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James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Pitt Week


NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement

  • After reviewing film, offensive line earned offensive player of the week, zero sacks allowed. Defensive player of the week was Ryan Buchholz, and DeAndre Thompkins was special teams player of the week.
  • Pleased with execution and effort, played over 60 players in the game. Defense needs to create more turnovers and tackle better.
  • Good program at Pitt, a similar kind of offense to teams like Stanford and Michigan State. Quadree Henderson could be a problem, especially in special teams.
  • Every week is the Super Bowl, team not getting up any more than usual because it’s Pitt.


  • On Pitt being a different team this year: New coordinator doesn’t matter, as long as their philosophy is the same. Overall very similar to last year.
  • On burgeoning defensive end Ryan Buchholz: Very smart player, very big player, has flexibility to play inside or outside.
  • On Connor McGovern at center: Had to learn doing shotgun snaps predominantly, doing a good job of being verbal. McGovern is a much bigger player than Brian Gaia was, and has Steven “a cheeseburger away from 360 (pounds)” Gonzalez next to him.
  • On why Saquon Barkley was returning kickoffs, and if Miles Sanders will be a returner: Saquon was scheduled to take the first kickoff, just happened to be the start of the second half. Miles will get chances at returner and running back.
  • On Tyler Davis and Alex Barbir doing kickoffs: Tyler is the guy, but they’ll get Alex reps when possible. Davis did a good job with hang time, if not with distance. Coverage team is better, helps make up for lack of distance on kicks.
  • On Jason Cabinda off the field: Has a very strong mother that raised him well, takes education seriously. Will be graduating this December in economics, and leads the team during meetings and practices.
  • On Andrew Nelson working back into the lineup, and being different for an offensive lineman vs. a defensive lineman: Chemistry is very important for an offensive line, so you wouldn’t want to rotate the entire backup offensive line in, but Andrew having so much experience means he could slide in with starters and the line would be fine.
  • On receivers providing downfield blocking: Having big receivers helps, and the coaching staff has emphasized it as a necessity. Now all players are trying to block on a play, or defeat a block on a play, at all levels.
  • On the young defensive ends getting to the point that opposing quarterbacks, offensive lines, and offensive coordinators fear them: First, young players need to get reps under their belt and gain experience. Then, learning how to play against different kinds of offense and being effective. Run-pass option teams like Akron make it hard to scare the quarterback, and at the end of the game when a team is down big - when you’d expect your DEs to step up - Akron wasn’t necessarily trying to get back into it.
  • On how the defensive line looks after one game: Tyrell Chavis had a great game, specifically. The entire line played well, but Chavis stood out to the coaches.
  • On Ayron Monroe: He will be available next week.
  • On the young offensive linemen, including Zach Simpson: Zach has not had much fanfare, but has simply gone to work since arriving. He’s a great kid, and is representative of the kind of player that is Penn State, including his family and friends.
  • On whether the team was ready for the emotions last year at Pitt: It was early in the season, and the team hadn’t found itself yet. Was also in a hostile environment against a talented team. Not going to change their approach just because the opponent does.
  • Anyone in particular tabbed with containing [Quadree] Henderson, and how to keep the players from getting too hyped up: First, it’s up to the kickers to make sure the coverage team can get down the field and stop Henderson. The best way to stop him is to make sure that they don’t outkick their coverage. As for the hype, they approach each week the same, so they’re not going to prepare any harder than the last week. They will always focus on what they can control, and outside noise is not one of those things.
  • On how defensive expectations have changed as offensive proficiency has increased nationwide: Not only has the overall offensive yardage gone up, but the various types of offenses have increased. Tough for a defense to change entirely from week to week. Secondly, both offense and defense work on the four minute drill, and defensively that means not giving up a touchdown in just a handful of plays - make the opposition work for it.
  • On looking at Max Browne, the new Pitt quarterback, in their new offense: You look at the guy to see his movement and arm strength, but the play set comes from film.
  • On parity in college football: There’s more parity now, as more teams have success. Temple and Pitt both beat Penn State in the last couple years, which would have been uncommon even a decade ago. Scholarship limits have also helped smaller teams get some of the really good players that would have gone to a blue blood in previous eras.
  • On what fans are saying about this game against Pitt: Hears lots of different things from all sorts of places, best thing would be to check social media. That’s the best place to find fan feelings.