What did Penn State coach James Franklin have to say about the Nittany Lions' wild 39-26 OT win against Minnesota at Beaver Stadium Saturday?
See it all from our view inside the stadium Media Room.
Franklin gives the lowdown on what the victory means to the program, why the team played poorly in the first half, people stepping up on the injury ravaged linebacker corps and more.
Transcript provided by Penn State:
First of all, I want to thank the fans because we could not have done it without them. The first half, obviously, was flat and we didn't make a lot of plays. We had no momentum then Irvin Charles made that big play and got the crowd back involved, which was critical. I'm really proud of our team, they never stopped believing. Minnesota is a good football team and I give them credit. Their quarterback (Mitch Leidner) is a veteran guy and makes good decisions. The team protects him really well and they played the way we thought they would. I'm very proud of our defense. Our defense is under unusual circumstances. I've never seen this before. We have seven linebackers that are out, seven. If you count everybody in our program that is a linebacker, like Jason Cabinda, Nyeem Wartman-White, Brandon Smith, Jan Johnson, Jake Cooper, Jason Vranic and Brandon Bell, all of those guys play mike linebacker. Manny Bowen has never played a play of mike linebacker, ever. He goes in the game and we kept it really vanilla and he actually played really well. I'm proud of our defense and I'm proud of Brent Pry because he's been in a really challenging situation and those guys just battled. I'm proud of Jordan Smith who hasn't played a whole lot of football in the past two years. We lose Christian Campbell early in the game, he goes and gets a huge interception at a critical time that we needed it. I don't know if I've ever heard of this but Marcus Allen had 22 tackles in the game. Tyler Davis with his 17th consecutive field goal, Cam Brown and Connor McGovern with their first starts; they are both true freshmen. Trace McSorley just kept his cool, made some amazing plays and gave guys chances to make plays. Pressure falling off his back and lays it out for guys, like Chris Godwin, to make a play for him. This was a game that we can really grow from. There are a lot of things, obviously, that we have to get cleaned up but the most important thing is that these guys believe in themselves and believe in what were doing and how we're doing it so that was big. They're having a great time in the locker room. I wish I could take you guys in this locker room right now because it is awesome. They are partying.
Q: Have you ever been around a game that had that kind of 180 degree turn in the middle, or do you recall anything like that?
A: I think the fact that we were at home helped us. We have got to start faster; there is no doubt about it. That has been a thing all along. We're going to do some things that I have done in the past that we haven't done here and were going to move forward in practice. I've seen us battle and play really well in the second half, maybe not enough to swing the game but it was like two completely different games. I think the most important thing was that we made some plays in the second half Charles Irvin play was huge. He wasn't even looking for the ball then all of a sudden at the last second it just kind of hits him in the chest. He is so big and strong and fast that he goes and makes a play. We tried to get him back in later and he's still celebrating on the sideline with his buddies and we're trying to get him in the game. That is an example of our youth. These things we just have to continue to grow and tonight is an opportunity to do that. I've been a part of some unbelievable comebacks before. I don't know if I've been apart of a first half, then a second half, then overtime like it was tonight
Q: How much did this program, these players, these coaches need this kind of win and also Trace McSorley stepping up in the pocket; is that something you guys have been talking to him about, because he did it a lot today.
A: I think it was definitely something our players needed. Everyone needed it, there is no doubt about it. You kind of have some moments as a program. I remember when I first became a head coach we had a game against UCONN that we won early on and it kind of built a lot of confidence in everybody. It kind of went from there and we needed that here. Tonight is one of those nights. I thought Trace (McSorley) did a great job stepping up into the pocket. There were a few times where he stepped up and was waiting to throw then put the ball back and they were close to being strip sacks from behind and earlier in the year we got a couple of them. He can run but he isn't one of those guys that just takes off, he keeps his eyes down field and made a number of big plays in those situations. I'm proud of him. I'm also proud of Tommy Stevens. I think he has a bright future and he's been great on the sidelines and he has been great in practice. We have a good situation here; two guys that we believe in.
Q: Did you expect that perhaps the reaction during overtime might pop open, given the way Trace (McSorley) has been running the ball? Also what does it say about Saquon Barkley who was kind of bottled up for the first half.
