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Penn State Football: Franklin Talks Offense, Finding Consistency In Little Details

by on October 22, 2019 4:20 PM

Penn State heads to Michigan State this weekend in search of an eighth-straight win and a chance to once again find consistency on the offensive side of the ball. It's not as though the Nittany Lions have struggled to succeed, Penn State is 10th in the nation in scoring offense and have found ways to win in back-to-back weeks against high-level defenses. [Scoring isn't always the best indicator of offensive efficiency, but it is a blunt indicator of overall success]

For Penn State it is a question not so much ability as it is that of consistency. In reality the Nittany Lions will face a slightly easier slate of defenses for the majority of the final months of the season. Also true, Penn State is a young team still learning how to play at a high level at the highest level of the game. 

It's not as though the Nittany Lions are above criticism, but the realities of a young team coupled with difficult opponents make for a talented but often inconsistent product, at least offensively. The question for Penn State becomes more a matter of how you become more consistent and less a question of finding the talent to win in the weeks ahead.

Asked about the offenses various and intermittent struggles, James Franklin gave a long answers Tuesday afternoon during his weekly press conference.

The quote has been broken down into various themes to help digest Franklin's most in-depth take on the offense so far this season.

What Defenses Do:

"After [the] Big 10 Championship year, we saw a drastic change and people said we're not giving up the big play. We're going to keep everything in front of us and not allow you to be one of the more explosive teams in the country."

"With that, that creates other opportunities, but then you have to have the maturity offensively to be able to take advantage of what the defense gives and really, in a lot of ways, morph your philosophy during the game once you see how they are playing; and the players embrace that style of play that you have to play, as well."

"The thing that's interesting is some of the discussions that we've had is it's like people talk about, I think the first question I got today was the lulls. People say, well, you stopped being aggressive. How do people know that we stopped being aggressive? Like do they know the calls?"

"You know, when we drop back and we get pressure, and we had a shot called and we either get sacked or pressured and the quarterback has to scramble or throw a check down or throw the ball away, those calls were very similar to what they were in the first quarter. I think all those things factor in."

"They are on scholarship, too. Michigan is one of the more talented teams in the country. Definitely one of the more talented teams in our conference."

Hitting Throws:

"So all of those things factor in, but when you realize how a team is playing you, either that opponent or as the season goes on, when people see the things that have been successful, we have to be comfortable as play callers and as players to be able to hit those underneath throws and we've got to hit them more consistently."

"And the funny thing is that's where the explosive plays will come, because the better we can throw accurately underneath, and throw the ball in a way that he can advance the ball; we have guys that are athletic enough, they are going to break a tackle and make people miss, very similar to what we saw on Dotson within the one crossing route. So I think that's still there."

"And also, if you're going to play that style of secondary and play soft, that creates more opportunities for explosive runs, as well. So it's really a combination of all those things."


"It's just the consistency. We have to eliminate the plays where we've had a few, not many, where we miss-ID the protection and we get pressured when we shouldn't; or they make a play and get pressure on us just because the guy made a play; or we've got to eliminate the plays when we have a guy open and we don't hit him consistently."

"The long balls, we would all like to hit 100 percent of them. You're not going to. But we've got to try to hit as many of them as we possibly can, because we all understand how impactful they are in the game."

"But it's the third down and eight, and the tight ends is wide open and those you've got -- you've got to hit 100 percent of the gimmies. The ones that are in tight coverage, again, they are on scholarship, too, and would he have got to fight and find a way to win those battles, but the ones that are gimmies where we have worked like heck to protect and get a guy open, we've got to hit them, and I don't want that to come off the wrong way. I couldn't be more pleased with Sean, but we've got to hit a higher rate of those."

"It's just like in the run game, we've got to consistently make the one free hitter, the safety or whoever it may be, we have to make that guy miss. Or it's the guy who is being blocked but at the last minute falls off the block to make the tackle. We have to sustain that block a half second longer to allow us to spurt through there."

"It's those types of things. But it's us being critical of ourselves and driving towards perfection and that's us doing it, and it's also, you know, obviously listening to you guys, as well, and your suggestions, which there's a bunch of them and the fans."

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