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Tuesdays With James

Tuesdays With James: What Question did Franklin Find ‘Skin-Curling?’

James Franklin argues a call with officials during the first half.

Coach James Franklin and Penn State are looking to finish a week 1-0 for the sixth time this season.

Before every game, Franklin talks with reporters at his weekly Tuesday press conference.

This week, Franklin discussed this week’s opponent, UMass, calling it “maybe the most explosive team we’ve played all year.”

That comment may have raised a few eyebrows, considering UMass is 1-6.

Here are some other key points from Franklin’s latest presser.

‘YOU’RE SPEAKING JAPANESE’

Penn State’s offense has scored a lot of points (30 or more in 12 straight games, the longest streak in the country), but this season, hasn’t had many explosive plays. The question of if/when those explosive plays will start to come has been asked repeatedly by PSU fans and media over the season. James Franklin was asked Tuesday something in the ballpark of that.

QB Drew Allar hasn’t turned the ball over yet this season, but has also thrown only one of his nine touchdown passes above 25 yards.

“Is there a balance, though,” Franklin was asked “between, (the coaches saying) ‘hey, we need you to throw the ball deep no matter… just take a shot, don’t overthink it, take a shot, we need to see it, we’re going to call it, and we need you to get some confidence in doing this as opposed to even giving a young quarterback a chance of saying ‘hey, just check it down if it’s not there.’”

Franklin wasn’t a fan of the question.

“I don’t really understand what you’re saying,” he said, “because we would never… like my skin is curling when you say ‘just drop back and chuck it deep no matter what.'” Like, that is like… I don’t even know what you’re saying. It’s like you’re speaking from Mars.”

“Just send the guy (receiver) on a post pattern, take the show, throw it… give the receiver a chance to make a play on a ball, even if he might be covered 30 yards down the field, maybe you think he’ll be open 45 yards down the field like (Chris) Godwin did or with Jahan (Dotson) or KJ (Hamler),

“You’re speaking Japanese,” Franklin responded. “Like, we have never done that. Just throw the ball up and, maybe, he’ll be open and maybe he’ll catch it. Like, my skin is… you’re making me uncomfortable. I don’t know what you’re talking about. So, yeah. We would not do that. We would never do that. We’ve never thought about doing that. As a head coach, as an offensive coordinator… as a receivers coach, I coached the receivers. I didn’t want them to do that. So, no. No. Strong no. Like, yeah. No.'”

JAMES FRANKLIN ON A BIGGER DL

The most embarrassing day of Penn State’s 2022 season was Oct. 15 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Penn State lost, 41-17, and gave up 418 rushing yards. Afterward, Franklin bluntly said that the line needed to get bigger.

“Everybody thinks they’re Aaron Donald,” Franklin said in his postgame press conference. “And they’re not.”

Through five games this season, Penn State’s defensive line is playing well under the direction of first-year DL coach Deion Barnes. Does Franklin feel the line is bigger in addition to being better?

“Yeah, very much so,” Franklin said. “Very much so. I think we are bigger across the board. Defensive end we’re bigger,defensive tackle we’re bigger. We’re bigger across the board.”

So what’s led to that?

“Part of that is just kind of the natural maturation process that happens for these guys. That’s part of
it. But I also think they’ve done a great job of emphasizing it and putting the right weight on because we’re not a weight for weight sake type of program. We want our guys to be lean and athletic, but more importantly, they’re playing in a way that they’re so disruptive. We’re more consistently gap
sound. We’re more consistently disruptive.”

JAMES FRANKLIN ON DREW ALLAR, RECEIVERS

Penn State has a first-year starter at QB and some new faces at receivers, too.

Franklin was asked about the trust Allar’s building with his receivers and where that is through five games.

“I think it’s a process,” Franklin said, “and I think we have made progress this past weekend, have made progress this season. I do think that’s back to kind of a health perspective. I think that’s where, that’s been probably impacted as much as anything when you really have two guys that have played a ton of football for you at the receiver position and there being some consistency and trust in practice and in games with those guys, and then you lose one of them for a couple weeks, that magnifies that. Being able to have Trey [Harrison Wallace] back and KeAndre [Lambert-Smith] on the field while those other guys are developing those roles and those opportunities and that confidence I think will be helpful. But I think getting Trey back is a huge piece of that puzzle. I think it helps KeAndre. I think it helps Drew. I think it helps our team. I think it helps our offense. I think it helps Coach Yurcich in calling the game. But I think that will really help us having those two guys both on the field at the same time.”

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