Before taking his team out on the road for this weekend's Big Ten game against Michigan, Penn State Head Football Coach James Franklin took to the airwaves for his weekly radio show.
In a far-ranging conversation Franklin talked about everything from preparing for a night game to trick plays.
Using Bill Belton to throw the ball considering his background as a QB:
"We'd like to do that and we've done that a couple times already this year. We'd like to do more of that. That brings a whole other element to our offense. With all these things, we need to establish the run. If we establish the run with Bill, that allows those trick plays to be much more effective. Establishing the run will open up so many things for us. That's our focus, and you guys all know that."
Benefit of having multiple running backs:
"I think this is a perfect example. This is an aggressive violent contact sport and guys get hurt. If you're relying on one guy at a position he's going to get banged up and if the guy behind him hasn't played, it's going to cause problems. Obviously if you have a guy who has a hot hand, you go with him, but even then you've got to be careful. You've got to keep rotating those guys in there to keep them fresh for the entire season."
How's the attitude of the team after a bye week?
"They're doing really good. Kids in general are really resilient. I think sometimes the coaches have a hard time bouncing back. You'd love to go into the bye week on a positive note. But they're good. I'm real hopeful. I think you guys have seen I'm a positive guy and an optimist. I truly believe if we handle this the right way, this could be a positive for us. we've been growing but not the way we've needed to, and hopefully this was a wake up call for us that all the little details matter."
What Franklin has seen from younger players during scrimmages.
"I don't like to point out specific guys because other guys feel left out. That's great for chemistry, great for morale. A lot of programs I've been associated with, the freshmen come in and you identify two or three that can help you and the rest are kind of sent off and just blocking dummies for a year. I've never believed in that. We can't afford attrition, to lose any of these guys. I just want to see these guys line up and play. The best thing was to see our older kids rally around our younger kids and scream and coach them up. That's a sign you've got something good going."
What sort of match up problems does Michigan's Devin Funchess cause.
"Funchess has been used as a tight end, a wide receiver. He's 6-5, 230, tremendous body control. Runs well for a receiver or a tight end. Sometimes you see these big physical receivers and people don't want to press them, they back off. A lot of times you do want to press them. The problem is the 50-50 balls. You've got great coverage but he's 6-5 and I'm 5-10. You can do everything right, but you lose because of genetics. If you want to be angry at someone, don't be angry at the players or the coaches, be angry at his parents, because of the genetics."
Best ways to neutralize or defend a dual-threat quarterback?
"Great question and it's a challenge. A lot of people have a plan and they're not always effective with it. You want your defensive linemen to be aggressive and go sack the quarterback. Sometimes by doing that you open lanes. Sometimes you see people rush and don't try to sack the quarterback, push the pocket. Sometimes you have a spy but if the linebacker doesn't run as well as him, it's a challenge. Some people will try to make the quarterback beat you with the throwing game. That's why you see more people in college go to these types of quarterbacks. The game is evolving and changing."
What the team does all day during a late game.
"First of all we let them sleep in. They have class all day long, football, study hall at night. They basically go from 7 in the morning until 10 at night, Monday through Friday. They don't always have the best habits, to be honest. They're up playing video games until 2 a.m. which magnifies it even more. You want to teach them great habits during the week, but Saturday gives them the chance to sleep in a little bit. We always have our pregame meal four hours before kickoff. If we play an early Saturday game we'll have a walk through Friday at the hotel. If it's a late game we'll do that Saturday. We also have a re-gen, where we go through stretching and things like that to help their bodies recover. They get tip sheets of things they need to understand and a written test they give back to their position coaches at the pregame meal."
Is there a road mentality? Or is it the same regardless of location?
"We try to keep the routine consistent as we possibly can. I understand it's a night game, great atmosphere, Michigan and all those types of things but we try not to change our approach. We just try to keep our routine same as we possibly can. We have the noise going like crazy in practice."
How is the offensive line more cohesive?
"I think we're making great strides. I was really proud of Herb Hand. We do conference calls throughout the year. This week it was his turn. Tough to get up and I thought he handled it extremely well. Took complete responsibility, didn't make excuses. Experience counts, not just the amount of plays that they've played but collectively. I think we're making good strides. We're heading in the right direction."
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