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Penn State Football: Cabinda, Bell And Cooper In The Mix Heading Into Ohio State

by on October 18, 2016 3:30 PM

With Penn State at 4-2 on the year the Nittany Lions are set of their biggest test of the season hosting No. 2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are coming off of a overtime victory against Wisconsin while Penn State is a healthier team out of the bye week. Coach James Franklin spoke to the media on Tuesday about his team and this weekend's game. Here are a few things to know.

How did the bye week affect the overall health of your team?

"I think it helped a little bit. I mean, as you guys know, we've had significant amount of injuries, and specifically at some positions, I think there's a chance we could get Cabinda back this week."

"Now we all have to just kind of remember, too: He hasn't played football or practiced in a long time. So to think you're just going to jump back in there after missing that amount of time, is going to be a challenge. Same thing with Brandon Bell. So we'll see and same thing with Cooper. There's a chance we could get those guys back but we'll see. We'll see how it plays out. Like I said, it's not like last week they practiced and this week we're hoping to get them back. They haven't practiced, at all."

"So we'll work those guys in and see how -- see if they are ready to go and if they can go, as long as the doctors clear them, but that would be nice. That would be a nice bonus. Obviously the more Koa plays and the more Cam plays, the better; the more experience they get, the more confident that they get. But they are probably the biggest ones."

"Blake Gillikin had a little something bothering him, as you guys know, two weeks ago, but it shouldn't be anything moving forward and we expect to have him back full go. As we all know, he's been a weapon for us this year so we need him back full speed."

"Yeah, I think you focus on the guys that have been out but I would say just as important as the guys that have played a lot of reps, all camp, all season, and just for them to get a little bit off time off. We practiced last week but we didn't do any banging with the old guys; the young guys, we did some. Just allowing those guys to have a week where we didn't take the week off mentally but we did take the week off a little bit physically from the pounding perspective."

Wisconsin looked to be the team that has had the most success moving the ball against Ohio State so far. What stands out to you about that, what Wisconsin was able to do on offense and can it help you preparing for this week?

"I don't know if it really does. No. 1, Wisconsin is really good on defense. We've seen that all season long from the opening week. They are really, really good on defense. So I think that helps them. It helped them kind of stay in the game and play a style of play that Wisconsin wants to play traditionally year-in and year-out."

"But they are traditional pro-style, pound-you offense and then their defense is playing so well that it allows them to play that and not have to drop back and throw the ball and do things like that."

"Obviously that's a different style than we're playing right now. So that film for our offense isn't overly valuable. What we do is we try to take formations and situations that are similar and break those down. But you know, when they are in 22 personnel, two backs, two tight ends and one receiver, we don't do that. So none of those plays, none of those plays and none of those formations really translate well for us."

You said that Wisconsin being pro style doesn't give you a lot of good film for your offense. Do you have good film on Ohio State from previous, because I guess spread offenses are fairly common. Do you have from previous weeks, some stuff to go on?

"Oh, yeah, definitely. This is no different, early in the season. And you may even go back to last year and things like that to make sure you get enough plays by formation that you're looking for. So yeah, there's plenty of games that are good."

"And even the Wisconsin game, we still watch and we still study, and those things are great. But you're not pulling formations out and things like that to put into your cut-ups because there's just not enough similarities. Defensively, it's really good and they are playing really well on defense and have been all season long."

"So yeah, we've got plenty of stuff to study. We've got plenty of stuff to research. And like I said, it's no different than every week. Every week you kind of have one opponent where maybe they play the wishbone team or they play a spread team or a pro team or whatever style or even on defense, maybe a 3-4 or a 4-3 or whatever it may be that maybe doesn't fit exactly what you do. But that's no different this week than it is any other week."

Kevin Givens was moved to second team. Can you just discuss what happened, the thought process there and what has he done the first six games good and bad?

"Yeah, he's done some really good things. We're really, really happy with Kevin and impressed with Kevin. He continues to grow in every area of his life and he needs to continue to do that."

"We think Curtis is doing some nice things for us, as well. We kind of look at it as we have three guys there, Curtis and Salt (ph) and Kevin that are all playing, playing really well and playing at a high level."

"So we're going to rotate those guys but it's not anything kind of more than that. We just feel like -- we just feel like Curtis is earning the opportunity to step in there and be the starter."

How soon does the decision from the medical staff need to be made to give you enough time to evaluate them from a fitness and preparedness standpoint to know if they will give you some reps on Saturday?

"I think it depends. We've talked about this a little bit in the past. I think it depends on experience."

"So you've got a guy like Brandon Bell who has played a lot of football here and is a senior. He's probably going to be able to do things with a little bit less reps and a little bit less time than a guy like Cooper who is still a young player."

"But at the end of the day, I've been around places where coaches have rules where if you don't practice full go by this day, I don't know if I necessarily agree with that. I think you have to make the decisions that are the right decisions for your program and for the young man. And that's going to be different for a freshman compared to a senior and everything in between."

"So we'll just see. We'll just see how it goes all week long. We have a staff meeting every morning at 7:00 A.M. Tim Bream is in there and he goes through the medical report so everybody is on the same page. I can ask questions. The coaches can ask questions. The coaches will tell them what we have planned for doing with guys in practice and if he's okay with that and all those types of things."

"So yeah, it's not like a blanket answer I can give you. It's pretty fluid."



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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