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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Army

In this week's press conference, James Franklin discussed the triple option offense, Army and the service academies, and the weather.

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 San Diego State game, special teams, and what it's like to play a triple option offense.

Opening Statement

  • Franklin mentioned the weather, Army, and being proud to play the service academies.
  • Defense: San Diego State only completed 38 percent of its passes. Penn State had two takeaways and five sacks. The defensive line is starting to show depth. Team must improve on tackling fundamentals, and limit the big plays.
  • Offense: 45 plays in the first half and time of possession of 22 minutes. Handled "next man up" well, but they need to continue to improve on that. Mentioned the disparity between the first and second half performance. Must improve hands and continue to work on ball security. Franklin has seen too many instances where the ball is away from the body.
  • Special teams: Needs to play more consistently. Mentioned the muffed punt.
  • Anthony Zettel earned Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week honors, something he hadn't done before.
  • Mentioned that Army is a much more experienced team than they were last season, and it's starting to show.


  • On injured players: It's hard to tell. It's too early in the week, so even if Franklin wanted to say he couldn't. From what he's aware of, none of the injuries are season-ending. This is the reason why development and recruiting is important, so when two of your top guys go down, we have people to step up. Expecting Jordan Lucas and Marcus Allen for Saturday.
  • On the safeties: Malik and Troy did some good things. Still need to be more consistent. The challenge as a safety is that you have to defend both the pass and the run, especially with the option teams.
  • On Jonathan Thomas: Depending on how things play out, he could factor in on Saturday.
  • On the defensive line: It goes back to development and recruiting. Keeping everybody fresh is important.
  • On the wide receivers: They're doing better. The team needs to continue building there. They've started showing separation, so now they need to go from one yard to three yards. With experience, they should have a bigger impact as the season progresses.
  • On Mark Allen and Nick Scott: Allen is explosive and confidence. Only thing that moves faster than his feet is his mouth. Loves the game of football and being a part of the team. He's good at making people miss. Akeel Lynch is able to push the pile, and Saquon Barkley is able to do both. Scott is the slasher. He's the biggest home run threat of all of them. Him and Mark are similar weight-wise, but Nick is more angular.
  • On improving tackling: It's difficult because of Penn State's situation. They have to be disciplined and sound fundamentally. A lot of these players weren't used to doing that in high school. Always make sure you're in a position to tackle, as opposed to just reaching with one or two hands.
  • On Mike Gesicki: He's playing much more physical. He's embracing the role much more than he did last year. He's had a chance to make some plays earlier in the season, and he'll make those plays moving forward. He worked hard during the offseason, and now he's translating all that work during the season.
  • On Troy Apke: His switch from wide receiver to safety was mostly based on need. It's useful to recruit guys that are versatile and can play more than one position. He's very mature and intelligent. However, nobody is told they're playing a position. It's a conversation on whether they'd want to play the position.
  • On Brandon Polk: Defenses have had a specific plan for Polk. People are very aware of when he's the game. That creates a few opportunities for the offense. It creates some good change of pace and misdirection opportunities. Fifty percent of the value he brings is that it ensure defenses have to account for him.
  • On the triple option: It puts stress on everybody. Not just due to scheme, but style of play and rarity. It aligns really well with the type of kids they have. Franklin commended the players' commitment. Brent Pry has experience defending triple option offenses.
  • On the field: We've had a lot of rain, but Penn State's turf management program is one of the best in the country. Franklin is confident the field will be OK, even though they have five straight home games, two of which were under heavy rain. Hoping it rains all week but clears out by Saturday.
  • On Juwan Johnson: He went from Green to Yellow. He and Irvin Charles have a bright future and a chance to be special. With the depth at wideout they don't think it's necessary to play them right now.
  • On the backup quarterbacks: They'd like to play them to get them experience. They're doing extremely well in practice. It will depend on the situation. You're working to find a rhythm on offense, so they're not going to put them in just because.

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

Full transcript