Franklin Talks Injuries, Triple Option At Weekly Press Conference
After defeating San Diego State last week in Happy Valley, James Franklin addressed the media today concerning some issues and topics moving forward. Here are some highlights from the press conference.
With the injury bug hitting Penn State hard on Saturday, injuries were a big topic heading into this week.
“From everything I know at this point, none of them are season-ending injuries,” Franklin said. “I anticipate getting them all back. Whether it’s this week or next week, we’ll see how the week goes.” This comes as especially good news considering Akeel Lynch, who was helped off the field due to a left leg injury, looked as if he could miss an extended period of time.
“This is why development of the guys in your program and recruiting is so important, so you have the depth to handle some of these issues,” Franklin continued. After Saquon Barkley went down with a high ankle sprain, Mark Allen and Nick Scott had opportunities to prove themselves, and James Franklin was admittedly impressed. “It was exciting to see Mark Allen come in and touch the ball and score a touchdown on his first touch… Obviously they were behind those other two guys on the depth chart for a reason, but that also doesn’t mean that we don’t have tremendous faith in them.”
Mark Allen, who filled in for the injured Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley, proved he was a force to be reckoned with on Saturday, and Coach Franklin praised him in the press conference. “Mark is more of our slash, make you miss type of running back. He’s very explosive, very confident,” Franklin said. “[He] has a lot of fun in practice challenging guys. [He] really, really, really enjoys it. Loves the game of football. Loves being a part of the team.”
Though the extent of how serious Lynch and Barkley’s injuries are has not been disclosed, Franklin will put Allen as the first string running back in practice. With a third string running back now a starter, most people would be worried to see if the running game lacked anything this week. However, Coach Franklin said, “I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.”
Mike Gesicki Progress
Mike Gesicki has been a work in progress all year for Penn State at tight end. Franklin addressed him on Tuesday, saying, “I think he’s playing more physical. I got after him on Saturday during the game at one point where I actually went back and watched the tape. Overall, I thought he played more physical. He’s embracing that role much more than he did last year. He’s had some opportunities to make some plays for us this year.” Franklin also addressed the work that Gesicki has put in this season and through the offseason. “I think he’s progressing. Mike is a really, really good athlete. He’ still learning how to be a tight end. He’s really worked hard in the offseason in terms of his body and his strength.”
Another important topic that came out of the conference was how Penn State plans to stop the triple option offense run by Army West Point. The triple option is not a common offensive scheme, but it is one that can tire a defense quickly if it cannot stop it. “You only see it once every couple of years,” Franklin said.
Even though the triple option offense is rare, Coach Franklin addressed a critical advantage the Nittany Lions have. “One of the advantages I think we have, our co-defensive coordinator, Brent Pry, worked with this head coach at Georgia Southern, and Brent was the defensive coordinator that defended this type of offense every single day in practice. We also played Army when we were at our last institution (Vanderbilt).”
Coach Franklin is remaining optimistic about the defense being able to stop the triple option of Army West Point. He hopes the previous contests with Army West Point will serve his team well this time around.
Franklin also praised the students of Army West Point for their sacrifice and dedication. “You’re talking about a group of young men and women at the service academy that are willing to die for something that they believe in. Now you take those same people and you put them on a team. It’s that type of commitment, that type of sacrifice. You better be ready for a battle.”