“Sons of Penn State, I am your Head Coach.”
“PSU’s head coach is a small, wiry, old Italian man from Brooklyn.”
“Yes, I’ve heard. He killed 409 footballs. And if he were here, he’d consume the Buckeyes with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse.”
(muted manly laughter)
“I AM your Head Coach. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of Ohio State’s tyrannical rule of the Big Ten. You have come to fight as Lions, and Lions you are. What would you do without your football? Will you fight?”
“Fight? Against that $100M football budget? No, we spend a more modest $40M; and we will go to the Gator Bowl.”
“Aye. Fight, and you may die. Spend modestly, and you’ll live - at least a while. Rutgers, Akron, Pitt, and Illinois aren’t going to stop sucking any time soon.
And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance before the concussion and semi-pro lawsuits kill the game - to spend at Ohio State’s level, and come back here to a Beaver Stadium Whiteout, and tell the Buckeyes, that they may take our playoff lives, but they’ll never take our freedom.”
And Then The Press Conference Started
COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Just quickly to summarize kind of the Illinois game. Most of the stuff you guys already have. We’re even in the turnover battle of that game. That’s an area that we’re going to have to do a better job at moving forward. We won the penalty battle. We won the drive start battle. We won the sack battle. We won the explosive play battle, which was big.
Coaching staff, players of the week was offensively, Miles Sanders. Defensively was Garrett Taylor, and special teams was John Petrishen. General positives, won on the road in the Big Ten which is always difficult to do. We believe in each other and our process. I think that has become very obvious in our locker room. And on the field, first time in Penn State history with 50 points in three straight games. One of the messages I’d like to get out there about that is I think a lot of times everybody’s focus is on the offense, but you don’t do that without all three phases, offense, defense and special teams all playing a part in that.
Just the fourth time in the last 100 years a Big Ten team has scored 60 points in back to back games. Same thing, offense, defense and special teams. Two interceptions for the first time in guys’ careers, Jan and Ellis. I thought Jan’s was a great example. When you run to the ball, good things happen. We got Amani stripping the ball out and Jan was there to clean it up, which was awesome. Offense rushed for 387 yards against a Big Ten opponent, and Miles obviously with 200 yards and three touchdowns. And then I think a general positive is we can get better. And we need to get better one day at a time, and that’s how we’ll approach it.
Opportunities for growth, I think we need to be a little bit more consistent on special teams, from an execution perspective. Defensively, I think we can be more ball aware. When the ball is in the air, it’s ours. When we’re going to tackle a ball carrier, we’re trying to strip the ball out. When the ball is on the ground that we’re constantly scooping and scoring every time it’s on the ground.
Offensively we gotta be more ball secure. That is decision making. That is protecting the quarterback. That’s high and tight. That’s ball in the outside arm. And then I think we can be more detailed and precise and efficient in our passing game. And we need to be.
And then just in general, eliminating penalties, allow our opponents to give away yards, we don’t need to do that.
So those are the notes that I had from the previous game.
Kind of getting into Ohio State, obviously got tremendous respect for Ohio State, their football program, their traditions, their history, their talent on their roster, and obviously the way they’ve been able to win and win at a high level.
Three of the last four meetings have been decided by 7 points or less, so this has been a very competitive series for the four years that we’ve been here. And obviously Urban, his record on the field speaks for itself. So it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us. They have six offensive starters returning, four defensive starters returning and then five specialists. They’re strong from a specialist perspective. We’re going to have to win the critical statistics. That’s going to be very important. You’re playing two programs that know how to win. So being able to win those critical stats like I talk about every week when I come in here, turnover ratio, explosive plays, things like that, it’s going to be really important.
Offensively, Ryan Day I’ve known for a long time, have always respected Ryan from a distance, all the way back to his time at Boston College. He’s really doing some nice things. Obviously 30 touchdowns in four games, a bunch of explosive plays, one of the more explosive teams in the country and obviously almost 55 points per game. Over 500 yards and 40 points per game. I think total offensive they’re actually at 599 yards. So a real challenge. Dwayne Haskins, guy that we know very well, we’ve recruited Dwayne. I did see the video that came out when he was like eight years old in the Ohio State locker room. We probably weren’t going to win that battle after seeing that video, but obviously very, very talented guy. I’m happy for him and the success that he’s having. Probably an ideal situation for a first-time starter, the talent that he is surrounded with is impressive, the running backs, the wide receivers. And probably the best offensive line that we’ve seen at Ohio State in the last four years.
Scheme wise, they’re predominantly a one back set. They will use a second -- they’ll use a tight end to get into some two running back sets. They’re 11 personnel almost 80 percent of the time and they’re pretty balanced, 50 percent run to pass. They like the zone, the stretch the counter and the power. 12 personnel is their next most popular personnel group. They like to run the kick play, the zone, the stretch and the power. And then they will mix in a little bit of 10-personnel as well, which is a majority of pass. Tempo is a big part of what they do, but primarily it shows up after explosive plays after a big play, and then they do a good job with their intermediate and short routes as well.
Impressed with Dwayne Haskins, the way he’s able to throw for such a high percentage, such a high touchdown interception ratio, and again, the type of talent that he’s surrounded with is impressive. Wide receiver, No. 14, K. J. Hill, can change the game at any moment. Parris Campbell could change the game at any moment, and then obviously they got two of the better backs in the country in J. K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. So impressed with all those guys. Another guy that we recruited Isaiah Prince, offensive tackle is really, really playing well right now. So been impressed with them.
Defensively, Greg Schiano, I’ve got a lot of respect for Greg over his entire career, all the way back to when he was the head coach at Rutgers and what he was able to do with that program. They’re sound, well coached, they’re athletic. They’re a four-down front. They’re going to play Tampa two. They’re going to play cover one. They’re going to play what we call four X and Z, which is what Michigan State has made very popular over the last couple of years, and then they’re going to play cover one with pressure.
31 percent overall pressure, 26 on normal downs and 42 percent on third down.
The guys that kind of stand out to us defensively is No. 86 Dre’Mont Jones is really doing some great things. Another guy that we recruited Jordan Fuller, strong safety No. 4, and then Damon Arnette, their corner back, all playing well. And then on special teams is Taver Johnson running that unit, but obviously we all know Urban is very involved in special teams, has been for a while. They’ve returned five starters, and their scheme is aggressive. They play with tremendous effort, and they got a lot of athletes on the field. Guys we’ve been impressed with is their punter, Drue Chrisman; No. 23, Jahsen Wint, out of Brooklyn, 15 tackles in a season, primarily all on special teams. Same thing with No. 52, Dante Booker, is also a guy who really shows up making a bunch of plays on special teams. And then we also see the same thing with No. 47, Justin Hilliard, as well as No. 1, Jeffrey Okudah. So some really good players, some really talented players. That’s going to be obviously a great environment. We’re looking forward to it. We had a great practice on Sunday, had off yesterday, and we’ll get back out on the field today. So look forward to the opportunity. Open it up for questions.
I probably do want to mention one of the changes that you guys probably saw on the depth chart is Mark Allen not being listed. Mark has suffered a season-ending injury and will be done. As you guys know, I don’t typically get into injuries a whole lot, but with Mark being a senior and with this being a season-ending type injury, I talked to Mark about this and made sure I’m handling it the way he wanted me to. He talked to the team about it yesterday. He’s in great spirits. But I did want to mention that to you guys because I didn’t want you guys to think or wonder why he wasn’t on the depth chart and I knew I was probably going to get the question. But Mark’s got a very bright future. He’s going to be very successful whatever he chooses to do. He’s talking a little bit about maybe getting into coaching. But we got a lot of love and respect for Mark and what he’s been able to do in his career here. But you won’t see Mark again this year playing on the field.
Q. Good afternoon, James.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Hey, Rich.
Q. How different is Ohio State’s offensive from the one you’ve seen the last four years?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I don’t think it’s a whole lot different. Obviously they promoted from within or made a change from within, the guy that’s been a part of their program for a be in of years now. So I think the biggest difference for them in some ways probably similar to us is that it’s the best O line that they’ve had. They are massive. You look at them on film and it’s like they’re all legs, unusual you see a six foot seven center. That’s not something you typically see and they’re pretty much six foot six to six foot seven across the board, about 315 pounds across the board. This is a big, athletic offensive line, and I think they kind of set the tone for everything and then they’re just so balanced. They got two of the better backs in the country. They are explosive at the wide receiver position. They got a quarterback that’s able to make all the throws and distribute the ball. So they’re putting up big numbers and doing a lot of really good things and it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us.
Q. James, I wanted to get your thoughts on Ricky Slade’s play against Illinois, and given Mark Allen’s situation, do you think he’s ready for a bigger role in the run game?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Ricky is doing some really nice things for us as a true freshman, is getting better every single practice. His attitude, his work ethic, his demeanor has been really good. He’s working hard in pass protection, which is typically a challenge for young backs, but he’s been really good in those areas as well. So yeah, we’re excited about his future. I think obviously you take Miles and Ricky and Journey and Johnathan Thomas, we’re going to miss Mark, but we still feel really good about those four guys as well.
Q. James, are there one or two things that stand out to you about how your offensive line has improved, even since last season, and how would you rate your depth on that unit at this point?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously we feel like we got six starters in Bates and Gonzalez and Menet and McGovern and Fries and Chasz Wright. Kind of look at all those guys as starters because they’ve all played a lot of football for us. We’ve gotten bigger, we’ve gotten stronger. We’ve gained a lot of experience over the last couple of years. Besides Michael Menet those guys have all played a lot of football for us. And I think Michael has been in the program for a number of years now, and he understands the expectations and the standards. But we also know we’re going to be playing one of the better D lines in college football. Their whole scheme is built around their D line. They play predominantly press coverage so the quarterback has to hold on to the ball, and they’re expecting those four D linemen to be able to get to the quarterback or cause the quarterback discomfort in the pocket, and that’s kind of how they’re built. So it’s going to be a challenge, but again, I think we’re in a much different position than we’ve been in the past with our offensive line, not only from protecting our quarterback, but also more consistently being able to run the ball.
Now, obviously this is the first opponent we’ve played to this level, the type of talent that they have, the type of size and depth, one of probably the more talented rosters in the country, if not the most talented roster in the country. So this is going to be a different type of challenge. There’s no doubt about that.
Q. After the Illinois game, you mentioned that you’re still looking for an eraser you said on defense. Who could that be?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think or defensive ends as a group can be, and they’re moving in that direction. I think Shareef has the chance to be that type of player. I think Yetur has the chance to be that type of player. I think Kevin Givens has the chance to be that type of player and Robert Windsor. So we need that front to really be those types of players for our defense, and then we need to develop that second level of guys, especially at the defensive tackle position to really help us out.
At the next level, at the linebacker level, obviously you got some inexperience there. I think at times Cam Brown shows that and will probably need it a little bit more consistently out of him. And then in the secondary I think our group of corners have the ability to be that for us, but have not yet. The combination of Amani and John Reid and Tariq Castro-Fields have played a lot of football for us, so we need them to be that as well.
Q. Your safety position, how do you think it’s developed? Where are those guys at? Has it been as good as you think it needs to be or should be right now?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think Nick Scott is doing some nice things for us and been really consistent. Obviously you heard me say earlier Garrett Taylor was the player of the week from a coaching staff perspective. So we obviously feel like he’s growing into that role as well. And I will say John Sutherland all the way back to the spring game is a guy who flashes. We’re talking about getting him more involved. I think he’s one of the better tacklers on our defense. So I think we’re getting better and we’re going to need to continue to get better each day this week to put us in the best position to play on Saturday. But we’re going to be challenged. We’ll be challenge this week at every level, defensively with the number of athletes that they have.
Q. Understanding that you treat every game the same from week to week no matter who the opponent is, I’m just wondering when you go out among the people this week, do you get people stopping you more and encouraging more to win this week more than say any other week?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. I think our players will. I think the coaches will. I mean I got a note in the mailbox last night my wife gave me from the mailman, or mail woman I guess it was actually. You go downtown, there’s people making comments. I mean I had this four weeks ago. I’m trying to talk about App State and people want to talk about this game. So I think that’s kind of the perfect reason why we approach things the way we do. But you can’t just say those things in press conferences and then go act different in front of your team. It’s gotta be a consistent approach in all the things we do.
They’re hearing it from everybody. They don’t need to hear it from us. So it’ll be standard operation for us. We just want to focus on today and maximize today and have the best practice we possibly could have, best Tuesday practice of our lives and make corrections and then move on to the next day. So I know they’re hearing it from everybody. I just did -- Chris just had me do like 17 interviews before I walked in here. So, yeah, I get it. But that’s all external things. Internally we’ll keep our process the same.
Q. Last week you talked about you didn’t think you’d really gain a day from playing on Friday because the guys would have to sleep all day. Can you talk about the last couple of days in terms of what Saturday was like for the players, and did they get rest, and are you completely back on the weekly schedule that you want to be on?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. We’re back on our weekly schedule for sure. What the players did on Saturday, I don’t know, I wasn’t hanging out with them. I was falling asleep on my couch with my family. But obviously I’ll have a better feel after today, so we were able to have basically after going 14 straight days, I think, without a day off, now we were able to have somewhat two days off, if not a day and a half off with Saturday, then practice Sunday, then off Monday. So there is some value there for the coaches. There is some value for the players, if we handled it the right way in the choices that we made when we got back here on Saturday.
But in terms of what we talked about with the players was a very specific plan of how we could use that extra time. Now, we’ll see in today’s practice, and we’ll see in this week’s preparation if we were able to gain some of the advantage that we had in having a few more hours of prep.
Q. With Miles the other day, his ability to keep the sticks moving, to kind of get three yards when that’s all that’s there. There had to be a temptation for him to look at what Saquon was doing and try to mimic that style, but was this the kind of style you envisioned for him and how has he kind of worked to develop it?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Was the question about Miles doing a good job of getting three yards and not negative yards and staying on schedule? Yeah, I think he’s done a nice job with it. Something that we’ve always talked about the importance of it. I think there’s been a few times where Miles has tried to make some yards that weren’t there, but for the most part is doing a really good job. I also think Miles is getting a lot of credit, and he should. But I also think our offensive line is playing at a higher level. I also think Ricky is doing a nice job of getting us into the right call as well. So Miles deserves credit. Ricky and our offensive coaches, Coach Limegrover and the run game coordinator and all those things, all that stuff’s a factor in this. But I do think it’s a pretty good mentality that Coach Seider has been teaching and Miles and the rest of the backs have embraced.
Q. Both of these teams score so many points that field goals sometimes can get overlooked. But if the game does come down to a field goal, where is Jake Pinegar in terms of his progress and what are your thoughts on the overall progress of the field goal unit?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. We’re obviously not experienced, but I think Jake’s been great. I’ve been very impressed with him and the whole operation, from Vasey to Blake Gillikin and to Jake. And we got a lot of confidence in him. He’s hitting at a very high rate in practice, hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities in games. Probably one opportunity that I should have got him earlier in the season. But overall I’ve been pleased with him. I think he’s going to have a great career here. I think he’s going to have a great year this year. And he’ll continue to step up at times when we need him. But most importantly it’s about being consistent. That’s on kickoff with Checa and that’s with field goals with Pinegar and that entire unit.
Q. Hey, James, how you doing?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Did you get a haircut?
Q. I did.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Looks very nice.
Q. Thank you. I appreciate that. My person who cuts my hair says she always appreciates when you say that.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Who is the person? Let’s give her a little shoutout.
Q. Leslie. She’s tremendous.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Leslie?
Q. Yes.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Great job, Leslie.
Q. Hey, will this rate as one of your bigger recruiting weekends numbers wise and with that in mind how do you juggle everything in terms of official visitors, visitors, taking care of your team responsibility, getting out Friday night, that sort of thing? How much of a juggling act is that for you?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think probably most of the White Outs have been similar, similar in terms of number and similar in terms of possible impact for our future. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. I remember talking to some of the guys in the past. I think it was Jesse James one day said to me, he goes, if you come to the White Out, you’re committing. You know, like there’s -- you know, there’s no other option. You just get caught up in the energy and the enthusiasm and the excitement. Obviously it’s an impactful day for us in terms of our future on the recruiting front. But I also think, you know, I do think what you just described is why you see recruiting departments getting bigger and bigger because these days are so impactful and so important for continuing to build your program that you can’t do it all, and you need enough people that are going to be able to manage all these things so the coaches can spend their time on the game and on the opponent and on our current players which is where our focus should be. And then you have a group of people that are managing, say you have 10 to 12 official visitors, and managing that group so that they have the best possible experience they can. And then you you’re also going to have another 175 recruits and their families and how are you going to manage all of that. So I think that’s where the challenge comes. And in the old days where you had one recruiting coordinator to handle all of that, it’s not realistic. You know, it’s not realistic. And I would say more than just football. It’s also for our university that we are presenting our university in the best possible light we possibly can on a day where everybody’s going to be pulled in a thousand different directions. I would assume, I don’t know what the numbers say, but I would assume we’re probably going to have an increase of about 200,000 people on Saturday. And how are we going to manage all of that, from directions to parking, to tickets, to the game, to seats, to so on and so forth. So I think it’s a really important day. It’s an important day for our football program. I think it’s an important day for our university. I think it’s an important day for our community, at least the conversations that I’ve had with hotels and restaurants and other establishments. You know, it’s an important day. So I think as a football coach, my ultimate job is to make sure that our guys get great educations and are learning habits and lessons that they’re going to be able to take with them for the next 50 yards of their lives. It’s also to make sure that they have a great football experience. But I also understand and am aware of the impact of what Penn State football also does for the community and can do for the university when handled the right way. So we’re very aware of those things in our program.
Q. James, what does Ohio State lose with Nick Bosa being injured, and what impact, if any, will his absence have on your preparation?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: He’s one of the better college football players I’ve ever seen on tape. He is obviously big and strong and athletic. But his motor is I think what separates him. There’s a lot of big, strong, athletic guys out there, but very rarely do those big, strong, athletic guys have the type of motor that he has play after play after play after play. It’s impressive. I got a lot of respect for him and really his family, what his family’s been able to do in terms of success and production on the football field. So obviously I’m concerned about coaching our football team and getting our team ready to play, but I do have tremendous respect for their program as a whole, for the type of support that they get, the history, the traditions, the athletes on the field. And he’s a guy that really stands out to me when you watch the tape how much respect that you have for how he -- he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And there’s a lot of talented players that aren’t using their talents to the level they should be. And he’s a great example of how the game is supposed to be played.
Q. James, getting ready for Ohio State at home in a White Out, has the 2016 game at all crossed your mind over the last few days and with where your program is now, what sticks out to you about that night?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Not a whole lot. I mean I think obviously, I think what’s probably even more significant is that three out of the four games have been decided by 7 points or less. So this has been for four years a great game, a great game for college football, a great game for our conference and a great game for both programs. I mean you think about my first year. You think about the last couple of years. It’s been a great game but in terms of how much value there is transferred over from one year to the next, you know, I’m not sure. I mean obviously our players, the experienced players that we have that have played in multiple games, they get it. And that experience is valuable, but we don’t have a lot of those guys that are playing significant roles for us right now. We got so many young guys. A lot of them were in the stands watching, saying that’s cool. But there’s a big difference between watching it and being out on the field. I’ll never forget, I remember Saquon, I think his freshman year talking about how like for the first quarter he was like, you know, like a fan, like, you know, talking about players that when he was in high school he grew up watching. And I think we got a lot of young players like that. We can’t afford that. We’re going to have to play really well for four quarters and can’t have a lull in the second quarter and are going to have to play really well in all three phases, which I think we’re capable of doing.
I think obviously being at home, there’s a home-field advantage, and there needs to be a significant home-field advantage. You know, I’m challenging all of Nittany Nation. I’m expecting we’ll have 110,000-plus in the stands. I’m expecting we’ll have another 100,000 fans outside of the stadium. And we need to make it the most challenging environment in the history of college football on Saturday. I want the Ohio State fans and family members of the players that are coming to have a great experience. I want our fans to treat them extremely well, welcome them to happy valley because we got a special thing going here. And I don’t want anybody leaving not feeling like that Penn State does everything in a first class manner. But on the field, I want it to be the most difficult environment in the history of college football, and that is all 110,000 fans standing up, screaming, yelling, high-fiving your neighbor, going crazy and enjoying it. And I would also say for college football fans all over the country, if you haven’t experienced a Penn State football game and specifically a White Out, it should be on your bucket list because, you know, I’ve been doing this for 23 years, and it’s special. We’re blessed and we’re fortunate to be in a community and to be in a state that loves coming together as a family come Saturday afternoons or Saturday evenings.
Q. James, you mentioned in your opening statement you want to be more precise in your passing game. What do you mean by that, and could you just elaborate more on what you’re looking for there?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. That’s as simple of splits, that’s as simple of depth of routes. That is -- and I say simple. I probably shouldn’t say simple. But that is splits, being specific with our splits, being specific with the depth of our routes. That’s understanding how to run routes where you’re trying to affect defenders. That is protection, being organized and on the same page in terms of how we’re picking up blitzes and pressures from a communication level from the quarterbacks to the O line, the running backs all being on the same page. That’s fundamentals and techniques of consistently catching the ball.
You know, this is going to be a game where there’s going to be very few balls caught where there’s not someone hanging on you. This is going to be a game where there are going to be contested catches, and we’re going to have to win our share of those contested catches on both sides of the ball. This is going to be one of those games. They are going to make plays, we’re going to make plays. And we can’t flinch. And it’s going to be that way for four quarters. But the details and the specifics and the fundamentals and the techniques, at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to win for you is those types of things. Obviously they have a very talented team. So it probably even more so magnifies that your techniques and your fundamentals need to be on point.
Q. James, to go along with that, you mentioned closely matched teams and those sorts of things. As a coach how do you try and maybe strike that balance through these first four games knowing that perhaps you want to hold certain things back, that you don’t want to put on film, and has that impacted at all kind of the Tommy Stevens package that we haven’t seen yet. Is that one of those things where you say, okay, we only want to show X amount of things so far?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. Obviously I’m not going to get into scheme and things like that, even philosophy of scheme and what we would do in big games, because that doesn’t obviously aid us or help us to do what we want to do on Saturday. But again, I think you guys know we don’t necessarily approach things like that. Week one against App State what was the Super Bowl for us, Pitt, Kent, so on and so forth. We don’t necessarily approach things that way. And from a holding things back or scheme or things like that, there is programs that do that and major in those things. We’re going to watch the film. We’re going to come up with schemes and opportunities that we think give us the best chance to be successful each week. There will be certain things show up that you guys haven’t seen before, but that’s not necessarily because we’re holding something back. It’s because we’ve seen something on film and an opportunity to expose maybe, you know, leverage or an angle or an opportunity.
Q. Two-part question for you here. How concerned are you with getting pressure on Haskins, and then what do you see from their two wide outs?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think the two wide outs are guys that in terms of them getting their hands on the ball in space can change the game at any moment. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. That’ll be a significant challenge for us. And then being able to get pressure on the quarterback is not something that people have necessarily consistently been able to do against them, for a couple of reasons. Number one, I think the quarterback does a good job of getting the ball out of his hands quickly, and I think they’ve done a good job with their scheme and the talent that they have at wide out that typically his first or second progression is open because of the scheme and because of the talent, that he’s not holding on to the ball very long as well. So I think it’s a combination of those two things. We’re going to have to make him uncomfortable in the pocket and get to him, and some of that will have to be through pressure, but some of that’s going to have to be with four down. And that’ll be a challenge, because I do think this O line, like I mentioned earlier, is probably the better -- probably the best O line we’ve seen since I got here in terms of playing Ohio State.
Q. Here all along I thought you and Brennan had the same barber. Do you need to start better on defense? (Laughter). Do you need to start better on defense or is it a product of still trying to find the combination you’re looking for, because it looks like you’re subbing more defensively early in games than -- I was just curious.COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I don’t know if I would necessarily say that. Against App State I think we held them to three points and 175 yards until the fourth quarter. So, you know, we are subbing probably very similar to that we’ve always subbed, except certain positions we don’t have established starters yet, so there’s more probably rotation there. Typically when we have established starters we usually do a two to one rotation. Defensive line we’ve always rotated linebackers it’s typically been two to one starters with two series to one series of the back up or three to one depending on what the gap is like, and then secondary we played a bunch of guys. So I don’t view it as that we are subbing more than we have in the past. I view it that we have less established starters that have created a gap between the backup. We’ve got some positions where literally it’s about a 50/50 split because that’s what we feel like gives us the best chance to win.
Q. You’ve seen a lot of J. T. Barrett the last couple of years. Haskins now the guy at quarterback for them. How does their approach maybe change a little bit? What are some of the things that he brings in terms of skill set that maybe weren’t there before. And then Tate Martell, their number two quarterback, he’s a dynamic threat it seems, how much do you account for him?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, I think it starts with obviously Haskins, and I think with the athletes and the weapons that they have, he’s able to make you account for all 53-and-a-third of the field because of his arm strength and because of the athleticism that they have. So that helps their running game. That helps their passing game, that he’s able to really distribute the ball to so many weapons that they’ve been able to recruit and develop. So I think that’s what makes them different, where in the past they were probably more of a heavy running game as well as quarterback running game was such a big part of what they did. Both were challenging. Both are problematic. You know, quarterback running game is always a challenge. And the other thing I would say is obviously a quarterback that’s able to distribute the ball all over the field and be able to be accurate enough that receivers are able to run after the catch with it is challenging. So you got really two different animals. Obviously Tate factors into that as well. But he’s obviously a different style when he comes in the game.
Q. As a coach how do you come up with the answer for yourself of my team is this good, how good is my team? Maybe not what you tell us or what you tell other people, but what are you looking for four weeks in that kind of gives you an idea that we are this good when you go to sleep at night?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve ever necessarily said that or felt that or thought that. I think obviously games like this show you. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But I think probably what I look for on teams and what I look for if I had to kind of pin down what I’m looking for on teams and what I’m looking for with players is consistency. Almost every single player on our roster can make pretty impressive athletic plays or they wouldn’t be here. And that’s pretty much our entire roster. Where I think you go from being an average player to a good player or from a good player to an elite player is when you’re able to do that at a high percentage of your reps, you know, that the coaches trust what they’re going to get from you play in and play out. And now those flashes of brilliance we have seen in the past we see them at a high level, kind of like what I was talking about with Bosa. You see -- it’s not just flashes. You see it on a consistent level. And I think that’s what you guys are looking for. I think that’s what the fans are looking for. That’s what I’m looking for. Obviously I got a better understanding of what we’re trying to do.
It’s like -- it’s the same thing with like there’s these companies out there now that grade players on how they played in the game. I don’t know how you do that. You have no idea what’s being taught. So I think obviously we’re able to look at it as coaches with a little bit more of a critical eye than most, but I think we’re all looking for the same things. We’re looking for consistency. And with the amount of players that have maybe played four games in their entire college career that we have on the field, we gotta increase that. We gotta increase those numbers of plays that they’re playing at the level they’re capable of playing. And that’s eliminating hesitation, that’s eliminating thinking, because the reps and the things that we’ve been able to show them on tape or in the meeting rooms or on the practice field, that it becomes second nature to them. And we’re trying to speed up that maturation process as much as we can.
Q. James, with Mark Allen’s injury, what would you like to see from Ricky Slade now? And he hasn’t had a catch yet. When he spells Miles, do you see him factoring more into the passing game now as a result of?COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it’s consistency. You got a young player, and he’s obviously shown flashes of really good things, but it’s kind of like what we just talked about is just consistency.