Penn State Football: James Franklin Michigan Week Press Conference Recap


Penn State head coach James Franklin, fresh off the bye week, met the media on Tuesday in the Beaver Stadium for his weekly press conference. His focus was on the big upcoming Big Ten matchup in Ann Arbor with the Michigan Wolverines. The Nittany Lions are currently 4-1 after starting the season with four-straight wins before falling at home on Homecoming to the Northwestern Wildcats.

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Franklin opened his talk by discussing some of the things that were done over the bye week. He mentioned that the break came at a good time, as many of the players have more time to catch up on academics. He also noted that the break gave players time to go hang out with family members and take in some high school games.

As for the trip to Michigan, this will be Penn State’s first game there since 2009. Franklin addressed the fact that the game will be his first trip to Michigan.

"“This will be my first time going to Michigan. Looking forward to that and experiencing that and that’s something we’re keeping   mental notes as a coaching staff because a lot of our coaches haven’t been to a lot of these locations before.”"

Below are some more highlights from the question-answer portion of Franklin’s talk with the media.  A full transcript of the press conference can be found here.

Michigan is minus-13 in turnover margin, you guys have been pretty good in that area. Is that something that you can coach and develop in your team?

JF: Well, yeah, I think it’s something that you talk about all the time and you show them the data of why turnover margin is so important in being successful. Explosive plays, creating them and stopping them, why they are so important in being successful. Using fundamental drills in practice to talk about ball security on offense, and on defense stripping the ball, intercepting the ball, things like that to create turnovers.

From Little League all the way through the NFL, people are talking about that and we are as well. I think there’s one thing to talk about; there’s another thing to also go out and live it, and in our practice schedule, we do ball security every single day and until the last four years that had not really been the case, and it’s something I didn’t really necessarily understand but for the last four years, we do ball security or ball disruption that we call on defense every single day, and I think that’s valuable.

You talked before about the running game. The inconsistent offense, how does it affect the play calling in terms of trying to achieve what you like to call explosive plays? Does it affect that at all?

JF: It does, because now what you have to be careful of is now you become too conservative in how you’re calling the game, and that can make you a little bit predictable, as well. Because to create explosive plays, there’s usually some risk associated with that in terms of play-action or drop back or holding on to the ball a little bit longer. Well, now you have a chance for negative yardage plays to put you in third and long and it makes it difficult to sustain drives and things like that.

So I think all those things factor in, and it’s like a lot of things in life, one thing doesn’t stand alone. It affects another. So yeah, I think you have to be careful that you don’t fall into that trap.

Your defensive backs have not had a lot of stats so far this year. Is that a good thing, because it means the front seven is making plays against the run and maybe they are not getting thrown on a lot or do you want to see them, the guys in the back being a little more disruptive?

JF: Yeah, I think it’s a combination of all those things. You always want more as a coach just like a fan. You’d love more interceptions. You’d love more pass break-ups and things like that. I do think each week as we gain more confidence, they are doing that. They are making sure that more of the catches are contested is what we talk about all the time. I do think it’s a bye product of how well we’re playing up front, as well.

But yeah, I think as confidence grows and as experience grows, those guys will continue to make more and more play. I think Trevor (Williams) is a great example of that.

I want to ask the recruiting trip this past weekend. You took a helicopter a couple places. First off, is that Penn State’s helicopter? Do you rent that? How does that go down?

JF: No, basically we found the best options in that area from a cost perspective and a safety perspective.

In your experience in college football, especially in the SEC, going into a lot of hostile environments, do you put any extra emphasis on establishing the run early to establish tempo and take crowd out of it?

JF: I think the biggest thing that you’re trying to do is deal with not having the home field advantage with the noise and things like that. We have been trying to establish the run every single week and since spring football. That’s not new and that really has not changed.

You know, obviously, being able to go into their stadium, I think it’s going to be important that we handle the initial rush of emotion that’s going to happen; that they are going to have and that we are going to have, and that we ride that and stay consistent and be able to make it a four quarter game, is what you would really like to do.

But not really any one specific part of it.