New year. New BSD staffer taking a look at James Franklin’s press conferences.
Obviously, these usually take place on Tuesday, hence the name. Obviously, today is only Monday. But, obviously, this is a short week.
My goal with these - to translate James speak or point out the real highlights. I’ll always post a link to the full transcript. Here is that link for your full reading pleasure.
And, if you don’t get the reference to obviously, then obviously you haven’t taken in a James Franklin press conference prior to this year.
It’s an altered week for the Nittany Lions as they prepare for Purdue in their Big Ten opener. Here are the takeaways from
Tuesday’s Monday’s press conference.
On the road again
After thanking all of the media for attending, but before delving into Purdue and their personnel, Franklin made clear to note the stat that Penn State would be opening its conference slate away from Beaver Stadium for the 12th time in 13 years. Keep mentioning it. Please. Above all, it’s hard to believe it’s a second straight season opener on the road against a West team, too.
Responding to a question about the positivity surrounding the program, Franklin said that he feels the team is back to normal for the first time since 2019 when it comes to depth, scheduling, etc. There was also a thinly veiled shot at the Big Ten’s handling of the 2020 season and its impact on Penn State’s returnees (read Micah Parsons).
Franklin said all the predictable things in reference to Sean Clifford being back - he’s getting the chance to play for the same offensive coordinator for a second straight year, he’s asking great questions in the meeting rooms that will benefit the other quarterbacks, and that he’ll need his OC/QB to be on the same page right from the get go in game one.
Surprise of Camp
The running game came up and Franklin made the point that explosive plays were lacking a year ago with that aspect of the offense. He called “Fat Man” (Kaytron Allen) the surprise of camp because of his style and production, while also noting how Nick Singleton is as good as advertised. He made clear that those two performing well under the lights will be a lot different than in practice. Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford were also mentioned with Ford specifically being noted as having a prominent role on special teams.
Down the Field
Franklin was asked what stood out about Jeff Brohm’s offense and the tendency to throw the ball down the field was, according to Franklin, what stands out for the Boilermakers. He said being ready for those downfield shots will be one of the biggest points of emphasis for his defense.
Even though it’s Purdue on the schedule, not Indiana, the punting game came into focus in the press conference. Franklin let everyone know that Barney Amor earned the starting punting job, while Sander Sahaydak and Gabe Nwosu will alternate kickoff duties in the opener.
Ricky vs. Brent
ODU and Virginia Tech will be playing, but James won’t be going. He turned a question about their unique matchup into an explanation of the uniqueness of Thursday’s game and its impact on Penn State’s practice schedule. The two former Franklin coordinators will be coaching, but it will be other family members who will be attending.
Wait and See Continues
An offensive line question and you can tell James from State College is tired of handling these. There wasn’t much in terms of insight, just that there will be more commitment to the running game. I liked how he closed it though: “It’s been emphasized. I’m going to leave that up to you guys to tell me, which I know you clearly will, how we’re playing in that area.”
Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
Purdue will try to run a lot of plays quickly. Franklin spoke about how during camp, his team has focused on those things. He said it also helps that his own offense is able to do some things with tempo. He also pointed out how depth can help against that, while mentioning the mistakes that can come with early season college football.
Red Light, Green Light
A question about who will be getting the coveted green light avoid any redshirting and James didn’t get specific. Franklin reiterated that was always a very fluid situation and those conversations happen throughout the year with individual players.
A reporter asked about three players: Chop Robinson, Hunter Nourzad, and Smith Vilbert. Franklin was effusive in his praise of Robinson, noting that the coaches had “fallen in love with him” and that he would play a lot of football starting on Thursday. Nourzad has also earned his way into the conversation at both guard spots and he will play starter level reps. This led to a mention of how the offensive line will rotate in order to keep players fresh heading into the fourth. Lastly, Franklin said “we’ll see” about Vilbert’s production and playing time as the season progresses.
Five, Not Six
Franklin said there were five receivers that he trusted, without elaborating on who those were. He said that in an ideal world they’d get a sixth in order to have a true two deep. He’s looking for an unnamed young guy to step up.
There was a question about developing depth and Franklin said that’s been a message he’s been trying to get across in the course of press conferences this preseason. He feels the team is getting back to where they were in 2019, which to this blogger is a great thing.
More WR Talk
Trey Wallace was mentioned by name and Franklin confirmed he will see the field a lot and has earned the trust and respect of his teammates, putting him in the same category as the aforementioned Chop Robinson and Hunter Nourzad.
Drew is Two
Drew Allar enters Thursday as the backup. This is something that will be evaluated every week. James also used this time to teach us that it’s Vay-Air for current third-string quarterback Christian Veilleux. Franklin continued by talking about the maturation and talent in the quarterback room over the course of preseason camp.
The press conference concluded with notes on starting kicker (it will be Jake Pinegar returning to the role he held previously), guard (Nourzad, Landon Tengwall, and Sal Wormley will play starter level reps), and middle linebacker (Elsdon will start with Kobe King getting a lot of time, too).
Final Obviously Count - 12