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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 11, 2014
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Real quick, I'd like to, like always, thank everybody for coming and then summarize the Indiana game.¬† You look at that game, turnover battle, we were even.¬† The penalty battle we won.¬† Explosive plays, we were explosive again on offense, and we stopped explosive plays on defense, which was big.¬† That's really kind of who they've been.¬† They weren't an efficient offense.¬† They were an explosive offense, so that was big that we were able to stop that.
Obviously, moving forward we're going to have to protect the ball better on offense.¬† We've got to create more turnovers on defense.¬† We're playing a bunch of young guys.¬† I'm really pleased with that.¬† I think we have nine true freshmen playing and making a big impact in the game as well as five red‑shirt freshmen.¬† So really pleased with the impact that those young guys are making.
On to the Temple game.¬† First of all, it's Veterans Day, so want to thank all the veterans out there for allowing us to have the freedoms and the opportunities that we have every single day.¬† I think a lot of times it's taken for granted.¬† My dad was in the Air Force and stationed in Manchester, England and met my mom.¬† So I have a little bit of an understanding of the type of commitment that they make, but I don't think we're appreciative enough day‑in and day‑out for the sacrifices and the commitment made.
Love the fact that the Penn State community with Military Appreciation Day has donated over 6,000 tickets to active‑duty and veteran military personnel and their families for the Seats for Soldiers Program, which is great.¬† And I also wanted to make a plug for the Stuff a Bus for Thanksgiving that will happen on Saturday.¬† So if everybody could bring a canned good for feeding the hungry, that would be awesome as well.¬† So did want to mention that.
Obviously, Matt Rhule knows this place really well.¬† He was a Penn State grad.¬† Second year head coach at Temple.¬† They're coming in with 12 of 22 starters.¬† On offense, 5 starters, on defense, 7.¬† You look at comparing statistics, turnover margin, they have the advantage.¬† They're doing unbelievable job creating turnovers.¬† They've got 25 turnovers.¬† I've never heard of 17 recovered fumbles.¬† I've never heard of that before.¬† They have six defensive touchdowns, and they have three special teams touchdowns.¬† So they have nine, non‑offensive touchdowns this year, which is an impressive number.
I think you guys remember me talking a couple weeks ago that we hadn't had‑‑ Penn State hadn't had a defensive touchdown since 2009, I think, before Zettel got his.¬† They have six this year, which is impressive.
The penalty battle, we have the advantage there.¬† Drives‑start average is something we're talking to our guys more and more about, so I thought I would mention that.¬† They have the advantage there.¬† We have to do a better job.¬† Drive‑start deals with special teams, deals with turnovers, deals with a lot of different things that factors into that.¬† That's drive‑start for our offense.¬† That's drive‑start for the defense.
Total offense, we have the advantage.¬† Total defense, we have the advantage, scoring offense they have the advantage.¬† Scoring defense, we have the advantage.
So interesting when you look at the statistics.¬† Defensively, Phil Snow is one of the more experienced coordinators in the country.¬† 38 years of coaching, 24 as a defensive coordinator.¬† Five years in the NFL.¬† They do a great job.¬† They're a 4‑3 defense, but there will be games that they'll come out and play 3‑4.¬† They'll be 4‑3 the first half, and then they'll be 3‑4 the second half.¬† They play a lot of different looks.¬† They play a lot of different coverages.¬† They've improved dramatically from year one to year two.¬† Play hard nose, run to the ball.¬† They're No. 7 in the nation in turnovers gained.¬† No. 1 in the country in fumbles caused.¬† 17 recovered fumbles.¬† They've got eight interceptions.¬† They're number two in the nation in defensive touchdowns.¬† We've talked about that already.
Really impressed.¬† They're No. 7 in the nation in red zone defense, and No. 10 in the nation in scoring defense.¬† So they're playing really well.
