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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Iowa Week


Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

  • After welcoming the media, James Franklin discussed Field Goal Gate, and reiterated that he called the timeout because his fourth string defense didn’t know how to block a field goal, and he needed to get his second string defenders out there. He also touched briefly on the fact that Georgia State’s goal is to score, and Penn State’s goal was not to let them score, and that PSU is going to go out and try to win on every single play, every single game (Me, reading between the lines? Franklin knew what he was doing, iced that kicker HARD, and is messing with everyone’s minds after the fact. Get it, coach. I’m here for it and for you.).
  • Trace McSorley, Marcus Allen, and Tyler Davis/Blake Gillikin were the offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the week.
  • All told, 78 players got on the field, and all the way down the depth chart they were playing hard.
  • Starting slowly on offense has gone away, but defense is giving up some yards. Special teams have been fantastic.
  • Iowa is a great place to play, and will be intimidating, especially the pink locker rooms. Franklin says that he’s going to discuss with his players how Iowa is welcoming them to Kinnick, honoring the original black and pink Penn State wore. He’s really appreciative that they would paint their locker room just for us.


  • On the defense giving up rushing yards, and whether Iowa will be tougher than Akron 2.0 and Georgia State: Defense is giving up yards, but generating turnovers. They still run B1G MAN BALL, and so will try to just overpower the defensive line.
  • On Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade: Been nice to get to know them as players, and they’re learning every time they’re on the field. Expect to see them - and some other young players - more as the season goes on.
  • On Trace and Tommy Stevens being on the field at the same time, after it was first seen against Iowa last year: Helps keep Stevens involved, and makes the defense more tentative. Package will continue to evolve, as Tommy can line up all over the field (I’ll personally be curious to see how often he gets lined up at fullback.).
  • On the pink locker rooms (again): His daughters just got done painting their rooms: Shola went teal (solid choice) and Addy went pink. Looks good in his daughter’s room, thinks it will look good in Iowa’s locker room.
  • On the offensive line performance so far: Not having Brendan Mahon caused some issues, and had to move Steven Gonzalez over to the other guard position, which probably affected him a bit. Mahon back will help, but teams will still do everything to stop Barkley from running on them. Regardless, OL needs to do better running between the tackles.
  • On losing to Michigan last year in the B1G opener, and learning from it: Each game and season are different, so you try to learn, but the biggest thing is that the team is older and more experienced.
  • On Yetur Gross-Matos - who has a high motor but wasn’t necessarily figuring out the football side of things - getting so many snaps, and if that is because he figured it out, or if it was to help him figure it out: Probably both, as he’s getting more practice and things are settling down for him, but the staff is also trying to speed up his maturation.
  • On progress in the run game: Specifically against GAST, some young players like Will Fries were in there for the first time, and picking up the speed of the game. Overall however, opposing defenses are going to try to take away Barkley. So it’s up to the offense to find other ways to move the ball, and Penn State is fortunate to have lots of good play makers.
  • On the backup running backs (after a brief comment about pink bedrooms): Both Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders have bright futures, and we’re fortunate to have them.
  • On Akrum Wadley and Josey Jewell, and how game plans changed from initial, preseason scripts: Jewell is the bell cow for the Iowa defense, and leads that side of the ball. Preseason scripts are put in place for the first four games, but things change them - sometimes the opponent is playing differently than expected, and sometimes you’re worse at one thing, or better at another. Game plans evolve.
  • On perceptions outside the program after Field Goal Gate, and perhaps on running up the score: Franklin can’t control the reactions of others, period dot.
  • On the defense having faced 55 opposing third downs: You want the other team to have lots of third downs, just like you want your team to have not many third downs. It’s important, however, for the defense to get off the field on third down, and not let opposing defenses string together long, sustained drives.
  • On the nature of Tyler Davis’ missed kicks, and where blame may lie: Davis came off the field after his miss, and told the coaching staff that it was just on him. Very mature, very willing to take responsibility when it’s his fault. Knows when it’s the hold or the snap, but won’t throw people under the bus.
  • On Mahon, Cam Brown, and Torrence Brown being available for this game: Mahon and Cam are expected back, but no updates on Torrence yet.
  • On the depth and progess of the offensive line: Matt Limegrover has done a great job, and the players take pride in how they play. Still need to limit negative plays, and need to impose our will more. And that plays into Saquon Barkley not getting as many touches - if a blitzing linebacker is crashing hard untouched, McSorley will pull the ball and throw it.
  • On the development of Daniel Joseph: In the same position as Gross-Matos, getting lots of reps and learning each week. He’s gotten over some injuries last year, and is now really moving along.
  • On Barkley’s touches this year, and that they’ve almost doubled in yards per touch, contrasting some of the pluses of the offense after mentioning the negative plays: The scheme is getting better and Saquon is doing great blocking. Our scheme is big plays, not three yards and a cloud of dust. Just because we may have a third-and-short situation does not mean that the team will line up in I formation and cram it in there. It’s not who they are. Instead, they’ll run their scheme and look for high percentage throws and runs instead, and just own who they are.