Off a resounding rebound win against Minnesota, James Franklin met with the media to talk about his team’s White Out performance, a look ahead at No. 2 Ohio State, and the tunnel incident at Michigan.
Like usual, you can read the full transcript by clicking here. Otherwise, here’s a summary of James from State College on Tuesday.
Franklin opened the press conference by sending out his thoughts and prayers to the family of Bani Gbadyu, the former linebacker who passed away recently from cancer.
James also pointed out a lot of different players by name for their contributions on the game and practice field form last week, emphasizing that Sean Clifford (a subject of much debate a week ago) had been honored as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Franklin then continued by pointing out all of the weapons that Ohio State has, both on the field and on its coaching staff.
A really bland question to open about how a good performance can build momentum heading into a big game. James gave a typically bland answer agreeing with the premise of the question.
Are We Elite?
A reporter took Franklin back to 2018 when we heard the famed great to elite speech following the White Out loss to Ohio State. Franklin said the team has made some improvements in moving in that direction, while noting how excited he is to work with a new president and new athletic director. Pretty standard corporate speak.
Asked about how much of a pass rush is being generated and if it’s to his liking, Franklin said that overall he was pleased with how well his team is playing. He clearly said he’d like to have more sacks and more tackles for loss, but it was an area that he thought his team was performing well.
Focus on the Week
A reporter asked a question about Clifford and fans’ reactions to him, noting that Franklin paused an extra second or two earlier in the press conference when announcing that Sean was Big Ten Player of the Week. After joking that there must have been a WiFi issue for that reporter to see such a glitch, Franklin doubled down on his rhetoric a week ago of doing all that he could to control what was happening with his team heading into a big game.
Franklin shifted a question aimed at seeing how the offense was purposefully using tempo a little more against Minnesota to say that he felt the offense’s best balance came with it using some tempo, some different cadences, and a little more misdirection. He said using those different things helped keep the Golden Gophers off balance, which is ultimately the goal of his team.
Building a Roster
Franklin was asked about how Penn State was built to seemingly match up fairly well against Ohio State, but how that might not translate to playing other conference powers. Franklin said it was a fair question, noting that one of the biggest challenges in playing in a conference like the Big Ten is the diversity of the opponents. He mentioned former defensive lineman Kevin Givens by name as the kind of valuable player he’s had before who could play defensive end against a power team like Wisconsin, while also being a productive defensive tackle against other teams in the league.
A reporter asked if the combination of defensive backs that Penn State had gave Franklin more confidence than ever headed into a game against the Buckeyes. Franklin was quick to point out that while those guys in the secondary are the strength of the defense, Ohio State has the ability at running back and tight end to capitalize there. Similarly, he said that Stroud was a great quarterback and in the Heisman mix for a reason.
Ready for Competition
Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton have risen to the top of what, when they enrolled, was a busy running back room. The question was aimed at asking about those two players’ mentality in coming to Penn State with such competition. Franklin said that’s simply the goal of every position - to find players who are going to get a lot out of Penn State and, at the same time, embrace the mentality of going against talented guys for reps.
Depends on Matchups
Franklin was asked about starting Abdul Carter with Curtis Jacobs against Minnesota. Franklin reiterated that it was because of matchups. He said around college football that it’s rare to see three linebackers on the field for most plays. James added the goal of the coaching staff is not just put the best 11 players on the field, but put the best players on the field to match up with what the opposing offense will be attempting.
Offensive Line Shuffle
Penn State had some injuries on Saturday that forced some shuffling on the offensive line. Franklin was asked about Bryce Effner and answered as he has in the past. Effner is a valuable part of the line and viewed as another starter. He was also asked about freshman Vega Ioane. Franklin raved about his size and his growth as a player, noting that Penn State would like to redshirt him but how that might not be possible now.
There was a question about how important turnovers have been with Ohio State and how Penn State gave up a defensive touchdown to the Buckeyes last year. Franklin said turnovers are important in every game.
Muddled Manny Question
There was a question about Manny Diaz and his value in a game like this with his aggressive style of defense. Franklin sort of acknowledged that he didn’t get the point of the question and said some general things about how there are a lot of ways to skin a cat on defense, but that he did think Diaz’s style matched well with the personnel that Penn State has on its roster.
The 1-0 Process
Franklin was asked a bloviated question about Ohio State being a big game on the schedule. Franklin gave a similarly bloviated answer, talking about “leaning into their process” in order to try to get the best from their players each week, while knowing that some weeks the game is going to inevitably be larger.
Franklin basically said that it’s impossible to fully show a scout team that has as talented a quarterback as Stroud, but that the team would be working “good-on-good” in some scenarios to help with game speed.
Asked about the phrase “establish the run” and his thoughts on it, Franklin went every week Franklin in saying that his team seeks balance on offense.
No More Tunnel
Last week, Franklin gave his thoughts on Michigan Stadium’s tunnel, saying it was a problem. Jim Harbaugh, in his first media availability since, said he had bigger things to worry about than James Franklin’s thoughts on Michigan Stadium’s tunnel. On Tuesday, Franklin said he was done talking about the tunnel. There you go.
Asked about further upgrades he’d like to see with his program, Franklin said the focus was on Ohio State and that was an offseason question.
Obviously Count: 12 (14 if you count the media)