Penn State Head Football Coach James Franklin was all over the field during his regular Thursday night radio show. He talked about the military appreciation, recruiting, keeping Christian Hackenberg healthy (eat broccoli), his favorite NFL team -- and even Saturday's game against Temple. Here are some of the highlights:
On military appreciation day:
"First of all let me thank all of the season ticket holders and other people that made a donation this week. We bought 6,000 tickets as a fan base and community to give to veterans and current military members. It's awesome that they're able to come and be recognized. We've gotten better at this as a country of not taking for granted every single day the freedoms we're granted by these people. I love the videos where ESPN brings the family out and they're talking about how much they miss them and they turn around and here comes mom or dad running, and I get teared up. My dad was in the Air Force, so I've got a little bit of understanding about the military. I think it's awesome that Penn State is doing this."
"I've been really proud of him, the way he's handled it. Early in the year you have in your mind the way the season's gonna play out. The running game wasn't like we wanted it and he handled it really well. We had a meeting and I said stick with it, it's gonna break open. His run's an example that the game isn't always gonna be 6 yards, 6 yards. It's gonna be a 3-yard run here, 2-yard run and the big one."
How have relationships you've made help you with recruiting kids?
"That's a great question. When I coached at Idaho State, not so much. Being back home has been huge. Being at Maryland for eight years, all the high school coaches there are my buddies. Playing at a state teachers' college that emphasized physical eduction, all my buddies are high school coaches throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It's not recruiting. It's driving around and seeing all my buddies. And I can sell Penn State. What's great is, when I leave a lot of those coaches can say, 'I know that guy. You can trust him.'"
On redzone issues:
"Last week I don't feel like it was red zone that was the problem. It was goal-line. You should be able to punch it in. You have to score with your man, drive that guy into the goal. We didn't do a great job of that and that was a big swing in the game. Speaking to red zone specifically, it's being able to run the ball. Be physical, be able to enforce your will on your opponent and be able to pound people. It'll set up the play action and you go from there."
When do you anticipate full scholarships to 85?
"We have the ability, technically to get to 85 this year. I don't think that's going to happen. I think it's going to take us another season to get back whole. We're playing with 46 scholarship players right now if you take the redshirt guys out of there. Even when we get to 85, our team is going to be mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores. We'll still have a big hole in our junior and senior classes. We're going to be really young. We only have nine seniors this year, only one on offense. When Penn State was really rolling, you probably had classes of 25 or 30 seniors that were having a huge impact. That's what we've got to get back to."
On wideouts blocking:
"We made a little bit of an adjustment last week. In the first part of the season we were going to dominate the corners and let the running backs get by the safeties. That wasn't working, so we went to blocking the safeties. We also made more people miss and broke more tackles last week than we had been."
How do you keep Christian Hackenberg from getting hurt? (Question from a second grade student)
"Eat his broccoli and his carrots. Drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and listen to his mom. You should follow the same instructions. He spent a lot of time in the offseason exercising, it's been great from a flexibility and durability standpoint. He's also taken care of his body. Are you getting enough rest, is nutrition right, are you getting in cold tubs after games and making it part of your routine? All those things are important."
Temple's defense has 25 turnovers including 17 fumble recoveries. What do you see that causes that?
"I've never heard of 17 fumble recoveries. And I think there's been 17 fumbles. They've recovered every single one. That shows you how well they're running to the ball. The other thing that's amazing is they have nine non-offensive touchdowns this year. They're more confident in their system this year and have an elite player at every level -- line, linebacker, secondary. Success breeds confidence, which breeds more success."
Favorite NFL team?
"I love a combination. I call them the Steagles. Which are the Eagles and the Steelers. I'm going to give a real political answer. I'm a hometown guy. I was a Sixers, Eagles, Flyers, Phillies guy. I believe you support your hometown team. I have some connections in Pittsburgh as well. Both of those franchises have been great for us. We visited Steelers this year and this summer we're going to visit the Eagles."
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