Each week, we'll bring you news and notes from James Franklin's weekly press conference. Today, Franklin discussed the Rutgers game, the improvements on offense, and what needs to be done to continue improvement.
- Franklin mentioned the atmosphere, the stripeout, tailgating, etc., and thanked fans and students for making the night a success.
- Defense: Multiple takeaways, five sacks, held Rutgers under 100 yards on the ground. Franklin mentioned that he wants the defense to be more dominant in early downs and early in the game.
- Offense: Rutgers was giving up less than 100 yards a game on the ground, but Penn State gained over 300. Still have to eliminate penalties, however.
- Special teams: Most improved unit on the team. Played fast and effectively. Franklin mentioned Nick Scott by name. Rutgers' average starting field position was at the 18 yard line.
- Barkley, the co-freshman of the week, was one of the 18 freshmen playing this past week.
- On the "compliance" quote: They have a good relationship with the compliance office. As per Barron: "Tension, when it's the right tension, is good." Looking forward to fostering the relationship further.
- On establishing the run: Both the line and the backs have made progress. They've been able to protect the QB, but will need continue to get better, given the "chaos" nature of San Diego State's defense. Running the ball is good, but we need to be more balanced ideally. Christian Hackenberg did a good job on his checkdowns.
- On the passing game: It will be a gradual thing that they'll allow to grow over time. Franklin is pleased how they're playing as a team. While there are still strides to be made, last Saturday was the most complete game they've played.
- On Geno Lewis: Needs to be consistent, but continues to be a great person and teammate.
- On third down conversions: Once the team gets more balanced and throws the ball more, the third down conversions will go up as well. At this point in the program, Franklin is more concerned with the style they're playing than specific statistics.
- On Saquon Barkley: He's going to be a great teammate, and will make the sacrifices needed to succeed as a team. He's focused on the team. Franklin will have conversations with everybody on how to handle adversity and success.
- On special teams' improvement: It was the unit hit the worst by sanctions. Mentioned Manny Bowen as a guy who should follow Grant Haley's trajectory, and Nick Scott as somebody who can take advantage of playing on special teams. Depth and hard work are the main reasons why the special teams improved so quickly.
- On Anthony Zettel: His numbers could be explained by how much more attention he's getting now than last year. Teams have a plan for Zettel now. Called out the rest of the linemen for doing a good job with Zettel's increased attention.
- On Christian Hackenberg's completions: It's not just the quarterback. It's been the rain, the protection, the footwork, the fact that we're moving the pocket, the drops, etc. They have to work on all of those things and the completion percentage will improve.
- On defensive backs: Grant Haley is very competitive. Every play for John Reid is like a Super Bowl. Haley and Reid are comparable. Reid's life is school, football, and his girlfriend. He's locked in. Jordan Lucas is doing a good job, but he's getting used to the physicality of being a safety. Overall he's been good, especially from a leadership perspective.
- On the tight ends: Franklin would like to get them more involved in the passing game. They're doing a significantly better job at blocking. He wants tight ends to become an overall threat, not just in the passing game.
- On game planning: Currently, Akeel Lynch starts and Saquon splits time, but that gets evaluated every Friday.
- On playing with an edge: Franklin wants players to be themselves, but don't earn penalties. Be emotional and aggressive, within the limits. Sideline needs to erupt when guys make plays. The whole sideline needs to be energetic, committed, and bought in.
- On San Diego State's secondary: They're good at corner. One thing that helps the secondary is what they do up front. Because they are all over the place defensively, they can't be put in a certain category. Because of that, they have a lot of free runners at the QB.
- On the depth chart: Paris Palmer has grown from his first experience and is playing well right now. No word on Andrew Nelson. We'd know by now if Nelson's injury were season-ending.
That's all for this week's edition of press conference notes. Look for the full transcript later this afternoon.