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Pleased with Practice, Franklin Talks Injuries, NCAA

An optimistic James Franklin met with the media following practice Wednesday evening to discuss the Nittany Lions before they take on Temple this Saturday.

“It’s been a good week of practice,” he said.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Franklin provided updates on several injured Penn Staters. He said tackle Donovan Smith practiced Wednesday, “which was awesome.” Smith hasn’t played in the two games that followed his apparent leg injury on a Christian Hackenberg touchdown pass during Penn State’s loss to Ohio State. The first-year coach played it pretty close to the collar, as he usually does when speaking about injuries, saying Smith’s return on Saturday is day-to-day, “depending on the feedback of the doctors and trainers.”

   “The fact that he was our one guy [on the offensive line] before the season started with starting experience…there’s no doubt you can’t replace his talent       and experience,” said Franklin. “With him back, there’s less moving around.”

  • According to Franklin, Ryan Keiser is still in the hospital after fracturing his rib in practice that led to a torn bowel. Franklin said it would be too “aggressive” to expect him to be on the sideline to support his team on Saturday. He is hoping, however, that Keiser will be out of the hospital by the weekend.
  • Franklin said he sees Zach Zwinak, the other Nittany Lion starter sidelined for the year, every day in the training facilities. “I see him every day, give him a hug, give him a pat on his belly,” said Franklin.
  • Guard Miles Dieffenbach, who appeared in his first game of the season last weekend at Indiana, is all cleared to play as much as he can, said Franklin.”It’s a question of how much is he ready to play,” said Franklin. “He hasn’t lifted, he hasn’t done a lot of things. But he has been cleared to go.”
  • In regards to the NCAA emails that were released beginning last week, Franklin declined to offer any substantive response. He said he was only concerned about emails from Temple, and, to the best of his knowledge, he hadn’t received any. “That’s above my paygrade,” Franklin added. “I have to focus on Temple.”
  • Franklin didn’t offer much in terms of scouting Temple, but did suggest that dual-threat quarterback P.J. Walker may present a challenge. “He’s got a strong arm, he can make plays with his feet,” Franklin said. “That’s a headache…It’s difficult.” But Franklin was quick to note that the Nittany Lions have faced dual-threat quarterbacks the past several weeks, and have performed well.
  • Daniel Pasquariello provided signs of hope for Penn State’s punting game, but Franklin said it’s still an area of concern. “You have to shift the focus to the coverage team,” said Franklin, insinuating that the tacklers need to make up for poor punts. “[Pasquariello and fellow punter Chris Gulla] had a great camp, but there’s a difference between having a great camp and shifting that to the game.”
  • Franklin did not mention Hackenberg during his 13-minute briefing, and didn’t make many comments about other offensive skilled players. He did say, however, that he would like to see running back Bill Belton lower his shoulder more often and accept tough three-yard gains, instead of excessively cutting in effort to turn a guaranteed pickup into a big play.

   “Sometimes we look for nine yards, and turn a three-yard run into a one-yard run,” said Franklin. “Bill is a make you miss guy, but you got to … lower      your shoulder, grind out a three-yard run. We need to do a better job with that.”

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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