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Penn State Football: James Franklin Press Conference Highlights

by on November 08, 2016 4:20 PM

James Franklin spoke to the media on Tuesday prior to Penn State's meeting with Indiana this upcoming weekend. Here is what to know from his interview session.

Can you discuss Paris Palmer's journey from North Carolina to Penn State? What impresses you most about it and how is he playing now?

"He's a really, really neat guy. We got a chance to recruit him out of Lackawana here in-state. I've known Coach Duda for a really, really long time. Those relationships are important. We were able to get involved with him. He was highly regarded. Still a raw football player.

We were able to get involved with him and I'll never forget myself, and I think three other coaches, maybe four other coaches, sitting at a Texas roadhouse with his mom and Paris, kind of -- it was essentially the home visit. And I don't know if you guys ever had those rolls with the maple butter, was really good. I was hammering them rolls.

But got a chance -- and Paris had on his phone kind of something he had written in letting us know that he was committing to us. And it was just so well written and so thoughtful and so mature; he's got great perspective on a lot of things.

So he's been a really big part of our program ever since he committed to us and ever since he's arrived. Last year thrown in there and battled like crazy, you know. Then doesn't start this year with the starting unit on the offensive line; handles that the right way. We lose Andrew Nelson and then Paris comes in and has played really well.

We're proud of him. He's bigger and stronger than he's ever been. He's more confident. He's doing really good in school. He's just going to be really successful. He did his share with our team Friday night at the hotel a few weeks ago and did a great job with that. He was very involved when we had a lot of discussions, when it comes to politics, had a lot of discussions when it came to honoring the flag and the National Anthem.

He's just a neat guy. He's what college athletics are all about, guys from all different backgrounds coming and learning from each other and learning from Penn State and this community. I'm really proud of him and I'm obviously glad that he's playing well, as well."

What's happening with your team at right tackle this week between Brendan and Chasz and who might factor into that position going into Indiana?

"Right now obviously we ended the game with Paris and Chasz. Right now that's about all the information I have. As you guys know, I don't get into a whole lot of these specifics anyway.

Right now we've got Paris and we've got Chasz and we're hoping to get some guys back. We'll see how the week plays out. And then we're also working on some other variables -- I think I talked to you guys after the game, the conversation I had on the headset with Matt about who is going into the game. If someone's helmet pops off, you're not going to burn Will Fries' redshirt because someone's helmet popped off. You would put somebody in for one play.

Connor McGovern obviously played a lot of tackle during spring ball. That was a big discussion that we had obviously when the season started and he wasn't doing that anymore.

Bates is a guy we're working out there a little bit out there, as well, to create some more depth. And then Fries; Fries is a guy that can factor in, as well. We kind of have a bunch of different plans but right now obviously we have the situation with how the game ended."

I think you needed at least three punt returners this year. DeAndre is the last one, looked a little uncertain fielding the ball Saturday night. Where do you guys stand with that position, and was there something wrong with John in that role that he wasn't doing that Saturday?

"We're still just trying to kind of work that out. We feel good about John. We feel good about DeAndre. We feel good about Mr. Garrity. We think all of those guys can go back and do the job. McPhearson has been working on it all year long, as well, Josh McPhearson. There's different variables that we could use.

One of the things with John is he's just playing so many reps on defense, so we are kind of trying to limit that, as well. If somebody can take on that responsibility, not only catch the ball and make great decisions, but also be a threat.

I'd like us to get to the point where we have someone back there that's like Saquon Barkley and when I mean by that is when people see Saquon is going to get the ball, everybody is kind of on the edge of their seat waiting for something exciting to happen, me included.

And you'd like to get that way with your punt returner and your kick returner, as well. Miles has taken some really nice steps, as well as the whole unit, in our kick return. We need to be able to do the same thing with our punt return.

John really gave us a spark early on, but again, we have some concerns about just total reps that he's playing. So you'd like for somebody else to really kind of grab a hold of that job moving forward. But as of right now, I think John's our best option."

I was looking at the numbers and it looks like there's four guys, five guys, with 15 receptions or more but nobody over that big 40 mark, which has not been case in years past. What goes into the distribution of the passing game?

Again, I think it's very similar to what we just talked about on the O-Line. We have depth at wide receiver and we've got a number of guys that can get on the field and make plays, so we can rotate guys in, keep them fresh, keep them healthy, not only for the fourth quarter but for late in the season.

You look at our D-Line, last game, I think no one played more than like 32 plays in the game on our D-Line. When you're able to do that, it helps everybody. I think our wide receivers are an example of that.

And on top of that, I think our first couple years, I think you guys remember, we were in a situation where Hamilton couldn't even run the one game. We're trying to run jet sweeps with them. We had nobody else to put in. He's hobbling around the field. Where now we have depth, to keep them healthy on the front end; and then if they do get dinged up or have an issue or need a blow, we can put somebody else. You see the same thing with Saquon. Saquon gets a big run, he taps his helmet and Miles or Andre or Mark goes in.

So we're just in a better position to support that. And then I think the other thing is, right now, you've got Trace who is doing a really, really good job of not coming out and saying, okay, this play is called, and Chris Godwin is here, I'm going to throw the ball to Chris Godwin.

He's doing a great job of taking what the defense gives, going through his progression, in rhythm, on time, when he needs to hitch up in the pocket on his third progression, he hits it, and if it's not there he takes off and runs. He's in rhythm. When you do that, you're difficult to defend on offense, and the defense can't say, okay, we need to stop Chris Godwin. If we stop Chris Godwin, we stop 60 percent of our passing game or whatever it may be.

There's some real advantages to it from a team perspective, and our guys have bought into it. I think that's also why you see our touchdown to interception ratio the way it is, because again, we're not forcing it to one or two receivers.

It looked like when Saquon went in at the one end, that he kind of high-stepped a little bit and it looked like you spent a moment with him on the sidelines. What's your feeling with the players having fun and too much individual expression?

Yeah, it's a fine line, because this is a game. It's a game and I want them to have fun and I want them to enjoy it with one another. They work extremely hard. There's nothing wrong when you sack the quarterback, you stand up and you show emotion. That's awesome. You worked hard for that and you celebrate with your teammates. You score a touchdown, you make a big catch, those things are great about the game of football.

But it's like anything else. You've just got to be careful that you don't go too far with it. We don't want to do anything that we're not showing good sportsmanship. We don't want to do anything where this is the ultimate team game and it's about that person.

And our guys for the most part do a really good job of that. Saquon obviously got excited and needs to finish that run into the end zone and hand the ball to the official, which is what he typically does.

The other thing that they need to be aware of is technically, that play could have been called where they throw a flag at the two-yard line, you don't score, the ball is moved back 15 yards and that's a dramatic swing of emotion and field position.

You know, just being smart and talking to these guys about the importance of playing with energy and playing with passion, having fun, play the game and celebrating with your teammates and being consistent in those things. But there's times obviously that our guys get excited and so do the coaches on the sideline.

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