Penn State coach James Franklin held his weekly press conference at Beaver Stadium Tuesday, and afterward there was plenty to discuss on the injury front. See what FOS staffers Mark Brennan and Greg Pickel had to say in the video above.
And check out the transcript of the PC below.
THE MODERATOR: We will start with opening comments from Coach Franklin.
COACH FRANKLIN: What I would like to do ?rst of all thank everybody for coming. Number two, I would like to address some things that have been in the media, which I typically wouldnt do but I thought it would be important to address some things. There is stuff being reported in the media that I dont think is completely accurate about Ryan Keiser. Ryan did suffer a fracture in a rib in practice last Thursday. After undergoing operations for a small bowel injury sustained, overall hes improving. Hes at Hershey Medical Center right now. There is no infection. I wanted to make sure that were clear. Ryans family has our complete support. Ive talked to his mother, talked to Ryan. Our trainers and doctors have been in constant contact or have been involved every step of the way, and I just want to clear that up because I know how the Penn State community supports one another. I wanted to make sure that everybody understands clearly whats going on. Thats about all Im going to comment and talk about that. The rest of it is up to the family and their personal information and what they want to share. This has been approved by the family as a statement. I just wanted to clear that up.
I would like to summarize the last game, Ohio State, the turnover battle was even, technically. Penalties in the game we won that battle. Explosive plays, defense met their goal which is three or less, offense did not meet their goal of eight, which they got three. Offense I think showed flashes, you know, youre talking about the one drive was a 19 play drive which is challenging to do for any team. Mangiro played three positions, one of the challenges that we have right now is most teams when your left tackle has to leave the game, the back up left tackle goes in. Thats not a situation were in so we lose our left tackle, our center goes to right tackle, our right tackle goes to left tackle and another center comes in the game. Thats how were trying to create our depth but a guy like Angelo Mangiro played three positions during the game and played well. Blacknall, its great to see him stepping up as a true freshman. Three of our four receivers playing for us right now are true freshman or red shirt and doing a good job. Weve got to eliminate the critical mistakes. Some of the things going on with the offenses is missed assignments. Defense I thought we played really hard, 91% pursuit grade, which is really good. I think thats one of the things we believe in, just the importance of running the ball, we had two take aways, pick six, I thought Hull, Zettel and Allen played well, we got to play better in over time, we had a chance to finish the game we got to play better in overtime. Weve been consistency, consistency, consistency, we got good effort, we need good execution. Thought Walker, Campbell and Zanellato are doing some nice things for us. You look at the some of the young that are guys playing, Marcus Allen is a starter for us, Jason Cabinda. Christian Campbell and Grant Haley had been playing for us since the beginning of the season. We got Saeed Blacknall, Mike Gesicki, and Chris Godwin and now as a punter, Daniel Pasquariello, obviously thats an area we have to improve, we will have open competition this week, from a punting perspective tried to make adjustments during the game to try to help those guys out. Not only do we need to groove there, another area that would help is dont punt, thats another thing that would be helpful for us. We got red shirt freshman, you talk about Parker Cothran, DaeSean Hamilton, Andrew Nelson, Brendan Mahon, Chris Gulla so were talking about 13, if my math is correct, freshmen there are playing for us and playing pretty well.