You look at it, and they've got a special player at each level.¬† At defensive tackle, Matt Ioannidis, I want to make sure I pronounce that right, Matt Ioannidis, 6'4", 285‑pound junior, has three‑and‑a‑half sacks and wears No. 9 for them.¬† Linebacker, No. 8 Tyler Matakevich is playing extremely well.¬† No. 5 in the nation in solo tackles per game.¬† 137 tackles in 2013, 101 tackles in 2012.¬† So he's had a great career.
Then cornerback, No. 1, Tavon Young, he's got three interceptions on the year.¬† So they've got a guy at each level that's playing at a really high level.¬† On offense, Marcus Satterfield, their offensive coordinator.¬† Five starters returning their tempo offense.¬† You look at their play makers, P.J. Walker, their quarterback is the guy that kind of stands out to you.¬† He can make plays with his feet as well as his arm.
Running back, they've got Jahad Thomas, who is 5'10", 170‑pound guy that can make you miss and take it the distance.¬† Then they've got Kenneth Harper, the big number, No. 4, six foot, 225‑pound that tries to pound you.¬† Then Jalen Fitzpatrick has over 500 yards and five touchdowns this year, their biggest receiver.
On special teams they don't have a coordinator listed, but they play really hard.¬† I've already mentioned that they've got three special teams touchdowns as well as four blocked kicks.¬† So I've been very, very impressed with them.¬† I've been very impressed with them all year long, and looking forward to the opportunity.
I know it's got to be cool for Coach Rhule to come back here as well, being a Penn State grad and also growing up in this community.¬† Got a chance to spend some time with him in the off‑season with camps and clinics and things like that.¬† So looking forward to the game.¬† Open it up to questions.
Q.¬† James, now that you've had time to evaluate the film how did Miles Dieffenbach play, do you expect him to get more playing time in the coming weeks?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, Miles didn't get a lot of reps, but we were able to get his feet wet.¬† Probably could have played him a little bit more, but we'd rather have been cautious on the front end than overly aggressive.¬† I know he wants to have a bigger role this year, this week, and we'll see how he practices and goes from there.
You'd love to be in a position where you get Donovan back and Miles back.¬† Donovan was our only returning starter with any game experience, starting game experience coming into the season.¬† We haven't had him the last couple of weeks.¬† Being able to have him and Miles is exciting just from an experience and leadership standpoint if nothing else.¬† But I thought overall he did some nice things.
Q.¬† James, in all your 20 years as a Coach, have you ever been part of a team like this one that's been in so many close games?¬† I think in 80 or 90 games when issue has kind of been in doubt in the fourth quarter, what's that high wire act been like for you and your staff?¬† What have you learned about your team that's had to kind of perform in this kind of environment every week?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† It's awesome.¬† I love it.¬† I don't know if you guys remember the opening press conference when I got the job and I had this huge afro.¬† That's gone now because of how the games have gone, but it's been fun.¬† I think to me this is what you want to do.¬† You want to find ways to win close games.¬† We were able to do that early in the year.¬† Then we had a couple of games we didn't.¬† Now we're getting back into that again.¬† So I'm pleased with the guys.
Like I said after the game on Saturday, it's the prettiest game I've ever seen because the guys stuck together.¬† Our offense has been unbelievably supportive and appreciative of our defense.¬† Our defense has been unbelievably supportive of our offense, and everybody rallying on special teams.
I thought on Saturday we were able to play a little bit more of a field position game because Daniel Pasquariello I thought punted better, and that's how we needed to play the last probably three or four weeks.¬† So getting that to be a factor in the game I think was really, really important.
So it's been interesting.¬† I sure would love to have a little bit more breathing room in there.¬† But I think these tough games and emotional games build character, and that's why we do this in the first place.
Q.¬† How do you feel Geno Lewis has responded since he had that meeting with him a few weeks ago?¬† Have you seen what you wanted from him during the week as well as on Saturday?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† What was the term you used?¬† You said last week or a couple weeks ago we saw what?
