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Franklin seeks more RB production

Following are the highlights of James Franklin’s Tuesday press conference:

Saturday’s game: vs. Maryland, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Main storyline

Through the opening two weeks of the season, Penn State still has a lot of questions regarding its running back position and its lack of production.

While Devyn Ford has gotten the majority of the carries (28 carries, 105 yards), the running game as a whole has been ineffective.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford saw a Lions’ share of the work in the running game against Ohio State by design, according to coach Franklin, although Clifford’s 18 carries resulted in just five yards.

Whether Clifford, who leads the team in carries and yards (35 carries), will carry the ball as much will depend on the game plan, he said.

“We went into Ohio State specifically with the understanding that we were going to have to be aggressive in that game and run the quarterback,” Franklin said. “We knew that is a thing that has given them issues and challenges in the past and that was a big part of our game plan. There are going to be weeks when we do that and there are going to be weeks where we try to limit that, but that is definitely our approach and a plan going into that game for sure.”

Franklin said true freshmen Keyvone Lee and Caziah Holmes are going to have to get more involved so Ford alone doesn’t shoulder the load.

“They are going to have to have a bigger role,” Franklin said. “We’re excited about Devyn and what he is going to be able to do this week and moving forward, but we need those complementary pieces. We can’t just ride Devyn all year long.”

Hitting the polls

Franklin entered his press conference sporting an “I voted” sticker on his sweatshirt.

With the NCAA making election day an off day in order to ensure student-athletes across all sports the opportunity to vote, the football team adjusted its practice schedule, exchanging its traditional Monday off day for Tuesday.

Franklin spoke about the importance of voting and how his staff has encouraged the team to have open conversations and vote in the 2020 election.

“I think we all have a duty and a responsibility to be active in what is going on in our democracy and in our country,” he said. “It’s a right that we have fought for and a right that we have earned. It’s something that some people in some countries would love to have. Maybe for a period of time we took some of those rights for granted. I think there has been a lot of emphasis in the past few years and specifically this year to say, ‘OK, if you want to have a voice, if you want to have opinions, it starts with going, getting involved and taking advantage of your rights.'”

Franklin said he voted early Tuesday morning and was fourth in line. “By the time I left,” he said, “I was glad I got there early.’

Wide receiver room

KeAndre Lambert-Smith climbed up this week’s depth chart, earning a starting spot over Cam Sullivan-Brown, who did not play against Indiana and has yet to catch a pass this season.

Jahan Dotson had a breakthrough game on Saturday after catching a touchdown against the Hoosiers, catching eight passes for 144 yards and three TDs, including a terrific one-handed catch against the Buckeyes.

Dotson is emerging as a clear No. 1 wideout, while freshman Parker Washington has also played well.

Clifford completed five passes for 75 yards and a score on the opening drive of the second half Saturday, and Franklin believes his receivers will be more involved moving forward.

“Jahan did some really good things on Saturday,” Franklin said. “We want to build on that. We think that Parker has a chance to take the next step this week. We are excited about KeAndre. We feel like we are getting back to a group of guys that are able to play and contribute.”

Scouting young Tua

Franklin was impressed with Terps’ quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Tua, who completed 26-of-35 passes for 394 yards and a score in Maryland’s 45-44 overtime victory over Minnesota last week.†

“You watch that Minnesota game and it is hard not to be impressed,” Franklin said. “You look at the completion percentage, the decision making, his ability to make plays with his feet, as well as extend plays in the pocket — it was impressive. We have a hot quarterback coming in here, and whenever you have a hot quarterback, whether it’s college football or the NFL, you’ve got a chance. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge.”

Keeping perspective

The Nittany Lions find themselves 0-2 for the first time since 2012, and while Franklin said that it’s a combination of playing tough teams like Ohio State early and not having non-conference games to work things out, he’s happy with how his team is sticking to the 1-0 mantra to get back on track.

“I think our guys have taken a very mature approach,” he said. “We are obviously disappointed and frustrated that we are not where we want to be, or where we think we should be. Again, there is a fine line to that, because you also have to move forward.”

Franklin said he was impressed with the mental attitude of the upperclassmen, some of whom spoke up in the locker room after Saturday’s loss.

(Compiled by William Whisler,wwhisler@lewistownsentinel.com)

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