A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Kent State (1-1)
Kickoff: Saturday noon, Beaver Stadium
About the Golden Flashes: They played well but lost opener at Illinois, 31-24, and blew out Howard last week, 54-14. … Coach Sean Lewis, 32, is the youngest head coach in FBS and is in his first season with the team. … QB Woody Barrett originally went to Auburn but redshirted in 2016. He was competing for the starting QB in the spring of 2017 but lost out to Jarrett Stidham. Barrett transferred and spent last season in junior college before going to Kent State.
Last time vs. Penn State: Lions won at home, 33-13, in 2016.
Line: Penn State is favored by 34 ½; over/under is 63
Diverse opinions, not yes men: Franklin believes that part of having a successful operation is surrounding himself with people who view things differently at times and aren’t afraid to speak up. “I don’t want to be surrounded by all the same personalities and all the same opinions and a bunch of yes men,” Franklin said. “I want to be surrounded by a bunch of different people with different perspectives, diversity, diverse backgrounds, diverse perspective, diverse ideas. Because that’s the only way I’m going to make the best decisions for Penn State is to hear all those things and see all those things and say, OK, great, this is great, I’ve got all the information, now, here’s the direction we’re going.”
Tough QB awaits: The Lions will be facing a QB in Barrett who was good enough to go to Auburn and compete for the starting job. “Quarterback’s a problem. Woody Barrett is a problem,” Franklin said. “Highly, highly recruited kid. Played in the Under Armour All-American game. Signs with Auburn. … He’s 6-2, 236 pounds. He can run. He can throw. He’s dynamic. You see guys come through blitzing and he stands in the pocket, they hit him, they bounce off, he keeps his eyes down the field, delivers the strike, will beat with you his legs. He’s a problem.”
How to handle young mistakes: Freshman RB Ricky Slade is a promising prospect, but he lost two fumbles Saturday at Pitt. Franklin was asked how to go about coaching a young man who makes mistakes without hurting his confidence. “You have to be aware of that. There’s got to be a clear understanding and standard that that’s not acceptable because it’s preventible,” the coach said. “That is critical, but also not taking it too far. I thought our coaches and our players handled it really well in the locker room, and he’s going to have a great career here and he’s got a very bright future.”
TE comparisons to Gesicki: Penn State doesn’t have a tight end who’s as dynamic of a pass-catching threat as Mike Gesicki. But as Franklin pointed out, some of the young tight ends are further along from a blocking standpoint than Gesicki was at this point in his career. “I could also make the argument, because of where they are at in their careers and where we are at as a program, that maybe they have a chance to be more complete (tight ends) in college,” Franklin said.
Remembering 9/11: Franklin began his news conference by addressing the anniversary of the tragic events of 2001. “This day, 9/11, represents a lot of things for a lot of different people in our country and obviously hits close to home,” the coach said before later adding, “I actually had a teammate from college that passed away on that day (Martin Worley from East Stroudsburg), as well. And when we were able to take our team a few years back to the site, I think it was powerful and another example how college athletics and specifically football can use our platform to do other things.”