James Franklin Not Happy With Penn State Football’s Lack Of Discipline Against Michigan State
No. 5 Penn State football did a lot of things well during its 28-7 victory over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium, but the team was undisciplined at times throughout the victory.
The Nittany Lions took a total of nine penalties that cost themselves 104 yards of field position. One of those penalties was a seemingly unnecessary running into the kicker call on sophomore linebacker Jesse Luketa that wiped a KJ Hamler punt return for a touchdown off the board.
In addition to that, three different Penn State players were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the fourth quarter. Ellis Brooks got one after recovering a Jayson Oweh strip-sack, Jaquan Brisker was flagged after his interception later, and Antonio Shelton was ejected for allegedly spitting on a Michigan State player after a play ended.
Shelton owned up to his actions with a public apology on Twitter, but regardless, head coach James Franklin was not happy with his players’ lack of discipline in the second half.
“I’m not happy at all with any of those things. We just had a very direct conversation in the locker room about those things,” Franklin said. “It was an emotional game. I’m not going to make excuses. We’re going to own it all. That’s not who we are, and that’s not who we will be.”
When it comes to discipline and penalties, Penn State got off to a strong start to this season. The team only took three penalties in each of its non-conference games, and it bounced back well by committing four fouls against Purdue after a seven-penalty effort against Maryland.
The team’s match-up with Iowa at Kinnick Stadium featured eight Penn State penalties that cost the team 80 yards — even if some of those calls can be boiled down to John O’Neill being John O’Neill. Franklin’s men were only flagged five times in the 2019 White Out against Michigan, but penalties were once again an issue against Michigan State.
A football team’s game-to-game penalty count might not be the best, most definitive way to assess a team’s discipline. That said, Franklin hangs his hat on his team playing “the right way” — with discipline and poise.
As nine total penalties, three unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, and a player ejection would indicate, the Nittany Lions weren’t disciplined on Saturday night. Franklin candidly addressed this with his players in the locker room after the game.
“The worst thing you can do — and I made this mistake earlier in my career — is go into the locker room and be upset after a tough win or loss,” Franklin said. “You don’t handle things well. It was addressed very clear, very direct. We’ve played a disciplined style of football around here, and I take a lot of pride in the 700,000 fans and alumni we represent.”
Penn State will have a bye week to address some of its penalty problems before heading to the Twin Cities to take on No. 13 Minnesota at noon on November 9. That game will be broadcast on ABC.
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