Five takeaways from James Franklin’s weekly press conference:
1. Week nine (and ten). Penn State has apparently not had any players opt out of the rest of the season, whether it ends with Saturday’s Big Ten “Champions Week,’’ game with Illinois or a bowl game.
Franklin would have liked to know earlier than Sunday morning that it was indeed going to be Illinois Saturday, and that the game would be at Beaver Stadium.
“It would have been helpful if that meeting, and those decisions, were made Saturday night, to get the coaches going on game plans and to help the players manage and the parents make plans,’’ he said.
Referring to bowl possibilities, he added, “After the game, we’ll have another discussion.’’
2. In Lovie’s absence. Illinois fired head coach Lovie Smith Sunday.
Franklin pointed out that it’s “a little troubling that out of 130 (FBS) programs, there’s only, I think, 14 African-American head coaches and three of them got let go this year.’’
It won’t be the first time Franklin has coached against a team that had just lost its head coach.
“It can confer some energy,’’ he said. “We have to be ready for everything, … for them going for it more in fourth down. Maybe more pressure, more cover zero, … fake punts, maybe onsides kicks to open the game. We have to be ready for that type of game.’’
3. O-line making progress. Penn State allowed no sacks last week and only two the previous week. Prior to that, it had been last in the Big Ten in sacks allowed, and the offensive line dominated Rutgers two weeks back.
Franklin said new OL coach Phil Trautwein’s connection to the players is starting to pay off.
“He’s kind of a self-made man,’’ Franklin said of Trautwein, a perceived overachiever who spent four years in the NFL. “I think with his story and his experience and, in some ways, his age (34), he relates really well.’’
4. Self-scouting. Franklin was asked what he’s learned about himself in 2020.
“I’ve probably learned more about myself this year, personally and professionally, than at any point in my 48 years on this planet,’’ he said.
“I’ve had professional challenges in my career, personal challenges before in my life. But never really both at the same time.’’
He mentioned the core values he always talks about. He talked about keeping everyone in the program healthy and safe, and figuring out how to get wins on the field. Ultimately, he came back to his wife and daughters, still living in Florida to mitigate one of his daughters’ sickle cell disease.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to find a way to get my family back together as soon as possible,’’ he said.
5. And now, the weather. As much as two feet of snow are expected to be dumped on Happy Valley from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning.
“2020, baby,’’ Franklin said. “2020.’’
He recalled spending six hours shoveling so he could get to work after a 30-inch snow dump when he was offensive coordinator at Maryland.
“My wife was just laughing at me the whole time,’’ he said.
He has more of a plan this time.
“We’ve already started talking about it, not only as a staff but with the administration,’’ he said. “We’ll be ready to get the work done. It may start out as a football practice and end up as a snowball fight.’’