Get into our next opponent. Maryland. Coach Edsell does a great job, has been doing a great job for a long time. Is in his fourth year as head coach, 16th overall, they had 17 of 22 starters returning this year, highest in the conference. They got eight players currently playing on offense and 9 currently playing on defense, returning starters. If you look kind of comparison of statistics, turnover margin, they have the advantage, penalties per game, we have the advantage, total offense, they have the advantage, total defense we have the advantage. Scoring offense they have the advantage, scoring defense we have the advantage. So interesting how that breaks down. On defense Brian Stewart is their defensive coordinator, coach of the defensive backs, known Brian for a long time, very experienced guy, coaching for 23 years, 8 of which were in the NFL and was defensive coordinator in the NFL. Nine starters, we talked about, an experienced group. I guess they technically call themselves a three four defense, I would say they are a four three defense, but their one defensive end stands up. Theyre able to play both from a three down and four down front, play a variety of coverages, pressure the quarterback well and as a defense Maryland has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, and thats William Likely who is a good player, he may not be very big, but hes an explosive player. Obviously I got a little history with this program so a lot of the six year seniors and the fifth year seniors I know, Darius Kilgo is playing well for them at nose tackle. I know Darius because we recruited him. Andr Monroe, know him extremely well as a defensive end who is playing really well for them, eight tackles, 6 and a half sacks, I know him because we recruited him. Cole Farrand, linebacker, playing well for them, No. 47 and we talked about Likely. On the offensive side of the ball, Mike Locksley who I worked with, I know him and his family for a long time, great football coach, really good person, great recruiter. Ninth season there, third as the offensive coordinator, 23 years coaching overall, l was the head coach at New Mexico, averaging 31 points a game, eight starters, spread, no huddle team, they use tempo, big into the quarterback running game. They got a really fast and productive wide receiver unit. Thats one of the things I would say in general about Maryland their skilled positions are really good. C.J. Brown their sixth year senior at quarterback, 6 3, 218 pounds, I recruited C.J., know him extremely well, athletic guy who place extremely well and say able to make plays with his arm, as well. Brandon Ross, know him extremely well, so know him, Stefon Diggs seems like hes been playing there forever, I know Stefon and the family fairly well and hes doing nice things for them, continues to be one of the more explosive athletes in the country and the Deon Long who Ive known for a very time, big time play mayer for them as well. Athletes across the board. Special teams, Andre Powell, their running backs coach is the special teams coordinator, their leading the Big Ten in the punt return average, third in kickoff return average, thats a lot to do with their scheme but thats a lot to do with their personnel, William Likely who we have talked about as the punt returner, hes seventh in the nation right now, got one return for a touchdown, thats going to be a challenge for us, Stefon Diggs is their kick return guy, first in the Big Ten in kickoff return yardage so were going to have a tremendous challenge there and a guy that jumps out to me is Kenneth Goins, running back, H back type guy who is all over the field on special teams. Tremendous challenge for us, excited to be back at home. Love to have the opportunity for the first time in the last four years to have back to back sell outs. 107K strong. Were excited about that. I cannot stress the impact that our fans had on our last game. Gave our defense a real home field advantage. Cant stress, again, how much would he appreciate their support. Open it up to questions.
Q. James, listen, I realize that youre on to the Maryland game but I had to ask you, do you have a reaction to the Big Ten statement after the Ohio State game in which they admitted there were significant issues and an error on a couple of key plays in a game that did not go your way?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, were going to move on. I think even though the conference came out and made statements, I still dont think its appropriate or wise for me to comment. Weve moved on. We have moved on. Ive never addressed it with the team. We focus on the things that we can control. Conference came out and answered some questions.
Q. James, with Akeel Lynch what sort of progress has he made this year away from the ball in terms of his blocking, going out for passes and his preparation?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think hes made real strides. Im really proud of him, in a lot of different ways and for a lot of different reasons. Hes doing some really nice things. Big, strong, powerful guy, like most running backs, one of the areas he still needs to improve on is his pass protection. I think thats going to be very, very important and as big and strong as he is, he should be able to be dominant in that area. Im very pleased. I think his role is going to continue to grow this year and in this game. Obviously not having Zach anymore thats going to factor into it as well.
Q. James, not asking about Ryans condition, I wanted to ask you about Ryan Keiser the player and person you got to know this year. What were your impressions of him in that regard?
COACH FRANKLIN: I love Ryan Keiser. I love everything about him. He is one of the nicest, most kind, most thoughtful kids Ive been around. Same thing with his family. Hes an unbelievable teammate, is really coachable. Hes got really strong faith and spirituality and he shared that with the team. Hes a special guy. Ive already talked to Ryan about what his interests are after he graduates, chasing his deem to the NFL and one of the things I think he would like to be is a Phys Ed teacher and possibly a coach as well. I think so highly of him Ive talked about trying to get him to work for us in some type of role or capacity, whether its player development or things like that because I think hes one of those kids that everybody in our program respects. He makes you want hes the type of guy that you spend time with him, he makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to be a better coach. Hes a special, special young man. Hes in our prayers and his family is in our prayers and we cant get him back here soon enough.
Q. Coach, two part question. Do you know Randy Edsell personally at all and even if you dont what do you think about his job at Maryland and also C.J. brown, could you talk about him, I know you recruited him, coached him. What you think of him.
COACH FRANKLIN: I dont know Randy very well. Ive never coached with him but professionally this is a small industry, we know each other, our paths cross. Hes from Pennsylvania, he has recruited Pennsylvania so I see him on the road and his staff, things like that. Tremendous respect for what hes done in his career and what hes doing at the University of Maryland. Had interactions with him obviously at the Big Ten head coaches meetings as well as media day and all those things. C.J. Brown, I love the kid, I love his family. I remember the home visit. I remember being down in the basement and playing Ping Pong with them and pool. I remember going to his basketball practice in high school. Hes a great kid. Hes a great student, great player. Early on in his career he had the injury bug, thats why hes got six years there, so Im really happy that hes able to end on a positive note his career there. Hes the type of guy, its what college athletics are all about. Hes been able to get a great education, and play football at a high level. Im just really, really happy for him and his family, just great people. I root for him every game but one.
