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Penn State Football: Franklin Talks Special Teams Fakes, Discipline And Doing Your Job

by on October 31, 2018 1:30 PM

For James Franklin and every coach across the nation, there are probably few things more frustrating than the plays you see coming, the plays you prepared for, and the plays that work anyway in spite of it.

The most recent --or at least most obvious-- a fourth down Iowa touchdown where a Hawkeye offensive lineman slipped through defenders, catching an over the shoulder pass from punter Colten Rastetter.

So how did it happen? How did Penn State not see it coming?

Well the answer is that it did. As James Franklin said after the Michigan State game and once again after Iowa, they had prepared for those very plays, those very looks. They knew what was about to happen.

And as Franklin said on Tuesday afternoon when asked about those errors, sometimes good players make plays, sometimes good coaches give you new looks, and sometimes your players don't stick to their job.

"I think what happens sometimes with guys is they know their responsibility, but then they try to do too much," Franklin said. "So they know their responsibility, and then they try to do too much to help somebody else or take on somebody else's responsibility, and that haunts you. At the end of the day, you've got to be disciplined enough to do your job within the scheme"

"And the hard part is when they get outside of their framework and then they get rewarded for it (by making a play), that's where you've got to be careful because now they're likely to do it more at a higher level, and it's going to come back to beat you more at a higher level, and I think that's what's showed up a few times."

Franklin would later point out what you can in fact see on film against Iowa, linebackers Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson both pointing at the eventual scoring lineman, both moving off of him as the ball moved in the backfield, and both getting beat by a play they saw coming.

They had the play read and Iowa still pulled it off thanks at least in part to that lacking discipline.

"The fake field goal, literally, you go back and watch the tape, we are pointing at the guy, my guy, my guy, pointing, and then what happens, the play starts, the guy goes down to block someone, our guys get off of our man, and all of a sudden he slips out and then makes an unbelievable catch," Franklin added.

It's an issue Penn State will continue to wrestle with much like every other team in America. Getting players to trust each other and getting them to stick to the plan. It takes time and effort, but it's the difference between good and great. And so often the difference between a stop and score.

Especially against a team like Michigan. Special teams gaffes might be the most obvious, but it happens in all three phases after hours and hours of film study to prepare for certain looks and plays each week.

"We've just got to get all 11 guys, very Bill Belichick, do your job, and you've got to do it, not just one play, you've got to do it for four quarters because the one play you don't when you play good teams, they'll take advantage of it."

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