Penn State’s James Franklin PC Wrap

FightOnState.com’s Mark Brennan and Greg Pickel break down the weekly presser heading into the regular-season finale vs. Michigan State.

Penn State coach James Franklin held his last regular-season press conference of the season at Beaver Stadium Tuesday.

He talked about a key call in the loss to Illinois, QB Christian Hackenberg and John Donovan, upcoming opponent Michigan State, Senior Day, and much more.

FOS scribes Mark Brennan and Greg Pickel have you … uh … covered when it comes to recapping the presser. Covered like a tarp on the field.

Check out their recap, which includes some bonus footage at the end, above.

TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED BY ASAP SPORTS

COACH FRANKLIN: Happy Thanksgiving week, I guess that's what you call it. I'd like to start with an opening statement again like I typically do and summarize the Illinois game after watching it. Couple things: We didn't win the turnover battle, had that one fumble which was a big play in the game, obviously. We didn't win the penalty battle, which I think was a factor in the game. Drive-start average was even, explosive plays. The offense had four. Eight is the goal. Defense gave up three. Three is the goal.

Offensively we've got to continue to get hats on hats in the run game and strain more. Need to make DBs miss more, and I think we did that last week like we had the previous two weeks in the running game. Got to take advantage of the field position. The fake punt was big. They had field position. We've got to take care of that. We need more explosive plays.

Defensively stopping the run, held them for two-and-a-half yards per rush which is big. We were really big on third down. Our pursuit drill is big. Area was good. We had 12 missed tackles. Didn't have any takeaways, which was a factor in the game, and we didn't win the two-minute situation. Offense obviously didn't win the four-minute situation. Special teams, we were solid, but the field goal earlier in the game obviously was significant.

Talk about kind of the end of the game situation, because I know there was a lot of conversation about that. We always, after every game, after every camp, after every recruiting event, we sit down and we discuss things and we process and say did we make the right decisions? Would we make that decision again? Can we grow from it? Can we learn from it? To make sure we're always taking time to analyze and critique ourselves and not be defensive and make sure we are.

We feel like we made the right decision there. It's the fourth quarter, the offensive drive started with two minutes and 46 seconds to go on the clock with three timeouts. Offense called two run plays, one pass option which was a naked, did not pick up the first down. You're talking about fourth down from your own territory and they need a field goal to win. So obviously looking back at it after the way it played out, you'd love to go for it on fourth down and convert. But if you don't get it, they're in field goal range and the game is over.

We want to always play to our strength. Our strength has been defense all year long. So you punt in that situation, and you put your best unit on the field to win the game for you. Is that probably what people want to hear? No. But I think that's the right decision, and we'd make that again based on, again, how this season has gone and how our defense has played this year. So I did want to mention that.

We want to be aggressive, but we want to be smart in everything we do. So obviously looking back at it, you can second-guess, but that's the decision that we made and I think that's the decision we're comfortable with.

Couple other things we want to cover, you've got Senior Day presentation this week. We're going to be honoring Adrian Amos, Deshawn Baker, Brad Bars, Bill Belton, Drew Boyce, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Sam Ficken, Ryan Keiser, Jesse Merise, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor, T.J. Rhattigan, Tyrone Smith, Deron Thompson, Zach Zwinak. Couple of those guys are probably new to you because they're walk-ons that technically would have another year of eligibility, but are graduating and are probably going to move on. So I wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page with that.

Get into the next game, Michigan State game with Coach Dantonio who we have a lot of respect for, really excited about this opportunity and this game. Now we're in a situation where we have our last game at home, which I think is a little more significant, probably more in football than most other sports. You play basketball, and it's your last home game. You have the opportunity to obviously play in the NBA, you have an opportunity to go play in Europe, or you've got a chance to play pick-up basketball in leagues the rest of your life. You know, football when it's over, it's pretty much over. There are not too many leagues for offensive linemen to go play in the rest of their lives. So there is a little more finality to it.

In general, Spartans return 12 of 122 starters, 7 on offense, 5 on defense. You look at the statistical comparisons, turnover margin, Michigan State has the advantage. Penalties per game, Penn State has the advantage. Total offense, Michigan State. Total defense, Penn State. Scoring offense, Michigan State. Scoring defense, Penn State.