Q.¬† Oh, I'm sorry.¬† How do you feel Geno has responded since he had that meeting with him a few weeks ago?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I feel good.¬† Geno's got a lot of ability.¬† He's got obviously really good hands and leaping ability.¬† What we need to do is we need to be more disciplined with everything we're doing, and that's not just Geno, that's a lot of guys.¬† That's making sure that we're reading the coverages the same way so the quarterback and the receivers are on the same page.¬† It's the depths of our routes.¬† It's the timing.¬† It's knowing when we're hot.¬† It's all the little things that are important.
I think Geno understands that as well as the rest of our guys do.¬† The consistency is the important thing.¬† We've got to make sure what's happening a little bit on offense and really on our team in general is you've got one or two guys per play that aren't consistently doing their job.¬† So it's not just one guy, it's multiple guys.
But I think Geno has been good.¬† I think it's helped that we've got young guys providing depth there with Godwin and Saeed, I think some of the tight ends, Gesicki and some of those guys have been coming on as well, so it's been helpful.
But we need Geno to have a big role in this offense.¬† He has the ability to do it, and we need him to consistently have a big role and make the plays that he's capable of making.
Q.¬† After the Indiana game Christian Hackenberg talked about he wanted to win games to get a bowl game for the seniors.¬† You don't have a lot of seniors on this team, but tell me how they've impacted this group this season?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I would say in a lot of ways maybe even a stronger impact.¬† Don't get me wrong, we'd love to have 30 seniors right now, but when you don't have 30, the few that you have, have to have really strong voices.¬† We've been fortunate to have that.¬† Where it's been magnified is we have some guys that haven't been with us.¬† Not having Keiser in the last couple of weeks, his leadership has been unbelievable, not having Dieffenbach all year long.¬† So I actually think it makes their role even more important than if you had 30 because you can kind of spread the wealth a little bit there.
Q.¬† Your defense has played well.¬† Is there one or two things you could pick out that maybe actually surprised you a little bit at how well they've played or maybe overexceeded even some of your early season expectations?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† To be honest with you, I was pretty confident.¬† I was pretty confident.¬† Again, I've been together with this staff now for four years, so I'm confident in their ability and the things that we've been able to accomplish in the past and that is in all three phases.¬† Then on defense, I said to you guys early on in the spring and in the summer that when you looked out there on the defensive side of the ball, it felt really good, about basically all of our starters and that we had depth.
You look at our two deep on the defensive line, I think you could make the argument it's one of the better in the Big Ten in terms of a two deep.
We're fortunate because where we had to play some young guys, are positions where I think you can afford to do that.¬† In the secondary, Grant Haley's had an impact, Christian Campbell's had an impact, Marcus Allen has had an impact.¬† And I'm hoping that Apke will have an impact.¬† So you're relying on experienced players, but you're relying on them in positions where I think you can get away with it.
Having a two‑deep at defensive line and rotating those guys and keeping them fresh and active I think has been really helpful.¬† Having a special player at the linebacker position Mike Hull, I don't care what the Butkus people think, I can't imagine there is a better linebacker in the country right now than him.¬† And I think he's been a great example for our whole team, and also Nyeem and Bell.¬† He's one of those guys, that we felt like with Keiser, not only does he play at a level, but he makes the guys around him better as well.¬† And to get some reps out of Cabinda and some of the other guys and playing nickel and star and those things has been beneficial for us.
Q.¬† I know you've said many, many, many times that you've prepared the same every week for a game, and the only goal for that week is to go 1‑0 at the end of the week.¬† Given that you're at five wins now and you need six to become bowl eligible, do you think the players knowing this is going to happen, and I think, they do know they need one, do you think it means an extra spark for them in practice?¬† How would you handle that exactly?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Exactly what you started out saying is exactly how we're going to handle it this week.¬† The 1‑0, focus on that.¬† Take it one game at a time.¬† At the end of the year if somebody calls and tells us we have the opportunity to keep playing, we're going to go somewhere, we'll be really excited about it.¬† But right now we're focused on Temple.
