PSU-Maryland: Franklin's Postgame PC

See the Nittany Lion coach's complete press conference following Saturday's 38-14 beatdown of the Terrapins.

Penn State coach James Franklin saw his team power past previously unbeaten Maryland at Beaver Stadium Saturday, 38-14.

It may well have been the Nittany Lions' most dominant performance against a quality opponent in Franklin's two and half seasons at the helm of the program.

Afterward, he covered all aspects of the big win with the media. This included the play of the offense, banged up defense and special teams.

Also, he addressed the "rivalry" aspect of the series between two of the Big Ten's Eastern outposts.

Check it out above.


Transcript provided by Penn State;

Opening Statement

First of all, I want to thank the fans. Not ideal weather conditions, but they came out and supported like they always do, unbelievable. It was a difficult place to play. A huge home field advantage, so I want to thank the fans for all of their support and continued support for our players and coaches, that has been big time. Thought overall, I think our defense has handled some really challenging situations and stepped up. We need to tackle better; we're tackling too high. Sometimes we assume the guy is down and he's not, we've got to get that cleaned up. Going into the bye week that will be a really big focus for us. Overall I think we're playing really well on the defensive side of the ball considering all the personnel changes that we've had. Offensively, although we've put up some good numbers and did some good things, I think our offensive line is getting more physical and that's going to be important for us moving forward. I thought we matched up well against this team on the o-line and the d-line, the games that we've matched up well I think we've had success. We have to stop the little small things. We had something each drive whether there was a penalty or a dropped pass that really took some situations where I think we could have had some more scoring drives. We're just a little too inconsistent, our focus needs to be more consistent, our strain needs to be more consistent, those types of things. Good position going into the bye week. On special teams, I thought making sure that [William] Likely didn't have a significant impact on the game was big. I thought for the most part we did that. I thought that we've been kicking left corner, left corner, left corner and we worked this week about kicking across the field, I thought that was helpful for us it kind of threw them off a little bit so we're not so predictable in that situation. [Blake] Giliken had an injury this week during practice, thought he could tough through it and wasn't hitting the ball the way he's capable of, so Danny Pasquerilla went in, huge for us, we haven't had that type of depth in the past so the fact that Danny could go in there and get the job done and do a good job was big for us. When the weather started getting a little bit nasty and neither offense was doing a whole lot, it became a field position game. So that was big for us, for Danny to get in there and do that. Overall, very happy with the win, great momentum going into the bye week. We need this time off, some of our injuries, they're not going to heal in a week, but some will. Looks like we've lost Nelly (Andrew Nelson) for the season, we'll find out more but I'm pretty confident in that so it doesn't make sense for me to wait until Tuesday, pretty confident we've lost him for the season. We've had a rash of these types of injuries. I'm really proud of our players and our coaches, next man in, guys keep stepping up. I feel for Nelly, love that kid. But we will be with him every step of the way, and if there's anybody who can get through it, it's that guy. With his family support, his family at home and his family here at Penn State, we'll have his back. 

Q: Trace McSorely opening up the run game with some of those run pass options and zone reads early, what did that do ultimately to allow Saquon [Barkley] to kind of break loose later on?

A: I think it really helped us, I think I talked about that this week with you guys on Wednesday, that getting Trace [McSorely] more involved in the running game whether it's called quarterback runs or whether it's RPO's where it's a pass to grey reads where you've been handing them. We've been telling him when you think you can get to the edge and beanpole it and get on the edge and I think that helped us. It's one more thing for them to defend. I know when I sit in with our defensive coaches and watch tape, you've heard me guys say this before, it's frustrating on defense when you stop the run then you do a great job in coverage, you stop the pass, and all of a sudden the guy takes off and runs for 12-15 yards or even six yards. It's just one more thing that you have to deal with in defense. So the mobility to quarterback positions is going to be important for us. Moving forward, I thought it was a major factor in the game, that's a good defense, that's a good team. I think it really helped us, and I do think it helped Saquon and I do think it continues to help our offensive line out in protection with some of the play action things that we're doing as well. 

Q: What do you think that the chaos period did for your team, for the offense and how important was getting off to the fast start that it did today? 

A: I mean it's easy for me to come in here as the head coach and say, you know, we put in this chaos period and that's why we scored the opening drive this week. It's something that we did that I thought was important, but it comes down to the players executing. It comes down to Joe [Moorhead] calling a great game and then I think putting a little bit more of an emphasis on us helped. I don't think that was the difference maker but either way we did it this week and we were able to open the game up with a little bit more success. We'll continue to do those things but it's about our players, it's about our coaches, it's all of us together.

Q: But how big was that start?

A: I think it was huge. I've been talking to Joe [Moorhead] about it a lot, I've been talking to the team about it. I've put some statistics up. When Penn State wins the first quarter, when Penn State wins the first half, it's in the 80% win percentage when we do that in Beaver Stadium. So, whenever we do those things: turnover ratio, winning the first half, explosive plays, I always try to put the statistics up nationally, put the statistics up in the Big Ten, and then put the statistics up specifically to Penn State and try to reinforce the importance of starting out strong. 

Q: With Paris [Palmer], he's more comfortable at left tackle so that's why you flipped [Brendan] Mahon over to the right side, how would you evaluate Paris' play on first watch?

A: Paris [Palmer] has been pretty much predominantly left tackle, so we did feel like [Brendan] Mahon's got a little bit more flexibility, he's played a little bit more football, that he's going to handle that better than Paris. I don't know what we'll do here in the off week; it'll be based on how the tape looks. I think it'll also probably affect some of the younger players like Will Fries and things like that; we'll start to have some discussions. But yeah, that was pretty much our plan, we knew all along that if anything ever happened to Nelly [Andrew Nelson], we would move Mahon back and put Paris in. Or the other part of the equation was [Tyrell] Chavis, but you know we had repped Chavis this week almost predominantly at guard with [Connor] McGovern and didn't feel comfortable putting him out there at tackle.

Q: You talked about the defense handling a lot of challenges, what does it say about Brent Pry and [Sean] Spencer and everyone on the defensive side of the ball, with all of the injuries you've had for them, to come out and have this kind of day? 

A: You guys can do that in terms of studying, I don't know if there's another defense in the country that's had to overcome all of the different personnel and the adversity that we've had. Our defensive coaches and players just keep stepping up. We've lost seven linebackers so we have guys playing in positions they've never played before and other players moving positions. We're taking redshirts off. There's been a lot of that. I'm very proud of Brent Pry and our defensive staff and players, but I think it also talks about our strengths and the developments we've made. We would not have been able to survive this from a depth stand point a year or two years ago. It's a step in the right direction and we're making progress. I see it very clearly and I know you guys see it well with all of the positive articles you write about us. The progress is happening and I think it's a great example of the depth that's being created. 

Q: You have so many players on this team from the Washington area, you recruit there pretty heavily. What's the significance of this win from that perspective?

A: I think winning helps everything. The guys that we have from Maryland, D.C. and northern Virginia, the DMV as it's called, it's important and it helps us. Especially when we walk into some of those high schools it helps us, no doubt about it. At the end of the day, it's about getting a great education which we provide here at Penn State. It's about playing big time football and we're heading in that direction. It's also about having a great collegiate experience. We feel like we can offer that as good as anywhere in the country but the wins are a part of that as well.  

Q: This is set to be a really big rivalry, Penn State and Maryland, with them now in the Big Ten. It has to have some lasting impact on recruiting and bragging rights, do you agree? 

A: I think the point that you're making is an important one. The Big Ten that Penn State was in for so long, one of the things that differentiated us was not only the 107,000 seat stadium or the history and tradition or the academics; it was that we were the only team in this region in the Big Ten. That gave us a real advantage. Now we have other teams, Rutgers and Maryland, in this region that are playing Big Ten football, so we don't have that to differentiate us anymore. Does the win help? Yes it does. People think I am anti-rivalry. I am not anti-rivalry. Here's the issue: if it's a rivalry, you don't have to convince people. Everybody knows it's a rivalry, it's been a rivalry for a long time, we've played against each other. Earlier in the year, we played a game against Pitt. Our players had never seen a game against Pitt. Maybe 20 years from now it won't be a discussion, it will be a clear rivalry with certain teams. Is there a geographic significance to it? No doubt. I am not anti-rivalry, but to me it shouldn't be something that we are trying to convince or create. It's there or it's not. 

Q: You've talked so much about Saquon [Barkley] having positive body language these first few games, what did it mean to see him hit that 200-yard milestone and how much of an emphasis was that for keeping him in through the end of the game?

A: Our leadership has just been really good. Our team is in a good place, our locker room is really healthy right now. When you get guys like Saquon Barkley who, maybe in the beginning of the season had some games that didn't have the production that people would have thought, it never affected him. It was about the team, and doing a good job in his role. There was no bad body language. When you keep a good attitude like that and influence others in a positive way, you're going to build something. He's been a tremendous leader for us, as well as our older players and other younger players. That's been big for us. I do want to say it was great to see Tommy Stevens get in the game. It's a shame that he had a touchdown that came off the board, but we're excited about him and his leadership as well. I'm pleased with the leadership throughout the team. The coaches set the tempo and the players are running with it. I think, as you guys have seen, our roster has very few veteran players. Those guys are doing a great job and young guys like Saquon are stepping up too.  

Q: What have you seen from Koa Farmer over the last couple of games?   

A: Koa is one of the faster players on our team at 222 pounds. I'm happy for him and for the defense and for our team. Koa's been like a man without a home since he's been here. High school running back, wild card quarterback, who played a little safety as well. He was probably more of an offensive minded player when he first got here. So it's nice to see him not only playing, but making an impact. He's always been a talented guy, it was just finding a home for him that he embraced and that fit our defense as well. He's a little bit of an older player now with more experience and he's running with this right now which is big for us. Getting Brandon Smith back and being able to move Manny [Bowen] back to the outside linebacker spot helped us. Cam Brown, who we think is going to be a big time player for us, is still growing and probably doesn't need to play 60 plays in a game. So that was big for us. I'm really happy for Koa Farmer. He's an awesome kid from an awesome family. I know he's looking forward to the bye week because he's going to try to get back to California to see his family for a few days. 

Q: How important was it to see the run game get back on its feet and see Trace [McSorely], Saquon [Barkley] and Miles [Sanders] get in there? And what was the difference that made that so successful?

A: Same thing I've been telling you guys for three years. I'm coming into the stadium today and there's a gentleman there right when I walk through the tunnel who's awesome. For the first few years, it was just support and 'Great to see you Coach, have a great day!' And now it's a few suggestions, 'line up in the pistol,' 'get Saquon [Barkley] downhill a little bit more.' Last year, it was 'Coach you need to run the spread,' this year now it's 'get in the eye a little more.' It's simple, and up front. We're matured and growing up front. We're more physical up front on the offensive line. We're sustaining blocks and getting hat on hat. When you're able to do that, you're going to have a successful offense no matter how you run it. It starts up front. Everyone thinks this offense is like a magic wand. If you're good up front, you have the chance to be successful and that's the difference - we're getting better on the offensive line. It helps when you've got a running back like Saquon Barkley and depth from the other guys, Miles [Sanders] and Andre [Robinson] and Mark [Allen]. And I think getting the quarterback involved was big for us as well. 

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