Coach Narduzzi, the defensive coordinator it's his 8th year there. I think the consistency you see on their staff and in their program has been significant for them in the rise of their program. Three straight seasons where they've had the No. 1 defense in the Big Ten. They're a 4-3 team. Quarters in the secondary with two run support safeties and they press you on the outside. You're pretty much one-on-one because those safeties are run players. Probably the most similar defense that I've seen to Alabama in terms of body-type and model.

Their offense, defense, and special teams are very specific about what they're looking for, long, athletic guys. D-line is really long, linebackers are long. You look at the DBs and almost everybody is over six-foot. They run to the ball extremely well. They're very physical.

They're number 1 in the nation in turnover margin, number three in the nation in turnover gains recovered. Number eight in the nation in rushing defense, and number 15 in sacks. Number 1 in the Big Ten in defensive touchdowns. They force 61 three-and-outs. This is a good defense we're facing.

Obviously, No. 89, Shilique Calhoun, the defensive end, I always go back and look where really good players come from. He's a kid from New Jersey. It's interesting, wasn't an overly highly recruited guy. Obviously, he was a good player, but I'm always interested to see where these guys come from and how they develop. I think they do a great job of developing guys as well.

Linebacker No. 43, Davis, a really productive player for them, and then the safety, No. 27, Kurtis Drummond. On offense, Dave Warner and Coach Bollman do a really good job. Great experience, seven starters, multiple pro offense, very balanced. Again, one of the things that jumps out to you, their quarterback is having a great year, but he's playing behind a really, really strong, physical, massive offensive line that does a great run game and also does a great job protecting them as well. That allows them to be balanced.

Number six in the nation in scoring offense, No. 7 in the nation in total offense, No. 11 in fewest turnovers. No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing offense. Connor Cook is having a great year. Running back Jeremy Langford is having a really, really good year, and then you've got wide receiver, No. 14, Tony Lippett is having a great year as well. Special teams in Coach Tressel. They're number 8 in the Big Ten in punting. Long, rangy, consistent with their schemes. Been very, very impressed with what they do as well.

So, great opportunity. Really, really good opportunity. Would love to see all the fans in the community to come out and support these seniors and send them out the right way for everything they've meant to this program over the last three or four years. So open it up to questions.

Q. What will you remember most about this senior class, and what will it mean to you to have Ryan Keiser there on Saturday?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think a couple things. I think obviously with this being my first year and not being here over the last three or four years with these guys makes it a little bit different. But I think being here and now kind of understanding and more depth, the history and traditions at Penn State, I think what we've been through the last three years and what these guys have meant, how they've stuck with this university and the football program and the community as well have been tremendous leaders, have been tremendous ambassadors both on and off the field and in the classroom. It's significant. I think everybody in our program, all the players kind of look up to them, which is typically the case in most programs. But I think it's magnified, obviously, from what they've been through.

Mike Hull is a great example of that. Hard working, blue-collared, humble, appreciative of everything that he stands for and everything this program is about as well. I'm just really, really proud of those guys, and I want to send them out the right way. I want them to have a great experience. That would be this game, and it would be going forward as well. So very, very proud of those guys.

Q. James, you mentioned a couple of times the missed tackles in the Illinois game. I was wondering, how much did you think the team missed Brandon Bell out there? Can you just kind of assess his impact on the defense this year?

COACH FRANKLIN: Well, first of all, I thought Jason for a true freshman has played well all year long, and I thought he played well on Saturday. But not having Brandon Bell, I think changes things. I don't think there is any doubt he's a starter for a reason for us. I think that did have an impact on us. Same thing, you could make the same thing with Keiser, although I think Marcus is playing well as well.

When you lose starters, it has an impact. So I thought Jason stepped up and did a great job. I think he learned from it. I feel like we can win with him, but I don't think there is any doubt losing Brandon Bell has an impact on us.

We're in a situation probably to go a little bit further with that, as you guys know. Whenever we lose anybody, it's significant, and maybe more significant than maybe some other places.