Q. James, I know you addressed special teams in your opening remarks but I wondered about the two kids, Goin and Pasquariello, do they perform well in practice? How much promise do they slow in practice and what can you say to them about their confidence right now which cant be real good right now, I dont think. Will?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think kicking, shooting hoops, things like that they tend to be streaky, especially when youre young and inexperienced you can be streaky. I think Ficken can be a great resource for those guys and already has been, has been really good. Were going to do some things and try and help them and we made adjustments last game. Were going to continue to do those things, were going to use our directional punt team, do some things to try to help them, put the pressure on the other 10 guys, take it off them, but we made that adjustment last week. No different than anything else. There is no magic wand. Theyre going to keep working hard and preparing and having really good dialogue back and forth, things we can do to help them as well. Just keep working hard and stay positive and love these guys and support em. Be challenging and demanding on them when we need to be, but, yeah, theyve punted well. Gulla had won the job and really the team and he had a lot of confidence. Its one thing punting in practice, its another punting in games. I think he hasnt been able to punt as consistently in games. You got to work through that. Thats what were going to do. Thats what were going to do. This week it will be open competition between the two of them. We will keep track of the yardage, the hang time all week long and whoever is the most consistent guy, well go with them.
Q. James, could you update us on Miles Dieffenbach and the possibility of him playing this week?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I wish I kind of had a clear answer for you. You know, were kind of still determining that ourselves, and I think you guys have heard me say this before, its not just a physical aspect of it, its the muscle memory of the footwork and the techniques that he hasnt done in six months. Its also the confodence as well. I think a lot of it is really just kind of up to how practices go. Hes been practicing, too a degree, the last couple of weeks. Hopefully he will have a bigger role this week and that will allow us to play him in a game a little bit. I think that would be the ideal situation. How much that is, Im not sure, well see, but I think the biggest thing is we are never, ever going to put winning a game in front of whats in the best interest of our players and our student athletes, and we want to make sure hes prepared before we put him back on the field thats mentally, physically, emotionally, thats the whole package.
Q. How does Mike Hull compare to the other linebackers you have been around throughout your career? Whats impressed you most about him, not just Saturday but how hes developed throughout the season?
COACH FRANKLIN: Mike Hull is as good as Ive ever been around, with coaches, fans, NFL scouts with selection committees for awards and things like that, we all get way too caught up in the eyeball test. With the guy that walks through the door, hes 6 3, 250 pounds, just looks what you imagine in your mind and dont get me wrong, its not like Mike is little, hes 6 foot, 235 pounds but how productive he is. I meet with the freshmen typically once a week, and theyre probably sick of hearing me talk about Mike Hull because its not just his physical traits, its everything. I dont know if I could find something that I would say in terms of his preparation and his demeanor that I would want more from. How he is in meetings, how he is out at practice, you know, his focus, his attention to detail, his work ethic, how coachable he is. From day one hes embraced everything weve asked him to do as a team, as a leader, in the defensive scheme, in the defensive techniques, which isnt always easy to do as a senior. I mean, hes a model. I think the one thing you would love him to do is be a little more vocal, but thats not who he is and when he speaks is people listen and thats powerful. He needs to stay true to who he is. I think hes special. I remember during the spring I saw the whole offense, all their faces drop because we faked an inside zone and handed a reverse and he was there to make the tackle on the inside zone, and it looked like it was going to be a big play on a reverse, and next thing you know, the same guy that stopped the inside zone was making the tackle on the sideline on the reverse and this was Mike Hull and at that moment all the coaches knew we had a special guy. Every day hes proved that. In the classroom, in the community, on the football field. Im trying to figure out a way that we can appeal to the NCAA and get a few more years out of him or convince his parents to have a few more children. I dont know if thats going to happen, though.
Q. James, along those lines you think of Mike Hull and you and Coach Shoop have been public especially on social media about his snubs and hes not on the one list and today gets added to another list. How much do those awards mean to you guys, at least to get recognized? Do you campaign behind the scenes and call em up and say, hey, add him to the list or is there you can do to influence that at all besides what youre saying to us right now?
