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Tuesdays with Obviously: West Virginia

James from State College met with the media in State College ahead of Saturday’s opener

Big Ten Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It’s Year No. 2 with me bringing you the “obvious” highlights of James Franklin’s weekly Tuesday media availability. This week, Coach Franklin spoke about quarterbacks, more about quarterbacks, and the Saturday opener against West Virginia. As always, you can read the full transcript by clicking HERE or you can read below for the highlights.

Opening Statement

James greeted the media by announcing the four players who would be green lighted from the start - Tony Rojas, King Mack, Zion Tracy, and Elliott Washington. More on them later.

He also noted how great it would be to have Allen Robinson and Tom Bradley at the game as guests of the program. He continued with some praise for West Virginia, noting that they had a few players on both the offensive and defensive sides that were once targets of Penn State.

Then, there were a lot of questions about the quarterback position.

Evaluating Allar

Franklin went on to reiterate how Penn State charts everything and that the quarterback room has done nicely in comparison to the charts from both McSorley and Clifford training camps. He did point out that Allar had concluded a good camp and that he hoped the quarterbacks would be ready to go.

From the Booth

A notable change for Penn State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich who will now work from the press box on game days. Franklin said this change was Yurcich’s idea and one that James supports since he has long thought calling a game from the booth was more beneficial. There’s a clear correlation between this move and Danny O’Brien’s growth in his role with the team. The former Maryland quarterback has gotten to know Yurcich well and is able to easily communicate his ideas to quarterbacks, according to Franklin.

So is there a starter?

Franklin dodged the obvious “is he going to start” angle to the first question, so later a reporter asked directly. CJF reiterated that Allar had a good camp, but that he wasn’t making any announcement and that he believed there were three quarterbacks who could help lead Penn State to wins.

Here to play school?

Franklin was asked about the NCAA releasing date showing that since the pandemic, college football program’s APR scores have decreased and this includes Penn State. Franklin said the program would get it right, noting that graduation rates - the actual goal - were still going strong at Penn State.

Specialist Data

Without ever mentioning a specific player by name, Franklin said that special teams competitions have been going well. Citing the data again, Franklin said that the numbers were comparing favorably to previous years. He added, as has often been reported, that the program does all it can in terms of distracting kickers and punters to make the games feel easier.

Clock’s Impact on Development

With new clock rules, an interesting angle on the question as to how that would impact Penn State’s liberal substitution patterns and the chances to develop players. Franklin did say it would have some impact on getting guys involved, but that his staff would still be working to keep players fresh throughout the game and season. He also noted, like all of us, that few people complain about the length of college football games.

Green Light, Yellow Light

Why were those four names the first green lights? Well, according to Franklin, it’s pretty simple: they’ll be major players on special teams units. Franklin did say he anticipated getting more freshmen involved by the fourth or fifth game of the season. He also talked about the value of players being heavily involved in special teams from the start and how it keeps them engaged and gives them responsibility.

About Those Injury Reports

Recently, the Big Ten announced that it would be requiring schools to provide a report two hours before each game noting what players were unavailable. Franklin is like most other college football coaches in his notorious refusal to be forthcoming with injury news. However, Franklin said he didn’t really mind the new report since it won’t detail the status of injuries. He added he just wants things to be consistent for all programs.

No History Lesson

Franklin was asked if he had done much talking to his team about the history of the West Virginia and Penn State series. He said he hadn’t. Quick plug - you can read about the history tomorrow on this site as part of a new series that I’ve enjoyed writing and I hope you’ll enjoy checking out. Anyway, he even threw the slightest subtweet of shade when mentioning that his team got comparable questions a few years ago when Penn State played “another team”.

What about the Poconos?

Your cringy attempt at humor moment of the presser came next after an innocuous question about reserve corner Cam Miller. Franklin went into a lengthy answer about how Miller was a great player and had made the adjustment to Penn State. CJF noted how great Cam’s parents were and they were the kind of family that needed to have more kids. Franklin mentioned some resorts in the Poconos where the parents could spend a weekend.

An Amazing Environment

A really fair question about how to calm down a team that will be playing in front of a juiced crowd on Saturday night. Franklin said that the team has done more this preseason than ever before in terms of practicing more at night or dealing with sunsets. He hopes his group is ready to adapt, but mentioned that this atmosphere will be why college football is so special.

One Last Try

Franklin was asked in a roundabout way one more time who the starter would be. He said he knew and that the team knew, but that he just didn’t want to say.

Speed to Keep you Ready

CJF transitioned a question about the possible looks of a young secondary to a commentary about how his players have to embrace being a part of the scout team or being a walk on. He said that competition in terms of playing hard, fast, and competitive is just as important as studying film. He mentioned that a lot of his coaching staff and some of his NFL players spent time as a freshman in a more developmental role. Getting those young guys to buy in helps create that competitive culture that has permeated this summer’s camp.

One More Last Try

Franklin had alluded to the stats that were kept in practice and the impact they would have in determining a starter, etc. So, a nice question as he was asked if any of those stats stood out. Well, apparently Drew Allar didn’t throw an interception until the 13th or 14th practice of the year. I’m impressed. Are you impressed?

How about the lines?

There were a couple of generic questions about the offensive and defensive lines. Franklin mentioned a ton of names and said they’d play. Nothing new or notable, aside from the anecdote that Coziah Izzard missed a bit of time earlier in camp with injuries. He’s returned and looked fresh and healthy.

On the Portal

Lastly, James mentioned how he involves parents in discussions about role/place/playing time now which he used to never do, but wants transparency with players.

Obvously Count: 12 - not yet in midseason form!