PSU vs. MSU: Franklin Press Conference

See what the Nittany Lion coach had to say after his squad lost to the Spartans to end the regular season.

Penn State ended its 2014 regular season with a lethargic 34-10 loss to No. 11 Michigan State at Beaver Stadium Saturday.

Afterward, Nittany Lion coach James Franklin addressed the media in his shortest postgame press conference of the year.

He talked about missed opportunities, costly mistakes, the opportunity for the team to stick together for bowl prep and much more.

Check it out above.


Opening Statement: Like always, I want to thank everyone for coming. Obviously, it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to turn out. We'll start off by giving Michigan State credit. That's a very good football program. They've done a nice job. Got to give them credit. I think the game really just comes down to we had an opportunity to make some plays. We weren't able to do that and had some critical mistakes. We knew going into the game that they were going to overload the box and force us to make plays on the perimeter in one-on-one's and we weren't able to do that today. I thought our defense, especially once the game got going after the first couple of series, played really well. The kickoff return to start the game made things real challenging; especially that type of team and type of offense. Sam [Ficken] for whatever reason hit the middle of the ball, squibbed it down there and we got no hang-time and were not in a position to cover. That's kind of where we're at. We'll have a team meeting on Sunday. We'll come in and discuss some things about what our plans are moving forward. We won't practice tomorrow, but we'll start our bowl preparation and get to work on those things. Those 15 practices will be really valuable. We have not had those 15 the last two years. Those practices will be valuable in terms of getting ready for our bowl opponent, but also building for our future and development. Obviously, we'll be on the road recruiting as well, because that's the other thing that's going to help us moving forward in a large way.

Q: Those three possessions that you had starting in their territory, you only came up with three points. How much of a shift was that to only get three points with that type of field position?

A: Obviously when you get field position, you have to take advantage of that. There's no doubt about it. We weren't able to do that consistently. We tried to stick with the running game all day long and not abort it like we've done in the past and we weren't able to consistently do that. I thought, for the most part, most of the game we protected fairly well, but the times that we didn't were problems with sack-fumbles and things like that. There's no doubt about it, you have to take advantage of field position.

Q: In the second quarter, when you got field position off of Anthony Zettel's interception, Christian [Hackenberg] throws a nice pass to the end zone and it goes off [Chris] Godwin's hands. How did you see that play? How disappointing was that?

A: I thought he made a nice throw. I thought Godwin made a nice adjustment on the ball and had a chance to make a big play, a momentum swinging play. It did not work out that way. It went off his hands and ended up getting intercepted. There's no doubt that would've been a big play and would've got some real momentum for us. It didn't happen. I think it was a good ball. I thought Godwin made a nice adjustment on the ball. I think he's played pretty well as a true freshman. We need to get more separation. If you look at the passing game, the one-on-one's on the outside; we have to be able to get some more separation, either by running by people or with our route running.

Q: These seniors weren't able to have that next game after this. How much hunger do you sense there is among these seniors to go out with a win after this game?

A: Right now, they're not thinking about that. It's the disappointment of today, but I think it does help in that locker room a little bit, the fact that it's not completely over. We do still have another game to play, another game to prepare and more opportunities to be together as a family. We have a lot of work to do, obviously, so I'm looking forward to that time. It won't just be working with the traveling squad; it will be working with everyone, the guys that have been redshirting. So I'm looking forward to that as well.

Q: In the big picture, how do you address the offense through this bowl preparation? Do you need some tweaks to it? Is it a personnel or scheme thing? How do you evaluate the whole offense?

A: I'll go back and evaluate everything at the end of the season; offense, special teams, defense, personnel, players, everything. Every aspect of the program, we'll look at from top to bottom. On the same hand, I've been with these guys for four years and I know what we're capable of. I know what the schemes do on offense, defense and special teams.

Q: Where do you think Christian's [Hackenberg] head is at right now, at the end of the season?

A: He's frustrated. He's a competitor. He wants to go out and win every single week and use his part of the team that he's responsible for, the offense, to have a big factor in that. I don't think there's any doubt he's frustrated moving forward in what he wants to do. He's frustrated, but meetings and practices, things like that, he's handled those things the right way but we have a lot of work to do.

Q: Do you think Christian has hope for next year that things will get better?

A: I think our whole team has hope for the future.

Q: Can you put into words exactly what you can accomplish during bowl practices?

A: The practices are not just designed about going against your opponent. We'll do good-on-good against each other, we'll work a lot of the guys in that were on scout team. We'll do some scrimmage situations with those young guys as well, a lot of things from a fundamental standpoint. Obviously, having the indoor center is very helpful, but we'll take the time to look at all those things.

Q: What is it going to take to narrow the gap against a team like Michigan State?

A: We've been on sanctions for three years. That team is Michigan State, a team that has been recruiting and building their program for a long time and done a nice job with it. It's one of the better programs. They have more scholarships than we do. We're going to have an opportunity to get that back and work with those things. That's what we're going to do. We're going to close the gap by developing the players that we have. We have great players and good kids here. We're going to recruit for the future. It is what it is. There's nobody more passionate about getting those things fixed as quickly as we possibly can, but there's a difference right now.

Q: Penn State's depth at linebacker was really tested today. What went into the decision to start Gary Wooten in the middle and move Mike [Hull] to the outside?

A: We didn't have [Jason] Cabinda this week so it was next man up. That was the situation we were in. We talk about numbers and scholarships and things like that. Every time we have an injury, it causes problems for us. Having to move Gary Wooten to middle linebacker and Mike Hull to the outside, we felt like that was the best opportunity for us with not having Brandon Bell or Cabinda.

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