Presser Bullets: Penn State's James Franklin Previews Primetime Matchup with No. 2 Ohio State

By D.J. Byrnes on October 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm
James Franklin meets with assembled media.

Penn State and its fans will try to white out No. 2 Ohio State when the Buckeyes roll into Happy Valley Saturday night. Penn State was off last weekend after beating Maryland in Beaver Stadium, 38-14, on Oct. 8.

Standing at 18-14 in two and a half years at Penn State, head coach James Franklin met with assembled media to preview his team's upcoming primetime matchup.

  • "We're going to need fans. We're going to need alumni. ... We're going to need the toughest environment in college football this weekend."
  • "[Ohio State] is as talented at every position as anyone in the country." Offensive line and J.T. Barrett are key cogs in the run game. 
  • "I can't believe I'm saying this again, but they've got another Bosa," Franklin said when noting Ohio State's defensive line depth.
  • "Not a lot of value in the [Wisconsin] tape," due to differing styles of play between PSU and the Badgers. "The film isn't overly valuable to our offense. When they're in 2-2 personnel with two tight ends and running backs and one receiver... none of those formations translate well for us."
  • Punter Blake Gillikin isn't expected back after injury against Maryland.
  • "There's a chance" Penn State will get back their three injured linebackers (Jason Cabinda, Brandon Bell and Jake Cooper), but they didn't practice last week. Cabinda and Bell have been out for awhile and have rust to shake off.
  • On the effect white out games have on recruiting: "I don't know. I think if you talk to our players, a lot of guys on our team were at Penn State for a white out [as recruits]. ... I think it has a factor." Later added, "A white out exemplifies what this place is all about." Mike Gesicki is one such recruit who attended a white out and signed with PSU.
  • "They know this is a big game," Franklin said of his team. "We don't need to tell them that." His efforts will be making sure his team "doesn't peak too early in the week," but he doesn't change up their preparation from game-to-game.
  • On defenses being able to slow down J.T. Barrett: "It seems like he's been playing there forever, it really has. He's very poised. He has a lot of talent around him. He has a great offensive line. ... He's a guy that can beat you in so many ways. He can beat you with his experience; he can beat you with his accuracy and decision making, and he can beat you with his legs. ... Add those things together, and they're more valuable [at quarterback] than any other position on the field."
  • Where Wisconsin film could help Penn State preparation is third-down situations. 
  • "[Ohio State's] defense is playing so well, it keeps opponents low scoring and allows them to play their traditional offense. ... They're playing very complimentary football right now."
  • DT Kevin Givens is listed behind Curtis Cothran on the depth chart for the first time this season. Franklin, however, will continue to rotate the two. Cothran missed the first half of the Maryland game after a targeting call.
  • J.T. Barrett is "a large part" of Ohio State's rushing offense. He can beat them on designed runs and scramble. He is strong and can break arm tackles. How Ohio State uses him in its rushing attack is "purposeful."
  • Chasz Wright has seen time at offensive tackle and guard, but Franklin doesn't know if "we can bump him back and forth between tackle and guard all week. Wright will be at tackle this week in practice, but could move to guard in a bind.
  • On relationship with Urban Meyer: "I know Urban. I've known him for a number of years. ... I've vacationed with him and his wife [at a Nike head coaches retreat]."
  • QB Trace McSorley needs to continue threatening teams with his legs, whether scrambles or designed runs. "The offensive line will be challenged this week," Franklin noted. "No doubt about that."
  • Penn State will vary the cadence due to experience of his offensive line. "I think that will be an advantage for us."
  • On comparing the 2015 Ohio State team with the 2016: "They've recruited so well. If you look, they're playing true freshmen. And they've been able to keep this thing rolling ... And when you have a returning starter at quarterback, they've leaned on him, especially early in the year."
  • Keeping the crowd in the game against Ohio State "will be very important."
  • "We're one of the most disciplined teams in the country when it comes to penalties. We need to continue that."
  • "We've done a pretty good job at [limiting explosive plays], and we need to build on that."

No. 2 Ohio State at Penn State kicks off Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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