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Penn State Football: Schwan In And Givens Out? James Franklin Press Conference Recap

by on September 06, 2016 3:00 PM

James Franklin spoke with the media on Tuesday afternoon following Penn State's win over Kent State and just days away from the Nittany Lions' upcoming meeting against Pitt. Here are a few keys from the 30+ minute question and answer period including two key injury updates if you happen to read between the lines.

Evan Schwan might be back, Kevin Givens may not.

Both players left the game early and both under their own power on Saturday with what appeared to be lower body injuries. The senior defensive end Schwan looked like he had suffered a knee injury but seemed fine on the sideline as the game came to a close. Freshman defensive tackle Kevin Givens walked off the field after sustaining an injury as well but eventually was carted to the locker room as the game ended.

James Franklin, per usual, didn't offer up any specific updates but did potentially tip his hand to the possibility at least one of those players might be back this weekend.

"If it's a season-ending injury, I will tell you guys it's a season-ending injury," Franklin said. "If not, it's Tuesday. Guys have a chance to get better on Wednesday. Guys have a chance to get better on Thursday. Guys have a chance to get better on Friday. The other part I would explain to you is I think there is a big difference between a veteran player and a young player."
 

"So if you have a freshman who has not played through injuries, maybe is still learning the game plan, still learning the offense, still learning the defense and needs those reps so that he's confident and the coaches are confident to put him on the field, that your approach is a little bit different. But when you have a veteran player who has played a lot of football and understands the scheme, we can afford to put Evan out there even if he hasn't had a whole lot of reps in practice. It's not ideal, but you can afford to do that a little bit."

James Franklin doesn't have much to say about honoring Joe Paterno.

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As you might expect Franklin wasn't interested in discussing the planned Joe Paterno related event during Penn State's game against Temple. While the details haven't been released at this point, there is still plenty of interest in what Franklin thinks about the whole thing. Predictably he opted to yield to the administration.

"That's something that is a decision that our administration makes. Again, we're so consumed with graduating our players. We're so consumed with getting our players ready to play and be successful on the football field and make great decisions in the community. That's our focus. I think as you guys know, I was one of the first people in my opening press conference to show my respect for the history and traditions and all the wonderful things that have happened here. But after that, guys, there are a lot of things that I think people hit me up on Twitter about and questions that I get asked that I'm not involved in. Those things are for the administration."

Defensive line impressed in opener, but Franklin looking for more consistency.

As you might expect it was hard for Franklin to avoid the praise for a defensive unit that managed seven sacks on Saturday, but as he pointed out a unit that also managed to give up a few big QB scrambles and missed tackles along the way. Between youth and inexperience this wasn't a surprise for either party, but now it's about limiting mistake moving forward even if the expectations are still high.

"Coach Spencer has done a good job. Coach Pry's done a good job with those type of things. And we'll continue to emphasize that sacks are good. It's one of those stats that people get excited about. Tackles for loss are also very important. We want to improve in that area. Zero yardage plays, balls batted down, all those things are important.

We just need to be more consistent, like I said. Saturday it was kind of all or nothing, and we need to do a little better job with our rush lanes and things like that. So their mobility at the quarterback this past Saturday, I think [Kent State] had three guys and two of them that could move around really well. So I do think it was a confidence boost for those guys. But I think they also understand there's still a lot of areas that they can improve and get better on."

Winning against regional rivals helps recruiting but it isn't the only factor.

With Pitt set to host Penn State this weekend the fallout for both programs is a bit more tangible than usual. Winning helps recruiting and losing can help reinforce previously held perceptions. That's something Franklin didn't deny on Tuesday, but as he noted any given recruit can be looking for something different when evaluating a school, so winning isn't the only thing that matters.

"I think winning helps. I think it helps everything. I think it helps everything in your program. Winning has a factor in every aspect of your program and recruiting is one of them. So, yeah, I think it matters. But I also think if you look around the country with recruiting, you'd be surprised. You'd be surprised where some guys are going and how much of it is significant."

"Some guys are worried about playing time. That's their main focus. Some guys want to go to programs that are going to be winning and winning consistently. A lot of guys want to go to programs that are going to be able to do both, provide a great education, provide an opportunity for early playing time and want to be successful and want to win. So there is no doubt it factors into it."

Is Pitt a rival? Yes and no.

Franklin didn't dispute the history of playing Pitt and how it has shaped both programs, but at the same time Franklin was quick to point out that it has been a long time since their last meeting. So yes it's a rivalry, but at the same time it isn't an annual affair, something that is almost always present in most "true" rivalries.

"Yeah, I think obviously being in the same state and the past history of the game is really going to put a major emphasis on it. To me, a rivalry, there is no doubt is there from an historical perspective. But once again, to me, a rivalry isn't something that you have to have a discussion about. The fans, the media, the players, the coaches, all view it that way."

"Once again, none of our players have ever played against Pitt and none of our players have ever seen a Penn State-Pitt game in their lifetime. Again, I don't think they're watching many games at 2, 3, and 4 years old. So there are elements there from an historical perspective. There is no doubt about it. But, again, our players haven't done that."

"So for us, we approach this like every other game on our schedule. Keep our focus consistent. Focus on the process of being successful, not the results or not a specific type of game. And our guys are excited about it. But I think everybody understands the significance of it. We've been hearing about it all off-season. There is no doubt about it. But our approach is consistent week in and week out."



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