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Tuesdays With James: Franklin Talks Short-Yardage, Freshmen Backs, More

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

No. 14 Penn State is 8-2 this season, and coach James Franklin loves to stress his team’s goal of going “1-0” every week.

Penn State is on a roll, having outscored Indiana and Maryland a combined 75-14 over the past two games. 

Now, Penn State is looking to finish a week undefeated for the ninth time in 2022, and Rutgers looks to put that on hold.

Franklin had his weekly press conference Tuesday in Beaver Stadium’s media room. “Tuesdays With James” will highlight some of the session’s key points. 


Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. didn’t play against Maryland. We now know it was because of appendicitis. Porter is one of America’s best shutdown corners, and Penn State is a better team with him in the fold. With that said, Penn State held its own without him Saturday, shutting out Maryland and giving up just 74 yards passing, which speaks well for the secondary.

Franklin expects Porter to return before the end of the season, and would be excited to have him back. He also knows Penn State’s defensive backs corps is more than just JPJ.

“I think last week was a really good example of that,” Franklin said. “We played a team that has traditionally thrown the ball really well. Explosive throws, high percentage throws. They’ve been really difficult to deal with. 

“Obviously, Joey gets a ton of credit, and he deserves that. You look at how Kalen King has been playing; look at how Johnny Dixon has been playing. Johnny may be one of the most improved guys in our entire program. You look at Daquan Hardy, and you look at Marquis Wilson, we feel like we got five corners that have played a lot of football for us and played really well.”l

“Then we’ve got a young kid in Cam Miller, who is starting to come on for us and get more and more playing time. [Cristian] Driver is a guy that played on defense on Saturday. We’re also playing him on offense. He has position flexibility, and we’re excited about him.”


Another week, another successful game for Penn State’s freshmen running backs. Nick Singleton (11 carries, 122 yards, two touchdowns) and Kaytron Allen (16 carries, 73 yards) both took care of business against Maryland. Penn State fans love what the rookie backs have done, and Franklin does, too. The coach feels both benefitted greatly from enrolling at Penn State early.

“Kaytron has really changed his body,” Franklin said. “I think that’s had a huge impact on his quickness and acceleration. Obviously, the strength staff has done a great job with those guys in the weight room as well. They’ve been able to get a ton of opportunities and a ton of reps, which, number one, they have earned, and number two, some of the circumstances they have factors into that.”

“Circumstances” such as?

“I think our O-Line and tight ends are playing well,” he said. “So, it’s a combination of all those things.”

Unsurprisingly, Franklin feels the freshmen have improved, and expects continued improvement.

“I think really both of them have just scratched the surface,” he said. “I think they’ll continue to get better when it comes to pass protection. I think they will continue to get better in the passing game, which is an area I think would help us as an offense to get them more involved in the passing game and for them to grow in that area as route runners and consistently making plays on the ball. I think we really just kind of scratched the surface with those two guys, which obviously is exciting.”



When Penn State is in a short-yardage situation, you better believe “The T” is coming. Overall, the reaction from fans appears to be mixed. But “The T” certainly worked out for Penn State this past Saturday. Two of Penn State’s touchdown came on 4th-and-1 runs by Singleton, from 45 and 27 yards, respectively.


Franklin talked a little about “The T” Tueaday.

“Well, I think the first thing is it’s balanced,” Franklin said. “So defensively, they have to defend runs to the right, runs to the left, runs in the middle. So, kind of wherever you show weaknesses, we have the ability to attack.

“Then you have to defend throws to the right, throws to the left, play-actions, keepers. And then we’ve also shown on film that we have the ability, because of our tight ends, to explode out of that and get an empty formation. 

“So, it’s like anything, right? There are enough complementary pieces and diversity that make it difficult, and we’re playing pretty good on the O-line and playing pretty good at tight end, and we’ve got some backs that can make you miss and break tackles. 

“When you do that in those situations, it’s like cover zero defensively. You’re going to commit that much to stopping the run that if you can break a tackle and get through, there is nothing left. 

So, it’s been a good package to us. We’re going to continue to use it and take a lot of pride in it.”

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