James Franklin held his weekly news conference on Tuesday where he discussed Penn State’s win last Saturday against West Virginia. Among the big topics were the play of his quarterback, the status of the team’s kicking game, and even a little chat about scoring in the game’s final seconds. As always, you can click here to see the full transcript. But, here are the highlights in paraphrased form.
In a rather lengthy opening statement - lengthier than the usually verbose opening statement - Franklin praised a lot of people, including singling out Kaytron Allen and Malik McClain. McClain, along with Curtis Jacobs and Drew Allar, was a player of the week against West Virginia. He did mention the hot button issue of clock rules, noting that about 10 total plays were eliminated in the game. He spoke some about the personnel of Delaware and you can check out the link above for all of those details.
Areas of Improvement
Asked about what areas he’d like to see the classic first week to second week improvement, Franklin noted that these were the areas he was focused: special teams, create turnovers, convert on third down.
Beau equals Trace?
Franklin was asked specifically to compare Trace McSorley and Beau Pribula. He mentioned their mobility, ignoring the very obvious idea that they are both wearing No. 9. But he also said they were men of few words and winners.
Defensive Line Play
Penn State’s defensive line was the unit outside of special teams that took the most flack on Saturday. Franklin was asked about how he thought the unit played and he was positive. He did note that the group needed to help the defense get off the field faster, but he gave a lot of credit to West Virginia for the way that they gameplanned to slow Penn State’s unit.
Tight End Targets
Tyler Warren had a catch - and that was it for the much hyped tight end room. But Franklin was adamant that the group was good and part of that lack of targets was because of what West Virginia had gameplanned defensively. He added that Warren and Theo Johnson would continue to be big parts of the game plan moving forward.
Big Play Dre
KeAndre Lambert-Smith had a standout performance on Saturday, much like this breakthrough night in the Rose Bowl last January. Franklin talked about his growth as a player and as a person in his years at Penn State and noted that he thought Lambert-Smith would have a great season and future in life.
Letting His Backups Play
Franklin was straightforward in saying that he thought his backups deserved the chance to be aggressive in the closing moments on Saturday. He said very simply that had he still had the starting offense in the game, things would have been different. It definitely sounds like James had more that he wanted to say, but kept it that simple.
Cam Miller and the Injury Report
Penn State was forced to issue an availability report for the first time on Saturday night. Franklin confirmed that none of those players would be out for the year. Meanwhile, he mentioned how well Cam Miller played in stepping in at the nickel corner position - there was no more talk of Poconos resorts though.
When asked about Sander Sahaydak, Franklin mentioned a couple of interesting things. For one, Sahaydak stood up and addressed the entire team about his Saturday performance, which Franklin noted helped him gain a ton of respect in the room. He also talked about his time coaching Sam Ficken and how good Ficken was back in 2014 during Franklin’s first year. This, of course, came a couple years after Ficken’s heartbreaking failures in the 2012 Virginia game.
Abdul Carter had at least one flashy play - a fourth down sack on a trick play. But other than that, his name didn’t show up too much in the stat sheet. However, Franklin said he was still a big presence on the field and it’s known that he’s one of the best linebackers in college football.
Franklin noted this was a good question and I found it very interesting. Asked about how to balance letting Drew do things that quarterbacks are taught not to do - such as throw against his body over the middle of the field - and letting him be a player, Franklin said it was a very fine line. He equated it to K.J. Hamler’s clutch kickoff return in 2018 against Appalachian State. It’s a play that normally you don’t want a player to make, but some have a special talent to overcome the typical coaching cliches.
Franklin spoke a bit about the performances of J.B. Nelson and Vega Ioane - two offensive guards who got extended run for the first time. He noted that Nelson is one of the physical players on the offensive line.
On the Rewatch
Asked about who stood out after watching film again, Franklin didn’t mention any specific players. However, he did say something that a lot of you commenters have - that the run game was perfectly efficient albeit there weren’t any explosive plays. Franklin said those opportunities were there and that he wants those things to continue.
More on Offensive Line
Might as well talk about Nourzad at center and Wallace at tackle, so James did. He noted that Nourzad is a bit banged up from camp and played through it. He then spoke about how Wallace had an outstanding camp and that the coaching staff is simply looking for consistency from him.
More on Drew
Franklin spent time talking about Allar’s strengths as a young player. Two of those stood out. First, he knows the offense really well for a young player. Second, he has the arm strength to get the ball quickly to where the defense is weakest and allow offensive players to therefore work in space.
Asked about Chop Robinson’s answer about the standard the defensive line holds itself to, Franklin said it’s the kind of mindset that he values with his whole team. He mentioned, paraphrasing Vince Lombardi, that even if perfection isn’t achieved, excellence will be achieved.
No, not a reference to the Poconos. Instead, Franklin was asked about playing three safeties together, but he disputed that ever happened. He did say that Iowa State plays defense that way and it’s becoming popular. But, that wasn’t the look that Penn State was giving.
Obviously Count: 12 - 11 from James