Penn State Football: James Franklin Ohio State Week Press Conference Recap


Penn State head coach James Franklin, was once again in front of the media on Tuesday for his weekly press conference. After another bye week and two-straight losses, the Nittany Lions welcome the Ohio State Buckeyes to Beaver Stadium on Saturday night for the annual White Out. The game will be shown to a national television audience.

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Franklin seemed excited and before getting into the preparations for the tough Buckeyes, he addressed the second bye week and some of the things that were done. He was felt the week off was very productive.

"“We were able to rest out players, we were able to work on technique and fundamentals and some scheme things that need to improve. We were able to get on the road recruiting. We were able to scrimmage the young guys. We were able to get a lot of work done, so really productive bye week.”"

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.

What do you see from the team leadership after back-to-back losses and what have you tried to instill in the team in the last ten days?

JF:  It’s a little bit of what I was just speaking on. You look at our team; on defense we have Mike Hull and C.J. Olaniyan, which are both seniors, starters and playing at a high level. On offense, we have Miles Dieffenbach who is a senior and hasn’t played all year, and a sophomore quarterback, so there is just a different dynamic there.

I talked about the guys taking ownership in the team. I think we’ve really seen a shift in the last week. I’ve really seen a shift in the last few days of guys really understanding what it’s going to take to be successful in our system.

We’ve seen guys taking ownership, guys coming into my office and having really good meetings and asking really good questions and giving really good feedback.

I think that’s been really, really important. If there is a concern or if there is a question, we should talk about it and work through it together. I’ve seen some really good things. I’ve seen some progress. We get text messages from players late at night and you can tell they’re thinking about ways that they can help the team and maybe make a bigger impact. I think we’re making some really good progress with that when it comes to a leadership perspective.

Last week you mentioned the balance of getting the fans excited, between the balance of getting fans excited without setting up false expectations. With, as you say, 46 available players on the roster, what do you consider “reasonable expectations” for this team this season?

JF: I think the biggest thing is that I want our players and I want our fans and I want the community to feel really good about the direction of the program and how we play.

That’s the thing that’s important to me, that we come out and we play up to our abilities each week. I want people to be very, very comfortable with the direction of the program, where it’s going and how our guys are playing and the type of experience they’re having; that’s on the football field, in the community with all the community service we’re doing and in the classroom.

I want them to have a great experience and I want our fans to be proud of the product that we’re putting on the field each week. What that means in wins and losses? I’m not sure. What I do know is we’re going to work like crazy this week to get our guys prepared to go out and play Ohio State and play well. At the end of the year we’ll look back and we’ll look at that and see where we’re at, but right now we’re focused on Ohio State.

You mentioned that Ohio State’s Joey Bosa jumps out the most to you guys. What does stand out specifically about him on film and what are some keys to slowing down an end like that when he’s in a groove like he is?

JF: He’s a rare combination. You’re looking at a guy who is 6-foot-5, 280 pounds and is able to play with quickness and to play with power. A lot of times you can find guys that are extremely strong and powerful and explosive at the point of attack, but maybe don’t have the quickness as a pass rusher. He’s got a rare combination that he can beat you with speed and quickness but he can also beat you with power.

Those guys are hard to find and they don’t come around very often. I think that’s what makes him a challenge. Obviously, we need to be aware of him. You try to look at it from an offensive perspective in pass protection, and in the run game. You know where your single blocks are going to be. They do a nice job about where they play him. They play him at defensive end, but they will also move them inside to defensive tackle, a little bit; like we’ve done with (Anthony) Zettel. So you can’t say you know he’s always going to be the left defensive end or always going to be the three-technique.

They do a nice job with that and it creates challenges and we’re going to go back to technique and fundamentals and see where we can help double team him as much as we can.

Wondering if you could contrast Ohio State’s offense with Braxton Miller to the offense with J.T. Barrett? Is there any difference in terms of how you prepare?

JF: It’s not like this change happened last week. He’s been playing for a while now. At this point, from the games that we’ve studied, (Barrett) has been playing pretty much all season. So it’s really a nonfactor. 

Your defense has played well overall the whole season. How can you do a better job of making more game changing plays on that side of the ball? Creating turnovers? Making it easier for your offense?

JF: If you look at drive start average, I think that’s been a big factor in the games and turnovers usually play into that. I think our defense has played extremely well, but getting some of those game changing plays can help. The interception returns for touchdowns, the punt returns for touchdowns, setting up our offense with great field position. Special teams can help in those areas as well.

Overall, everybody has been really pleased with how our defense has played but you always want more, you always want better and for us to go from a good defense to a great defense or elite defense, that’s where the turnovers come in. That’s one of the things I noticed this week studying Ohio State, the offense is playing at a high level but they’re also getting turnovers, which are helping. They’ve had turnovers for touchdowns and turnovers for field position.