Q. You just mentioned a little bit ago what the seniors have sort of meant to Penn State, but how much of a role did this senior class help you with your transition to this job both professionally and personally?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think very much. It's funny, because you just brought that up, and I realized I didn't completely answer the question earlier that Rich asked about Keiser. Having Keiser back has been big for all of us. It's had a big impact on me. I'm hoping he'll be able to travel with us this weekend and get a chance to visit with the guys. He's already a very, very mature kid, really sees the big picture, very spiritual, was already married. He's got a unique perspective for a college athlete.

But, yeah, I think this senior class has been great. I meet with them often. Actually, Saturday night after the game we came back here, and I had the captains which are mostly seniors, except for Hack, up in my office. And we sat there for probably at least an hour talking about a lot of different things. They've been awesome.

I think it's probably like this in a lot of professions, but you get frustrated or disappointed and you're going through some challenges or adversity. As long as you're surrounded with really good people that care and are committed, you can talk through it, you feel better.

I know they made me feel better. Gave me some perspective on some things, really valuable. I think these seniors have been unbelievable. I know myself as well as the rest of the staff and the young guys look up to him and are very, very thankful.

Q. Could you assess the last month for Christian Hackenberg, how he's played and how he's handled the way he's played?

COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think obviously Christian has got really high standards and expectations for himself and who he wants to be and how he wants to play. I think there is frustration there with a lot of different things. But I think, again, considering he's a true sophomore and he's 19 years old, I think he's handled it pretty well. He was one of the guys in my office Saturday night as one of the captains talking about these things.

I had a bunch of individual meetings with guys on Sunday as well about things that I think we could do better or be doing differently. So I think Hack's been good. I think considering everything that's happened and how it's all played out, I think he's been good. I think he's getting better every single day. There are some things that we need to continue to work on. Footwork, fundamentals, technique, things like that which are going to be helpful. But I think the other thing is continuing to develop the guys around him, which I've talked about before. It's all of those things. It's not one factor. It's all of those things.

I think more than anything Hack's really, really competitive. He's really passionate about what he does and how he does it and has really high standards and expectations. There is nobody harder on hack than hack. I think that's something that I know we have to be aware of as a staff.

Q. James, two of your seniors on defense that maybe don't always get talked about as much as some of the others, C.J. Olaniyan, Jesse Della Valle. Is there one thing or two that stands out the most about those guys getting ready to play their last home game?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think the thing that sticks out, and it probably goes hand in hand and maybe it's an obvious statement. But the maturity, C.J. is a very mature guy. He's overcome a lot. It's grown from talking to people in the program. He's grown dramatically. Not only has he worked himself into a really good player but a really good person. He's a father, and that's very important to him, plays a big role in his life. Takes his academics seriously as well. He's not afraid to speak his mind, which I respect and appreciate. He's not afraid to stand up in a team meeting or in the locker room and speak from the heart, which I truly appreciate.

I think Jesse is similar. He's probably a little more soft spoken and quiet. But when he does speak the guys listen. I think those guys are really, really valuable. Experience counts, it really does. Those guys have kind of seen and done it all. You're talking about a guy on the front end, and you're talking about a guy on the back end of our defense that have played a lot of football here and seen a lot of different situations, so really valuable.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Christian's durability this year. What do you have to say for all the hits he's taken, and he's bounced back? Also, it looked like he took a big shot and was bouncing around for a while. Is he okay?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think all the work with Christian, and the rest of the players and Galt and his staff, as well as Ryan Breen and their staff has been really helpful for us this year and even years going forward making sure we're as durable as we possibly can be. I think a commitment to the nutrition, commitment to sleep, commitment to getting in and getting treatment, not just when you have issues, but just taking care of your body, getting in the cold tubs and hot tubs. I think our guys have committed to that.

This week is going to be helpful. We put a priority on sleep, letting those guys sleep in. They don't have class. Doing some things, we took them to the movies last night as well. Doing some different things like that from a morale standpoint and also just from a physiological standpoint. So those things have been good.

But I think he's held up extremely well especially under the circumstances, but he's feeling it. He's feeling it. Sundays are tough getting in there, but he usually bounces back really well.

Q. You're obviously a real, enthusiastic, energetic person. It sounds like from what you've said earlier your seniors have kind of helped your spirits a little bit, but you're in charge of a big operation here. Hundred-plus players, lot of coaches and support staff. Are you conscious, after the way things went on Saturday, are you conscious of keeping everybody positive and energetic, maybe people who aren't naturally that way as you are?

COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think that's probably a thing I'm most conscious of. In a leadership position, that's what you have to do. You have to gauge the temperature of the players. You have to gauge the temperature of the staff, all those things. When people need to be boosted up and lifted up and patted on the back and given a hug and tell them how much you love them and appreciate them, you do that. When guys need a kick in the pants and their butt ripped, you do that.

I've got guys on the staff that are willing to do that with me, which I think is important. The fact you've got Brent Pry, our assistant head coach who will come in and talk to me, or Dwight Galt will do that, or most importantly, my wife. We all need that. We need people that are going to hold each other accountable and give the message that people need to hear at that time. I think that's very, very important.

I think that's one of the things this staff has done a good job of with our time together, of knowing what the team needs, when they need it and how they need it. I think that's very, very important.

You guys know, I've said this before and you've seen it, I'm an emotional, passionate, positive guy. That's kind of who I am, and that's not going to change. I can't try to be somebody else. That's who I am. When things go well, I am going to scream, and holler, and go crazy, and hug and kiss.

When things don't go well, I'm going to scream, and holler, and go crazy, and probably not hug and kiss, but everything else. That's kind of who I am. I think it's important that you get in these positions, and you stay true to who you are and don't let outside noise change you. I think that's very, very important. I think it's very, very important from a leadership perspective. We talk about this all the time as coaches that the best way to develop leadership in your program is that the coaches come every single day with the same type of energy and enthusiasm at practice every single day. If you want the players to be that way, you've got to come that way every single day.

Q. I understand you weren't here for those games. But part of this group has been part of two pretty big season-ending upsets the last couple years against a really good Wisconsin team. Is there anything you can take from those games and the mentality that those kids took into those games that will help prepare for Michigan State? How much do you lean on the guys that were big parts of those wins in a week like this?

COACH FRANKLIN: We study those things as well. I look at the games won last year. I look at the games lost last year and how they were lost. I look at those things. Obviously the experience of players finding ways to win games and at the end of games and things like that is valuable. Because when you've done it before, you realize you can do it again.

So, yeah, I think those things are extremely valuable. Again, that goes back to talking about experience counts.

Q. Your offense has scored 20 points one time in the last 7 games. I know there are a lot of different reasons for that. But my question is specifically about the play calling, which has probably come under as much criticism as any other part of the team. I'm just wondering, do you believe that criticism of John Donovan is fair or not, and how would you assess the play calling?

COACH FRANKLIN: I kind of keep getting this question all year long, and I kind of keep answering it the same way, so it's really not going to change. Every year at the end of the season we'll evaluate everything like we always do.

We've been talking since last summer, and really the end of this spring that we were going to have challenges up front. The game of football is played on the defensive line, and it just happens to be that our defense is really good, and we have probably one of the best defensive lines in the two-deep in the conference. We went into this year with losing our captain on the offensive line, and moving two defensive linemen over, one of which is a starter going into the season. So we talked about it. I know everybody is looking to find answers and reasons. But did we have high expectations and standards of who and what we wanted to be? Yes. But am I also trying to be realistic going into the season of what it was? That as well.

We tried to talk about these things ahead of time, and the question always went back to Christian Hackenberg. I kept bringing up to you guys it was going to be about surrounding Christian. So really, you keep asking me, but the answer's not going to change. I understand it. We're going to evaluate everything, and I understand the disappointment. But the answer is really not going to change.

Q. You talked earlier about the seniors giving you some perspective. Can you tell us how and how important it is for that to be a two-way street rather than just the coaches kind of talking to the players about certain things?

COACH FRANKLIN: We do that all the time. To me, that's part of ownership. I want the players to take ownership of the program. I met with the freshmen yesterday, and first thing I do is I ask them how are you doing? How are you feeling? Is there any issues or any concerns? How you doing in school? Who is home sick? Whatever. Things about the program, anything. I want to hear kind of how they're thinking and how they're feeling. When you really have the trust and the chemistry built up, they'll talk. They'll talk in there. That's been really good. I do the same thing with the captains asking them kind of what's going on.

