Even though James Franklin’s press conference has moved to Monday, something I wrote about last week, I wound up forgetting and so here we go. It’s the highlights of the pre-Michigan press conference a day later. As always, you can read about it HERE, but I’ve outlined some of the highlights in summary form below.
Sean Lee and Spider Caldwell will be the honorary captains on Saturday as the Lions welcome in Michigan. Franklin was complimentary (not complementary) of the Wolverines, their coach, and many of their players.
A Run Referendum
Penn State was gashed last year by the Wolverines on the ground, so Franklin was obviously (my first) asked about that. He mentioned that his team has gotten bigger up front, but also that they’ve been far more good in terms of gap responsiblity. All of that will be questioned on Saturday though as Franklin pointed out the talent that UM has in its backfield and along its offensive line.
The big question on everyone’s mind was what Franklin would say about the allegations of sign stealing/illegal scouting happening at Michigan. There would be no bulletin board material, however. Franklin was direct in saying his team was simply focused on controlling what it could control.
Asked about the play of Michigan standout quarterback JJ McCarthy, Franklin gave the typical compliments that would be expected. He then shifted into advocating for the Beaver Stadium crowd to be a factor and hoped that homefield advantage could help the Lions against the junior quarterback.
Chop Robinson traveled to Maryland on Saturday despite being ruled out of play as he recovers from a concussion. The door was certainly left open for him to play this Saturday as Franklin mentioned the trip was good as it allowed him a chance to warm up and be around doctors as he did that. Amin Vanover is also a possibility to return on Saturday, which would certainly bolster Penn State’s defensive end rotation.
Staying with a Rotation
Kaytron Allen had his best game of the year at Maryland, drawing a question about whether or not he might get the bulk of the carries against Michigan. But Franklin reiterated that he liked the duo of Allen and Nicholas Singleton and would keep the plan as it is now.
A big question when Penn State played Ohio State earlier this year was the idea that the Lions had not been tested very much by their schedule. Now, Penn State has played a couple of close games, which Franklin acknowledged could help his group. But, he also mentioned again how good Michigan has been and that this would be two great defenses on the field together.
More on the Run
A similar question to earlier about how maybe Penn State’s personnel was better set to face Michigan this year. He mentioned the added experience at linebacker being another factor with Penn State having been so good against the run this year.
Franklin was asked about Dante Cephas’s play last week and noted that the Lions would need all of its weapons to play well in order to beat Michigan. Boring question, more boring answer.
Chicken, egg, Drew
A reporter asked about Drew Allar’s “looseness” on Saturday and if that was a result of a good performance or if the good performance led to his looseness. Franklin gave a boilerplate answer about being confident when you’re prepared - after noting that his wife hates when he sometimes doesn’t realize there are two questions being asked.
Offensive Line Depth
A reporter asked a question about offensive line depth going well. James mentioned a bunch of names.
A reporter asked a question about how well the linebackers were playing. James mentioned a bunch of names.
Ready to Capitalize
A long-winded question about where Penn State was as a program and maybe what they needed to show against Michigan. Franklin noted that the team needed to be able to take advantage and make the 4-6 big plays that it faced every year.
A follow up answer gave some insight into how Franklin sees this game playing out. He mentioned that there could be a lot of scoring, but it’s more likely that it’s a defensive-oriented game and that his team needs to remain patient.
The Big Question Asked Again
Asked about Harbaugh and a potential suspension, Franklin reiterated that he was focused on the game. He was focused on the film. He was focused on the coach’s film. He was focused on the stuff happening between the sidelines. Oh.
Big Boy Football
Franklin was asked about the trench warfare of Big Ten football and he used it as an opportunity to talk about the importance of line play, being able to run the football, etc. against the teams in this conference.
Along those same lines, Franklin mentioned the nastiness and physicality that he wants his team to play with - along with noting that officials have become trained to blow their whistles less and let things keep going.
Obviously Count: 8 (7 by James) - it’s definitely going to be a defensive struggle