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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Indiana Week

Punt week is upon us! Coach Franklin meets with the press to talk about Penn State’s archrival Indiana

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

  • Saquon Barkley, Shareef Miller, and Blake Gillikin were the offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the week
  • Saeed Blacknall had an immense fourth down conversion on the final drive
  • Kicking needs to be improved, and part of that is personnel - on that note, looking forward to Chasz Wright being back
  • Defense played great, but gave up some big plays late. Need to play the full 60 minutes
  • Barkley did great on offense, but his tackle on the Josey Jewell interception was incredibly important as well
  • Offense would have been better if the blocking was just a little better overall, and if the red zone success was there
  • They practice defending two-point conversions to start every single practice, and Iowa failed on both of their attempts
  • Indiana has a great defensive-minded coach in Tom Allen
  • Lagow is strong-armed (almost cannon-like), Tegray Scales is a fantastic defensive player, and J-Shun Harris is a great punt returner for the Hoosiers


  • On Saquon getting 43 touches against Iowa: Early in the season he wasn’t touching the ball enough, now they need to rein it back in. Barkley will let the coaches know when he needs a break, and then the backups come in and they’re getting good plays too. It will be important for the coaching staff to keep him rested and recovered during the week.
  • On the happenings in the NFL this past weekend, and talking with the players about it: They started talking about things last year, and as a US citizen, coach, and African American, Franklin has feelings about it, but they’re all personal. The players are handling everything well and there have been lots of good discussions. We’re in a free country and people have the right to express themselves however they want to; it’s up to the coaches to make sure the players are thoughtful before acting.
  • On what has stood out about working with Brent Pry, and how has the relationship grown: Brent has tremendous leadership when he meets with the defense, and really understands the Xs and Os. Loyalty to each other has been very important.
  • On the development of Juwan Johnson: Gaining experience and confidence have been key. He’s always putting in extra effort off the field to hone his craft. He’s gotten a lot better with his hands, to the point that he catches just about everything.
  • On the offensive line, given the success the Iowa defense had up front: Holding blocks is important, but the Iowa defensive front is very tall - hard to stop someone who is 6’7” or taller from batting a ball. OL can improve, but they’re about where the coaching staff expected them to be.
  • On field goal kicking: Snaps and holds have been good, did not have great blocking up front on the one that was blocked. That was due in part to Iowa overloading one area, and the line up front attempting to fix that area, ultimately leaving another area weaker.
  • On how Indiana defended the team last year, and reacting to defensive plans each week: At times it has taken until the second half, but the team has reacted well each week offensively. You plan for what they typically do, but realize that there may be specific changes just for you as an opponent.
  • On Barkley meeting with the media more, now that he’s getting more national hype: It’s more difficult on Kristina Peterson than on Saquon, as she’s continually getting interview requests from the media, and she has to turn most of them down. It’s important to let Barkley be a student as well as a football player.
  • On the apparently high number of receivers crossing near each other on the last play: The receivers have different routes that are cut off by the back of the end zone, and some of them sped into their breaks a little fast.
  • On how Will Fries performed against Iowa: He did well on the road against a really good defensive front. He can improve, but being battle tested can only help.
  • On Kevin Givens not being on the field near the end of the game: Playing a power running team, you don’t want to put a young, inexperienced, slightly undersized player out there too much. Putting in a couple bigger players like Tyrell Chavis and Robert Windsor helped.
  • On linebacker Tegray Scales: He’s got great instincts, and is fantastic in the box. He’s improved outside of the box, which is the mark of a great middle linebacker. He has very efficient movements.
  • On Indiana having both Nick Westbrook and Simmie Cobbs at receiver: The two of them are matchup problems, but our defensive backs are used to going against receivers their size in practice. Will they be fully ready? We’ll find out, but they’ve had good preparation.
  • On evaluating Troy Apke: He keeps getting better each week, and the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in him and his skills. Ayron Monroe and Nick Scott as backups gives the staff four solid safeties to work with.
  • On new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord versus Kevin Wilson: It’s tough for a coach to hire a new coordinator, and for the coordinator to try to balance the system that’s already in place versus the system that they prefer to run. DeBord as a veteran coach is doing a great job of balancing that.
  • On former Indiana commit Tommy Stevens: The staff knew him before they officially brought him on board, and were excited about him from the get go. He’ll be ready when his time to start comes, and overall very proud of him.
  • On the NFL protests again, specifically talking about social media and Lamont Wade’s activities: Again, the team talked about all of this in the past, and proud of Lamont for expressing what’s on his mind. Overall the country is focused on the negatives that divide us, rather than the positive perspectives. Lamont has been caring and respectful in his online interactions. The biggest thing is for the team to be able to have the dialogue, and have love for each other, but never to lose respect for each other, even if you disagree with someone.