Lions to keep using four running backs
A capsule look at James Franklin’s weekly news conference.
Opponent: Maryland (2-1)
Kickoff: Friday, 8 p.m., Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium
About the Terps: Second-year coach Mike Locksley has a new QB (Josh Jackson) and new offense that got off to a tremendous start, scoring 79 against Howard and 63 against Syracuse. Terps came back down to earth in 20-17 loss at Temple. … Jackson transferred from Virginia Tech, where he threw for 2,991 yards, 20 TDs and 9 INTs in 2017. … Terps have four running backs with at least 146 yards rushing. … Like PSU, Maryland is coming off a bye week.
Last time vs. Penn State: Lions won at home last season, 38-3, and destroyed the Terps their last trip there, 66-3, in 2017.
Line: Penn State is favored by 61⁄2; over/under is 60
RB by committee to continue: There are concerns about the Lions’ running game as conference play starts, but Franklin remains committed to rotating four guys instead of slicing that number down. “We’re going to play all four of those guys until somebody really separates themselves from the group,” the coach said. “We’re comfortable playing with all four because we think all four can play, and the only way that would change is if somebody just makes it clearly obvious to everybody that they are the guy. Right now we feel like we’ve got four guys that we can play with and win with.”
Friday night challenges: Franklin is a creature of habit and tries to keep everything the same week after week. Playing on a Friday night makes that more difficult. “It sounds silly, but one of the challenges is when you play a Friday game, there’s nothing to do during the day,” he said. “When you play a Saturday night game, there’s games on. (The players) can watch games all afternoon because what you don’t want to do is lay around and sleep all day.”
The science of Friday nights: Seemingly little things, such as when to wake the players up, aren’t so little when it comes to trying to achieve maximum performance. “How much do you meet? How much do you break? What do you do get their body out of the recovery stage and into a compete stage?” Franklin said. “Where we have a Saturday night game, we may allow a little more dead time during the day. Where a Friday night game, maybe we want a little less just because, if not, they are just on Netflix and laying around and taking naps all day long, which I don’t think is the right thing for them to do to be ready to play the game.”
Terps better this year: This matchup hasn’t been remotely competitive the past two years (PSU outscoring Maryland 104-6), but this one should be different. “I’m not really that concerned about the past,” Franklin said. “I’m more concerned about what we’ve seen on tape and what we know about this team now. They have always been very talented. … They are doing a good job of taking advantage of the athletes they have. They have done a good job of building confidence in how they play and who they have played. There’s no doubt that we’re going to be walking into a significant challenge on the defensive side of the ball come Friday night, as well as offense and special teams.”
What is an established player?: Franklin was asked this interesting question Tuesday. He wants competition at every spot, but obviously some players have solidified their jobs and have different expectations. “An established guy is a guy we know what we’re going to get week in and week out, game in, game out, practice, all of it,” Franklin said. “A guy who has played enough football for us on a consistent basis that we consider he has solidified his position and there’s really no threat to him. … Now it’s about managing — managing the reps so that when they are in there, you are getting the best you possibly can from them, but then also, being able to get some other guys in there to develop the depth.”
— Compiled by Cory Giger