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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Akron Week


Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

  • Thoughts and prayers for the City of Houston, talking about football seems insignificant in comparison
  • Perhaps the most consistent training camp he’s been a part of, excited for the start of the season
  • Akron had a great start to last season, suffered injuries along the way to a slow finish
  • Excited to be back at Beaver Stadium with family and friends


  • On the offensive line and Michal Menet: OL situation has changed drastically from when he first arrived, still young across the board. Menet has added size, but has suffered some minor injuries, causing him to miss some practice time. Has a bright future at Penn State.
  • On the backup quarterback situation: Need to have at least two quarterbacks in the room with which you can win - have that with Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens - and at least one young learning guy - have that with Sean Clifford. Clifford much further ahead than expected, picking up the offense, and running better than anticipated. Other QBs factoring in as well.
  • On Troy Apke at safety: Very athletic guy, played as a freshman. Confident guy with a lot of maturity, will have a good secondary with Marcus Allen, Christian Campbell, and Grant Haley.
  • On consistency in camp: Coaches did a great job during dog days of summer to get as much out of the players as possible. Also had a great set of players leading the team, didn’t have any days where the coaches left the field frustrated.
  • On DeAndre Thompkins over Saeed Blacknall: Those two could be listed as “or” on the depth chart, since they’re both going to play a lot. DeAndre has added a lot of good size, while maintaining speed. He will contribute in the return game as well.
  • On playing Akron 3 years ago: James Franklin is not the kind of coach to keep complete statistical analyses of every opponent in his head. Remembers the emotion of running onto the field at Beaver Stadium for the first time, but that the last 3 years have been a whirlwind.
  • On 10 freshmen making the depth chart: Thought that number was high, but factoring in the three-deep, lots of youngsters could see some time this year. Yetur Matos, Lamont Wade, and Tariq Castro-Fields will see the field from game one, the rest of the freshmen are in the yellow light category right now.
  • On a new long snapper: LS is an underappreciated position until you don’t have one, Kyle Vasey learned from Tyler Yazujian the last few years and has done well. Jan Johnson has also been picking it up.
  • On preparing for Akron defender Ulysees Gilbert, reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year: The first week of the season is always a bit of a new situation, since you don’t know what this year’s team will look like. Gilbert is a great player, and Akron is treating this like their Super Bowl. Several B1G teams have lost in the last few years to MAC teams, so the team has to be ready.
  • On Brendan Mahon and Andrew Nelson: Proud of both players, Mahon is back in the starting lineup. Nelson is as talented at OT as anyone in the country, could have been listed as “or” on the depth chart with Chasz Wright. Their experience is irreplaceable.
  • On transitioning from preseason to game-week practice: More practices have been in the stadium this week, emulated band and crowd noises. Young team from last year has matured, now the starters aren’t taking as many reps because they can afford it, and let the twos and threes get more practice time.
  • On pressure playing in front of the expectant PSU crowd: Played with lots of expectations last year after beating Ohio State, just not many games at home. Pressure is pressure, whether at home or on the road.
  • On opposing teams targeting Saquon Barkley on defense: If he were a coach playing Penn State, he’d key on stopping Barkley, and taking away the offense’s strength. Benefit is that McSorley and the receivers made teams pay last year, avoided becoming one-dimensional.
  • On Cam Brown: Another player that could have been an “or” at a lot of spots as a starter. Even at 230 pounds, he still looks thin at 6’5”, but tall, fast linebackers are the wave of the future.
  • On individual player awards: First focus is team success, and let the marketing department hype up individual players.
  • On kickoff duties: Tyler Davis will handle kickoffs.
  • On uncertainty against a week one opponent: Coaches watch last year’s film, as well as teams that play similar styles. From there, blocking and defensive schemes are implemented, but you stick to your own set of rules. Make sure the team is prepared for a multitude of things they could see.
  • On Wade and Castro-Fields contributing on special teams: They will definitely play there, as they learn their roles on defense. Matos will also see time on special teams.
  • On Miles Sanders as the kickoff returner, and if Barkley will be used in that role: Very few freshmen have their first year go as expected, and it’s often very humbling. Miles has grown from his time in high school, and Barkley may be used in different roles as well. Coach Charles Huff has promoted a good culture in special teams, and the older players act as big brothers to the younger players, including Journey Brown now. Players now have to earn their roles, and respect, instead of years prior where they showed up and were automatically on the two-deep.