COACH FRANKLIN: No. What we talk about is the individual accolades that you get from the Big Ten or get nationally or regionally all those things are wonderful but theyre really not individual, theyre about the team. Mike doesnt have the success hes having without the D line, without the secondary, without the scout team on offense, without the schemes. Dont get me wrong, he gets a lot of credit but there are a lot of things that go into it because this is the ultimate team game. Would you love for him to be on those lists and do I think he deserves it? Yes. But beside that we dont spend a lot of time on it, I know Mike doesnt, we dont as a staff. I think Jeff and his staff do a good job of trying to educate and we send things out to the media and to the public to try to educate them on what we have here, so we do, do that, but from the a coaching staff perspective, were too busy trying to develop these young people as men and as students and in the community and as football players. Thats where we spend so much time bringing different people to come in and talk to our team about social issues that were all struggling with right now in our society, reinforcing all the needs of our academic department so our guys can do well there and maximize their experience on the football field. Besides that, thats why we got Jeff and his staff doing a great job as well for those other things.
Q. James, how much does it hurt to lose these two kids from a leadership standpoint given how thin your senior class is? Beyond that how much are you going to rely on them to continue in those roles when theyre able to get back and be around the team?
COACH FRANKLIN: I dont think there is any doubt like youre saying, their losses are significant. You think about two of the seniors and we didnt have many in the first place, on offense, Zwinak and Dieffenbach, Im trying to think who else we even have. Oh, Bill Belton, he is the only other one. So one senior on offense right now. Zwinak is out now, Dieffenbach has been a captain, hes been out all year long. I want their leadership roles to continue and maybe step up to a different level, but Ill give you an example. Dieffenbach, Ill give you an example, a lot of guys think they have a hard time leading and encouraging and getting on other guys when theyre not out there doing it themselves. When the team is running sprints and youre not, its a factor, I dont think there is any doubt about it. Losing a guy like Keiser, because really Mike Hull was the quarterback of the front seven and Keiser was the quarterback of the back four, those things are factors. What was great last week is just to see those other guys step up to support Marcus and I think you guys all saw, just like we did, as the game went on, Marcus played with more and more confidence. Im excited to see what hes going to be able to do this week but I dont think there is any doubt, when we had so few seniors in the first place, that when you lose a couple of those guys it probably has a bigger impact than most programs.
Q. November 1st, Saturday, is there more a sense of urgency? Is it more fun and is there a line that you draw that says the young players are no longer young?
COACH FRANKLIN: From a youth standpoint the young guys that are playing, theyre no longer freshmen, that cant be an excuse anymore. Even the guys on the scout team, I met with them and they got to make sure theyre not in the red shirt mode and mentality because if not then they wont be ready to compete for jobs come spring or for a job if something changes and now they need to go in and play. We do start cutting back practice a little bit, I think I told you guys that already, we started to do that last week. I think thats been helpful. On offense, you know, you have some challenges. You have to practice to get better, but, you know, you only have so many bodies to really get it done with, so thats the fine line. How do you develop those guys in practice? Most people have 85 scholarship and 125 guys on the team, whatever it may be and that affects everybodys development. It affects the second team corners development, the second team quarterbacks development, the second teams line development, because we dont have a second offensive line. Thats where we are right now.
Q. You mentioned earlier you wanted to clear up some things surrounding Ryan Keiser and one of the things you said he was improving but one of the things there seemed to be back and forth on was his condition. Can you speak to that as far as how hes doing currently?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think I did. I think I said overall he is improving and I made the comment that there is no infection.
Q. (No microphone, but he was asked for more info on Keiser.
COACH FRANKLIN: This is the statement I was allowed to release. Ill leave it at that.
Q. Coach you talked about familiarity with a lot of the Maryland players and even though you havent coached them that recently how much of a benefit is it having known those players and how much of an advantage is that for you guys on the field?
COACH FRANKLIN: I dont see it being an advantage on the field because I know their personalities but I havent coached them or been around them in four years. So a lot of things change, guys get bigger, stronger, they develop, theyre in schemes that are different and things like that. I dont think we gain a whole lot of an advantage. There is some familiarity. I would say similar with a lot of other schools in this conference that are close. Other schools that weve played, weve recruited those guys as well. So I think the longer were here, youre going to have more and more of that in the Big Ten because youre recruiting against each other so you got a good understanding of their players and where they come from but four years is a long time and a lot of things change in that time.
Q. Robby Libel is a guy you brought in from the IMGA Academy this past fall, is he part of that punting competition and what have you seen from him that youve liked in camp and so far this year?
COACH FRANKLIN: Technically Robby will be part of that competition but I think there is a good gap right now between those two guys and lie very well. He will have an opportunity he does have a strong leg. Hes a big guy, but just like the issue that were having with those other two guys that we talked about before is the consistency. He will bang one for 60 yards then another one for 27 yards, so its the consistency of it that youre looking for with these guys. Technically he will be part of the competition, but I would say right now there is a fairly significant gap between those two and Robby.
Q. Coach, with Ryan out how much more important is Adrian Amos to your defense and for Marcus Allen whats the biggest hurdle in his way as a freshman trying to slide into the role that Keiser had?
COACH FRANKLIN: Adrians role has always been real big on our team. Obviously we need him to be more verbal as well as Jordan and Trevor and as well as linebackers, especially if were in nickel and our star package, things like that, so big time role. I think Amos has a chance to be more of a playmaker for us and I expect that to happen this week and for the rest of the season and I think thats what he wants and expects as well. Marcus, just he needs to do his job. One of the big discussions that we had the last couple of weeks is, guys, try to do too much. They try to make a play and when you try to make a play thats when you usually give up a big play. If you can consistently do your job and do your responsibility, the plays will come. I think hes figuring that out. That was a point that Christian Campbell made yesterday in our freshmen meeting, that I thought was interesting, talking about academics and how they are adjusting and asking what they have learned and that was the one thing that Christian said.
Q. You were in the SEC, now youre in the Big Ten, satisfied probably isnt the word but is the process the same for you on Sunday you and your staff. Im sure every staff goes in and can you tell us up a couple of plays they tend to the league office. Can you discuss whether youre satisfied at least with the vehicle of being heard when there are things that come up in a game and having been in the SEC as well?
COACH FRANKLIN: (Laughter.) I had a great experience in my time in the SEC. I have tremendous respect for that conference. Ive been now in the Big Ten less than a year and I have tremendous respect for the Big Ten and the Big Tens leadership and where were going.
Q. You talked before about wanting your defense to be more explosive and create those X plays. Got a lot of that last week. Going forward how is that sustainable? How hard or difficult or easy is that to sustain without the prime time, big time atmosphere?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think thats a really good question and we talked about that. I talked to the team on Sunday after the game that I felt a difference on our in our team in terms of their focus and in terms of their preparation and in terms of their enthusiasm and energy and I dont know if that was Ohio State, I dont know if that was the white out, I dont know what this was, prime time game, whatever it may be but I talked to them about we have to make sure that our approach and preparation and our attention to detail is consistent week in and week out. It shouldnt be based on the opponent, it shouldnt be based on what time the game is. It shouldnt be based on outfits that people decide to wear to the game, shouldnt be based on anything of those things. It should be based on us wanting to go out and play at our highest level. Now, are we all human and do those things affect us? Yes. But what were trying to do is get them to understand we need to have that type of commitment and respect for our opponent and approach week in and week out regardless, because ultimately its about us. That was a big discussion for us.
Q. How do you feel Maryland will fit into the Big Ten?
COACH FRANKLIN: Im not an expert by any means at this point on the Big Ten, and that would probably be a question for them, not really me. I cant answer how their program is going to fit or would fit. Im more comfortable talking about Penn State and where were at and where were going.
Q. Coach, you talked about Angelo moving around on the line and miles aside does it look like at least at this point that Angelo is going to be able to go back to center and Donovan is going to be able to go this weekend?
COACH FRANKLIN: Thats it be determined. Were anticipating that. Were anticipating being able to have those guys back. We liked having Wendy at center and creating flexibility with Angelo at guard, so thats what were hopeful for.
Q. I have to make it a good one to end on. Of all the things you talked about with Keiser, one of the other things about his role being the holder. We saw Chris take on that duty last year and of course when Ryan was hurt last year Sam struggled a bit. Whats the comfort level between Chris and Sam and when have you noticed and how much extra time will you work on that this week?
COACH FRANKLIN: Not a whole lot extra time. I knew that was an issue in the past so one of the things we did from the beginning of camp is force Ficken to kick with different snappers to force Ficken to kick with different holders, because I knew that had been an issue in the past. Youre going to have injuries, so Geiger is another guy who has held in the past and he will be holding a lot in practice this week as well because same thing we need to make sure that Geiger Ficken is as comfortable with him, so we worked on that since day one at camp. The guys that we need to get more reps with this week would be Geiger. We need to make sure there is a comfort level there but we thought that was important going into the season to get him confidence with those other guys. THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
COACH FRANKLIN: Thanks, have a great day.
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