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Penn State Football

Wednesdays With James: Franklin on Kalen King, Receivers, More in Post-Practice Presser

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

Penn State coach James Franklin addressed reporters for the final time leading up to Saturday’s game against Iowa after Wednesday’s practice at Holuba Hall.

This will be the first time Penn State and Iowa have played since 2021, a game best remembered for Penn State’s injuries and controversial responses by Iowa’s fans and coaches. 

But neither Franklin or Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is too worried about 2021. 

It’s 2023, and Penn State’s focused on getting the job done. Here’s what Franklin had to say a little more than 72 hours ahead of the big game.

JAMES FRANKLIN ON STATUS OF WRS TREY WALLACEOMARI EVANS

Penn State’s No. 2 receiver, Harrison “Trey” Wallace, didn’t play in Saturday’s 30-13 win at Illinois. 

Omari Evans, a man many expect to start in the slot soon, played but was limited to nine snaps per Pro Football Focus. 

Evans missed Penn State’s opener against West Virginia with an injury and received limited reps the next week against Delaware, and Wallace played a normal amount of reps in the first two games but didn’t play against Illinois due to injury. 

Franklin doesn’t like to reveal much about injuries, but he dove a little into the statues of the two receivers. 

“I don’t think it was that (Wallace) wasn’t cleared to play,” Franklin said. “He wasn’t cleared in a way that we felt like he was going to be productive. To be honest with you, Omari’s had some bumps and bruises. That’s kind of why he’s been limited. He could have played but was not practicing, playing the way we think he’s capable of. 

“I think there’s a difference, right? There’s a difference between being cleared and you can go out and do it, but you’re not at your best right now. So if we have to ability to wait a week to hopefully get them there, that’s what we’d like to do. That’s really kind of what happened last week.”

Wallace was seen practicing at Wednesday’s media viewing window.

JAMES FRANKLIN ON THE KING

Kalen King is one of the best corners in college football, so it doesn’t take the second-coming of Albert Einstien to know that why team’s aren’t throwing his way.

King was in coverage for 36 snaps and only got targeted five times per Pro Football Focus. 

But Penn State’s other corners stepped up, with Johnny DixonCam Miller and Daequan Hardy all having interceptions.

Franklin pointed out that last season, team’s stopped throwing at now-Pittsburgh Steeler Joey Porter Jr., which led to more coverage opportunities for King.

“It’s interesting because he was in a similar situation with Joey to a degree,” Franklin said. “But, yeah, I think it shows a lot of respect for him, and also shows that we have other playmakers on the field. 

Franklin was also pleased with how the secondary as a whole responded when they were challenged. 

“It’s not like you can go away from him and then have success throwing other places,” Franklin said, “when we were able to get four interceptions and also a fumble recovery. So, I think you guys know, I kind of went into this in detail about my respect and appreication for the guys that we have in our DB room as well as the coaches that are coaching them. And that’s really what you want, you really want DBs and specifically corners out there than can cause problems and make things difficult for you, and if you decide to go away from one corner because he’s so well-respected nationally, then you go to the other corners, and those guys intercept it, I think those guys had two interceptions, then, obviously, that’s positive.”

JAMES FRANKLIN ON COZIAH IZZARD’S RETURN

Defensive tackle Coziah Izzard made his first apparence of 2023 at Illinois, playing 29 snaps and picking up two sacks. 

Franklin felt there were some ups and downs, but that Izzard had a good game and will be a solid addition to the defensive line.

“I think he did some good things,” Franklin said. “As you guys know, he’s big, strong, powerful. He’s athletic. He’s quick. Made some mistakes and things we have to knock the rust off with. But overall, I thought he played well, and he gives us another legitimate defensive tackle inside, which is a position that’s challenging to develop depth at. I think he has a chance to be special. He just needs more reps and more experience. But it was great having him back.”

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