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‘It’s Always On Me’: James Franklin Takes Responsibility For Ohio State Loss

Following Penn State football’s loss to Ohio State, James Franklin spent a lot of time deflecting. According to him, his players didn’t execute, his wide receivers couldn’t create separation, and the offensive play calling could’ve been better. Not once did Franklin admit to making any mistakes.

After Franklin headed back to the locker room, 19-year-old Drew Allar stepped up on stage and, in between tears, said he “sucked” and shouldered the blame for the offense’s struggles.

While Allar had a bad game, his coaching staff didn’t set him up for success. That falls on Franklin, who finally addressed his role in the loss at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

“Ultimately, it’s always on me when things don’t go well,” Franklin said. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is for me to take responsibility and do everything within my power to get it fixed.”

A lot of things didn’t go well on Saturday as the Nittany Lions found they have real problems to address on the offensive side of the ball.

One such issue is the running back room. Franklin has been preaching that running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen would eventually get going and find their groove to return to the level of play they had last year. Over half the season has passed and the running backs still haven’t found that groove. For a brief moment, however, it looked like Singleton had.

Early on in the contest with Ohio State, Singleton broke away for a gain of 20 yards, his longest run of the season. Singleton followed up the 20-yard gain with a 16-yard gain on the very next play. Those two back-to-back plays were the only rushing plays of over 10 yards as Singleton got the ball just seven more times for 12 extra yards.

Even though Penn State’s coaching staff abandoned the run game and asked Allar to throw the ball 42 times Saturday, Franklin says it wasn’t the run-to-pass ratio that had the biggest impact on the team’s offensive woes.

“I thought after the game that those guys should’ve gotten more touches,” Franklin said of his running backs. “When you keep going three-and-out, that’s an issue, you just don’t have enough touches.”

Penn State was an abysmal 1-16 on third downs Saturday, with the one conversion coming on the game’s last drive with less than a minute left. In all, the Nittany Lions had five three-and-outs on 14 total drives.

While the reason for the conversion rate is a mixture of many factors, this wasn’t a game plan that the Nittany Lions had previously utilized. Franklin put the game on the shoulders of his young quarterback and an underdeveloped receiving corps instead of sticking to what had been the winning formula throughout the season.

The receivers played a large part in the passing game’s struggles on Saturday after not being called upon to be consistent playmakers for the majority of the season. In fact, Allar had just one completed pass for more than 35 yards before the contest with UMass where he started to attempt more deep throws, albeit with little success.

After that same Homecoming game, Franklin said during his postgame statement that Penn State got the Minutemen offense out of its rhythm and away from its identity, which played a large role in the win. This week, Ohio State coach Ryan Day could’ve said the same thing about the Nittany Lions.

Franklin first used the term identity to illustrate the fact that his team wasn’t going to switch up the playcalling in order to start taking deep shots down the field against Ohio State. On Tuesday, Franklin offered a different definition.

“I thought our identity was staying on schedule, converting on third downs, and then either converting on third downs or going for it on fourth down situations,” Franklin said. “I feel like that had been our identity for the season.”

No matter the game plan that the Nittany Lions put forth, Franklin knows that it comes down to him to control the direction of said game plan. If the team is getting too conservative, Franklin says he’ll get on the headset and recommend a deep shot. If the team strays from an aspect of the game Franklin wants to see, he’ll let his staff know that, too. Even if it took Franklin a few days to admit, Saturday’s offensive no-show is somewhat on him.

Now, the Nittany Lions have to pivot and prepare for a matchup with Indiana in Beaver Stadium on Saturday. After such an emotionally draining game, that may be easier said than done.

“You know how hard we work and how much we invest, and that’s the players and the staff and that’s all of us,” Franklin said. “It’s tough, but what we have to do is we have to move on and learn from it and get back to stacking days and finding ways to get wins because I also believe that we’ve got to make sure that this loss doesn’t get us twice.”

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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