Penn State coachspeak: Only way to move on is to stop looking back
A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Michigan State (3-2, 1-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Beaver Stadium
About the Spartans: Fell out of top 25 following 29-19 loss at Northwestern last week; 26th in coaches poll and 27th in AP poll. … Other loss was in week two at Arizona State (16-13). … Offense has struggled in two losses, averaging just 16 points. … QB Brian Lewerke completing 64.2 percent but has six interceptions to go along with only six TDs. … Running game hasn’t been effective, with leading rusher Connor Heyward going for just 147 yards and 3.5 yards per carry this season.
Last time vs. Penn State: Spartans won at home last year, 27-24, following a bizarre game that saw a 3 hour and 23 minute weather delay.
Line: Penn State is favored by 13.5; over/under is 54
Have to move on from loss to OSU: Following a bye week, Franklin wasn’t much interested in looking back at components of the 27-26 loss to Ohio State. He was asked several questions relating to that game, but he kept mentioning that he addressed those points during the bye week and is simply ready to look ahead. “Had some questions about how do you move on to the next game,” Franklin said. “It’s by stop talking about the previous game.”
New for homecoming: This is the homecoming game, and Franklin plans to add a new tradition going forward with regards to the team arriving at the stadium on the blue buses. “We’re going to have a lead bus that brings us to the stadium for our normal walk into the stadium, and that bus will be full of Penn State lettermen. … I thought that would be a really nice thing for us to do every single year on home coming,” the coach said. The bus will be first-come, first-served for the lettermen, and with so many to account for, seats on the bus are sure to be at a premium.
Lots of teams lose: It may sound obvious, but Franklin said his players actually learned something this past Saturday by watching college football games and seeing some teams lose. “A lot of teams across the country got beat,” the coach said. “Me and my wife were talking … and we were saying, is there a way to get every single team in the country to lose this weekend? I don’t know if that’s mathematically possible, but me and my wife were trying to come up with a way for that to happen.” His point was that, coming off a rare loss by the Lions, the players could see that it’s not the end of the world and that they could gain some perspective by seeing that everyone loses occasionally.
Sparty tough against run: Michigan State leads the nation by a wide margin in run defense, giving up just 33.8 yards per game on the ground. That’s an incredible stat at this stage of the season. Then again, the Spartans lost their last game to Northwestern, 29-19, despite allowing only 8 yards rushing. Why has Sparty been so good against the run? “The biggest thing is up front,” Franklin said. “Their D-tackles and their D-ends are big, are strong, are physical, are very, very aggressive. They have got the two Panasiuk boys inside that we recruited that are problems. … They take a lot of pride in making you one-dimensional.”
Last year’s unusual delay: Penn State was playing well in last year’s game at East Lansing before the long weather delay. What did Franklin and his staff learn about the strange situation that they can use if it happens again? “It’s a challenging solution to come up with because essentially each team in the Big Ten doesn’t really have the space needed. Who has got a room big enough that’s not being used on game day to house 150 people? Is there all going to be the advantage to the home team? No doubt about it, based on their space. I’d like to be critical of other people’s visiting locker rooms, but ours isn’t great. So I think you’d better be careful when you start taking shots at other people if you haven’t really looked at yourself. … As much as we studied and look at it, what came out of it is every school in the Big Ten should have a protocol that they go to so that it’s not a scramble, because a lot of it, you’re reliant on that home stadium and what they are able to provide to you.”