Five takeaways from James Franklin’s weekly press conference:
1. “I don’t know why, …”: It took a jolt to move Ohio State off the top of Tuesday’s agenda. Quarterback Sean Clifford provided it when he revealed that he had disengaged from social media after receiving death threats in the wake of Penn State’s loss to Minnesota.
"It's kind of sad to say, but you know how some fans get," Clifford said. "It gets a little crazy. I was kind of sick and tired of getting death threats and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages."
“You see a lot of behaviors in our society now that we accept that I don't know why we're accepting,’’ said Franklin, who admitted he was sending a message when he made a point to thank, “our loyal, positive fans,’’ after last week’s defeat of Indiana
“You see some things from a violence perspective. You see some things that people in positions, how they're conducting themselves. It's just concerning.
“I'm not sure why we accept it or why we think it's okay. Whether you've had 14 Budweisers or not, I don't see why it's okay or acceptable.’’
When given Clifford’s news Tuesday, Justin Fields, the Ohio State QB, said, “It blows my mind, … I’m at a loss for words.’’
2. Roster update: Wide receiver/kick returner K. J. Hamler was injured during the Indiana game, and another key offensive weapon, RB Noah Cain, has missed the last two weeks with an injury.
On Hamler’s availability Saturday, Franklin said, “There's medical policies and procedures that we go through. We have to go through a series of steps and things like that.
“But we were hopeful after the game. I still remain hopeful. Those decisions I don't make. I won't make them now and I never have since I've been at Penn State.”
Hopeful is also an operative word in Cain’s case.
“We could have played him last week,,’’ Franklin said. “Obviously every week that goes by that he doesn't play, the likelihood and the chances of him being closer to 100%, happen. Yeah, we're hopeful.’’
Franklin said Cain being a true freshman factors in.
“If Noah Cain was a returning starter in year three, you may let him go without practicing all week because the amount of football he's played,’’ he said.
3. The Buckeyes: Franklin’s history with Ohio State includes a double-overtime loss, an upset upset win, and one-point losses the last two years.
Even by Buckeye standards, this year is different. Ohio State is ranked first in the country by most advanced metrics, and leads the country in offensive and defensive efficiency. Is closest game was in August, 45-21 over Florida Atlantic. It was 35-6 at the end of the third quarter.
“The most talented roster we've watched on tape definitely this year, maybe since we've been here,’’ Franklin said.
“It's going to be a great challenge. We've played them probably as well as anybody over that period of time. Obviously not good enough. We've got to take the next step.’’
4. A passing thing?: Penn State’s pass defense has been lit up for 710 yards the past two weeks. Is it a trend or individual, fixable mistakes?
“A trend is the same mistakes showing up again and again, and not a completed pass,’’ said Franklin, who added that both Minnesota and Indiana made some outstanding, high-degree-of-difficulty throws and catches.
“You live with that. You shouldn't overreact to that. You shouldn't freak out. Is this a trend when we go back and look at it? I wouldn't necessarily say that's the case. We've made some mistakes that we can't make. We've played good enough opponents that they've taken advantage of it.’’
5. Awards season: Finalists for the Burlsworth Award, given to the country’s top current or former walk-on player, were announced Monday. Penn State MLB Jan Johnson, seemingly overqualified, wasn’t one of them.
Eight finalists for the John Mackey Award, given the nation’s top tight end were announced last week. Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, for whom overqualified seems an understatement, wasn’t one of them.
What’s going on?
“I can't imagine that there's a former walk-on in the country that has as interesting and as unique of a story as Jan Johnson and as successful of a story as Jan Johnson,’’ Franklin said.
“I can't imagine there's eight tight ends in the country that people would choose ahead of Pat Freiermuth. Could there be a couple? Okay, I can live with that. But eight? No.’’