James Franklin met with the press on Tuesday. Major topics were Ohio, the secondary, building depth, and a little about the college football playoff expansion.
Want to read the full transcript? Click here. Otherwise, here are this author’s quick takes on the highlights.
Franklin spent a few moments opening his press conference by bringing up some things from the past week, notably how he was pleased that his team won the battle in terms of situational football. He was still displeased by losing the explosive plays battle against the Boilermakers. Moving to Ohio, he said that the combination of quarterback (Kurtis Rourke) and wide receiver (James Bostic) jump out on offense. Franklin stressed that the team was a little ahead in terms of its usual prep and schedule thanks to playing on Thursday rather than Saturday.
About the offensive line, Franklin said he was pleased overall with their performance, but that there were clearly things that will need to improve. He opened by saying that he thought the majority of offensive lineman played well. I think you can guess at least one offensive lineman who didn’t play as well as he’d have liked.
A Busy Night
Answering a question about Joey Porter Jr., Franklin reiterated that Purdue had a great scheme, a capable quarterback, and no fear throwing the ball. That meant that JPJ had some opportunities to make big plays and he did that, though Franklin did focus on that dropped interception in the first quarter that could have been an interception. He closed his comment by saying that even the best ones, alluding to JPJ, still need to strive for consistency.
It seems James would be in favor of an expanded playoff based on his history at Penn State and that’s just what he said, bringing up again how the 2016 team won the Big Ten title but didn’t go to the playoffs. He said more doesn’t necessarily mean better at all times, but that he thought expanding was the right move and he’s in favor.
Theo Johnson traveled to Purdue, but did not dress. Franklin said he’s hopeful the talented tight end will be back on the field soon. He did mention that Penn State’s plan was to use a lot of 12 and 13 personnel and the loss of Johnson did leave them scrambling. However, it did allow them to get Bryce Effner on the field in the role of a blocking tight end a little bit more often.
There was a question about former Penn State linebacker, current coach, and longtime FCS-level coach Dan Rocco. Franklin said he loves having some guys with deep Penn State ties on the staff and Rocco fits that bill. Rocco has also been working closely with Ty Howle, which Franklin said was a very mutually beneficial situation for his staff.
There’s a newly announced NIL collective being spearheaded by former Penn State standouts, including Ki-Jana Carter and Michael Mauti. Franklin said he’s appreciative of all donors and that first-year athletic director Patrick Kraft has been key in helping get some of those collectives rolling as Penn State tries to keep up in the financial arms race.
There was a question clearly aimed at asking Franklin how he could get Drew Allar more time on the field in non-mop up duty. James redirected and answered about how the team is trying to build depth at all spots and how that includes practice, games, and scrimmages.
Hard to Get Pressure
Franklin was asked about his team’s pass rush on Thursday and the play of returning starter Adisa Isaac. Well, James didn’t mention Adisa, who missed all of 2021, but he did talk about how quickly Purdue was able to get the ball thrown. Franklin said the pressure was better later in the game when Aiden O’Connell was forced to hold the ball an extra beat. Ultimately, the play of the defensive line is measured on how they can get teams off of schedule. That could be with sacks, but it also could be with batted down passes.
More on the Secondary
Another question about the secondary that Franklin turned into another brief discussion about needing to come up with a couple of interceptions. For approximately the 17th time since leaving the field last Thursday, James has been asked about the secondary and explained that he thought they played well and that they need to keep working to force turnovers. I don’t blame James for his consistent answers - obviously.
Guess what - More About the Secondary
There were questions about substitution patterns and Franklin got into a little bit of how Abdul Carter was going to play quite a bit before the targeting penalty. Elsdon and King will continue to rotate at linebacker. In the secondary, Wheatley played well and he’s been a player who has made his name with forcing turnovers. That’s big - and again it came back to JPJ dropping that interception. My own personal takeaways from these questions - 1. Ask something different and 2. You’re going to see a lot of different guys get defensive snaps on Saturday.
Pat Kraft Excitement
Franklin was asked about Patrick Kraft’s excitement following the late second quarter Porter fumble recovery. James said he has a lot of energy and has a reputation for showing that excitement on the sideline.
scrubbing through Penn State-Purdue again this afternoon. didn't notice until the nth time watching the Porter fumble recovery that it happened right in front of Penn State AD Pat Kraft. he looks pretty fired up. (so does Jaquan Brisker) pic.twitter.com/YkbU45bsVK— Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) September 4, 2022
He Can Run Run
Franklin talked about Omari Evans and his development. He will continue to be a guy who will get more snaps and it’s absolutely his speed that makes him stand out.
Franklin was asked about the play of the front seven in terms of handling Purdue’s scheme. He turned his answer into a chance to once again talk about developing that depth and some of the highlights that he saw. The biggest highlight? He pointed out Amin Vanover chasing down a play 20 yards down the field and speed that he showed to make that effort play. A few moments later, Franklin commended the effort of captain PJ Mustipher who is working his way back from injury, noting that Thursday wasn’t necessarily a game that would allow the defensive tackle to make plays.
Franklin would not commit to freshman Drew Allar as the backup for this week. He reiterated that the entire week would be a competition.
A Good Room
Franklin was asked about the play of the tight ends and he answered that he wants to continue to see the group be physical. He jokingly talked about the amount of time it took Brenton Strange to meander through the secondary on his touchdown at the end of the half. He said he’s been very pleased with the play of the tight ends and thinks that many of them possess the ability to make a number of really big plays.
Something to Build On
Penn State took 13 freshmen to West Lafayette and seven played in the opener against Purdue. Franklin said it was a nice start and that the young guys needed to build on it with practice this week.
Obviously Count: 36