I think we've got a pretty good pulse of things that are going on, but it's also good to ask and make sure you're on the same page and hearing those things. So I've done that my whole career. We'll continue to do that because I want them to have a voice, and I want them to take ownership. In the end, ultimately, I'm going to make a decision based on the coach's opinion, the player's opinion, my opinion, and what we think is in the best interest of the program moving forward. But I want their input. I want them to know that they're being heard. We've been to places where you have meetings and players talk, but there is really no ownership and leadership. It's to let them talk. But you're going to make your own decision anyway, and I don't believe in doing it that way. I want everybody to feel like they have a voice and are bringing value not just on the field but from a leadership perspective as well. So having that open dialogue is really important.

Q. I think back in January or February you said you had talked to Bill O'Brien during either the hiring process or the transition. Did he give you any ideas on who the senior leadership in this class would come from? Did you have an idea coming in or did you start learning that once you got here and during spring workouts and things like that?

COACH FRANKLIN: Those conversations were brief about those types of things. We talked about a lot of other things that I thought were the most important things that needed to be discussed in terms of building a program, long-term challenges, strengths, things like that. So, yeah, those things weren't specific to that. I don't even think we discussed those things to be honest with you.

Q. The last two games you guys moved the ball down the field pretty well on the first drive and struggled after that. At what point do you switch from what you wanted to do coming into the game, and what you think you have to do based on how the defense has responded to that?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think it's a combination throughout. I think that's a big reason of why we played the end of the game the way we played it. I think it's a feel. It's a feel. One of the things I think we have to do a better job of is handling adversity. We went right down the field running and passing, and then we did it again and we had the mishandled snap on the field goal. From that point on, we didn't look like the same team. Then we started making some mistakes and doing things like that.

So that's one of the things we talked about on Sunday is we've got to handle adversity better on that side of the ball. When things don't go well or something happens, which it's always going to be that way. You're not going to play a perfect game for 60 minutes being resilient enough to push through those things. That's where having experience and maturity and leadership in all three phases it really important for you.

Q. How was Mockingjay, first of all?

COACH FRANKLIN: I didn't see it. We send all the players and the administrative staff, but the coaches were here kind of game planning. Mondays are big days for us. The players typically have off, so that's how we were able to squeeze it in. They said it was really good, but it was a major set-up for the next movie. They also, the other thing I heard was will Windham, one of our GAs did a cameo spot in the movie, I guess. There was some guy that looked just like Will Windham, and the whole movie theater erupted. They all laughed, I guess, at a very serious point in the movie. But I think they enjoyed it.

The funny thing is last year they saw the previous movie the same exact week last year. I didn't know that. It just happened to set up that way.

Q. The real question I was going to ask you--

COACH FRANKLIN: Have you seen it?

Q. No, I have not. I was hoping you were going to give a review.

COACH FRANKLIN: Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Q. You talked about when things aren't going well, taking the blame for that. When things go well, giving that to the players. But some of the problems you've discussed in terms of what's not getting done seems to be somewhat of an a tension to detail for some of these guys. Are you satisfied that you're getting that on a consistent basis? There is only so much you can coach before these guys have to be able to go out and execute that kind of stuff. Are you satisfied that you're getting what you need in that department?

COACH FRANKLIN: No, I'll never be satisfied. I'll never be satisfied. Even when we're 12-0 and scoring crazy points and stopping people and doing that, you'll never be satisfied. You're going to be looking for things that you can do better. There is no doubt about it, and we have to play more consistently. Play-in and play-out, series-in and series-out, and game-in, and game-out, so I'll never be satisfied.

Q. I know you said before the season that John would call plays. I'm just curious, what input do you have on the play calling throughout a game if any? Are you guys introducing anything and trying to limit the playbook to help these guys out to kind of streamline stuff?

COACH FRANKLIN: I'll answer this question the same way I've answered it all year long. We sit down throughout the week as a staff and come up with a game plan and make recommendations. We watch formation tapes. We watch down and distance situations. We watch situational and explosive play tapes. We watch every play that we possibly can to get a feel for who and what they are. Then on game day I'll make recommendations, I'll make suggestions on things that I'm feeling or seeing or thinking that we need.

