James Franklin's Blue-White Game Press Conference

See everything the Nittany Lion coach had to say after the Blue beat the White in Penn State's annual spring scrimmage.

Penn State wrapped up spring practice with its annual Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium Saturday. For the record, the Blue — comprised mostly of starters and key backups — easily handled the White, 26-0. http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1772612-asiedu-wi...

Second-team QB Tommy Stevens led three second-half touchdown drives, capping each with scoring passes, to lead the Blue. The overmatched White managesd only one first down in the game.

Afterward, PSU coach James Franklin admitted there was not a whole lot of noteworthy developments that came out of the game. The 13 practices and Friday-night walk-through that preceded the overblown scrimmage were more important to the team's development.

"I thought spring practice went well,” he said after the game. "To be honest with you, I'm more concerned about the 13 practices rather than the Blue-White Game. I thought we really accomplished our goals. We were able to develop some depth and get a bunch of reps for some guys who normally don't get reps.”

You can see Franklin's entire postgame press conference above.


Opening Statement: 

Well first off, I want to thank all the fans and everybody that came out and supported us today. The weather this morning looked a little shaky, but after that it turned into a beautiful day, so we really want to thank all the fans who came out and supported us. I want to thank the media that were good sports and went out there and had a little fun with us – really, really appreciate you guys having some fun. 

Overall, I think spring practice went well. I’m more concerned, to be honest with you, about the 13 practices rather than the Blue-White game. I think we really accomplished our goals; we were able to develop a lot of depth, get some reps for some guys that maybe normally don’t get reps. I thought in the game today, I thought Tommy Stevens continues to do some really good things. We’re really excited about him and his development. I though Cam Brown was all over the field – I don’t know how many tackles he had but it seemed like he made every single one. Ayron Monroe continues to grow and continues to make plays and do really good things. I’ve been pleased with those guys; I was pleased with our spring overall.

We still have a lot of work to do. We had a nice year last year. We gave the rings out – excuse me – we’re giving the rings out at our picnic after this. We’ll have a picnic with all of our families, all of our players’ parents and our families, around 700 people. We’re going to give the rings out, and then we’re never going to talk about this Big Ten championship again. It’s over. We enjoyed it and we appreciated it. It was awesome; a lot of hard work went into it. We’re going to give them the rings, and once they get the rings and walk out of the building, we’re fully on to 2017 and we’re not discussing those things again. A lot of progress, a lot of work still to do. Obviously this is a very good conference we play in and we have had a nice season, but we still have a lot of work to do in a lot of different areas. 

The last thing I’ll probably say is one of the things that normally goes unnoticed in the spring game is it’s a great opportunity for staff development. Today Tim Banks called the defense on the White Team and I thought he did a really good job calling it. The same thing with Ricky Rahne calling the plays for the white offense. It’s a great opportunity for those guys, with the twos going against the ones, things like that. I thought they did a really good job as well, so I’m pleased with where we’re at right now, and right now it’s time for our players to focus on their academics, finish strong academically and then go into the summer on a mission.  

Q: In regards to Tommy [Stevens], how difficult is it for a guy like that to stay ready through the course of the season – I was just wondering your thoughts about it?

A: I think the best example that we use is Jan Johnson. Jan Johnson started the team as our 15th middle linebacker, and against Michigan he’s on the field taking every rep of the game. You got to be ready. The game of football you’ve got to be ready at any time. [Tommy Stevens’] approach has been awesome. He’s attacked things the right way. I’m really proud of him, I’m very pleased with him and he’s got a chance to have a very very bright future and we want continue to develop him in every area, but I think Jan Johnson is an example I use with you guys, I think Jan Johnson is a great example I use with the team. We use him with them as an example of how you always have to be ready because you never know when your number is going to be called.

Q: With what you saw today from Jonathan Holland, does it make you feel like you have more depth at tight end this year then you did last year?

A: Jonathan Holland’s a guy that, I think you’re exactly right, had a strong spring for us. You know, he weighs 250 pounds; he can catch, he can block. He’s really matured in so many different ways on and off the field. I’m really pleased with him. [Tom] Pancoast is a guy we know we can rely on as well. Getting [Nick] Bowers back is going to be huge because he’s a 270-pound guy who can catch and run and is smart and we’re excited about him. We have some options there that we feel good about, but we got to keep developing. We know who Mike Gesicki is – and I want you guys to understand some to –Mike Gesicki and [Jason] Cabinda and Marcus Allen and Saquon Barkley took a bunch of reps this spring. Took a bunch of reps. Only thing they didn’t do was live work. So, you know, Mike continues to progress as well as those other guys as well. The good thing about today too is that we stayed healthy. 

Q: A couple weeks ago you said “for us to get where we want to go, we’ve got to practice at a level that we’ve never seen before.” Could you expand on that a bit? How close are you to that, and what do you have to do to get there? 

A: I think what’s difficult for people is to ask them to do something that they’ve never done before and ask them to do something that they’ve never seen before. I think one of the things you look at is you look at these programs that have been winning at a really, really high level for a long period of time, that becomes a part of their culture. How they practice and how they train and how they eat and how they sleep and what they drink – all those things we call a “championship lifestyle.” It’s ingrained in everything they do, and what happens, is the seniors and the juniors teach the sophomores and the freshmen, and when the new class comes in it just becomes part of what you do. We are headed in that direction, but I would not say we’re there yet. I think we still have some things left in the tank. 

Tim Shaw came and spoke to our team yesterday, and it may be one of the greatest, most powerful speeches I’ve ever heard. As a father, my daughters will see this – we videotaped it – and as a coach it’s the message you want your team to hear. Really, his message was about that the disease that he’s fighting (ALS) was a gift that he’s been given – that he’s been given a gift of perspective and the perspective is that you live life the way you’re supposed to play the game of football – as if every play could be your last and you should live that way. It was an unbelievable message to our team, and that to me is what we need to do in life, in the classroom, whether you’re at home. It challenged me to be a better father. When I’m with my wife and my kids, it pushes me to be a better father. I think it’s a great message, just to be present and be the best that you can possibly be in everything you do and that’s still where we need to go. We’ll probably be searching for that goal probably the rest of our lives, but I still think we can get closer to it. 

Q: You mentioned Cam Brown a little bit. What were your general thoughts about the linebackers this spring, and how important is it to have Jason Cabinda take over that group as a leader?

A: Jason has already taken over that group. He really has been voted as captain. He plays and he conducts himself the way you think a Penn State linebacker would. For us, the standard we talk about is Mike Hull. Mike Hull brought an unbelievable standard that he set for the defense and that he set for that room. Jason talks about it all the time, ‘Mike Hull, Mike Hull, Mike Hull.’ It is kind of what I was just talking about. The upperclassmen teaching players how to be a Penn State player, how to be a pro, and how to approach things the right way. Jason has done that, and I think Koa Farmer has been a real pleasant surprise for us this spring. We knew he had it in him; so, it was just when that light was going to go on for him, and it has come on. I think he has a very bright future for us. B. Smith, we know what we got with him. That guy is a warrior. Manny [Bowen] has played a lot of football for us, and now Cam is coming along. We are really starting to create some really good depth there. Obviously, we have some more guys coming in. It is a really good situation. Jarvis Miller is a guy that will continue to grow; but, we’re starting to create some depth there like we are in a lot of our positions. Jason Cabinda, Koa Farmer, Manny Bowen and Brandon Smith, we really look at those guys as four starters for us in a lot of ways. Cam is starting to work himself into that conversation as well.

Q: You have been kind of been spoiled at wide receiver with a couple of guys by having Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin. Guys who could just go up and get the ball and then adjust with the ball. Do you necessarily need a guy like that, or can you get by with guys that can catch on the outside and get down the field?

A: There have a been a lot of changes in a short period of time, but I didn’t have Allen Robinson. I would have loved to have him though. I think your point is a good one. A guy like Allen Robinson that could make big time plays. I have watched the tapes. How many times did that guy go up in double coverage and come down with the ball? He is still doing it. [Chris] Godwin’s been that guy. How many times has he had guys hanging all over him and he makes the contested catch? People call it the 50/50 ball. It is not a 50/50 ball with Chris Godwin. He comes down with most of them. You need a guy that’s going to be a playmaker, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. We’ve had guys like those two that have been able to go high point to ball and that have been able to go get it in traffic; but, you can have other guys that can just blow the top off the coverage and that can go 80, or just make people miss. You need somebody to step up in that role. We have a lot of guys like Daesean Hamilton who have played a lot of football and have a lot of experience. Obviously, Saeed Blacknall has shown flashes that he can be that guy. Juwan Johnson has been a guy that has really come on- He is 6-foot, 4 inches, 230 pounds and has made a bunch of plays. Polk showed some good things today. We have some guys, but there needs to be someone that steps up and says, “I’m the guy when the game is on the line. Come to me and I’ll make the play.” I would also put Mike Gesicki in that role as well because of the way we use our tight ends. 

Q: Going into the season as a Top 10 or Top 15 team is a little unfamiliar territory for this program. How do you deal with those expectations, how have your players dealt with them, and, and how do you think they will deal with them going forward?

A: To be honesty with you, no different from last year. We are not going to talk about preseason rankings. Preseason rankings mean nothing. Look at our preseason ranking last year. We are not approaching anything differently. We are going to treat this team, coaches and our players as if we have not accomplished anything. Our workouts will be that way; our meetings will be that way. We will install formations like they’ve never heard them before. We will install plays as if they have never heard them before. We will challenge them, and we will have very high expectations. This 2017 team has not accomplished anything yet, so we are not going to talk about these things. We will talk about them like we did last year. Those guys want to talk about what they want their goals to be for the season, and we’ll talk about it once and never talk about it again. After that, we will get back to focusing on making each day our masterpiece and making that day the best we possibly can. 

My belief is that the more days you put together like that, life takes care of itself. The Saturdays will take care of themselves and the exams on Friday will take care of themselves. We are not changing. That is going to be our approach. Twenty-five years from now you guys are going to be asking me those questions and it’s going to be the same answer. People talk about complacency. Complacency is a good thing. It is good that people are asking us about complacency because that means that we have gotten to a point. We have gotten to that stage where people would ask us that question. For us, the way you do not worry about complacency is, this 2017 team has not achieved anything; this James Franklin has not achieved anything, Saquon Barkley hasn’t achieved anything. Those things are in the past. What are we going to do in the present, and what are we going to do moving forward to be the type of program we want to be. I am fired up right now. I am excited.

Q: What did these 15 practices teach you about Tommy Stevens? What did you learn differently about him that you did not know, or that other people did not know about him?

A: What you guys are starting to see more of, we have been seeing in practice. I told you guys last year that that was a quarterback battle. Trace McSorley had a hell of a season and I get it. I know that everybody should be excited about Trace. What I would say is we need to have a number three quarterback, and number four quarterback. We have to create more depth there. We have to create more competition. I think we have two quarterbacks that we can win with, and I think you have to have that. I think that you need to have three. That is no disrespect to the guys that we have. Jake Zembiec, Michael Shuster and Billy Fessler are doing nice jobs developing. We have some guys coming in, but I do not think any of those guys are ready for prime time yet. They have a lot of work to do. I will have a meeting with those guys and I’ll challenge them to get better. I am glad that we have two guys that we feel good about.

Q. Were you anticipating Trace [McSorley] getting as many reps as he did today?

A. We went in with the plan that he would play the first half, and then Tommy [Stevens] would play the second half. Our players do a great job of understanding our philosophy of protecting the quarterback. They will get credit for the sack without hitting them. Sometimes, it takes away from Trace and Tommy’s big strength, which is their ability to escape and extend the play, but I do not think the risk is worth the reward. We do that in practice every single day.

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