James Franklin: Noah Cain Was ‘90%’ Healthy Against Minnesota
Penn State football running back Noah Cain didn’t fully participate in pre-game warmups or play in Saturday’s 31-26 loss to Minnesota, and head coach James Franklin provided an explanation for this at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
According to Franklin, Cain was “90%” healthy after suffering an undisclosed lower-body injury against Michigan State on October 26. The freshman was bumped to the top of Penn State’s depth chart prior to the Minnesota game, and the head coach said last Tuesday that he and John Reid were expected to play.
“Nothing really has changed [with the running back rotation],” Franklin said. “We’ve had some injuries that have changed it, but that’s probably the only thing. Noah could have played, but it didn’t make sense to play a 90% Noah when we had three other guys at 100%.”
Journey Brown, Ricky Slade, and Devyn Ford all played in Saturday’s defeat, but Brown was the first running back to get the lion’s share of carries in a single game this season. He finished the game with 124 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Ford got three touches for nine yards while Slade didn’t register a rushing attempt, but he caught one pass for no gain. The sophomore also hauled in another pass on a two-point conversion attempt that was quickly stuffed by Minnesota.
Brown overtook Cain as the Nittany Lions’ leader in rushing yards by pushing his season total to 421 on 65 carries. The true freshman still leads the team in carries (68) and rushing touchdowns (six).
Penn State made changes to its running back depth chart for the second consecutive week. Brown is back on top of the list, and Ford has passed Slade as the third-string back this week.
Brown, Cain, and Ford all still have the “OR” designation next to their names. Based on that and Franklin’s comments on Tuesday, expect the running back rotation to continue when No. 9 Penn State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) hosts Indiana (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) at noon Saturday. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
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