It was a little different in the past when he was up in the booth and I was down on the sideline because sometimes you don't get the feel from the players of what you need at the time. So that's kind of how it's been. We do it more in the game plan. I think I've mentioned to you guys before, I think there are four to six calls a game that are important calls. I think the rest of them are basically what you've decided-- what you've decided all week you're going to call these plays on first down. You're going to call these plays on second down. You're going to call these plays on third down, and it's everybody's input, and the offensive coordinator and myself put that thing together and we go from there.

Q. I was kind of thinking big picture here. What would you say are two to three areas where this offense has gotten better from UCF until now? Things that we don't notice, but you guys have.

COACH FRANKLIN: I think actually and this is going to surprise you that I'm going to say this, that our offensive line has gotten better. The issue is in the first four games people didn't really know who and what we were going to be. They had seen a weakness, and now the entire defensive game plan is about attacking those things over and over and over again. Typically what people are doing, they're lining up in what we call a solid front, basically covering every single offensive lineman. So we got five individual blocks and you're not able to help each other. Or they're lining up in four down or three down and bringing complete chaos every single play. We're seeing I think on average about a 20% increase in each team we play in terms of the amount of blitzing and twisting of what they typically do. It spikes up, because for young lines that's the way to expose them.

Now if you've got a veteran line and you twist, you handle that the right way, you increase defenses because when you're moving lateral you have a chance to get walled and create seams when you have an inexperienced offensive line that causes issues.

If I'm working together with Jeff, and we're blocking you and double teaming up to the linebacker, and I know where you're at, that helps. Now when you go here and the defensive end comes here and the linebacker runs over top, now you have to be really disciplined with your footwork and your fundamentals and your training to trust that. So I actually think they've improved, but we're seeing more than you typically would see, and I understand that.

I think those things have proven. I think the understanding of what we're trying to do and why has improved. It's the consistency and the execution that we haven't been able to do. I think that's been the biggest factors. The moving parts that we've had on the offensive line have magnified it.

Q. It seems that more of Christian's struggles have come when he's been moving maybe off the run. He's made some good throws from the pocket. Now that the offensive line is healthier and protecting him, would you like to keep him in the pocket a little bit more?

COACH FRANKLIN: Well, it's a combination of things. That was one of the big reasons why we were so aggressive in trying to run the ball on Saturday. Our plan was let's run the ball, let's play good defense, let's play good special teams and find a way to get this win. Mix in the pass when we felt like we needed to.

I felt being in the pocket is his strength. But a pocket has not been a strength of our offense. So moving the pocket and calling movement passes or nakeds and things like that is a way to protect him.

So do I think he's probably better standing in the pocket and going through his progressions? Yes. But that isn't necessarily who we've been able to be as an offense this year.

Q. Also, you mentioned the run-pass option on the third down where he came up short. In the Northwestern game he took a good shot. Could you review that play relative to Hamilton and also what you saw? A lot of people wondered should he have maybe cut inside or lowered his shoulder; how did you see that?

COACH FRANKLIN: It was a naked. So we protected the backside. When we came off the fake, nobody would be in his face. We left the tight end there to protect him. We wanted to come out.

If a throw was wide open, take it. If not, go get the first down for us. Go run for it. Keep the clock running, move the clock, move the sticks and go from there.

I felt like we had a good situation. Did not work out that way. Looking at the tape, I felt like we had a good situation. Did not work out that way.

Q. Coach, given your emotions, the conversations you had with your team on Saturday night and of course the senior class, how will this Senior Day differ from your previous three?

COACH FRANKLIN: I don't know if it will differ a whole lot. It's always hard this time of year because you care so much about the kids, you care so much about the young men and you want to see them go on and be successful. You want them to leave here on a really positive note. I think it's magnified obviously, knowing everything that they've been through. But these are hard. You know, you spend so much time together as a family, and that's why the postseason is important, because it keeps the family together a little bit longer. Same with obviously everybody talks about the development of the freshmen, but it's really keeping the guys together.

You spend so much time together and you see people at their highs, and you see them at their lows, and that may be personally, that may be with the game, whatever it may be. You just spend so much time together. You're in the training room and guys are bumped, and they're bruised, and they're bleeding, and they're not feeling well. You just go through so many different experiences. You spend so much time together that there is a bond there. It's weird to think that come our last game you're not going to see these guys again. You're not going to see these guys again. They'll come back for homecomings and things like that, but it's a tough deal. It's a tough deal on the coaches. It's a tough deal on the players because you care so much about it.

