Franklin sounds like he knows offense needs tweaking

One of James Franklin’s comments struck me this past week.

When asked about the offense, which has become a weekly theme, Franklin said this: “The formula had worked pretty good for us for the last year.”

Later, he added, “We’ve had one of the most explosive offenses in the country.”

The key word, in both thoughts, is “had.”

Franklin didn’t say the formula “has” worked, and he can no longer say the Lions “have” one of the most explosive offenses around.

Now that he’s seen the offense lack explosiveness against Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa — and even factoring in being limited to 24 points (including the blocked field goal returned for a touchdown) in the win over the Buckeyes last year — you have to wonder if Franklin is starting to have some doubts about the run-pass option offense.

Most of the big-picture concerns that have surfaced during Franklin’s four seasons have been addressed during the offseason.

While it’s doubtful we’ll see drastic schematic changes today against Rutgers, this would be a good time to start implementing some subtle tweaks if Franklin really believes the system is broken.

Penn State is a 30-point favorite today and likely will be giving two-three touchdowns in its remaining two opponents, Nebraska and Maryland, so there should be way more margin for error than there has been the last two weeks.

Moreover, this offseason ought to be interesting. It likely will reveal whether Franklin in facts believes changes are necessary, maybe not staff changes but perhaps schematic and philosophy adjustments.

Will Joe Moorhead be asked to incorporate some additions, like a power offense, to compliment the RPO, which has generally been successful, at least until the Lions run into teams of their physical equal?

Will Moorhead be open to new ideas? Or has he already decided this is the time to more aggressively pursue a head-coaching job?

Stay tuned.

Nitpicking …

n Many have focused on the couple injuries (Andrew Nelson, Ryan Bates) that have set back the progress of Penn State’s offensive line. But it is personnel or scheme? Interestingly, Gil Brandt, former director of personnel with the Dallas Cowboys, recently told the NFL Radio that league brass is in agreement that offensive line play is the worst it’s ever been. He blamed some of the techniques being taught in college, which are significantly different than the NFL.

n Saquon Barkley (3,436) quietly passed Curt Warner (3,398) for second place on Penn State’s career rushing list last week. Evan Royster (3,932) is the all-time leader. Barkley, 496 yards behind, has a shot to pass Royster but may need the bowl game to do it. And, of course, it’s unclear at this point whether Barkley intends to play in a bowl now that the Lions have two losses and are out of the playoff hunt.

n Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst is probably the leading candidate for Big Ten coach of the year. That could change if the Badgers lose to Iowa today. And if so, Rutgers’ Chris Ash will merit some consideration. He may regardless. The Knights were 0-9 in the conference last year (2-10 overall) and now stand at 4-5 with three wins in their last four games (Illinois, Purdue and Maryland) plus a competitive 35-14 loss at Michigan.

n I’m curious how much Iowa, headed to Madison today, has left in the tank after hanging 55 points on Ohio State last week.

n Through eight games, Penn State has fumbled just five times and has a chance to break the record for fewest fumbles in a season (8 in 2001).

n With word this week that the Nittany Lion will be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, I could not help but think of Norm Constantine, who handled the duties from 1978-80. Constantine was paralyzed after a hit-and-run accident in 1981 and passed away in 1990.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or