Franklin defends offense

Penn State kept playing football in the second half of Saturday’s 79-7 massacre of FCS foe Idaho, with backups manning most positions.

The Nittany Lions didn’t just sit on the ball as the score kept getting more and more lopsided, and the final may have made some people wonder if PSU could have eased up a little.

Coach James Franklin addressed that topic a couple of times during his weekly press conference Tuesday. It’s not like Penn State ran up the score at all against the badly overmatched opponent, but Franklin sounded as if he felt he needed to explain or justify the score and continuing to let the backups play all out.

Before fielding any questions, Franklin brought up the subject in his opening remarks.

“I thought it was really valuable, obviously, but also really special for guys like (running back) Nick Eury to not only be able to get in a game but be able to play and run the offense and have a chance to score a touchdown,” Franklin said of the fifth-string tailback’s late score on an incredible effort run.

“I know there’s a lot of different discussions about scoring and these types of games and things like that, but it’s my belief that you get the backups in the game and you allow them to play. I think they deserve that opportunity. It was great for (quarterback Will) Levis to get those opportunities. But a guy like Nick Eury scoring a touchdown, that’s something he’ll take with him the rest of his life, and he’s earned that. Really happy for that.”

The Lions celebrated like crazy when Eury scored on his impressive run, which included breaking about a half-dozen tackle attempts. When Franklin was asked what Eury means to the team and why the players celebrated so much, the coach again got into the subject of sounding like he had to justify the score.

“You look at the score — and no one I would say necessarily likes to see that in college football — but I will tell you I also believe very strongly that those guys deserve the ability to get in the game and play,” Franklin said. “They should be able to go in and play, and that’s what they were able to do, and that’s why the locker room and the team reacted the way they did to him.”

SUBHD: Preseason ideas

A broadcaster on a national college football telecast said over the weekend that most coaches would like to see their team have joint practices or a preseason scrimmage during fall camp, the way the NFL does it.

The idea behind it would be to help clean up some of the mistakes and sloppy play that arise in the opening week, since teams would be better prepared having gone up against other players in some fashion.

Franklin gave an interesting answer when asked if he likes the idea of joint practices or scrimmages.

“I don’t think they’re really feasible,” he said. “It’s funny that you say that, but then what’s the NFL trying to do right now with the preseason? There’s all kinds of conversations about getting rid of the preseason.?”But I do think that where the discussion comes is I get it from a fan perspective, everybody wants to see Penn State versus the Philadelphia Eagles every single week. I get that. But there’s also a reason that you see some of these types of games being scheduled and played, because you do need some time to kind of work out some of the issues.”

Franklin has noticed some big early season games in recent years that weren’t exactly cleanly played.

“Again, that goes back to in high school you’ve got scrimmages, in the NFL you’ve got preseason games, and we don’t have that,” he said. “So it’s a fine line between all of those things.

“You talk about maybe scrimmages with local teams in your state. I could see where that may make sense because it keeps the expenses down and things like that. But again, just like the NFL, you do those things and you have some injuries, then that’s going to go out the window, too.”

The model, the coach concluded, is never going to be perfect so that it pleases everyone.

“We’ve got a pretty good system now, and we should be trying to refine it and get better every single year, but I think we’ve got to be careful making some massive changes,” Franklin said.

SUBHD: News and notes

Franklin said sophomore defensive tackle Damion Barber did not play against Idaho because of a violation of team rules. He will play this week against Buffalo. … Franklin has a lot of respect for Buffalo and its coaching staff, led by Lance Leipold. Franklin also talked about how Buffalo has had bad luck with the transfer portal, losing five starters. … The undefeated 1994 team PSU team will be honored during this week’s game. Franklin said he hopes the former players stop by the Lasch building to visit. “It’s their building, not mine, and I want them to come by and see all the cool things we’re doing to pay respect to our history and our traditions in a very clean and classy but modern way,” the coach said.