Q.¬† I think you said a couple minutes ago, I just want to be clear, are you expecting to have Donovan Smith this week?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Donovan Smith?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I would hope so.¬† Again, we don't know.¬† It's not really our decision.¬† It's up to the medical staff.¬† We were hopeful that there was a possibility that last week.¬† It didn't happen.¬† Obviously the chances and the likelihood go up a little bit.¬† We'll see.
I won't really know that‑‑ I know sometimes you think I'm not being completely honest, but I just don't know.¬† He didn't practice on Sunday, I'll tell you that.¬† We'll see what happens today.¬† We'll see what happens today.¬† He's going to have to get reps in practice to have a chance to play well on Saturday.¬† We want to put him in a position to be successful.¬† So I'm not sure at this point.
Q.¬† What's impressed you most during the summer and preseason camp about Nyeem Wartman's work ethic?¬† And did you notice him at all following Mike Hull's lead?¬† He said that's part of what he did during the summer.
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I didn't really notice that.¬† Nyeem's not really kind of loud, outspoken guy at practice.¬† He just kind of does his job.¬† Where I noticed Nyeem is Nyeem is probably the one linebacker that we've got that really has some lead to him.¬† He's a big, thick, strong guy.¬† When he hits you, you go backwards.¬† So he would make some plays.
Mike Hull would do it because of a combination of traits, his speed and how aggressive he is, and how quickly he makes decisions.¬† He hits you and knocks you back because of all of those traits.¬† Nyeem has those traits as well, but he's 243‑something pounds or something like that.¬† When he hits you, you feel it.¬† You really do.¬† I think obviously him being slightly limited with something on his wrist, getting a little bit more mobility back in that hand I think has been helpful for him as well.
But again, I see him growing.¬† You're not asking him to come in and be the man from day one.¬† He could kind of follow the man in Mike Hull, but also be able to make a name for himself and make some splash plays as well and kind of grow into this role.¬† I see him growing into the role really nicely.¬† We think he's playing at a very, very high level right now and very fortunate that he's here with us on our side.
Q.¬† A couple things about all the freshmen playing and lack of seniors.¬† But you actually have as many true freshmen playing as seniors playing, forget the starters but just on the field.¬† I think even with Miles who played 10 snaps last week, four fifth‑year seniors.¬† In the equality, what kind of challenge does that present when you have that few seniors and bottom‑heavy more freshmen playing?¬† What also benefits going forward is the experience down the road a couple years could really pay off, when this many guys play at a young age more reps than they would if there were a lot of seniors here.
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† That's an interesting statistic and an interesting perspective.¬† Yeah, I don't know if I've ever been around this where you have so few upperclassmen.¬† Someone had mentioned a stat earlier in the year, that we're the second youngest team in America.¬† Then you look at our lack of seniors and how many freshmen are playing.¬† So experience counts.
We're committed to playing young players, if they're ready and if they're prepared to do so and do so at a level that's going to allow us to be successful on Saturdays.¬† You'd love to have a balance.¬† You'd love to have some of these young guys working in and being able to follow the lead of some upperclassmen that have been there and done that.¬† Kind of like what we were just talking about with Mike Hull and Nyeem.¬† You'd love for that.
But on the same hand, I think a lot of these guys have handled it well.¬† They came in with the expectation that they were going to play.¬† But I don't think there is any doubt that the experience and the leadership of veteran guys is very, very important.¬† I think you see that on defense.¬† You look at the amount of upperclassmen that we have that you mentioned that are playing, and you look at how many of them are on the defensive side of the ball.¬† I don't think there is any doubt that that's what you want, and it's been helpful for us this year.
