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Tuesdays with James: Franklin Discusses Program’s Future, Team Health, More

James Franklin

Welcome to Tuesdays with James, our weekly grab bag of topics from Penn State head coach James Franklin’s weekly Tuesday press conference.

Although James Franklin’s contract extension answered many questions about the future of the program, one query that remains in the air is what Penn State as a university will do in the future to assist its head coach in creating the best possible resources to make the program desirable.  

Franklin said that Penn State’s goal is to strive to be the best in everything every day of the year, and also that it’s wise to know what other schools have available to them. 

“I’ve said it really since I got here,” Franklin said. “We have to compete 365 days a year with everything. Everything matters. When we go to these other schools and these other campuses, try to go see them, it’s pretty easy on social media to track kids and where they’re going, what they’re doing, what they have, what they see. There’s universities all over the country putting out information. 

“For us, I’m always studying best practice. But I think it would be pretty easy to do. We’ve done it internally. It would be pretty easy to do. There will be a time and place for me to speak on these things. But I think it’s even more powerful if it’s not coming from me.”

CLIFFORD REGAINS HIS JOB

Some Penn State fans were hoping that true freshman Christian Veilleux, who threw for three touchdowns in relief of a flu-hindered Sean Clifford this past Saturday against Rutgers, would get his first college start this week against Michigan State. That won’t happen. Franklin said that Clifford is back to normal, and thus the quarterback depth chart will follow accordingly. 

“Obviously, it’s a good feeling knowing that you have a guy that you feel has played and played at a high level in actual game reps, which is something we hadn’t had up till that point.

“Veilleux did some really exciting things that we’re excited about, want to build on. I think I told you guys he (had been) been getting the number two reps in practice. That’s how it will be again this week. Sean will get his reps.”

BACK TO HEALTH

Clifford wasn’t the only Lion affected by sickness last week. Penn State had 35 ill players– 21 couldn’t play against Rutgers, 14 played sick. Franklin said that his team is much healthier this week.

“Most of those guys are coming out of it and in a pretty good place,” he said. “As you can imagine, we’ve had a few more kind of go into it with the flu. It’s a little bit of a moving target. “

Last week aside, Penn State’s health problems have been well documented in 2021, but Franklin is optimistic that the team is getting closer to 100% physically. 

“I think we’ve got a chance to be healthier than we’ve been in a couple of weeks,” Franklin said… “I think you guys will get a good feel for that on Wednesday when you come out to practice. I do think a couple of these guys should all be ready to go by Wednesday for sure at the latest, I hope.”

Franklin expects center Mike Miranda and linebacker Curtis Jacobs back for the Michigan State game. 

BROWN COMING BACK?

Penn State’s safety tandem of Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown is arguably as good as any in college football. The Nittany Lions will definitely lose Brisker after this season, as he will be out of college eligibility after using his extra COVID-inspired year to return to Penn State for this season. 

Brown, another senior, has the option to do what Brisker did in 2021 and return to the Lions in 2022. Franklin said he has not yet talked to Brown, nicknamed “Tig,” about that decision yet. 

“I have not talked to Tig about how he wants to handle this,” Franklin said. “I don’t want to make an announcement on here that I think is really for him to do, if that makes sense. I hope you respect that and understand that.”

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