News and Notes from James Franklin’s Press Conference
James Franklin just wrapped up his weekly press conference ahead of this Saturday’s Purdue game at Beaver Stadium. Let’s get into some of the notable news from his presser.
Maryland Game Recap
The Offensive Players of the Week from the Maryland game were C Michal Menet and Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, QB Sean Clifford. On defense, DB Tariq Castro-Fields and LB Ellis Brooks won Defensive Players of the Week honors. Lastly, John Reid won the Special Teams weekly award.
The Purdue offense lines up on offense with mostly three wide receivers, one running back, and one tight end. Entering the week, they are the #1 ranked passing team in the Big Ten and sixth in the country, averaging 351 passing yards per game. But, the Boilermakers will likely be without starting QB Elijah Sindelar and 2018 All-American Rondale Moore at wide receiver. Expect former Penn State recruit David Bell and Amad Anderson Jr. to carry the load filling in for Moore while Jack Plummer will step in for Sindelar.
Defensively, Purdue is 29th in the country in sacks with 11 on the season. Coach Franklin is impressed by freshman DL George Karlaftis, who has three sacks and five tackles for loss this year. Fifth year senior Ben Holt leads the team in tackles with 44, more than doubling the second best tackler on the team. Senior safety Navon Mosley also stands out on film, according to Franklin.
James Franklin loves the talent and depth of his linebackers group. Micah Parsons gets ejected on Friday? No problem! Penn State has somebody else more than capable to fill in for him. Franklin says his linebacker group now goes nine men deep. Yes, nine players are in the linebacker rotation. Micah Parsons and Jesse Luketa are rotating at one position. Jan Johnson and Ellis Brooks are basically splitting time at another spot. Then, Cam Brown, Brandon Smith, and Charlie Katshir play at another position, with a few more players mixed in. Overall, this deep group is a big reason why Penn State has allowed just 30 points in four games this year.
Change in Redshirt Status
Lance Dixon and Caedon Wallace were top recruits that James Franklin thought would play the entire season. But, with depth built up on the offensive line and at linebacker, both players are in a “yellow light” stage with their red shirt status. This means that we may not see either player on the field unless numerous injuries occur. So, expect to see neither one of these players on the field until the end of the year or in a bowl game.
Addition of HBO to Game Week
Coach Franklin passed up on similar opportunities prior to this season, but felt the timing was right to be a part of the HBO series “24/7 College Football” this year. He feels the show is similar to what WPSU does in covering the team already, so the team will be used to having cameras at practice. The goal of the show for Coach Franklin is to have everybody in the United States to see how special Penn State is, how they do things, as well as getting to know the players inside the program.
The True Freshmen “Lawn Boyz”
Although he thinks the media is surprised to see Devyn Ford and Noah Cain playing so much, James Franklin is not surprised one bit. He thinks their roles, in addition to Journey Brown and Ricky Slade’s roles, allow all the Penn State running backs to develop and stay fresh, without putting too much on anybody’s plate.
Playing within the Targeting Rules
Coach Franklin claims that playing with fundamentals not only helps his team win football games, but ensures the safety his players and the opposing team. This question obviously came about because Micah Parsons was ejected in the first half against Maryland for targeting.
Then, Franklin expanded upon how Parson’s handled the targeting penalty. He thinks his sophomore linebacker handled the call the right way by putting his head down and running to the locker room. But, he did not like how Parsons tweeted in the locker room, even though it was a positive message toward his team. This was addressed in a team meeting. But, Franklin could see a rule change starting as early as next year where players that are ejected do not have to sit in the locker room alone, but can be on the sidelines without their helmet for the rest of the game.
The Growth of Sean Clifford
Throwing for 398 yards and adding four touchdowns allowed the first year Penn State starting QB to silence some critics. Coach Franklin believes that Clifford’s success came from building confidence through preparation. At first, Franklin was worried Sean Clifford was too jacked up for Friday night’s game. But, he believes Clifford funneled all of that energy in his first road start in a positive direction and the players enjoyed playing in the road environment. When the outcome was a 59-0 victory, I certainly would agree with you, Coach.