‘Joey Julius Is Our Guy’: James Franklin Press Conference Recap
After a five-game home stand in which the Nittany Lions were victorious in each game, Penn State will leave the state for the first time this season to travel to Columbus for a primetime showdown with the nation’s top team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Franklin addressed both the past few games, and this weekend’s game, at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. Here are some highlights.
Joey Julius will likely start at kicker on Saturday
Arguably the biggest takeaway from the press conference was that the team will be sticking with fan-favorite Joey Julius at kicker for this week’s game. Julius missed two extra points in Saturday’s 29-7 win over Indiana, and was subsequently replaced for the rest of the game by Tyler Davis, who made an extra point and a 30-yard field goal.
“Joey is our guy,” said Franklin. “It’ll be a competition like it is every week, but we’re not in the business of, if a guy has a rough day or makes some mistakes, of changing our plan or our mind. Joey is our guy. He’s done a great job all offseason, he’s worked really, really hard. He’s grown so much in the last year that he’s been in the program. Now he’s gonna have to come out and show it every single day in practice this week. We’ll make a decision later in the week. But again, if we were playing today, Joey would be our guy.”
Penn State is ready for an aggressive Ohio State secondary…
Ohio State is ranked in the top-10 nationally in passing defense — averaging less than 150 yards per game allowed — thanks to standout play from their corners Eli Apple and Tyvis Powell, who have combined for three interceptions and 30 tackles. Penn State, however, has noticed something that may help on Saturday.
“How they play defensively, it’s almost like their corners have no responsibility whatsoever in the run [defense],” Franklin said. “They basically play ‘press man’ almost all the time, and they lock those guys down. And those guys are cover guys, they’re big, long, physical guys that can really run. They do a really good job eliminating the big plays from that perspective. But that’s something that we need to look at and try to take advantage of, there’s no doubt about it.”
…but knows it’s in for a fight against a deep Buckeyes roster
Ohio State is No. 1 in the country for a reason. Despite allowing many of their games to be pretty close, the Buckeyes have outscored 132-47 in the second half of their six games. Penn State, on the other hand, has slowed down in the second half, being outscored 58-54 in the second half, and 31-13 in the third quarters of its six games. Franklin says a large part of the Buckeyes’ success comes from being such a deep and talented team, and that they’re able to wear opponents down by the end of the game.
“I think that’s a great example of their depth and their talent,” said Franklin, when told the second-half scoring statistics of Ohio State’s offense. “They wear people down. People are able to sustain them, and then over time, their good players, their depth, their size wears people down. There have been a lot of times, in my past, where you have a 1-A team playing a 1-AA [FCS] team. A lot of those 1-AA teams can be competitive for a half, but you start to wear people down. That’s what you see in places like Ohio State. It’s obviously something that we’re aware of…and we need to continue to build momentum and make plays. Right now our defense, for the last couple years in the time that I’ve been with this defensive staff, they’ve been able to do that.”
“If you look at Ohio State, a lot of their scoring in the second half is big plays. Their tailback [Ezekiel Elliott], it seems like every game he has two or three runs of 60 yards or more. So, being able to stop the big plays is something really important. That’s something our defense has done a good job of, and it’s going to be really important this week. They’re fast! They’re fast at wideout and at running back, and they’re big and physical on the offensive line.”
No matter the result, this game will tell a lot about the Nittany Lions
Franklin has talked all season long about masking his team’s weaknesses and playing to its strengths, and he said that the team has gotten better at it each week. This weekend’s game however, no matter how you put it, will help define the 2015 Nittany Lions football team.
“I think we’ll learn a lot this week,” Franklin said. “I think we’re resilient, we’ve found ways to be successful each week, different ways of doing it. We’re getting better. Like every team in the country, we’re finding ways to hide some of our weaknesses and play to your strengths, and we’re doing a better job of that each week. Five games in a row at home, now going on the road to Ohio State, my first time ever going there, and facing that type of adversity, that type of environment, is going to be a challenge. This Saturday will be a real challenge, but the way we look at it is it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
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