Mid-November has hit and we are limited in our remaining Tuesdays where James Franklin meets the media. It happened and you can read the full transcript here.
Or, follow along as we cover the highlights ahead of Saturday’s trip to Rutgers.
Some somber and some celebration. Franklin opened by offering his condolences to the University of Virginia’s football team in the wake of the events earlier this week. With as good a segue as could be done, James offered his best wishes to a couple of Penn State teams advancing in the NCAA tournament (read more about it on Thursday from this same blogger).
Then, in a surprising bit of candor, Franklin called out misinformation that has been spread about starting cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Franklin made it clear that Porter Jr. has been felled by appendicitis and, later, that Penn State is hopeful to have him back.
There was some praise dating back to the Maryland game - much of it heaped upon kicker Jake Pinegar. Lastly, Franklin previewed a bit of Rutgers and mentioned some known names as good coaches and some players as ones to watch.
Praise for Tig Brown
Asked about the journey and impact of safety Ji’Ayir Brown, Franklin gave glowing praise and called him one of the better leaders that he’s had at Penn State. As a player, Franklin added that his name should be all over NFL draft boards as the season comes to a close.
Praise for Pinegar
Asked directly about Pinegar and his success, James made sure to mention other specialists who were doing well - namely Chris Stoll. Franklin said that Pinegar has made a couple of big kicks lately and it’s helped his confidence grow.
With Porter Jr. out of the lineup, Franklin said that some familiar cornerbacks played well on Saturday - King, Hardy, Wilson, Dixon. He also added that Cam Miller is showing some growth and will likely see the field more. Meanwhile, Christian Driver played some in the defensive backfield against Maryland, but he will have some posititional flexibility and will see some time on offense in the future.
More on Running Backs
Your weekly question about the play of Penn State’s running back duo gets a similar answer. Franklin said both are still just scratching the surface, but Penn State is getting what it expected when it signed the two last year. There was also some praise of the offensive line and tight end blocking here.
To Go or Not to Go
Asked about the thought process on going for it on fourth downs, Franklin went into sort of a longwinded, yet interesting discussion about how he does determine this. Penn State, along with other teams in the Big Ten, according to Franklin, subscribes to a company that presents statistical background for coaching decisions - like fourth down or two-point conversions. Franklin said he also meets with a group of about four others on his staff to gain input. Lastly, he did talk about how sometimes game feel can become a factor. He said though that overall it’s been an interesting trend seeing more and more coaches be aggressive on fourth down play calls.
Just a little Clifford mentioned as next week figures to be a lot of Sean talk during press conferences. But, Franklin was asked about how appreciated his longtime quarterback is by the Penn State faithful. Franklin said most are positive, but it’s something that he knows can’t always be controlled.
Asked about the T formation that Penn State broke two touchdown runs out of last week, Franklin said he likes the short-yardage formation because of the balance it can provide. He said it also forces teams to play Cover 0, meaning one burst by Nick Singleton can result in those explosive plays like on Saturday.
Franklin was asked about his message to the team throughout this season in terms of not getting too high or too low. There was a lot of 1-0 coach speak here.
Juice is Worth the Squeeze
James was asked about Juice Scruggs and spent a lot of time praising him and his mother. He said that Scruggs has a great attitude and James even said that he would allow Juice to babysit his children, have him work for James at Penn State, or even let Juice be his boss in the right work situation.
Franklin, in some of these press conferences, has alluded to the differences in present day college football. He elaborated some on Tuesday, noting how agents being able to contact players has made things very different for coaches. The once taboo subject of playing time has now become a regular thing that is discussed between coaches, players, and families. Agents and the portal have made that a necessity.
More on Brown
Franklin elaborated on his answer about how successful he believes Tig Brown will be moving forward. He noted his drive and determination and the fact that he is never satisfied with his performance. With a later question, Franklin mentioned how positive a mentor Brown has been to the other safeties that he plays alongside.
Asked about his team’s ability to scramble to fill voids left by injured players, Franklin spoke about the team’s attempt to play a lot of young players and building depth. Nothing too exciting here, but he did point to the number of players who have recorded a sack as being evidence of that depth coming along over the course of the season.
Johnny the Last Spot
One last question stayed focused in the secondary as Franklin was asked about the progress of Johnny Dixon. Typical stuff about him working hard and then turning attention to how the defensive back coaches have done a nice job.
Obviously Count: 26 - 24 by James