Q.¬† You mentioned earlier about the drive start average, and you've had some situations this year on kickoff returns where somebody blotted out instead of just taking it to 25.¬† What are the risk‑reward factors that go into those decisions, bringing it out of the end zone when somebody might get tackled before they get to the 25?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† The thing I want us to be is I want us to be aggressive.¬† It's a fine line, and you've got a young kid and you want to make the right decision.¬† But we've all been at games, we've all been at the guy that pulls up to shoot the three‑pointer, and everybody's going "No!¬† No!¬† No!¬† No!"¬† And he hits it, and everybody's going "Yes!¬† Yes!¬† Yes!"¬† It's the same thing with the guy returning the ball out of the end zone.¬† You tell him to stay in, and he goes for 107 yards, and everybody thinks it's the best decision in the world.
He's going to grow from those things.¬† He's going to know when the time is right to do those things.¬† I think obviously the better we do of blocking, blocking for him and getting all of the other ten guys doing their job consistently, then it doesn't become as big of a factor.¬† But if you return it, and there are way too many guys down field to make a tackle, then it becomes the decision is magnified.
So we've got to be smarter there. ¬†There is no doubt about it.¬† But on the same hand, I want him to be confident, and I want him to be aggressive as well.¬† So there is a fine line there.
Q.¬† You mentioned Dan Pasquariello doing a better job in the last game.¬† Is there anything there you can put your finger on of why he did better?¬† Beyond that, how important is it to have the coverage you've had when you have a young, developing punter?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Definitely.¬† I think No. 1 is just the reps.¬† He's getting game reps and experience.¬† I think I mentioned to you guys early on in the season we had a couple of games where our protection wasn't as solid and we almost had a couple blocked, and I think that had an effect on those guys.¬† They started rushing it and changing their normal routine.¬† So we were able to work past that.
The other thing is we've gone away from kicking to specific areas of the field, and just say kick it as far as you possibly can anywhere within the 53 and a third yards of the field and put the pressure on the coverage guys.
But the point you're making, too, is that the way we're covering the kicks has been really valuable as well, because our philosophy is you don't kick it right down the middle of the field because those guys that are returning it are special players, and you're putting everybody else in tough spots.¬† But right now where we're at from an experience standpoint at the punter position, let's put the pressure on everybody else and allow that guy to go whack it.¬† So I think that's helped.
And we've made that adjustment a few weeks ago.¬† We actually made it at halftime during the game.¬† But it's just starting to kind of show some evidence in the games.
Then what I'm hopeful for is once they build confidence in the games, that we can get back to directional punting, because I think that's in our best interest long‑term.
Q.¬† You guys had struggles, but you talked earlier or last week about red‑zone wrinkles, and I think the QB draw may have been in.¬† I don't think I've seen that before this year.¬† What did you see on tape from that red zone series against Indiana before the field goal was blocked?¬† And what do you have to do better to score more touchdowns in red zone?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† It's the same thing.¬† I've been kind of answering the question all year long.¬† We've got to run the ball better in the red zone.¬† The answer is not really going to change.¬† To me that wasn't really a red‑zone issue, it was a goal‑line issue.¬† We got down to the 1‑yard line and couldn't punch it in.¬† We got knocked back.¬† What you have to do is you have to score with your man.¬† If you're blocking the defensive end, you have to block the defensive end in the end zone.¬† If you're blocking the defensive tackle, you have to block the defensive tackle in the end zone.¬† You've got to sustain those blocks, and there's always going to be one guy unblocked, that the running back has to break the tackle or make miss.¬† We weren't able to do that.¬† We weren't able to do that on Saturday.
I didn't look at that as a red‑zone issue. ¬†That was more of a goal‑line issue in that circumstance.¬† But to me, the answer in the red zone is the same as it's been all year long is being able to run the ball.
We also went back and watched some tape from last year and some of the things that were going on that they were doing.¬† The interesting thing, I'm probably going to tell you something that you guys probably already know:¬† Allen Robinson, I mean there are a lot of plays where guys were covered and they threw the ball to Allen, and Allen went up and snatched it in single coverage or double coverage.¬† I think that's one of the things we can do a better job of is making plays.¬† But running ball is going to be huge for us.
Q.¬† Nyeem Wartman was saying this weekend sometimes he has to prove his position on the team since he kind of inherited the spot last year.¬† Is that something that you've seen from him?¬† If so, how do you think he's done so far?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I wasn't here last year, so I can't even speak on that.¬† I've been pleased with him since we've arrived and his work ethic and his attitude and playmaking ability.
Q.¬† James, I'm wondering, following up on the previous question, against Ohio State, even with the makeshift line and changes, it seemed like you guys were starting to hit a stride in the second half.¬† You scored 24 points and just a little over two quarters, did you think you guys were on your way to putting some pieces together consistently‑wise on offense?¬† And I don't know about disappointed, but did you think you may be further along after that performance from where you are the last couple of weeks?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I still think we are, to be honest with you.¬† I think, obviously, I think playing Ohio State, the white out, the emotion, all those types of things was helpful.¬† I think the crowd had an impact in the game.¬† I think the platform of the game had an impact.¬† I don't want it to.¬† I want us to play the same high level, week‑in and week‑out.¬† But I'm not naive.¬† That played a little factor in it.
But we've just got to eliminate it.¬† We can't have a penalty on first or second down, it's 2nd and two and we jump offsides and now it's 3rd and 8 or 3rd and 12, whatever it may be.¬† We can't do those things.¬† We can't have the turnovers.¬† The turnovers have been really kind of our issue.¬† Making great decisions with ball and the way we're carrying the ball and protecting it.¬† So things like that.
I think we're really close.¬† I mentioned that to you the other day.¬† We watched film as a team of a number of plays that were that close to making it.¬† You make those plays and things feel a lot different right now.
So I understand the point that you're making.¬† You know, I would agree with you to a degree.¬† But I think in general we're a lot closer than maybe it seems, the way maybe it seems right now.¬† I know it could probably be frustrating at times to watch.¬† I know everybody has the answers.¬† If you do, please e‑mail them and specifically what they are and how they work.
But I believe in our guys.¬† I've been around this coaching staff for a long time.¬† I've seen them break record after record after record running these schemes on offense, defense and special teams.¬† I believe in our players and I'm hoping every single day as we continue to compete and stay positive that the tide will turn.
Q.¬† We saw a lot of different line combinations Saturday.¬† Derek Dowrey saw time.¬† What did you see from him in the game and what did you see from him during the week that gave you confidence to put him in?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, to be honest with you, Derek's done some nice things all year long, and it has to do with that.¬† But it also has to do with just fact we are trying to find the right formula of those five guys in there.¬† And the problem is every time you think you've got the formula worked out, you lose a guy.¬† And again, it's not just losing one guy in a situation that we're in, it's three guys move for every one injury.¬† So those things are part of it.
So hopefully we'll be in a position to get two of those experienced guys back this week, that would be helpful.¬† Then we still have to get to the point where we have to get those five guys used to playing together, which they haven't done all year.
Q.¬† You've mentioned just a minute ago about the success with the scheme and those kinds of things.¬† Obviously, you're not the first coach to go through this and you won't be the last around the nation.¬† But what are some of the difficulties just in general of playing guys who you didn't recruit?¬† Because I know you mentioned the measurables before, but what are some of those challenges of getting people to fit into a scheme when you inherit players when you take over a program?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I don't really think that's the issue here.¬† I really don't.¬† It's one thing if you're following a guy who ran the wishbone or if you're following a guy that runs the spread and you want to run the wishbone or you want to run a downhill, power offense, and they don't have a fullback in the program.¬† It's all spread philosophy.¬† So I think that's where the issue is the same.¬† I know people probably don't agree with this, but a lot of the schemes and a lot of the things that we're doing are similar, are similar.¬† People can have different opinions on that, but I've watched the film and I've studied it.
Is there a little different way of doing it?¬† Is there knowing when to call certain things?¬† Is there playing to our strengths a little bit?¬† Yeah.¬† I don't think there is any doubt that we all could be doing a better job, including myself.¬† But I don't think that is the situation that we're in.¬† You've seen places where a new head coach comes in and he's going to force his system in no matter what.¬† I don't see us doing that, and I'm standing back and looking at this from a distance.¬† I spent time on the defensive side of the ball.¬† I spent time on the offensive side of the ball on special teams.¬† I don't really see that is the issue.
For us, these are all our guys from day one, the time we got the job, there is not this whole guys that you recruited and guys you didn't recruit.¬† They're all our guys.¬† I feel like we have a staff to take advantage of the strengths and hide the weaknesses.
Q.¬† You guys have run the no‑huddle sporadically this season.¬† What determines or how do you determine when to use that within the framework of a game?¬† Would you like to do more of it?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† You know, that's really kind of how we want it to be.¬† We want it to be sporadic.¬† I think if you do one thing all the time people get used to that.¬† So our philosophy really over the last 7 or 8 years has been we want to be multiple formation.¬† We want to be multiple tempo, we want to be multiple personnel groups, and we want to do those personnel groups and formations out of non‑traditional sets.
So that's kind of who we'd like to be long‑term.¬† I think that's what you're going to see.¬† We've done no‑huddle at times this year, and it's worked successfully.¬† We've done no huddle at times this year and it hasn't worked.¬† We've put our defense back on the field too quickly.¬† We've had the whole gamut.¬† But that's who we want to be.¬† We want to keep the defensive coordinator uncomfortable and on his heels because he can't ever get used to what we're doing and how we're doing it.
Q.¬† You mentioned the penalties at the line of scrimmage a few minutes ago.¬† Between that and sacks and maybe some plays not working out.¬† Have you been off schedule too much during drives?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† How much more difficult is it to call a game when you're off schedule maybe 25, 30% of your drives?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yes, very much so.¬† Obviously 1st and 10, 2nd and 6, 3rd and 2 is what you want.¬† Now you get into a situation where you're 1st and 15 or 2nd and 12 or 2nd and 15 or 3rd and 10.¬† You know, there are a lot of offenses across the country that are going to struggle with that.¬† Whether it's jumping offsides or holding calls or whether it's inefficient runs or inefficient plays, sacks being a big factor for us this year as well.¬† All of those things set you off schedule and now you get into a situation where you're more likely to throw the ball.¬† Now you're getting in throwing sets and you're either max protecting and they can drop eight, or they're trying to pressure you and put you in even longer yardage situations.
So I think sometimes you kind of hate this as fans and you hate this as coaches, but sometimes you're merely just reserve the right to punt and reserve the right to add to the punt.¬† So you may run the ball.¬† It's 3rd and 12 and you run the ball and everybody boos.¬† But you get six yards, and now you're able to pin them deep in the punt.¬† I know that maybe isn't the sexy thing to do and the exciting thing to do, but in a lot of times, what we've been trying to do the last couple weeks is play great defense, find a way to make some plays on offense and special teams and play field position football.
Now with our punting game coming on, I think we're going to be able to do that and allow our offense time to continue to build confidence.
Q.¬† With your team and both teams coming in looking for bowl eligibility, you're big on keeping the message the same and keeping your teams focused.¬† Can you talk about the challenges of that?¬† Secondly, what does being bowl eligible, what's that mean in the end in terms of practice especially with such a young squad?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, the way we do this is by me not answering your question right now and keeping the formula the same.¬† We don't talk about those things.¬† We don't look at those things.¬† We focus on finding a way to beat Temple this week.¬† At the end of the year if someone calls and tells us we have an opportunity to go somewhere, wherever it is, we'll be excited and fired up about it.¬† Because for us, it's about keeping the family together as long as we possibly can.
Q.¬† There is a certain perception out there that the only way a team can show improvement is if it's exponential from week to week.¬† The way you looked against UCF you have to look completely different where you are right now.¬† How do you measure improvement and success?¬† When you have a team as young as this one is, when you've talked about the long haul so much, aside from the fact that you want to win every week, how much do your goals become objective based rather than big picture we have to beat Ohio State this week?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I think it's all the things you talked about.¬† It is the wins.¬† It is the statistics.¬† It is watching the guys improve their foot work and their fundamentals.¬† It is watching the staff work together and be creative and bounce ideas off each other and challenge one another.¬† It is recruiting.¬† It is selling out the game against Temple and showing everybody in this country that we're headed in the right direction and we have an unrivaled fan base.¬† It's all of those things.¬† That's kind of what I'm looking at.¬† That's why I wake up every morning, do a backhand spring out of bed and excited about what we're doing.¬† That's why I can come into the press conference after the game and have my chest up and my chin up because I know where we're going and I know what we're doing.¬† It may not be as obvious to people on the scoreboard.¬† It may not be as obvious to people in the statistics.¬† But I see.¬† I see the foundation being laid.¬† I see the attitudes.¬† I see the hard work that's going in.¬† I get the academic report every morning.¬† Did all 125 guys go to class and were they there on time and were they prepared?
Coach Galt's staff comes up and talks about how hard they're working at this point in the season.¬† And we lift harder during the season than they have in the past.¬† And how are they approaching that?
It's talking to our training staff and how the guys' energy is when they're getting their ankles taped and getting ready for practice.¬† It's all those little things.
So would we all love for it, like I said after the game, for us to go out and win the game 173 to ‑10 and would everybody be excited about that?¬† Yeah.¬† But it doesn't work like that.¬† So to me, I think the point you're making is a good one.¬† It's not just the stats, it's everything that goes into it that I am fortunate enough to see.¬† Because my linebacker coach is focused on his world of linebackers.¬† The offensive coordinator is just focused on offense and so on and so forth.¬† So what I get to do is hear information from all those people, as well as look at it all and feel very comfortable with kind of where we're going and what we're doing and how we're doing it, and the type of people we're doing it with.
That was a long answer.¬† Sorry.
Q.¬† You mentioned that you've never seen a team that has 17 fumble recoveries.¬† What have you seen from Temple that's made them so effective in that area?¬† How do you maybe put in extra safeguards to combat that this week?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, we're going to stick to our plan.¬† We do a turnover circuit on defense and a turnover circuit on offense every single day, stressing the fundamentals.¬† I think it's like anything else.¬† I think our defense is having success and that confidence breeds success.¬† It's contagious.¬† Same thing with getting turnovers.¬† You start to have some success with it.¬† You get one, and then you get two, and they kind of come in bunches.¬† That is kind of how it happens.
So watching them on film, they do all the things that we preach all the time as well, which is playing hard and running to the ball.¬† When you have an opportunity to be aggressive and make a play on the ball in the air, go after the ball.¬† When you're making a tackle, secure the tackle first, and the next two or three guys coming in to strip the ball out.¬† It's offensive linemen sustaining blocks so that defenders can't fall into plays.¬† It's getting the offense to cover down so that if a ball does come out, the offensive line and other people are in position to pick it up.¬† It's all of those things.
What we do a great job of, too, and I think and I hope, is showing them examples of what's going on across the country.¬† We talked about the game the other night where you guys saw the guy was running in for a touchdown and thought he was in the end zone.¬† To me it's not just the discipline of finishing the play, but it's getting the entire offense to run down the field and cover.¬† For two things, to cover to protect your buddy, but also that if the ball comes out, you're there to pick it up.¬† Then third of all, to celebrate.¬† One of the things I love watching Bill Belton's touchdown run is Saeed Blacknall is sprinting down the field behind him.¬† He was the first one to celebrate with him after the touchdown.
So there are a lot of reasons why we want that to happen.¬† It's the same thing on defense.¬† That runner gets on the edge, and the corner turns him back in, and he may not make the tackle we want him to.¬† But if he doesn't make the tackle, he's going to turn it back into the other 10.¬† Then when we stop that film, all 11 guys on defense should be in the camera.¬† That's how you show your value and importance to the team is when the camera stops, are you around the ball?¬† So we talk about those things as well.
I think Temple on the defensive side of the ball is doing a really good job of that right now.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports