New Franklin approach of ‘uncomfortable silence’

James Franklin refuses to get drawn into playoff scenarios and bigger picture discussions.

STATE COLLEGE — A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.

About the Scarlet Knights: They’re having an abysmal season that includes losing to Michigan (78-0), Ohio State (58-0) and Michigan State (49-0). That’s 185-0 against those three East Division opponents. … Surprisingly, they have put together a couple of solid games against decent teams, losing at Minnesota by only two (34-32) and to Indiana (33-27). … Coach Chris Ash is in his first season and has major rebuilding project in front of him. … Allowing 38 points and 445 yards of total offense per game.

Uncomfortable silence: The running gag the past few weeks has been someone asks a big-picture question, and Franklin has responded by repeating the name of the upcoming opponent, up to 15 times in a row. He added a new element to his singular focus Tuesday when asked about the appeal of college football right now coming off a thrilling weekend that saw some major upsets. “Yeah, so you’ve got two choices here,” Franklin said. “You’ve got silence, uncomfortable silence, or you have ‘Rutgers.’ Which one would you prefer?” Instead of just remaining silent or repeating Rutgers a bunch of times, he went on to add, “These big-picture things about what’s going on in college football, what’s going on around the country, how crazy it is, politics, we’re going to focus on the things that we can control. That’s not one of them.”

Speaking of Rutgers: Franklin had this to say about the Scarlet Knights: “They’re a talented team that’s with a new coaching staff and all the changes that come with that, which I can relate to. There is an adjustment period that goes on. And there’s going to come a point where it clicks for them. … They’ve got a really good staff, they’ve got really good people, and they’ve got talent. So at some point it’s going to click for them offensively.”

Extreme praise for Charles: When asked about redshirt freshman receiver Irvin Charles, Franklin heaped on an enormous amount of praise. “Irvin Charles has got a very, very bright future,” the coach said. “He is talented, talented, talented, maybe the most talented wide receiver I’ve ever been around.” Franklin did go on to add there’s more to being a good receiver than just catching the ball and added the staff is trying to find more ways to get the ball in his hands. One example was Saturday at Indiana when Charles was the kickoff return man on one sequence.

Mr. Miyagi reference: It’s not something you hear very often, but Franklin found a clever way to make a reference to the beloved character from “The Karate Kid” when discussing QB Trace McSorley’s toughness overcoming so many hits. “We flew Mr. Miyagi in, and he put his hands on him (for a magical massage, like in the movie),” Franklin said. “(Trace is) in great shape. He drank a lot of milk and orange juice and multi-vitamins. Living in the new hot and cold tubs. But, seriously, just before walking over here he was walking through the locker room. I saw him, and he looks great.”

Recruiting impact: Despite their great success this season, the Lions haven’t had much of an impact with recruits committing lately. “We’re so far along in the process for this year, and we just don’t have a lot of scholarships for this year,” Franklin said. “That is having an effect, I think, with visits and things like that and guys calling us and showing more interest and things like that. But I think where it will have its biggest impact is in ’18. Because the ’17 class is pretty much done. We’ve got a few spots left.”

— BY Cory Giger