Penn State head coach James Franklin met with the press on Tuesday for his weekly recap. Before talking about the upcoming game with the Akron Zips, Franklin started with a review of the Nittany Lions’ victory over Central Florida in Ireland. The coach started with thing aspects of Saturday’s win that he felt were a problem.
“No. 1, we lost the turnover battle and we lost the penalty battle, which are two things that are going to be a major point of emphasis for us this week; 75 percent of college football teams will beat themselves with those two statistics. We want to get those things cleaned up. “
Franklin was sure to praise plenty of players, specifically mentioning Anthony Zettel, Christian Hackenberg and Sam Ficken.
As for Akron, Franklin stated that he’s known head coach Terry Bowden for a long time and that Akron returns a lot of experience for the 2014 season.
Below are some highlights of Franklin’s answers to the media on Tuesday. A full transcript of Franklin’s press conference can be found here.
What sort of progress do you think your offensive line has made since camp broke and actually had some time to play together as a unit?
JF: I think they made real progress. I really do. Obviously, we need to do a better job of being able to impose our will in the running game and be able to dictate the game from that standpoint. We weren’t able to do that consistently on Saturday, and for our development as a team and as an offense specifically, we are going to have to do that. That’s going to help the receivers out and that’s going to help everybody and we feel like we have got good running backs.
So, our tight ends and our O‑line collectively together, being able to finish blocks, being able to sustain blocks, and then our communication, making sure we are on the same page and who we are working to and things like that is important.
There’s some flashes of good things on the tape but we have got to be able to finish better. We have to be able to finish better. I think one of the things we talk about all the time is winning minimizes the issue.
Losing magnifies the issues, but either way, the issues are still there, and we have to resolve them. I was pleased with them overall. I think the amount of times that we threw the ball, we were able to protect Hack (Christian Hackenberg) pretty well. Hack was able to use his mobility and help us out there a little bit, as well. I thought we had a good plan moving in the pocket and things like that, but I thought they played pretty well.
The fact that your offense produced over 500 yards but only two touchdowns, could you explain the mix of gratification and frustration you felt given those outputs?
JF: I think it goes back to what I said earlier, is we have to do a better job of scoring in the red zone. We lost one possession down there where there was an interference call that we weren’t able to get any points with.
But I think it just strictly comes down to being able to be more effective in the red zone. Whenever you’re able to run the ball in the red zone, it’s going to make you a lot more effective because your playbook decreases. You obviously don’t have as much field to work with so your shots and things like that go away.
But, again, the most important thing is that we found a way to win. We were able to get points. We were five for five in scoring in the red zone but there’s no doubt about it, we have got to do a better job of scoring touchdowns to maximize our opportunities.
When did you first start to notice DaeSean Hamilton asserting himself in practices?
JF: Hard for me to speak of because I wasn’t here last year. He didn’t do a whole lot this spring either. I know in talking to our guys in the summer, felt like he had had a really productive summer.
If you look at him he’s a big, physical, an impressive‑looking athlete. He’s very, very smart. Runs the offense extremely well and obviously with going out and playing the way he did on Saturday, I think has a chance to build on his confidence and his execution.
So, I was pleased with him. It’s nice when you have a guy on either side that Geno did some really nice things, as well, and it can be challenging if you have got one guy that everybody is focused on when you can have somebody on either side that people have to deal with, it’s going to make both of them that much more effective.
And I think it’s going to give Hack more options and it’s also going to help in his development, because we all know last year, I think, what, 70 percent or higher of the offense, especially in the passing game was (Allen) Robinson. So having multiple threats with our wide receivers and our tight ends, I think is critical.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard it‑‑ you called special teams wefense; is that right?
JF: Yeah, we always call special teams wefense because it’s the one time where everybody is coming together. You have got offense and you have got defense, and then you’re able to bring all 118 guys together on wefense, and that’s what we have always called it.
You weren’t involved in the scheduling ‑‑ but if you’re there for a long time and you have a chance to schedule a game, whether it be in Hawai’i or Europe ‑‑ would you consider doing it again or is it just too much logistically?
JF: Yeah, trying to schedule one every year from here on out. Work our way through Europe — Italy, France; my wife is part Nigerian, so we would like to take a trip to Nigeria and schedule a game over there.
No, obviously I’m kidding around. I think the university has a global studies department and there’s actually some policies in place where like once every four years you can do a trip like that anyway. So there’s some rules that go into it. But I think it was a great experience and I’m glad we did it. At this point I’m not searching out other opportunities at this stage.
So clearly, the biggest takeaways from this presser are “wefense” and the plan for a football trip through Europe. Thanks for the great sound bytes coach!