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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Sparty Week

The battle for the Land-Grant Trophy takes on high stakes

Penn State v Rutgers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Opening Statement

  • Great team win against Rutgers. Terrible weather conditions, worst Franklin had coached or played in. Said he enjoyed the guys having so much fun in the fourth quarter of that game.
  • No sacks given up
  • 14 fourth-quarter points
  • Defense gave up 87 total yards on 50 total plays
  • Last four opponents held under 3 yards-per-carry
  • Praised Blake Gilikin and Juwan Johnson
  • Proud of the offensive line and how they stepped up, were OPOW
  • Parker Cothren and DBs were DPOW
  • Juwan Johnson was STPOW
  • On Michigan State: Talented, well-coached and strong defensively
  • Urges fans to have a good turnout on Saturday
  • Thanks dorm workers for helping to get dorms ready to open early for students


  • On what the seniors mean to the program: “They’ve been unbelievable, Penn State will remember these guys forever.” Says seniors should get together and write a book on everything they’ve seen over that span. “They’re gonna be remembered as the class that kind of held this place together.”
  • On Parker Cothren: Type of guy who is essential to any team. Does 90 percent of the dirty work that people don’t see. Holds his gap and takes up double teams. Leadership has helped Windsor and Chavis. Family comes up for almost every single game from Alabama.
  • On Brendan Mahon: Wouldn’t address injury situation.
  • On devlopment of leadership throughout the year: Without a big senior class, team relies on seniors and staff. After that, team is fortunate because young players are very good leaders. Notes leadership of Reid, Barkley, Cabinda and McSorley.
  • On Michigan State building momentum: “Trends show that they’ve played really well.” Coaches know what to expect and will focus on Penn State.
  • On Evan Schwan: Asks whether YDR’s Frank Bodani is a ham or turkey guy. The answer was turkey. Gets to Schwan, says he’s a good example of the team in general and how guys have stepped up this season. Says Schwan has found his identity as a player this season and has started to play to his strengths.
  • On handling senior day: Franklin says he wears emotions on his sleeve but is able to bring things together in front of a crowd. Very passionate about what he does and who he surrounds himself with. Says seniors will hold special place in PSU history books.
  • On handling UM-OSU game before: Will discuss with team how that will be handled on game day. Plan to discuss it ahead of time. Says result won’t matter if PSU doesn’t handle its business against Michigan State.
  • On how much the loss of Von Walker plays a role: Obviously played a big role on special teams. Two-year captain. Says he has really carved out a role on the team over the last two-and-a-half years and that he’ll continue to have a big role from a leadership stance.
  • On Mark Dantonio: Have met each other at conference outing and Nike football outing but other than that, only have a professional relationship.
  • On UM-OSU on scoreboard before game: Will be addressed with team and staff. No plans yet but team still has to focus on itself.
  • On change in schedule due to Thanksgiving: Not a fan. Had to move radio show up to Tuesday. Got back late due to night game. Says he’s a creature of habit so the staff planned on this way ahead of time to get comfortable with different schedule.
  • On youth up front for Sparty: Says lineman are very good and Riley Bullough really helps bring defense together. Mentions PSU recruited a lot of plays on the MSU D-Line.
  • On McSorley leading by example: His approach and work habits set the tone. Sets an example in meetings and shows great confidence. Very positive, no bad body language.
  • On Sparty run game: Always great up front, how their program is built. Praises LJ Scott. Line has grown and matured throughout the season. Lots of misdirection and play-action pass to cause indecision in the linebacker unit.
  • On Dowrey and Gaia moving to O: Both players have really embraced the move. Staff realized they had a problem in the first year and thought this was the best way to solve it. Players have seen it as an opportunity and the move has aligned for both parties.
  • On Letterman response to the season: Winning helps. Team has laid a foundation academically and socially and now that’s translating on the field. Says Letterman have responded well and LaVar Arrington has taken charge on that front.
  • Franklin is a turkey guy as well, needs gravy, potatoes and stuffing all in one bite.
  • On the team’s progression: Believed that they had a foundation laid to make significant progress this year. Staff wakes up every morning to get guys to be the best they can be and then live with the results as they come.