James Franklin Praises Ohio State’s Depth, Confidence
James Franklin caught up with the media after yesterday’s practice, just three days before the No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1) roll into Beaver Stadium.
Fielding his first question about the upcoming opponent, Franklin made no effort to mask the fact that the Buckeyes have a strong football team. “They’re good,” he said. “Ohio State is a very good program, they’re playing well, they’re playing with confidence.”
After a Week 2 slip-up against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have cruised to four straight wins, eclipsing 50 points in all of those outings. Quarterback J.T. Barrett has 17 touchdowns in that span. “It’s the best team from a talent and depth standpoint that we’ve seen this year,” said Franklin.
That much is clear.
The Buckeyes also boast one of the country’s best defensive lines, which, unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, matches up directly across from Penn State’s undersized, struggling, and heavily criticized offensive line. Franklin again suggested his front five was making progress, gaining confidence, and becoming more fundamentally sound. The first-year coach has put forth similar statements numerous time in the past two weeks.
“It’s business as usual,” Franklin said regarding preparation for Ohio State’s defensive line. “You watch the film, [the linemen] watch the film… It’s not like we’re going to reinvent the wheel.”
Penn State senior guard Miles Dieffenbach, who has been sidelined this year with a torn ACL, is likely still several weeks from returning. At practice on Wednesday, he was taking limited reps, at times lined up as a fullback. Franklin praised Dieffenbach’s work ethic, suggesting he often stays after practice to work with defensive tackle Anthony Zettel.
“There’s a difference between your approach to treatment and your approach to the weight room, and actually being out on the field again with bodies flying around your legs,” said Franklin. “There’s a mental aspect out there as well. He hasn’t had the mental memory.”
Behind the wary offensive line stands Christian Hackenberg, who’s been consistently brought to the ground and forced out of the pocket en route to five touchdowns and seven interceptions through six games.
In an effort to alleviate some of these issues, Franklin said that offensive coordinator John Donovan will “probably” be on the sideline Saturday night, instead of at his normal perch in the booth. After numerous conversations with Donovan throughout the week, Franklin concluded Hackenberg is more comfortable this way.
“Hack as a freshman and [Bill O’Brien] calling the plays, that’s something he’s comfortable with, having someone down there with him, making adjustments and things like that on the sideline,” he said. “It’s different from how we’ve done things in the past, but it has to do with what Hack feels comfortable with.”