A: I'm really proud of Saquon (Barkley) because the way he has handled adversity. You've never seen bad body language from him…ever. He is not having the big games of statistics that I think people anticipate or expect. You haven't seen him once give body language or hang his head. He is a great team player and keeps persevering and keeps waiting for opportunities and when it came he made a big play for us and that's what happens when you keep a great attitude and keep believing and being a good teammate. He did that tonight and I am super proud of him.
Q: Trace ran for 73-yards today. He had run for 32 of the previous four games. How much did his running open up your offense and was that an emphasis at all this week?
A: I think those stats are a little deceiving because the biggest difference in this game is that we didn't have the sacks. In college football, those sacks come off rushing yardage for the whole offense, as well as for the quarterback. I think he had a couple plays where he stepped up and took off. Obviously the one at the end of the game was huge. We had a situation we were trying to decide there at the end if we take one more shot to the end zone, that we took to Chris Godwin, and just kick the field goal there rather than risk it, but we had enough time because they called time out. I said look, we're going to take one more shot, don't do anything that's going to take points off the board and don't take a sack. We didn't have a timeout, so then we will go out and kick the field goal. I think obviously his rushing yardage was important, but I think probably the bigger factor was that we did a better job protecting him. I think he did a good job stepping up in the pocket too, like you guys said.
Q: James, What do you think the hit on Joey did to the emotions of the team. It looked like everyone was pretty fired up on the sidelines. What were your thoughts on that?
A: I want to make sure you guys clearly understand what I'm saying. I don't want to be misinterpreted. I think because Joey Julius has been such a factor in getting down and making tackles that people are treating him differently. I think that's a credit to Joey and his toughness. I do think that play fired everybody up. Coach (Claeys) said something to me about that after the game that he is going to take care of that. I appreciate him saying that. It was an emotional game played by passionate and emotional people. I'm glad Joey's okay and I'm also impressed that he's built a reputation that you better deal with our kicker or he'll get down there and make tackles.
Q: I'm just curious about the field goal and what went into that. Also, if you could address at the end of the half calling timeout there, which gave Minnesota a little more time.
A: First of all, we go for it early in the game on fourth and one and it doesn't work so I say that it is a bad decision. Later in the game, we have the ball on the goal line on fourth and one and we don't go for it and it's a bad decision. We have not been great at consistently running the ball in short yardage situations. Early on in the game, I wanted to be aggressive. We were right on the fringe of his range and when you look at our statistics he is hitting everything, but we're right about his fringe of where he is consistent. We felt like we were in a situation where we have a big strong powerful back, we got one-on-one with the safety and we weren't able to get it going. It doesn't work and it's a bad decision. So, then we go take the points on the one-yard line and people feel like we should have gone for it and I get that, that's part of it. You get it and you're a genius. You don't get it and you're going to get critique.
Q: Going back to Dave's question about fast starts and doing more, what specifically do you have in mind that you guys have done before to try and get past that? Also the third down numbers, looking at those again does anything jump out to you there and any ways you can improve that?
A: Two things. I'll tell you guys. You typically come to practice on Wednesday's. I don't want to tell you guys before I talk to the coaches and the team and go through the plan of what we're going to do. It's something we've done in the past in practice with some competitive periods earlier on. With the third down, we have to be better. It goes back to two things that were not consistent. It shows on third down. We're not consistent right now running the ball and were not consistent protecting. We were better tonight, but it is those two things. That's what third down is all about. I think our receivers are talented enough to get open if we give them time. We have to be able to run the ball more consistently and we have to protect more consistently. That is what third down is all about and we're not doing those two areas really well on normal downs, let alone on third downs.
Q: You mentioned Tyler (Davis) getting 17 in a row now, what can you say about his approach? How much confidence does the coaching staff have in Tyler to go out there and make that kick?
A: I didn't even talk to him before that kick. Most of the time head coaches will go over and say something to him. I don't say anything to him. If the snapper and holder do their job, that guy will. He is money. He is just an over mature kid. He consistently does his job in practice every day. He is the same guy all the time. He's confident right now. I couldn't be happier.