What James Franklin said after Penn State lost to Nebraska, starts 0-4
Penn State lost yet again Saturday to Nebraska 30-23, and it became the Nittany Lions’ fourth loss of the season.
PSU was ranked preseason No. 8 in the nation, and the struggles have continued to mount for James Franklin’s team. Penn State was down 27-6 at halftime, but had a second-half surge to get the game close. However, Penn State came up short and suffered the loss.
James Franklin spoke to the media following the loss to Nebraska:
Give Nebraska a lot of credit. I thought they played a consistent game for four quarters, which isn’t what we did. We came out, got down by 21 in the first half. Turnovers continue to be a problem. Not only turnovers, but turnovers for touchdowns. Red Zone, red zone touchdowns [were an issue]. We’ve got to be better in the passing game.
I thought we got our running game going today. Not only the traditional running game with the running backs, but also with the quarterback. But again, the turnovers hurt us. I thought Will did some really good things but we’ve got to be more detailed in the passing game and we’ve got to be better in red zone offense. Some of those balls, we’ve just got to put them in a position where our guys have a chance to go get it. The story is the turnovers — continues to be an issue for us and we’ve got to get it resolved quickly. I thought what we did in the second half was obviously good, and we’ve got to build on that. So a lot of work to do.
On the QB situation
We’re not going to name a starting quarterback right after a game before discussing it as a staff, and before evaluating the tape, watching the tape and all those types of things. Where we were at in that game, again with turnovers, and with what’s going on this season so far, we had to make that change. And I thought Will did some really good things coming in for us. Obviously, that’ll be a discussion all week long and I know we’ll talk about it a little later in the week.
What went wrong with the red zone possessions?
Red zone offense is about running the ball and being detailed in the passing game. All the windows are shrunk down, so it magnifies if you’re good in the red zone and passing offense, and it magnifies if you’ve got some things to work on. And we just didn’t make enough plays.
We didn’t put the ball in a position where our guy had a legitimate chance to get it or you’re gonna get the PI (pass interference). So we’ve got to clean those things up. We were able to move the ball today, but there were too many times in the red zone where we didn’t come away with points.
Thoughts on the run game
I thought, again, with the traditional running game, we were able to get that going today. We moved Will Fries to [right] guard and had Caeden [Wallace] at [right] tackle, and I thought that helped us. I thought that helped us, I think we can build on that.
I thought those young guys — Keyvone Lee, Caziah Holmes — both did some good things. Devyn Ford did some good things, and then obviously Will was able to make some plays with his legs. We were more physical up front, we were more consistent up front. You look at the stats, the stats kind of tell a different story than how the game came out. Again, because of the turnovers.
Why the second half struggles?
I think, early on, it was the turnovers and the lack of the running game. But in my opinion, it’s turnovers. It’s hard to get into a rhythm, it’s hard to get into a groove, it’s hard to call [plays] when you don’t have the confidence that you’re not going to turn the ball over.
So the running game is going to help us. We need to continue to detail the passing game.
On surrendering second half drives
If you look back at us in general, opening drives is an area that we’ve needed to get better. That’s something that me and [defensive coordinator Brent Pry] talked about in the offseason. Opening drives and people having a script against us.
We’ve typically done that really since we’ve been here, but we had been able to kind of get everybody adjusted, calmed down, get an idea of what they’re trying to do, and go from there. But obviously this year it’s made things even even more challenging.
I thought today, we were able to get some sacks in the second half and some turnovers, which is another area that we haven’t done a good enough job. We haven’t been creating big plays on the defensive side of the ball, either, with the turnovers. So not only do you have the offense turning the ball over, but it’s not getting enough of them on defense. It’s not a winning combination.
Comparing slow starts over the years
I guess it’s hard for me to say that because for the last four years we’ve been pretty successful. This year, obviously we’re not making enough plays and we’re not playing winning football when it comes to turnovers. And it’s been challenging to overcome. But we’ve played a winning brand of football here for four years.
On Brent Pry as a defensive coordinator
All of us — the head coach and every assistant, every person in the program — obviously we’re not doing a good enough job. That’s all of us, and it starts with me. That starts with me. In every single area [we] can be better, and we’ve all got to do our jobs. But I also know that, not only the last seven years here at Penn State but over the last 10 years [working with Pry], we’ve played pretty good defense around here.
The difference in this team and others at Penn State
Obviously we’re not tackling well enough. We’re not consistent in our tackling. I do know that over the last four years that’s always been a conversation — that we want to tackle better. But obviously this year with the results, it magnifies everything. All of your issues are magnified, there’s no doubt about it.
I think the biggest thing for us, in my opinion, defensively is getting people off schedule and creating turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. Tackles for losses and sacks and things like that, which we have not been able to do. But, yeah, we’re not tackling well, and that’s been a discussion from the beginning of the season until now.
Penalties just a lack of discipline?
I don’ know if I would say that about the one. The one (Brandon Smith personal foul) was a tackle. A lot of times I feel like things are late, and I’m our worst critic. I didn’t necessarily feel that way on that . I thought that’s one of those that they wouldn’t call it. It wasn’t to me blatant where it can be a discipline issue.
The other one (CJ Thorpe unnecessary roughness) we’ve got to get corrected. All the little extra stuff after every single play, that’s gotta get corrected. We’ve been talking about it for three years.