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Tuesdays With Obviously: Ohio State

For the first time all year, there were lots of questions about the opponent at James Franklin’s weekly press conference

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin returned to the podium a week after things got a little crazy last week. There wasn’t much bulletin board material, just a whole lot of praise for Ohio State. You can read the full transcript here or follow along for the highlights.

Opening Statement

James had a lot to say about his team (he likes the attitude and process of getting better), the way they played against UMass (they took away any explosive plays from the Minutement), and heaped tons of praise on No. 3 Ohio State (respect for coaches, talented players, etc.).

I should note that there were more questions about Ohio State in this press conference than questions about all other teams combined in previous press conferences.

On Harrison

As a former wide receivers coach, Franklin was asked to assess Ohio State All-American Marvin Harrison, Jr. Franklin noted the body control of Harrison. He compared his smooth style to that of Jahan Dotson, while adding the scary fact that Harrison is several inches taller.

Heading Home

Drew Allar is an Ohio native, which Franklin was asked about. CJF said he was not concerned with where Drew’s head might be or what he might try to prove. Franklin did say that previous meetings mentioned Allar going back to play in Ohio for the first time, so the coach was going to address that with Allar.

About McCord

Penn State recruited Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord heavily and Franklin noted that McCord’s high school coach is now a part of Penn State’s staff. Franklin likened McCord to Allar in terms of growing as a first-year starter and having a ton of ability with a great touchdown to interception ratio.

Finding an Identity

Sort of a convoluted question, though not necessarily a bad question, that was aimed on getting Franklin to reflect on establishing who his team is while also being ready to face certain tests in big games. Franklin said that his team needed to be comfortable in its own skin, noting that his team did very well in the Iowa game of not trying to push too hard and instead believing in what had gotten them to a lead. It’s simliar with a team that is 6-0, according to Franklin, as they try not to do something outside of what they’ve done well and be something they aren’t against a challenging opponent.

Drama-free Drew

Another question about Allar, this one aimed at his recruiting. James went on a long response about what Penn State says when players want to commit. He added that the recruiting of Allar, which happened during the pandemic wasn’t particularly exciting. But he added that his staff tries to avoid drama with recruiting (Micah Parsons says hello?) and that Drew and his family were free of drama. To answer a follow-up question about Allar, he gave the basics about how Drew has improved over the course of this year, etc.

Adjusting to Slow Starts

Comedian James answered a question about how his team might be a little like the 2016 group that always seemed to play better in the second halves by joking that it was part of a predetermined script with the conference commish. Moving beyond that, Franklin said he believed the team was still young and that it sometimes took getting them settled at half to really be able to teach what needed to be done to adjust. He said his staff was working on ways to figure that out faster, while going on to describe how well the team was playing in terms of complementary football.

More on Drew

A third question in four and fifth overall about Drew Allar. This one featured Franklin highlighting the improvement of Allar, along with his advanced mental process. Franklin credited Allar’s quarterback trainer, Brad Maendler.

Ready for a Close Game

Franklin said that his team has practiced things like two-minute drills in order to be prepared for a close game, something that his team hasn’t experienced this year but that he does anticipate on Saturday. Franklin added that up until the past two years, his squad has played Ohio State as tough as anyone in the conference and that his crew needs to figure out ways to win fourth-quarter one-possesion games.

Learning from Last Year

Franklin acknowledged that everyone is a product of experiences and that his team had used last year’s loss to Ohio State - the last loss for Penn State to date - as an experience to get better. Like the previous question, Franklin noted that his team played very well for three quarters before not finishing strong enough.

The Same Approach

Pushed on the fact that he had called the game this weekend a tremendous opportunity, Franklin reminded everyone that his team prepares for every game the same no matter the difference in outside talk/attention.

On the Search for Explosives

Franklin clearly defined what he views an explosive run to be (12 yards) before delving in to how well he believes Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are playing at the running back position. Much praise was handed out and a reminder that James thinks those guys are very good. He added those big plays are going to happen organically for Penn State in his opinion.

More on Allar

Seriously - a lot more about Drew in a question. Same type stuff, but James pivoted toward the end and spoke about how different players are on different development arcs. Nothing super notable, but it got us out of the Drew rut of today’s questions.

Guard Update

J.B. Nelson is expected back this year, according to James. Vega Ioane figures to play a lot Saturday and James was complimentary of his play.

Obviously Count: 17...that’s a sesaon high folks. Obviously, it spells good things for Saturday.

Editor’s Note: There was so, so, so much about Allar. If you want to read every last detail of his time from pandemic to the Purdue start to Saturday’s game, go ahead and read the full transcript.