That's why losing Keiser during the season and he was away from us for three weeks. It's one thing when you lose a guy and he's in the training room. It's another thing when you lose a guy and he's gone for three weeks and you don't even see him. We're not used to that. These guys live together, they work together, they study together, they practice together, so there is a strong bond. There is a strong bond on sports teams.

Q. Looking at the tape from last week, what did you see on special teams? Obviously a couple things didn't go the way you'd like them to. Were there changes you can make or just mental errors that can be addressed from week to week?

COACH FRANKLIN: Specific ones you're talking about?

Q. The offsides punt, the hold and the kickoff. Were there things that just kind of happened through each game? Were they mental?

COACH FRANKLIN: I'm glad you said that. Specifically the ones you're talking about. The PAT field goal, Keiser is our holder, I think Gulla has done a great job coming in and replacing Keiser and done a great job. We didn't do a great job in that situation. Bobbled a snap, the kickoff was as freakish of a play as I've seen.

I know everybody's saying that we should have moved up here and we should have. But you'll see even if you watch the tape, when the kick came, they all backed up because it was hit well and it was going. If you were standing there, it literally got to a point and I've never seen anything. It spun, stopped and dropped straight down. So I think that was a freakish play. I really do. The last one you mentioned?

Q. Offsides on the punt.

COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, the offsides, that was a lapse of focus because we had our D-line in. We were punt safe which is basically you keep your defense in, and you have a returner back there. Our two defensive tackles that were closest to the ball flinched. Now was the right guard possibly moving? It didn't get called. So no, he wasn't. But the two guys closest to the ball that shouldn't be keying the offensive guard, they should be keying the ball, they flinched, and you can't. That was a critical play in the game. So we've got to clean those things up. We've got to improve, there is no doubt about it.

Q. Why don't you tell me a little about Brent Pry and his role on this team this year? He's got some help from like holding a senior leader of that line backing corps. Can you tell me about how he coaches on the field and how he's been able to have the depth he has with the group?

COACH FRANKLIN: I think Brent's done a really good job. I left his office before coming over here. Brent's a very mature guy. Brent's a coach's kid. I think you guys know this. Brent's father was my offensive coordinator in college. We go way back. But Brent's been around the game and learning the game his whole life, even when he didn't know he was learning it, just by being around it. He's really good with his players on the field. He probably doesn't get as much credit as he should with working with Bob and what we do defensively. They were both highly successful defensive coordinators, and we hired them to come together and work together.

You know, he's a really good sounding board for me, him and Coach Galt. I think he's done a great job. I think the combination of him and Mike Hull is really what you're looking for at every position. You want a really strong coach that relates well with the players and you want some senior leadership that sets the model, the standard of excellence we want here at Penn State.

Those two guys worked together to get the whole group. Mike has the ability to make people around him better. I think he's had a profound impact on BELL and Wartman. I think Coach Pry has as well. Then what was able to happen is you had some young, talented players behind them that could work in on special teams, could work in on defense, and as the season has gone, their roles have grown.

I think Brent does a really good job of managing all those different things. I think he's really valuable. I think he's really valuable.

I mentioned this before, he was offered a head coaching job at a Division 1 school and turned it down to come here and be part of what we're doing here and be part of the staff. I think a big part of that is being from Altuna and loving Penn State and what this place stands for. I think a lot of it is our relationship and our family's relationship and believing in what we're doing and where we're going. So I think the world of him.

My last thing to everybody, I know you've got to ask these questions, and I respect it and I understand. I'm more than willing to come in here every single week and answer the questions. But I also want you guys to understand that I believe in these kids and I believe in our coaching staff and I believe in what we're doing. I believe in the foundation we're laying and where we're going. I'm more positive and I'm more determined than I've ever been. I think times like this are probably the most important for laying the foundation for the future.

So I respect the job that you guys do and the questions that you have to ask, but what you're going to find from me though is we're always going to be really introspective and evaluate what we're doing and can we do things better. But we have a plan. We're going to tweak the plan when we need to, but we're going to stick to our plan. The biggest part of the plan is believing in our people and believing in ourselves and what we're doing. Thanks, guys.


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