James Franklin met with the media for his regular Tuesday press conference. You can read the full transcript here or check out some of the highlights through the lens of this writer.
Franklin began with the usual chat about how Penn State performed in areas that they track (well), announced some players of the week (you can probably guess them), and gave a brief synopsis of Maryland football (they have coaches he knows and players he recruited). But, there’s a gem here folks. He spoke at length about an IU chain gang member who was in Memorial Stadium back in October 2020 and wouldn’t stop until he told James a story about remembering how Franklin called for Devyn Ford not to score in the closing moments of that game. Turns out, according to James, that chain gang member is a pastor of the church and has relayed that story at times as a message that what seems good at the moment might not be good for you down the road. Maybe this applies to players thinking about the portal or the NFL Draft? Or maybe James just wanted to relay a story?
Offensive Line Update
Franklin was asked about Hunter Nourzad’s decision to return in 2023, something he announced earlier on Tuesday. Franklin said he spoke to Nourzad and his family recently and that Nourzad said there are still things he’d like to accomplish at Penn Staet. Franklin added that these kinds of conversations are normal during the course of the season.
Meanwhile, as written about here earlier today, guard Landon Tengwall is out for the year following surgery and Olu Fashanu is week-to-week in terms of his availabilty.
Running Back Rotation
A lot of the same old about Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Both have grown as players. Both complement each other well. Both are viewed as starters, etc. Franklin said that one of the values of having the two share carries is that they’re able to stay fresh.
Jake Pinegar was named the staff’s special teams player of the week following his performance at Indiana, one that saw him do a good job of getting touchbacks on kickoffs and avoiding Indiana’s dangerous return man. Franklin noted how hard Pinegar has worked following the departure of Jordan Stout in order to be able to handle both roles (place kicker and kickoff specialist) well.
Wanting it All
Asked about the potential of going 10-2 without any true “signature” win, coach speak took over and it was 1-0 mentality, you want to win all your games, etc. etc. A question that at best gets this response and at worst just proves disrepectful of a team’s opponents. Just not a good one - even if 10-2 would be a little hollow to some fans (like 2009).
A Not Forgotten Man
Quarterback Christian Veilleux hasn’t seen the field much this season, but Franklin gave a lengthy answer about his value to the program. Franklin noted how he hoped the Canadian backup would stick around and chase his dream, etc. at Penn State. However, Franklin acknowledged the obvious that a lot of things from the old system of pre-portal college football has changed - and that includes players staying as career backups.
Franklin elaborated some on how good a teammate and player Landon Tengwall has been thus far in his career. The Maryland native has played well at guard and tackle for the Lions and Franklin reiterated that he’s been a low drama, high performance player dating back to his recruitment.
More offensive line talk and, much like this site, Franklin provided some praise for offensive line coach Phil Trautwein. Franklin added the offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich did a good job in game planning as Penn State dealt with those offensive line health issues. There was praise too for freshman tackle Drew Shelton along with Fashanu who helped coach him up during the week.
Redshirt Impact on Offensive Line
Franklin said that his staff is hopeful to get Caeden Wallace back this week and that there’s been a lot of shuffling as the Lions try to protect some redshirts for their offensive linemen (namely J.B. Nelson). It’s a situation worth monitoring over the final three games of the season.
As of press conference time, Franklin had not voted - but he said he would later on Tuesday. He also said the staff has spent the past couple weeks encouraging their players to get out and do that civic duty.
More offensive line chat - and Drew Shelton’s recruitment story and progress took center stage. Franklin mentioned how the freshman sent some film to the staff where he was literally blocking against his sister - a sister who won a few reps according to James. Shelton bounced back and forth between Dowingtown and IMG Academy, but relationships won the day and Shelton has made steady gains in the program with his work ethic.
Franklin was asked about the play of Kobe King and the availability of Tyler Elsdon and Curtis Jacobs. Completely ignoring the latter half, Franklin spoke glowingly of King’s progress in helping run a defense from a crucial position.
Seemingly every week, Franklin mentions how pass rushers can’t exclusively be judged by sacks. That’s the case with Chop Robinson, who Franklin said has been playing well.
Press conference ended with a question about how Penn State has built depth. Franklin answered comparatively to how he has all season, but did mention how well some young players (Dani Dennis-Sutton, Zaine Durant, and Abdul Carter) have come along this year.
Your Editor’s Note
If you made it to the end - thank you. A lot of focus on the lines today after seemingly every question last week was about quarterback. At least it was something a tiny bit different.
Obviously Count - 19 (18 by Franklin)