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Penn State Football: What To Know From James Franklin's Weekly Press Conference

by on November 15, 2016 6:10 PM

James Franklin spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the Nittany Lions' meeting with Rutgers this weekend. Franklin touched on plenty of topics during his interview session, here is what you need to know. (Offensive line update here)

I wanted to ask you about Saquon Barkley. Your thoughts on how he came out of the Indiana game, 33 carries? And your thoughts on his workload. I think he has 200 carries for the season. Do you try to manage that the rest of the way a little bit? Or are 200 carries through ten games, is that a good number for you? Are you concerned physically how he came out of the game and his workload?

Yeah, it's more about how we see him. What the doctors, what the trainers feel, how he feels. How we watch him at practice, how we watch him in the games. We do have depth at that position. Obviously, it's also hard to take a guy off the field that has a chance to break a play at any minute. He had one play down sideline where he stumbled, and I think if he didn't stumble, he scores. He's had almost one of those runs a game where he's gotten the one big run that really jumps his production up.

So, yeah, we monitor it. He typically hasn't had those types of numbers. I do like the fact that we didn't abort the run game and kept working it in there. He had a big run late in the game for a first down. That was impressive that we talked about after the game. But, yeah, it's something we monitor at every one of these positions. Running back is included in that.

He's nowhere near, I don't think -- I don't have the numbers in front of me, but he's nowhere near the guy on the team with the most reps. I think that's John Reid, clear and above pretty much anybody else.

After the game on Saturday, you placed Trace McSorley's toughness to the way he kind of waved you off and wouldn't come out of the game. How is he feeling post that game, and how many practice reps do you think he really requires to be prepared for Rutgers?

We flew Mr. Miyagi in and he put his hands on him. He's in grade shape. He drank a lot of milk and orange juice and multi-vitamins. Living in the new hot and cold tubs. But, seriously, just before walking over here he was walking through the locker room. I saw him, and he looks great. He's still a young player, so he needs every rep he possibly can get. In practice, we need his leadership. We need him setting the tempo, and he needs to continue to develop.

So all these guys, this point of the season, all these guys are banged up and bruised on Sundays. They get a little better on Monday with the day off, Tuesday they're heading in the right direction, then the most important thing is we need to be peaking at the right time emotionally, physically, mentally come Saturday. And we've done a good job of that with all the things that we do, the hot and cold tubs. The nutrition bar has been huge for that. The new hot and cold tubs that we have have been huge for that.

All the different soft tissue stuff that we do with massages and those types of things, it's helped. So Tim Bream and his staff have done an excellent job. Dwight Galt and his staff have done an excellent job. A lot of the stuff that we're doing in terms of studying sports science and things that we can do, modifying, practice, using the experience of the coaches, all these things.

He's in good shape and he'll be ready Saturday.

Miles Sanders has been a guy that's provided a spark on special teams. We saw Irv back there on Saturday. When did Irv start working in there? What is the plan? Are you going to try to use him here and there? Is?

Irv has been back there pretty much all year long. I think you're going to see over the next couple years Irvin Charles has got a very, very bright future. He is talented, talented, talented, maybe the most talented wide receiver I've ever been around. We all saw the catch that he had and what he was able to do with it once he got the ball in his hands. But there's a lot more that goes into it than that. So we're looking for other ways to get the ball in his hands and give him a chance to make the play. Miles is our guy back there.

But we want to continue creating opportunities for other guys and developing other guys. Obviously that one didn't go as planned. But he is a big, strong, talented guy. I think it was two years ago or a year and a half ago that we did a race of what were considered the fastest guys on the team at that time. We had the Chisena kid, who is running track now, and all those guys raced, and everybody thought it was going to be Saquon or Chisena. And at 6'4", Irv was just like (making noise), and the whole team was just shocked, just looking big, strong, athletic guy like that. Polk was in that. They're all going to be mad and be all over me in the team meeting saying that they won, because even after that race, they all thought they won.

But Irv is a very, very talented guy, and I'm proud of him because he's matured in so many ways since he's been here. Mom and dad are awesome. Really involved, really active. But he's got a bright future. We keep maturing him and keep preparing him every day because we're excited about him.

With the O-line situation, there might be more of an emphasis to put Saquon or another running back in to block. How much has Saquon improved in blocking?

That's an area I think he can be even better. He's shown it in flashes. I think he can really improve there. He's smart, he's strong, he's physical. I think he can be one of the better blocking running backs in the country, and he's got to make his mind up that's what he wants to do. Right now he's good. But I want Saquon to have the mentality that he's going to be the best blocking running back in the country. He's going to be the best receiving running back in the country. He's going to be the best running running back in the country. Short yardage, explosive, going to make people miss. He's going to have the highest GPA of all running backs in the country. He's going to graduate. All those things.

He has a chance to be a complete running back, which are hard to find. It's our job as coaches to make sure that he doesn't underachieve in any of those areas, when you have a guy as talented as he is.

I'm wondering if the success you've had this year and the winning streak had any impact with respect to recruiting? Has it opened any more doors? Are there more kids showing interest? Is it helping you at all in that area that you can tell?

I think we're so far along in the process for this year, and we just don't have a lot of scholarships for this year. That is having an effect, I think, with visits and things like that and guys calling us and showing more interest and things like that. But I think where it will have its biggest impact is in '18. Because the '17 class is pretty much done. We've got a few spots left. The way the recruiting process has changed, just like us, having this type of year, it's kind of like the senior who has a great senior year, 75% of the recruiting process is done based off a junior or sophomore years. So it will have an effect. How significant the effect is, I don't know. I think it will show up more in years to come, especially in the '18 class.

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