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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Rutgers Week

With playoff hopes all but dashed, James Franklin met with the press to talk about where Penn State goes from here

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Opening Statement

  • In 23 years of coaching, have never had a weather delay, let alone a 3-hour one. Credit to Michigan State for handling it.
  • The handful of players that started to jog off the field after the loss are all excellent young men, and Koa Farmer specifically reached out to Franklin on Sunday to talk about what happened.
  • Need to cut down turnovers on offense, and start to generate some sort of pass rush on defense.
  • Flip side is that the defense did well after the three turnovers, so there was an improvement on sudden change situations.
  • This weekend is Rutgers and homecoming, plus military appreciation day. They’re playing well, and it will be a challenge playing them.


  • On becoming a more hard-nosed team midway through the season: It won’t change overnight, and injuries aren’t helping, but the team needs to be tougher and win one-on-one matchups.
  • On how the defensive ends did against Michigan State: Losing two starters at one position is tough, and while Kevin Givens is doing a good job, he doesn’t have the same number of reps at that position. Hoping to have Bucholz back soon.
  • On being more hard-nosed (again), and how to make that change: Combination of mentality, of practice, of development, of recruiting, of scheme. Need to run the ball better and be more balanced on offense, and have constant growth throughout the season.
  • On how the players responded to the message of returning to the formula of what works: The message was well-received. Last year they started to have some conversations (presumably about their high rankings, and the noise from the media), and this year they had some more conversations. They’ll be going back to taking care of today, and this week. They cracked the door open, and heard more of the noise than they should.
  • On being one of the least penalized teams in the country (and some of the penalties the last couple weeks): Two weeks don’t make a trend, they’ll study it but they’ve been doing well with penalties except the last couple weeks.
  • On getting the ball to Saquon Barkley, and what opposing defenses have done to limit his touches: They won’t force him the ball if the defense is taking his looks away. If the defense is taking him away, they’ll go to the open opportunities.
  • On the statement that Frankin doesn’t set goals: It’s important to have goals, but it’s not something he’s done from a leadership position. It’s more the formula, and the way they go about their weekly business, than setting a specific goal. Maximize each day, and the goals will take care of themselves.
  • On why the pass rush has been so ineffective: Losing good players in Torrence Brown and Ryan Bucholz makes it tough, and they’ve played good offensive lines. Some scheme things as well, not just one specific issue.
  • On how important it is to be back home, and why Penn State is so good at home: As a program, you want to create a #culture that builds and grows over time. Winning at home is something you have to do, same with recruiting. Still have work to do when it comes to winning on the road against elite competition, but they’re getting there.
  • On Shareef Miller handling extra snaps: Their model works best when players can rotate and stay fresh. Getting some players back would be really helpful to give other players more of a break.
  • On how the coaching staff has developed recruiting in New Jersey, and relationships with New Jersey high school coaches: New Jersey plays high school football at a high level, and Penn State has always done a good job of getting players from there. The players that have come from NJ recently have been good kids.
  • On Tommy Stevens not playing as much lately: The Stevens package has been in every game plan except for one, and the coordinators decide if that package will work. In general, they want to get as many players on the field as possible to keep the locker room happy and intact.
  • On how Damion Barber has done, showing up later than the rest of the 2017 recruiting class: Doing well, will be a good player on the defensive line. He lost the summer time to prepare, so when he showed up he had to do football, academics, and social life all at once, which is hard.
  • On Barkley being held under 100 rushing yards in six of nine games, and what he would say to people that want more rushing from Saquon (AKA the BSD Special): We’re not just going to hand it off to Barkley for the sake of handing it off to Barkley. He’s a national leader in total yards, and they’re going to stick to their offensive formula. Losing the last two games, it’s easy to critique the offense, but they’ve won a lot of games with their formula.
  • On the team being too finesse, and when they got to that point: The team needs to be more physical up front, which has been true dating back to last season. They haven’t just shown up the last two weeks, but the team has been able to hide some deficiencies with explosiveness on offense.
  • On where Rutgers ranks on the list of rivals: That’s not how we approach things.
  • On Rutgers leading the Big Ten in sacks allowed: They run an offense that is good at running, does play-action passing, and does quick passing. That lends itself to not giving up many sacks. They have a good offensive line, and they do a good job planning each week to minimize sacks.
  • On two-loss Penn State being ranked behind other two-loss teams, despite losing by a combined four points on the road to other top 25 teams: Rutgers, Rutgers Rutgers. Rankings are all over the map, so the team has to focus on Rutgers.
  • On the defense not getting pressure with just four rushers, and blitzing to be more effective in pass rush: Defense could be a little more aggressive - as the blitzers approach, and they see that they’re going to be blocked, they don’t attack the block as aggressively as they could. But overall the team is doing well, and have improved from the beginning of last season - just maybe not as much as the team or the fans would like.