Franklin keeps it short, sweet
STATE COLLEGE — A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Rutgers (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten)
About the Scarlet Knights: They’ve made solid strides this year under coach Chris Ash after disastrous 2016 that saw them go 2-10 and 0-9 in the Big Ten while rarely being competitive. This season they have league wins over Maryland, Purdue and Illinois and have won three of four. … QB Giovanni Rescigno completes just 50.8 percent for only 67.8 yards per game in his six contests. … RB Gus Edwards leads ground game with 630 yards rushing (70.0 per game). … There’s not much at all to be impressed about with their offense. … Offensive coordinator Jerry Kill is former Minnesota head coach, where he was the boss of current PSU O-line coach Matt Limegrover when he was with Gophers.
Brief, but not boring: The Lions have lost two in a row, leading Franklin to have his shortest Tuesday press conference of the season — and perhaps the shortest of his tenure — as it ran just 33 minutes and ended at 1:03 p.m. He said after Saturday’s loss at Michigan State that he was going to start giving more boring answers to questions. But that wasn’t exactly the case Tuesday. He gave much briefer answers than usual, but did provide some details and insight on various topics.
No one has forgotten how to succeed: Franklin saved one of his best lines of the day for near the end when he said, “Our players haven’t forgotten how to play, and our coaches haven’t forgotten how to coach. We played two really good opponents, and we’ve lost by a total of four points. And we’ve got to find a way to come out on top of those situations more often than we are right now.”
Taking heat off Farmer: Postgame video Saturday showed Franklin running off the field to yell at linebacker Koa Farmer to go back and shake hands with the Spartans. Tuesday, Franklin made sure to praise Farmer so people didn’t think less of him for that situation. “I want to make sure that everybody understands Koa Farmer is an awesome, awesome young man, and we met on Sunday about that,” Franklin said. “He reached out to me, wanted to come and meet with me about it. And he’s just a very conscientious, thoughtful, good kid. I want to make sure everybody understands that.”
Givens a work in progress at D-end: Kevin Givens was forced to move from tackle to end after an injury to Ryan Buchholz and started Saturday’s game, finishing with four tackles. Franklin said he hopes to get Buchholz back “sooner than later,” which would seem to indicate his season is not over. As for Givens’ play at end, Franklin said, “I think Kevin Givens brings value there, but obviously he doesn’t have nearly the accumulated reps at the defensive end that he does at defensive tackle. The more experience he gains there, and the more we develop some of the younger guys, that will be helpful.”
Penalty trend: Penn State was one of the least-penalized teams in the country until a couple of weeks ago, then was flagged nine times for 73 yards at Ohio State and seven times for 86 yards at Michigan State. Franklin said he doesn’t see those two games as a trend. “There is a part of it when you play high-level competition and you’re playing high level athletes, you see a little bit more of that. But I don’t see that being a trend for us,” he said.
No rivalry talk: Franklin’s shortest answer came when he was asked about having a rivalry with Rutgers: “Yeah, that’s not how we approach things,” he said.
Rankings talk: PSU dropped all the way from No. 2 to No. 16 in the AP poll despite losing two road games by four points to ranked teams. Franklin was asked about rankings but didn’t bite. “I know this is something that media and fans talk about all the time,” he said. “I’m definitely not talking about it, especially this week We’re focused on Rutgers.” The other part of the question, though, was about how rankings impact scheduling, and he did tackle that aspect. “From a scheduling perspective,” he said, “all those things are looked at. … We all sit down and talk about all these different philosophies. The problem is there’s no true model, because you may schedule someone right now and they are a completely different program by the time you play them.”
— Compiled by Cory Giger