Coach says he never feels ‘just all right’
A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Kickoff: Saturday noon, Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill. (47,130)
About the Wildcats: They’re coming off 33-24 loss at Wisconsin in Big Ten opener. … Other loss was at Duke (41-17), while wins were at home against Nevada (31-20) and Bowling Green (49-7). … Coach Pat Fitzgerald is in 12th season at alma mater, making him second-longest tenured Big Ten coach behind only Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (19 years). … QB Clayton Thorson has been inconsistent, completing 64.1 percent but with five interceptions to seven TDs. … RB Justin Jackson dangerous but having bit of down season with just 273 yards rushing in four games.
Last time vs. Penn State: Lions lost tough one on road, 23-21, in 2015
Line: Penn State is favored by 141⁄2; over/under is 53
How are you doing?: Franklin pretty much always answers this question with “awesome,” which very well might be his favorite word. He was asked if he ever is “actually having an awful day,” and his response shed light on his overall personality. “I never have an awful day,” he said. “And I don’t believe in saying that you have — like when you say, ‘I’m all right,’ if you say you’re all right, that’s exactly how your day goes. Goes against everything I believe in. So I will never say that. Twenty years from now when we do this, I will never say that.”
Patience is a virtue: Franklin spoke at length about young players needing to have patience waiting for their turn to contribute. It came up regarding WR Irv Charles and backup QB Tommy Stevens. The coach reiterated that with the program now having a lot of depth, it means more young players have to be patient. “That’s a very important quality and trait to learn early in life, because things don’t always come at the time that you want them to come,” Franklin said. He told a story of how he wanted to be out on the field much sooner when he was a QB in college. “I showed up at East Stroudsburg thinking I was ready to be the quarterback. I was not,” he said. “I redshirted. My redshirt freshman year, I struggled. Thought I should be playing.” He said he has shared those things with Stevens. “Tommy has been great,” the coach said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him, his entire development, the type of teammate he’s been.”
Know what to expect: Fitzgerald has been at Northwestern a long time, and it’s no secret what the Wildcats will do. “You know what you’re getting with them,” Franklin said before later adding, “Offensively, defensively and special teams, they are going to play hard. They are going to be fundamentally sound. They have got good schemes. But what you see is what you get. It’s been a really nice model for them, and it’s going to be a challenge.”
O-line issues: PSU’s offensive line has not lived up to expectations, leading to issues in the running game and pass protection. “The biggest thing is we have not had consistency at the one position, at the right tackle,” Franklin said. “We’ve played three different guys there for a number of different reasons, and the reality is, whether it’s all five playing really well together or whether it’s four guys playing well or three guys playing well. you need all five. All five have to be playing at a high level or people would say, the O-Line is not doing as well as they should.”?Praising the staff: The coach made a point of talking about how well the coaching staff is doing. “Very, very fortunate to come to work with a bunch of really good people, men, women — that’s coaches, that’s doctors, that’s trainers, that’s strength staff,” he said. “Got really good people that are not concerned about who gets the credit. They are working hard every single day to put our players in the best position to be successful, and I don’t tell them enough.”
— Compiled by Cory Giger