he went through the punter.
  • Young playmakers doing well. Played 16 freshman on Saturday, will bode well in the future.
  • Rutgers: Lot of respect for Kyle Flood. First coach to start with 3 straight bowl bids. Tough program, they play fast. Mentioned both kick and punt returns.
  • Rutgers game is a little bit more special to the players on the roster who are from New Jersey.
  • Mentioned the stripeout as something that could be special. Hoping fans can up the ante and force even more penalties on offense than they did last week (presumably due to noise).


  • Franklin feels hopeful Grant Haley, Andrew Nelson, and Brandon Bell will all be available for this weekend. Highlighed that he depends on the training staff to know for sure when kids can be back (but mentioned that Bell is from New Jersey).
  • On Jason Cabinda: Really mature, leading very well. "Jason's a man*"
  • On Troy Reeder: Franklin almost burned his redshirt last season. But he had some adversities in the offseason that he's finally been able to overcome. Reeder didn't have as good a camp as he would have wanted.
  • On the OL shifts: Wendy Laurent hasn't been 100% available over the past two weeks, but Angelo Mangiro has a calming effect on the group. Having Wendy back gives the team a bit of flexibility.
  • On Von Walker: Von has done it all for the team. He's played RB, returned punts, played special teams, and is now at LB. Von did a great job of not only playing on defense and special teams but coming to the offensive side of the ball and being energetic. When he speaks in the team meetings, coaches and players listen.
  • On program perception (based on kids getting in trouble): It's the thing you lose the most sleep over. Sometimes kids make mistakes that are similar to what other [non-athletes] students make, but it doesn't get the same type of reaction. In the olden days, if you get into something you could learn from it and move on. That is not the case now. You could be arrested, sued, etc. Franklin hopes that his community service efforts and other activities are a way for the players to learn and grow. This is part of his job. Another challenge is that sometimes you believe that a guy deserves a second chance based on your personal relationship with him, but the outside pressure doesn't allow you to do that.
  • On Janarion Grant: The biggest thing is to have proper technique. If you have proper technique everything takes care of itself. Likewise, if you make a big deal of it you could end up with the opposite effect of what you want. Need to improve on punt location and hang time. He's a unique guy insofar as he's not only fast, but he's big and strong.
  • On Carl Nassib: He's the complete package. He's put on the weight, and has become faster and stronger, which is very unique. Normally when you put on that much weight there is some speed loss. Last week was Carl's first start ever. Outside that, he has good work ethic and confidence.
  • On Brandon Polk: It became very obvious early on that he's one of the guys that he both tested very well and he played very well. When he has the ball on his hands he's able to accelerate and change directions very quickly. He also makes quick, decisive decisions. Both him and DeAndre Thompkins are guys who add speed to the team. Although Polk is not the biggest guy, he has natural ball skills.
  • On punting: Franklin wants distance, location, and hang time. You can live with two of the three, but all three is ideals. This is especially important with a guy who can make you pay if you have to cover a guy who will be one of the better athletes on the field.
  • On Saquon Barkley: Unique guy. Has not seen much emotion from him. Doing well in school and in football. It was obvious that he was determined to play as a freshman. He approached it as if it was a foregone conclusion that he would play as a freshman. The story last year about the medal showed the kind of person he is. When praised on the hurdle, Barkley's response was "it's only one game."
  • On Rutgers playing man coverage: We will probably see a similar gameplan as last year, and what we saw against Temple. We'll see cover-2, lots of blitzing, and a lot of confusion on defense. What's different now is that we are starting to run the ball effectively.
  • On Rivals: The key word is organic. It happens naturally. It doesn't come out of a marketing meeting. Fans, alumni, players, all have a hand in creating a rivalry.
  • On playing early conference games: It's going to happen more and more across the country. The Big Ten is going to go to this model more. Fans and TV want to see high profile games all season-long. So you end up having more conference games earlier, and spreading out the non-conference games later in the schedule. Mentioned Georgia and Georgia Tech, and how sometimes Georgia schedules Georgia Southern to prepare for Georgia Tech. Franklin is not opposed to to either model.
  • On Jim McElwain: Sometimes your emotions can take over, but Franklin tries to remain calm and handle all things internally. Not saying there's a right or wrong way to handle things (didn't watch the event), but lessons on conducting ourselves are preferably handled in private. Case in point: DeaSean Hamilton's penalty was addressed with him in private.
  • On playing time coming off an injury: There are no hard rules about that. If the player is cleared, and he's able to play, and he gives the team the best chance to win, he will be in. Whether he was able to practice or not during the week is less important as wether he helps us win the game.
  • On Paris Palmer: He got the jitters out of the system, the guys around him played better, and the opponent we played all played a part in Palmer's improved performance.
  • On changes to playcalling: Likely going back to the way they're used to do things. Lots of things still need to get cleaned up, but the changes that were made seem to have worked.

*He is not 40, however.

That's all for this week's edition of press conference notes. Look for the full transcript later this afternoon.

Full Transcript: