James Franklin conducted his normal Tuesday press conference from State College, Pennsylvania. These are his words, minus 22 obviously-ies.
HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Appreciate you guys coming out like always and covering Penn State Football. the weather has changed.
Typically, I get into Players of the Week. We don’t do that in this situation. You know, I think the biggest thing that summarizes the game is we did fight extremely hard for four quarters, had a chance to win at the end, but we had turned the ball over five times all year and we turned the ball over three times on the road against an undefeated team in the Big Ten on the road.
Had as tough of a four-game stretch as probably anybody in the country. Did not play well enough to win. Got to give Minnesota credit, but we did not play well enough to win.
Getting into Indiana. Last time Indiana found a way to get a win over Penn State was in 2013 right before we got here. We’ve had pretty competitive games with these guys. They have been pretty competitive with everybody and this year, they are having a heck of a year.
I think Coach Allen has done a great job. I really like Tom. He’s got great energy. I think he’s in it for the right reasons. Cares about the kids and is building that program the right way. It’s great to see him having the success he’s having in year three.
Coming into the year, they had a good around of returning starters, 21 returning starters, nine on offense, nine on defense and two specialists. You look at them on offense, Coach DeBoer has done a really good job. He’s got a really interesting resume.
As you guys know, I try to have an understanding of who their coaching staff is, where they got them from, their background, but he’s got a pretty extensive background and has been very, very successful. they were able to hire him away from Fresno State.
They are throwing the ball all over the field. They are a spread offense, running the ball probably less than what we have seen from Indiana over the last few years. But they are throwing it extremely well, predominately 11 personnel team but they will go 11, they will go 12. They mix in tempo. They go unbalanced. They do it all.
Very impressed with offensive lineman No. 68, Hunter Littlejohn.
Stevie Scott is a kid from our region. He’s a New York kid who has really played well. Played well last year for them. Is playing well right now. Got over 700 yards rushing but he’s a nice complement to what they do offensively.
And they have a young man, Whop Philyor, No. 1, wide receiver, who is having a really good year. I think coming into this year he had like 57 career catches and he’s got 59 this year out of Tampa and making a bunch of plays.
They have co-defensive coordinators in Mark Hagen and Kane Wommack. I think Kane Wommack is the one who calls the defense but they do have co-defensive coordinators. They play hard. They are a four-down defense. They do play a variation of robber coverage which we don’t see a whole lot and mix in quarters and some man coverage, as well, with blitz behind it.
It’s interesting. You look at their team and how their team is built. I know Coach Allen had spent some time at South Florida, but they are heavy Florida -- I think eight out of the 11 starters on defense are from Florida -- Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi is a big part of their team and who they are.
Their linebacker, Reakwon Jones out of Florida is a very good player. We’ve been impressed with him.
Also No. 9, Marcelino Ball out of Georgia, he changed numbers from last year but he’s playing extremely well.
And then Tiawan Mullen. Tiawan Mullen is a true freshman corner out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’ve been impressed with him.
Their special teams coordinator, William Inge, I’ve known him for a long time. He’s been there for seven seasons. They are doing a good job on special teams.
Again wide receiver No. 1 Whop Philyor shows up against and so does wide receiver No. 10, David Ellis.
So it’s going to be a really good opportunity. It’s going to be a real challenge. They are coming in here playing with a lot of confidence, ranked in the Top-25, so on and so forth. Kind of how our schedule has been all year long and I know our guys are looking forward to getting back into the stadium and playing a game.
Q. You mentioned Saturday what you learned about yourself after your team’s first loss each of the last years. Is there anything else you learned, or your staff or players learned, that might help everyone move forward after Saturday’s loss?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: We had a bunch of discussions about it on Sunday and had a bunch of discussions about it on Monday, as well, our day off. I think the most important thing is finding the best way for your team to make the directions and that’s all of us, coaches, players, everybody, make the directions, grow from it, learn from it and then put it to bed and move on.
We do those things on Sunday. We work very hard to try to do those things after wins. We work very hard to try to do those things after losses and we are going to need to do that this week. We approach it like we always do, and I’m looking forward to seeing us out there on the practice field today flying around and practicing hard.
One of the things I did mention, I might have mentioned to you guys is that everything can be used as fuel. You know, when you win, the confidence is used as fuel. When you have setbacks, that adversity can be used as fuel. That’s how we are approaching it and going to move forward but I think, you know, I talked to a bunch of the players, as well and I think they kind of feel the same way.
Q. Saturday was the first time in a while you had a tough time in the red zone. After watching the tape, any common threads you saw on the drives that didn’t end in touchdowns or what stood out to you there?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, we’ve been one of the better red zone teams in the country. We did not do that on Saturday. You know, we had one play where we snapped it right with the clock was running out, where they probably could have penalized us.
We had another one where I had to burn a time-out. We did not have a sense of urgency with our operation like we normally do, and on the road, that’s always more challenging. Everything takes a few seconds longer, so I think that throws you off a little bit but we did not do a good job of that all day long.
They had a plan to make sure that they were going to play some bracket coverage on K.J. and Pat, which is smart. That’s where the one penalty came from that they called the offensive pass interference because they were playing a bracket coverage, a guy on the outside, a guy on the inside.
But I thought they played hard. Even when we attacked them on the outside, one-on-ones, their corners made plays. You know, but we had some opportunities that we did not capitalize on, so we have been as good as anybody in the country all year long, and I don’t think Saturday is representative of who we’ve been.
Q. How would you assess the contributions of the wide receivers beyond K.J. and Dotson this season?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: We’ve got to be more consistent. There’s no doubt about it. We have to be more consistent. I think Pat’s done a really good job and Bowers has done a good job, and I think our running backs have contributed more than in years past.
K.J. is making plays and made some tough catches on Saturday. But we’ve got to be more consistent at that last position, there’s no doubt about it.
But that gets spread around. I mean, we’ve also missed some throws. We threw some balls into the ground. We threw a post to open the game; that we’ve got to lead the guy so he can run away with a corner on his back hip. That gets spread around. We’ve got to find ways to get those guys involved in a little bit more early in games, as well. I think it’s all of it.
But at the end of the day, when the ball comes, you know, you’ve got to make the plays and we have all of the faith and confidence that we can do it and that they can do it. We’ve just got to bring it out in them more.
Q. Your secondary, or your pass defense, your pass defense I think is ranked tenth in the Big Ten. Is there something that is the biggest issue there? Is that surprising to you that maybe that’s been more of a problem than you think, or you would have thought the beginning of the year?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think when you tie that statement with Saturday, I get it.
But I think you have to be careful with statistics sometimes, because when you’re as good at stopping the run as we are, then people are going to throw the ball more. So I think in general, we’ve been pretty good.
This past Saturday, again, we didn’t play our best football, so you know, I understand the point you’re making, but when you tie that stat, which I’ll give you a perfect example.
A lot of times, the guy that leads the conference in tackles -- and I’m not being specific about anybody. When you look at stats, I don’t want anybody to misinterpret what I’m saying.
But in my 24 years, a lot of times the guys that lead the conference in tackles, they are on a team where the defense is on the field the most. It’s not necessarily that they are the best linebacker or best safety in the league.
I just think you have to be careful with stats. There’s no doubt they tell a story. I think overall, we’ve been pretty good this year in pass defense, but we’ve also been really good in rush defense, which has forced people to pass more.
I would not have thought going into that game, that we would have rushed for more yards early in the game like that, and that they would have been as successful as they were throwing the ball. That was our game plan. was to force them into throwing situations, and they did a very good job with it. There’s no doubt about it.
Q. What was the mood of the team when you met with them on Sunday, and are you concerned at all about anybody losing confidence over what happened on Saturday?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: We’re 8-1. We’re one of the best teams in the country. You know, probably doesn’t feel that way around here right now, but we dealt with it. We handled it. I mean, when you have success and you win, you’re more confident and when you have setbacks and you lose, it challenges that, but we’ve got a resilient group of guys and a resilient coaching staff. Although we need the time to prepare, Saturday can’t come soon enough.
Q. I realize it’s only Tuesday, but what have you seen, body language, things that guys have said or done, that tells you that they have processed the loss and gotten right back into the “1-0 this week” saying that you always want?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, today will really tell me where we’re at. It’s hard to determine that on Sunday in a walk-through and really what we do on Sundays, it’s hard to really tell that.
Mondays, we don’t really see them much. They are on their own, and we are in the submarine watching tape and trying to put the game plan together. So today, you know, will give me a pretty good idea.
We have practiced well all year long. I expect us to practice well today, and I would also anticipate that we probably have even a little bit more of a chip on our shoulder than we’ve had. But I do feel pretty strongly; we’ve practiced well all year long.
Q. After watching the film, what was your overall evaluation of Sean Clifford’s performance?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I thought he played a gutsy, gutsy performance. I thought he played really hard. He made some big-time plays. He handled adversity. He missed some throws that he typically makes, both from an accuracy standpoint and also from a decision-making standpoint and he’s been fantastic.
I think he’s probably -- although probably people don’t want to admit this, he’s probably played better than anybody anticipated him coming into the year. I’m very proud of him. Very, very proud of him.
One of the things I did talk to him a little bit about is, you know, I think his greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness and a lot of us I think are built like that. I know I am. He cares so much that he’s got to funnel that energy the right way. I think sometimes he’s maybe too amped up. Probably could use to take a deep breath and be a little bit more poised. That’s because he cares so much. He cares so much. It’s very, very important to him.
But I think if you watch the tape, he made some big-time plays. He made some impressive plays, but he missed some. He knows that. I’m not stating anything -- I think one of the things that I think is difficult sometimes is you come in here and you know, I think a lot of times, our press conferences are compared to maybe professional sports and this isn’t professional sports.
I’m just very careful in what I say, because I think we forget sometimes -- although my guys are 6-6, 290 pounds, they are still growing, maturing young men.
It’s one thing to have conversations in private about things that we need to get better and be critical. It’s another to come out in a public setting and do it, as well. I couldn’t be more proud of Sean. I know after the game, he took it very hard, but we’ll be better because of this. I’m determined and believe that we’ll be better because of this.
Q. Micah Parsons did not start Saturday. First, is there any information you can share about why? And maybe even more importantly than the why, is what impact does it have on the overall team when one of your best players and team leaders gets himself into any kind of trouble for any reason and has to be disciplined?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, when you are not playing starters, it has an impact. We were down a starter for the entire game, and Micah didn’t start the game, but played starter reps. But yeah, it definitely has an impact.
Getting into why, once again, I’m not going to do that, as you guys know. I will say it was a behavior modification, but that’s about as far as I’ll get into it.
But I also want you guys to understand, you know, Micah really has been good. He’s doing really well in school. This is all new to him. It’s a big change; the amount of structure, the expectations, the standards is different.
And 99.9 percent of the times, he’s been good. But yeah, I think whenever you don’t have your best players in the game for any reason, it has an impact.
Q. From the limited amount you saw Sunday?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think Saturday night, again, it’s hard to say that because it’s just raw emotion in the locker room. Sunday, I think sometimes they are more resilient than we are. They seemed pretty good on Sunday. I went around and had some individual conversations with guys. I think we are handling it as well as you can under the circumstances.
Again, today, I think will give us a really good idea of where we’re at. I think we’re in a good place, but again, I’ll no better after today’s practice. But I think what I saw in the locker room Saturday night is guys taking ownership, which was great. Everybody taking ownership of things that they could do better.
So I think that’s a good place to start from, because the worst thing you can have in the locker room are people blaming others. I think when you’re young, that’s probably the natural thing to do from a defense mechanism standpoint, but I didn’t see a whole lot of that with our guys. Our guys were good.
Again, I don’t mean to keep saying this to you guys, but it’s just hard to give you these answers based on a Sunday with, what our Sunday schedule is like, and we only see them Sunday evening for a short period of time and Monday we don’t see them at all. I don’t mean to keep giving you guys the answer, but that’s the truth.
Q. Obviously after the first loss last year, you followed it up with another loss at home. So what can you do as coaches to avoid another loss and keep confidence up and stuff like that?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, you know, and again, I’m going to answer your question, but it’s kind of pretty much the story line that everybody has been asking me. I’ve kind of answer that had question about 12 different ways. You’re probably the most direct with it.
But it’s about moving on. It’s about, okay, here are the issues. Here are the things that we’ve got to get corrected. I do think the stretch that we were on played a factor in that. But we had to make the corrections and we need to move on.
Today -- sorry, but today will give us a pretty good idea where we’re at with that.
Q. Michael Penix had been very accurate in the short area of the field when he was the starting quarterback, since going down with injury, Peyton Ramsey has come in. Does he still have that same element in their offense and how does it change between the two quarterbacks when you remove that sort of passing element from their offense?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think if I read this correctly, I actually think Ramsey is the nation’s leader in completion -- career completion percentage, over 400 passes, if I’m correct. If you watch him, he’s playing well and really has played well.
I do think the Penix kid was taking it to a whole other level. I think he’s got a chance to be special. But we’ve been very impressed with Ramsey. We’ve been very impressed with him. He’s doing a nice job. He’s got good mobility. He’s making big-time throws.
It’s kind of an unusual circumstance because what you see going on in college football right now is when something like that happens, a guy loses a starting job, they are gone. So Coach Allen has done a really good job of keeping him there.
I don’t know the backstory and all those types of things, but the fact that they have a really, really excite young quarterback who had been the starter, and then a veteran stayed around and now is getting his opportunity again; he had been playing throughout the year, too. You know, that’s a pretty good situation to be in in today’s college football.
Sometimes I’m doing this, and I don’t know if you think I’m frowning and grumpy, but a lot of times it’s the lights.
Q. Cool. Moving on.HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: But I’m also frowning and grumpy (Laughter).
Q. Indiana’s receivers, four of their Top-5 receivers are all over 6-2. You faced some big wide receivers last weekend. How do they compare to Minnesota and what do you take from having faced those sizable receivers last week?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think the guy that really jumps out to us, and don’t get me wrong, they have got a number of guys, but the guys that really jumps out to us is the guy I mentioned a couple of times, Whop, an interesting name, from Tampa, Florida. But he’s 5-11, 178 pounds. I think he falls more into the category of like Jahan Dotson and K.J.
Although, the other guys, to your point, have been successful as well. I think they are probably similar to what they see from our guys in practice every single day.
the experience against Minnesota’s wide receivers, who we have a lot of respect for going into the game, thought it was the best wide receiver group that we had seen up to that point this year. That experience and going against our guys in practice, I think will give us a chance to be successful Saturday.
Q. Clifford’s first time in the spotlight after a tough loss. P.J. Mustipher told us this morning that in the locker room afterward you made it a point to bring Sean in front of the team and absolve blame in some ways. How have you seen Sean in the last couple of days coming back kind of resume his normal role move beyond those emotions, and what has he done based on the body of work you’ve seen that he is the type of kid that can shake this off and keep his eyes forward?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: That’s a great question. My answer is going to be very similar to what it’s been to every other one of your guys’ questions.
I can’t really tell you, again, because of what I’ve already said.
But I just have a lot of confidence in how Sean is wired. He is going to be driven by this. He was already driven, but he’s going to be driven by this even more, by the way he was raised, by the type of high school program he’s come from, by how he’s been in our program since he’s been here.
I think you guys see the passion and the heart that he plays with. I think it’s probably one of his strongest characteristics, and how he prepares. I think he’s going to do everything in his power and more to make sure he doesn’t feel the way he felt Saturday night, just like I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I don’t feel like I did Saturday night, this Saturday night.
So you know, the thing we won’t do, you know, is we’re not going to make -- I think one of the worst things you can do when things like this happen you is make dramatic changes. You don’t make dramatic changes if your process is correct and I think over the last three years, the data would support that our process is pretty darn good.
And that’s individual decisions with players. We’re in the developmental business and we’re going to continue to do that, and that’s the same thing as a team.
Now don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean we stick our head in the sand pile and not look at the game and our preparation for the game and say: What do we need to do better, what can we get better at and what slight modifications can we make. We’re doing that.
But Sean, I know, is going to do what he’s done all year long, which has worked very well for him, but does he -- does he maybe watch 15 minutes more tape? Does he watch -- does he ask three more questions? Probably. You know, I think again, I don’t think your process should change, but it’s human nature that it’s probably going to drive him a little bit more.
Q. You guys seemed like you had success with the tailback running the ball, and I know you’re behind, but the run/pass balance. Were you satisfied that it was like the 44-29? Did you think you got a way from the run a little bit? And also, curious about just the special teams penalties, what can be done there.HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: The special teams penalties is an issue. That is an issue.
The run/pass balance, again, I don’t know if you’re basing that off of the statistics or if you’re basing that just off your feel of watching the game, because we had some big runs early on and then after that, we were kind of grinding out. I actually think we had our most success in the second half when we were throwing the ball and throwing the ball quickly with tempo.
So I didn’t necessarily feel that way to your -- to your point. But we just -- we’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve got to be more efficient in everything we do. But I didn’t necessarily feel that way. I thought we started out and we made some big runs early on. They had a guy there to make the tackle. In the hole, we made a miss or broke the tackle and took it the distance and as the game went on, they didn’t miss as many of those tackles.
So I didn’t necessarily see it or feel it that way.
Q. With the running backs, when you look at Journey and the success they had, what do you remember about his recruitment kind of beyond the track background that obviously impressed you guys?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, you know, he had the track times that really jump out at you. He had unbelievable production in terms of I think you guys all know the story of the 700 yards and ten touchdowns or whatever it was in one game.
So he had the ability. But I think sometimes, when you’re just so dominant like that at the level of football he was playing in, you know, would it translate, because a lot of times he was just getting the ball and going down the sideline, without breaking tackles, without making people miss.
But at the end of the day, we had an in-state kid who is a really good kid that wanted to be here and had great times and had great measurements and had unbelievable production. You know, he’d come here and he’s been really good. I’m very proud of him. Very proud of him and he just keeps getting better.
I think you’re going to see that continue with him as he gains confidence in games and as he adds kind of a few more tools to his tool belt compared to high school where he could just, you know, run past everybody. I think our coaching staff and specifically Coach Seider has done a good job.
I just you’re going to see those backs, all of them -- and even Journey, though he’s the older vet of the group, he’s still fairly young from a experience standpoint and a playing standpoint. I just think you’re going to see all those guys continue to get better, Ricky and Journey and Devyn and Noah and all of them.
Q. As the season’s progressed what has changed, if anything, regarding the running back philosophy? For example, we saw a lot more of one running back this past game, and the last two games we saw your starting running back get carries on the first two drives. So what, if anything, has changed there?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Nothing really has changed. We’ve had some injuries that have changed it, is probably the only thing. But we’ve said in the past that if a guy was hot, we would stay with them and that’s happened. So we’ve left guys in there.
But really, the only difference has been we’ve had some guys get banged up that we could have played. Noah could have played, but it didn’t make sense to play a 90 percent Noah when we had three other guys at 100 percent.
Q. When it comes to the running backs being involved in the receiving game, how can that help in terms of spreading the ball around, because K.J. and Pat have gotten the majority of the receptions. How have the running backs in the receiving game helped spread the ball around on offense?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think the more ways you can get people the ball in their hands -- I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I actually think the running backs have probably been more involved in the passing game this year than in years past. It’s probably an area we can still get better. But those guys have been good.
we had the big play on Saturday. They got called back on the penalty that was to the running back that would have left us with the ball on the two-yard line with a chance to win. We have plays to be able to put those guys in position to make plays, and sometimes it’s just how the coverage and the read goes, whether it gets to them or not.
Q. When you look at the series where Devyn came in around the goal line, we talked about the red zone, but were there any plays there that you think you guys could have with hindsight done differently or gone about differently, as opposed to the three runs and the shot to K.J. on fourth down?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: No. No. I don’t have that series broken down specifically to be able to sit here and tell you and second-guess.
And to be honest with you, I don’t know if I would do that, anyway. Those conversations that I’d have with the players or with my staff, you know, I wouldn’t have them here publically with you. But no, I don’t have anything.
I think if you look at our offensive production on Saturday, was pretty good. We weren’t good in the red zone. The turnovers and our red zone production was the difference and those two things, I think everybody in the room would admit we’ve been pretty good at those things all year long.
So what I try to do is try not to overreact in small -- in small amounts of either reps or when I got eight games to look at compared to one, we’re not going to overreact. That doesn’t mean we don’t study it and we don’t study it hard and try to get better and those things. I’m not saying that.
But we’ve -- I think coming into this game, we were the only team in the country that was ranked in the Top-10 in all three efficiencies, offense, defense and special teams, and again, specifically to turnovers and red zone, that’s the area we’ve been good. We weren’t good there on Saturday.
Q. You expressed confidence in Mustipher’s ability to step up last week. Did he do that and what does it mean to get Antonio Shelton back into the fold this week?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think he did some good things and took a step. We missed Antonio and will be happy to have him back. I think we missed Antonio’s leadership on the sideline as much as we missed his presence on the field. He’s a smart guy. He’s a vocal guy. He’s a loud guy and is not afraid to speak his mind on the sideline, like you guys have seen in the press conferences, as well. He does a really good job and we miss that. We really did, so having him back will be good.
Q. You’ve talked about how proud you are of where Clifford is at this point in his career stars being a quarterback. How much do you put on his plate in perspective to other schools and what other quarterbacks at the college football level are asked to do, how much is on his plate versus other places you might have been or seen?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think a decent amount. The interesting thing is, I think sometimes in the spread offense, the perception out there is there’s less sophisticated reads. You always heard the knock on the spread guys in the NFL. It’s amazing, if you look, the NFL is almost dominated by spread quarterbacks now.
But what’s interesting is I would actually say, it’s more taxing because on every single play they are involved -- where in a pro-style offense, there’s plays where you’re just going to turn around and hand the ball off and maybe follow out a fake, that’s about it.
But typically any spread RPO offenses, you are reading on every single play. You know, whether you’re reading a defensive end or outsider linebacker, or whether to give or whether to pull. I actually think it’s more challenging at the quarterback position.
it depends on how you build it and how do you it. There’s some people that are probably a little less sophisticated than others. Being a guy who is part of a West Coast offense, that’s what we ran when I was at Maryland and that’s what we ran when I was at Vanderbilt and that’s what we ran when I first got here, more of a pro-style West Coast offense that became very popular with Bill Walsh and the details and the complexity of it.
I think Sean’s doing a really good job, and I think he’s got a good amount on his plate. And I think, again, I think you look at the entire season overall, pretty darn good. We had a quarterback before him that was pretty good, and you could compare the two, and I think Sean’s numbers and production would be favorable.
Q. When you have a big game like that and some young receivers drop balls, how do you balance that between points out mistakes and tough love or kill them with kindness? How do you go about approaching that?HEAD COACH JAMES FRANKLIN: I think it’s a fine line. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. You can’t avoid it and ignore it like it didn’t happen, but it’s got to be addressed.
during the game, I don’t think you see me or anybody overreact to those guys. It’s just not how we go about our business. I don’t understand how that helps you.
Now, in practice, we can be hard on guys. In meetings, I wouldn’t say we’re hard, but we’re direct and we have tough conversations to kind of work through it.
But I think when you remember that most people and most young people are harder on themselves than you’ll ever be, then I think that changes how you approach things.
So at the end of the day, we’ve got to build their confidence up and we’ve got to build their fundamentals and skills up so they make those plays, rather than spending so much time on what they didn’t do.
I do got something. I want to talk a little bit about, because at the end of the game, I got some questions -- some questions about going for two, and I kind of want to talk about that specific situation.
But I also kind of want to talk big picture of what I struggle with, and maybe next summer at the barbeque, you guys can fill me in on your perspective, because it’s probably not the setting for this right now.
But so going for two in that situation. We looked at the classic two-point chart, which said go for it. We used our analytics stuff, which said go for it. We decided to go for it partly because we’re on the road, not playing as well as we thought we should be at the time, and if we picked up the two-point conversion, it increased our chances and put us in a better situation. If we didn’t pick it up, we still were going to have to overcome those points at some point.
At the end of the day, here is the thing I struggle with. A lot of these decisions are not clear-cut. There’s some that are. But there’s a lot that are not clear-cut. It’s a gut feel. And what I struggle with is when those decisions -- and again, I already told you the two-point chart said go for it and the analytics stuff said go for it.
But then opinions are stated as facts. And I struggle with that. I struggle with things that go on when it comes to discipline and people know very little of the story, but have really strong opinions on how things are supposed to play out.
I’ll give you another example, end of the game plan, end of the game, we’re trying to decide, do we go on-sides kick -- everybody know what I’m talking about, end of the game -- do you go on-sides kick there? Or, do you kick it deep, hold them, and burn your time-outs? Right?
We decided to kick it deep. We decided to do a squib kick. You guys probably saw me bring them over there because I was hoping with a squib kick we had a chance of pinning them inside the 25, because every yard mattered at that point.
And you never know. With one guy deep having to cover the whole field, you kick it at an angle, you may go down and recover it and he may bobble it, which he did bobble it. We stopped them, went three-and-out, and I burned the time outs. That was the right decision. Why? Why was that the right decision? Because it worked. Because we stopped them. They went three-and-out, and I burned the time-outs. If they would have picked up two first downs and ended the game, I would have been getting my butt ripped in the press conference for why didn’t you go on-sides kick.
You’re missing my point. My point is, is sometimes the decisions are clear-cut, and I get it. And I make mistakes. A lot of people make mistakes. But when things are gray, when things are gray and things are stated as facts, I struggle with that.
When I see people criticizing decisions on discipline -- and I’m not just talking about my program -- and you don’t have all the facts, I just struggle with things being stated as facts when they are not. They are opinions.
And a lot of times, it’s based on how it plays out. If I went for it too early in the game and we picked up the two, it’s a great decision. We threw a screen. They had three guys we had two. If they run inside and score, we get two. It’s a great situation.
I’m not saying I’m always right. But it’s easy after the fact to say that that was a bad decision when we don’t -- when we don’t execute.
Now, at the end of the day, I’ll be the first one to admit, I’m ultimately responsible for making sure that we execute the decision. So I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m still responsible for all of it, and I’ll take it. But I will tell you that’s where some of my frustration comes from sometimes. And doing this for 24 years, that’s the hard part. You can disagree with me. You’re more than welcome to. I’m stating my opinion on how I see it. I appreciate you guys listening to me and letting me vent for a few minutes, and it is on to Indiana and I’ll look forward to not answering any more questions about last week and Minnesota.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports