News & Notes from James Franklin’s Week Two Press Conference
It is Tuesday afternoon, so of course that means it is time to recap some of the highlights from James Franklin’s weekly press conference. Here is what the Penn State head coach had to say.
Week One Reflection
Cory discussed it yesterday and James Franklin agrees, it was the right thing to allow his players to play the game in the 79-7 victory over Idaho. The back up players deserve the reps and it is exciting when players like Nick Eury make plays like he did on Saturday.
However, Franklin did not like the ball security from his offensive group on Saturday. Although the offense did not put the ball on the ground, he thought they needed to do a better job keeping the ball high and tight. He referenced the Notre Dame-Louisville game on Monday night as an example of how ball security can quickly change the game.
Defensively, he thought it was the best first game execution he has ever had. This is in part because of the tackling and strong effort by Brent Pry’s group.
Respect for Buffalo
James Franklin likes the way the Buffalo football program is built, as it reminds him of his program. Bulls’ head coach Lance Leipold led the Bulls to ten wins last year and many of his assistants followed him from his former coaching spot, Wisconsin-Whitewater, much like Franklin’s assistants did going from Vanderbilt to Penn State.
On the field, Franklin is impressed with the physicality of the Buffalo offensive line. So, it should be a good test to see the Penn State defensive line against this physical group. More on the Buffalo Bulls here.
James Franklin had more questions about the controversial transfer portal when the topic of Lamont Wade entering the portal last winter arose. Now, Franklin is more than happy Wade is back, but is very concerned about the NCAA transfer portal and its purpose. He believes it is a system by the NCAA that puts football first and academics second.
Coach Franklin also believes that the portal makes it much more difficult to coach at small schools like Buffalo. The Bulls are a program that needs to develop players over time and with the transfer portal allowing bigger schools to take players from schools like Buffalo, Franklin is right, it does make it more difficult for the small schools to grow as programs and compete.
Night Game Helping Recruiting
Obviously, Penn State has a great night game atmosphere, as will be on display on Saturday. But, it provides Penn State better opportunities for recruits. Franklin referenced how night games help recruits who have games on Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, or even SAT tests on Saturday morning more of an opportunity to see a game at Beaver Stadium.
Brandon Smith was a big hit on Saturday and James Franklin loves his ability to run and hit. Smith could improve on his pre-snap ability, which will help his post-snap play, but Franklin likes what he sees, so far.
Also, Franklin mentioned freshman Caedon Wallace as a lineman he envisions playing all year long. So, do not expect a redshirt for him this season.
Managing the Running Backs
Having four running backs essentially serving as starters has been easy to manage so far, according to James Franklin. However, he imagines it will get more difficult as the season goes on and players go hot and cold in the back field.
The sophomore defensive tackle was suspended for a violation of team rules for the season opener. However, he will be back in action for the Buffalo game.
James Franklin does not want an NFL style preseason slate to help prepare his team. Joint practices and preseason games sound good on paper. But, Franklin noted how injuries in the preseason have pushed many fans and players to call for the NFL to get rid of the preseason altogether. Therefore, he does not feel it is necessary to bring a preseason to college football.
Penn State had a couple of close calls with targeting between Garrett Taylor and Brandon Smith, along with Cam Brown being suspended for the first half for targeting. James Franklin mentioned how his staff works on avoiding targeting.
He wants his players to tackle from the chest down and avoid launching or leading with the head. Also, he knows it may seem impossible at times, but his players must try their best to keep their head up while their body is going down for a tackle.
Improving Third Down Efficiency
James Franklin discussed his goals for his offense when it comes to third down and converting on those opportunities. He wants his offense to convert at a rate of 48 percent or better, which would put them among the best in the country.
He also thinks the best way to convert third down chances is by succeeding on first and second down, and not allowing the offense to get to third down too much. But, when they do have to convert on third down, Franklin believes it is ideal to be in a 3rd & 6 situation or better, with 3rd & 1 or 3rd & 2 as the optimal situations.
Stay tuned the rest of the week for more coverage of the Penn State-Buffalo match-up on Saturday.