It’s Whiteout Week and James Franklin was happy to talk to the press ahead of Saturday’s game against Iowa. You can read the full transcript here or check out Penn State’s website for a video review complete with Franklin pushups. Otherwise, follow along for the highlights.
Before addressing Iowa and last week’s win against Illinois, Franklin made a mistake in noting that Saturday would be the 17th full stadium Whiteout. That’s not true and Franklin cranked out a few pushups to make up for his mistake. As for Illinois, he noted that players of the week were Hunter Nourzad on offense, all the guys who came up with turnovers on defense, and Malik McClain on special teams. He was pleased with the team’s ability to come up with turnovers despite losing key battles in explosive plays and penalties. Meanwhile, he noted his respect for Iowa and their consistency.
No More Firsts
James was asked about getting Drew Allar ready for his first Whiteout and he said it’s time to move on from noting the firsts in Drew’s game. He said he’s happy that Penn State has such a great homefield environment, but it’s time to stop viewing Drew through the lens of “firsts” and just have him ready to play.
Looking for Explosive Plays
Franklin begins each week noting how his team performs in the explosive play department and he was asked about Penn State’s lack of such plays in the last couple weeks. He said the offense has to hit deep pass plays more consistently to get defenses away from gearing up to stop the run - and in turn the game breaking ability of Nicholas Singleton. Franklin noted Allar and company have shown the ability to do this, but it needs to happen more.
No Complaints Here
The previous question lent itself to Singleton being…singled out. Franklin was asked if his star sophomore had been frustrated. James alluded to the fact that the Big Ten features good defense and that each week presents a new set of challenges to get a win. He said the team’s attitude has been good about caring about the win above all.
Beyond the Stats
Franklin took a question about the lack of sacks from his defensive end group and turned it into a summary of he and his staff’s study of film and how the game is impacted. The big takeaway, of course for us well versed in football here at BSD, is that stats don’t tell the whole story and that he believes his team has been playing exceptionally good defense.
Franklin was asked about the success that Micah Parsons has had in the NFL. Franklin gave an amazing answer that I would think is worth a click to read the full transcript. But, the takeaway was that Franklin believes football is only going to be a small part of the Micah Parsons story. The other big takeaway, James is still bitter about the Big Ten initially canceling the 2020 season.
Turning a new Corner
Asked about how well the defensive backs played on Saturday at Illinois, Franklin went into a deep dive about how great a coach Terry Smith has been and how he has taken it personally to help Penn State be viewed as a place that produces NFL caliber defensive backs.
A Familiar Foe
Though Iowa does not share a division with Penn State, Franklin mentioned that he was very happy - read the sarcasm - that the Big Ten continues to match the Lions with the winningest squad on that side of the league. Franklin did note that playing them so often - and Iowa’s consistency on staff - make this a game where Penn State is familiar with the scheme. However, that certainly does not mean that it’s an easy game with Iowa’s success.
Love for Lambert-Smith
Asked about the growing consistency in Keandre Lambert-Smith’s game, Franklin praised the veteran receiver and his work. He did note that Penn State missed a shot at hitting him for a huge play and that they would continue to try to get the receiver touches.
Stuff about Tight Ends
I swear there’s a question about tight ends every week. James turned this one into a chance to praise Brenton Strange. Rinse and repeat.
Hiring and Recruiting
Asked about what are the “guideposts” of his program, Franklin went on a long explanation of how recruiting and hiring are the most important things to his program’s culture. It was a lot of coach word salad beyond that.
Offensive Line Play
We had plenty of hand wringing here at BSD about the offensive line, but Franklin said Illinois had provided a good litmus test and he was happy with the ever-growing physicality of the group. He said it gave his staff an idea of where the group was and how important that was headed into a game against Iowa, who is similar in many ways to Illinois up front.
Kaden Saunders saw more snaps at wide receiver on Saturday and had a couple of catches. Franklin also noted his key punt return that helped set up Penn State’s late first half field goal.
Obviously Count: 6 - at least it wasn’t 4