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October 26, 2016

James Franklin

University Park, Pennsylvania

COACH FRANKLIN: First of all, I want to thank everybody for being flexible and changing your weekly schedule to accommodate us on today instead of yesterday.

Reviewing the game, obviously very proud. It's an opportunity for us to grow as a team and learn from that experience. I want to thank the fans.

I think the fans had a significant impact in the game. Not only for inspiring our players but also making it a difficult environment for our opponent. So I want to thank our fans. It was a special night. There's no doubt about it.

Offensively, I thought we did a good job protecting the football and our quarterback, which was significant in the game. We made explosive plays. We had six runs and six passes that were what we consider explosive plays, so 12 explosive plays in the game.

Defensively, did a really good job. It was the focus all week on limiting the quarterback. Running game, 17 rushes for 26 yards. So I thought that was really good.

And then obviously pressuring the quarterback. I think Ohio State had given up five sacks all year and we were able to get six sacks in the game, five coming in the second half.

For us, I think the way we did it -- excuse me. And then special teams, game-changing plays. We gave up some plays in the first half but made significant plays in the second half. Was very, very proud of our guys.

Marcus Allen and Grant Haley got a lot of the attention, and they should have because they were big-time plays that they made.

But the other thing I would say is the way we voted as a coaching staff, the Players of the Week on offense was our offensive line, only giving up one sack. The defense, Brandon Bell, 18 tackles, one sack and a pass break up, was also the Big Ten defensive Player of the Week.

And then on special teams, we actually went with Ayron Monroe and Von Walker as our special teams players, just because those guys play on almost every single unit and really played well.

Obviously looking back at it, Grant and Marcus had two huge plays in the game, and they were getting a lot of attention for that, which is good. But we also wanted to talk about those other guys doing all the dirty work, but we are very, very proud of them.

Big game. We've moved on from it. Obviously we're on Purdue now. Had practice on Sunday after a late night. Then obviously practiced yesterday and then practiced -- we'll practice later on today.

Purdue, obviously with a coaching change there. I thought their staff reacted really, really well to Coach Parker. Their team reacted really well to Coach Parker. They went to Nebraska, Top-10 team, and were winning at the half.

So you talk about a team that's reacted well, played really hard and played with really good energy. On offense, they throw the ball really well. They are the No. 1 team in the conference on throwing the ball. Kind of a controlled passing attack, medium range, short passing game. Do a really good job with those things. They have two receivers that can hurt you.

On the defensive side of the ball, they do a good job in defending the pass, as well. It's going to be a good challenge and it's going to be a different environment than something we played for this past week and that's something we preparing for all week long. And excited about it. Excited about taking the next step and finding a way to get a win against another Big Ten opponent.

Q. After an historic win like that, how much confidence do you have that the players can put the Ohio State game behind them and focus completely on Purdue?
COACH FRANKLIN: Well, I think when you have a young team like we do, that's a challenge, but I thought our coaches did a great job with that on Sunday.

I sat in both the offensive team meeting and defensive team meeting, our unit meeting, whatever you want to call it. I thought Coach Moorhead reinforcing the things I had already said in the team meeting.

I thought Coach Huff did that with special teams. And I thought Coach Pry did a great job with that in their unit meetings.

Then Sunday we go out and make the corrections from the game. Before we're halfway through practice, we switch to Purdue and we were able to do that.

And then our conversation was that we're not talking about Ohio State anymore, except for the guys that have to go to the Quarterback Club luncheon and the guys that have to go to the press conference. Besides that, we're going to move forward and move on and learn from it and grow from it.

I think one of the things that help us, is we don't change our approach, ever. So I think since we didn't change our approach on the front end, we don't need to change our approach on the back end, and you know, it's business as usual for us. It was a great game. It was a great environment and it was great to see our players go out and play well and it was great to see the fans enjoy it so much, and our alumni and letter men and all those things. But again, it's on to the next game.

Q. I wanted to get your thoughts on the development of Trace McSorley in your running game. It seems like since the start of the season, he's gotten faster at a lot of different things: The speed of his decision-making, the deception with his ball handling and just the way that he and Saquon Barkley work together, especially the last few games. Your thoughts on how he's improved maybe in that facet.
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think I mentioned to you guys a couple weeks ago that we needed to get him more involved in the run game, whether it's design quarterback runs or on some of those, quarterback reads; the gray reads we were pretty much giving them all the time to Saquon, and we're pulling some of those now. So I think that's been helpful for us.

But yeah, I think obviously he's a first-time starting quarterback. With each game and each rep, he continues to gain confidence. I've been pleased with him but he's been pretty much Steady Eddie. He hasn't changed. His approach has been really good. His practice habits have been really good. His questions have been really good. His leadership has been really good.

So I've been pleased with him, and he's Steady Eddie. You know, with one of the things that I think has been pretty cool is his mom gets snacks for the O-line each week. Our snacks Friday night before the hotel, when we're on the road, she finds some local establishment that is a bakery or something in town, she brings something different each week for those guys and there's always a little note in there. But it's just little things like that that I kind of see happening on our team.

Appreciation is something that we talk about a lot in our program. I think appreciation is very, very important on a team and it's very important in individuals, being appreciative of what we have here at Penn State, being appreciative of all the blessings that we have in our life, and I just see that.

I see examples of that with our team. I see the running backs pressuring our O-line and the quarterbacks appreciating our O-line and guys appreciating the role of special teams and guys like Von Walker and the impact they have and the defense and the coaches. There's a real good vibe with those things right now, and I think those things are really, really important in a program.

Q. You talked a lot about the job Brent Pry has done this year. What stands out most to you about his coaching, and how have you seen him grow as a coach over the years that you've known him?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think it's perseverance. I think the way he's handled situations, the way we handled losing all those defensive linemen; and knowing that we had a bunch of inexperienced guys that we're going to have to fill in in that role; and how he handled and how he approached it; how he persevered and handled the linebacker situations and losing a lot of guys.

I've been a lot of places where that happens and there is a "woe is me" by the coach, and if you do that, the players take on that identity. He hasn't been like that. It's been next-man-up; what a great opportunity we have to go out and do something really special, and is really positive, yet very demanding, which I think is a really important trait in a coach, which he has. He can be really demanding on people but still be positive and do it in a constructive way.

So he's very respected. I've known him for a long time as I think you guys know. I think his first year coaching was my last year playing. I've known him for a long time kind of followed his career, watched his career. We've always stayed in touch.

And then obviously we've been together for the last, I guess this would be year six, and you know, you guys know how I talked about him before this season. Had a lot of faith, had a lot of belief in him and I'm proud.

I think Tim Banks has kind of taken on his role that he had last year, has done a nice job with that, a really good sounding board, different perspective on some things, and you know, Terry had never really coached on the defensive side of the ball before coming here as a head coach. Kind of coached them all but never primarily coached on the defensive side of the ball.

And he's doing a tremendous job with the corners and obviously Sean Spencer has really done a nice job. Last year we lead the nation in sacks with our defensive line and then obviously Carl, and then obviously the production that we're getting out of these guys now.

So he continues to do a great job, not only with production in terms of sacks and tackles for loss, but also just the attitude and the energy that he brings to practice every single day with his guys.

Q. Last couple of weeks, you mentioned about adjusting your practices, specifically for first quarter play, trying to get off to faster starts. Do you have some things that you do based on past coaching stops or what you've done before to handle road game atmospheres that are not like Beaver Stadium or Ann Arbor or Pittsburgh?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yes. Yeah, we do. Like one of the things that we're doing right now is typically we have really loud music playing at practice or loud crowd noise or fight songs and bands of the opposing team and things like that.

This week obviously after being in our stadium last week and what that environment was like, this environment will be a little bit different than that.

So we talked all week long about our players bringing their own juice. I'm hoping that the Penn State Alumni Chapters from all over that region come out and support us. I know our families and friends will be there, as well. I probably should have looked this up ahead of time, but I could imagine we have some good number of Penn State grads living in that area so I hope they all come out and support us.

We try to prepare our guys each week. Like I said, play the fight songs, or practice at night or in the indoor or outside in the rain or whatever it may be, to try to prepare our guys throughout the year for whatever they may see.

And then specifically that week we do everything we possibly can. You can't change the schedule too much. If it's a 12:00 game, it's not like with class you could practice at 12:00 every single day. But we have done that in the past.

Q. From the outside it looks like your defensive line is completely different now than what it looked like the beginning of the season. Can you talk a little about the key to their development and why did everything come together last Saturday night for them?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, it's not real profound. They are gaining experience. They were inexperienced guys at the beginning of the year. We have guys like Parker who has played a decent amount of football and Brown and Sickels has played a decent amount of football for us.

But we were really -- the other guys lacked experience. Robert Windsor is a red-shirt freshman, has had a big role for us this year. Guys like that, you know, guys that are coming on for us. You look at Shareef, there's another guy. Those guys were red shirts last year. I think that the biggest difference from the beginning of the year till now is the experience that they have gained by playing week-in and week-out.

So having success, being coached hard, being really demanding on those guys and those guys gaining in confidence and experience and what to expect. And I think also, you know, that they have realized that they can be good, individually and collectively, that they can be pretty good. When you have success, your confidence grows every single day and those guys are doing that.

Q. One of my colleagues asked you after the game Saturday night, what does do for the big picture, and you said, "All I want to do is enjoy this win: How much did you enjoy it and during this enjoyment, did you think about how much this might have silenced your critics?
COACH FRANKLIN: Well, how much I enjoyed it was a lot. I had 348 text messages after the game, which I did not enjoy that. I basically text back: "Thank you," "thanks brother," "appreciate it," and I copied and paste that to everybody, men, women, coaches, neighbors, cousins, everybody, and stayed up till -- I got home at like 2:30, by the time getting out of the stadium, getting home and laid into bed talking to my wife till 3:30.

So yeah, it was cool. But you know, we were back in the office the next morning watching the tape and then we had recruits at my house for brunch after that. So it wasn't a whole lot of time. But you know, again, after that, we've moved on. We're on Purdue. Purdue, Purdue, Purdue, Purdue and that's our focus now.

But yeah, I enjoyed it till 3:30. Went to sleep, woke up early, went back in the office and watched the tape with the defensive staff and came back home for brunch with recruits. Enjoyed it there with them. My basement had gotten flooded. It was an interesting week last week. There was a lot of things going on. That rain, basement got flooded and we had recruits coming. It's never a dull moment.

But yeah, we enjoyed it. But you know, more than that, we've moved on to Purdue and excited, obviously, having 180 recruits at the game, it had an impact on them. They were excited. Down there with ESPN, me and Sandy, and getting bonked all over the place, and luckily the police stopped all these students that were grabbing my bald head. I don't know if they feel like they rub it for good luck or whatever, but the police stopped them from doing that.

We were getting banged around all over the field and I saw recruits down there jumping and going crazy, so obviously it had an impact on them, and I think it had an impact on our program our team and our players in terms of confidence and things like that. But we still have things that we've got to get cleaned up and corrected and we'll have another opportunity this week against a Big Ten opponent on the road, which we need to get a road win this week starting against Purdue.

Q. Can you talk about the impact that Bell and Cabinda have, maybe other than the obvious stuff that we can see in terms of them making plays on the field, what does it mean to have them back?
COACH FRANKLIN: I don't know if you can put a number on it or a percentage on it or even kind of explain. Their leadership at practice, their energy, the way they call the defense, the way they make adjustments; you see Cabinda going up and smacking the behinds of the D-Linemen when they shift the tight end or come up in a different formation and he needs to shift from a three technique to a G or a 1.

And then the same thing with the G or the 1 technique to a 3, and barking out calls and checks, and when they check with me, the offense checks with me, you see them turn to the sideline and see if we are going to they can with me. Just their control and their command of the defense was significant, both of them. Both of them.

I think it helps Manny. I think it helps all the other players, Koa and the other guys, as well. It helps the defensive line. There's a lot of confidence with those guys on the field because we are able to lean on their experience.

And then again, I swear, I was telling you guys the truth last week when I said, they are going to play 25 to 30 plays. But at the end of the game, I think Bell played 69 plays and he got hot and Coach Pry felt like it was the right thing to do to keep him in there and obviously it was because he was very, very productive in the game.

We are going to have as much planning and organization as anybody in the country, but you know, no different than anywhere else and no different than any other corporation or organization or university. At the end of the day, you have to trust your experience and you have to trust your training and go with your gut and Coach Pry did that. I think obviously the right call.

Q. I wanted to ask about the play by Blake on the high snap. How proud are you of the composure he showed, and I should also mentioned athleticism he showed to get to the ball and what does that say about the mental approach he has to that position?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, he's been really good. We don't believe in recruiting kickers. We believe in recruiting athletes who happen to kick and that's what he is. He's been in competitive environments his entire life. Basketball player, soccer player, all these different things. And I thought he handled that really well.

You know, you could make a decision there to either fall on the ball and scoop it up or kick it out the back of the end zone, and I thought he showed great poise and athleticism to go get that ball.

I also want to say that Yaz has been probably one of our most consistent players in our program since we've been here. So very, very pleased with him, as well. I know he was disappointed in how that play went but overall he's been as consistent as anybody. That was big, giving up two points instead of a touchdown.

Q. You have a lot of new guys on your staff this year, people in different positions. I wonder if you can talk about the job they did when you've had to step away the last couple weeks in terms of keeping things going before a big game?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, we pretty much have a system down of how we do things, how we meet, what's getting done on each day and each time.

So we're working on the first down game plan or the second down game on or third down or red zone or goal yardage or goal line or coming out or maybe we meet on special teams, and I think there's comfort in that routine.

The only difference was instead of having a staff meeting at 7:00, we met offense and defense at 7:00 and then when I got back, we were able to staff meet after that. But I think the routine is helpful. I think also having experienced coaches on your staff is really important.

Coach Moorhead, Coach Pry, Coach Huff and really all of our assistants, handled it really well. Handled it really well. And then I also pressure those guys calling me or texting me or he mailing me, kind of keep me in the loop of what's going on or any question that is may have come up or things like that. Yeah, I thought we handled that really well.

The players didn't even know to be honest with you. The players didn't even know until I think Friday night because everything with them, nothing changed. I thought that was really important. I thought the coaches could handle this but I didn't want it to be a distraction to our players. So that was positive.

Q. Two things for you on special teams. The depth that you have in the program and the experience of those guys on special teams, how much has that developed this season and then secondly, Charles Huff, what does a game like that mean for him, because obviously special teams have had some issues the past couple years what does a game like that mean for him and your confidence in him?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think it really helps everything. Our issues in the past have been lack of depth because of the situation that we were in, and then also last year, not having depth at the kicker punter and snapper positions to create a competitive environment, so we have that now. We've taken great strides.

Typically the bulk of your special teams is going to come from players that are in the two-deep, possibly three-deep, sprinkle some starters in there, as well; we just have more depth.

Then you've got guys like Cam Brown who had to step in and play at linebacker for us and play well, and now his opportunities at linebacker have gone down a little bit with some guys coming back. And now he's got a major role on special teams. You know, obviously him going and making a play and blocking that punt with his 6-5 frame, reaching out and making a play was really big for us and then just the units in general.

I think the other thing that's helped us is having Joey just focus on kickoffs and having Tyler just focus on field goals. Gives them kind of one pure responsibility that they can really work on their craft and master that. So I think that's been help of, as well. And then obviously now they provide depth that they can back each other up in the other area of expertise.

It's been good. Charles, I've known Charles for a long time, from my days at Maryland and my days at Vanderbilt that we have been on staff together, and always had a lot of confidence in him and last week obviously had a huge impact in the game.

So our special teams will continue to grow. He'll continue to grow. And I'm excited about our future in that area.

Q. Wondering about the reception of you in the community, coming off this big win. You mentioned the Quarterback Club. What does a big win do for you?
COACH FRANKLIN: Besides the Quarterback Club, I haven't been anywhere else. I go to my house, and I come to the office, so besides this press conference and the Quarterback Club, I haven't been anywhere else. We usually order lunch in.

But to be honest with you, I don't go out much. It's funny, I've got a guy in my neighborhood, he owns Foster Luna (ph) and I was there one night for dinner this summer. He said, "I've been in the neighborhood with you for three years and I've never seen you once in the neighborhood."

I leave early, come back late, don't go out a whole lot. So the Quarterback Club was nice today. My 97-year-old girlfriend gave me a rose today, which was awesome, at the Quarterback Club. But they have been great.

The Quarterback Club has been something that I did not understand coming here. Didn't really understand what they were all about. And they have been awesome to be honest with you, over the last few years, I've gotten to know them. They have been very supportive. They care so much. They ask a lot of questions. It's one of those things that is unique and special about Penn State, so that's been really cool.

You know, some weeks is easier and better to walk in there than others, but that's been good that way. I don't do a whole lot or go out a whole lot to have any of those types of interactions.

Q. This might be a wet blanket.
COACH FRANKLIN: Oh, here we go.

Q. Just curious, being in the shotgun in victory formation, not sure I had ever seen that and seems a little more risky than being right up under center. What was the thinking there?
COACH FRANKLIN: Again, I don't want this to come off the wrong way. But almost everybody that runs the spread and runs shotgun, they don't go under center for victory, all the games that I watch.

It doesn't make sense in our minds, and people that I've been around, you could make the same argument on a quarterback sneak or you could make the argument on the third and one and get up and run the quarterback sneak. The problem is we never take a snap from under center. We don't do that in our offense.

So now to do that in victory situation or on short yardage, that's something you believe in what you do. We just never do it. I've never seen Joe take a snap from under center since he's been here.

So doesn't make sense to do that in forming an offense at a critical situation in the game in victory. I know you could say, well, couldn't you practice it. But now you're going to take time practicing something that you're only going to do less than one percent of the time.

Yeah, all the people that I know that run shotgun offenses, that's what they do in victory.

Q. When you see your offensive line develop over the last couple weeks, what's the next step for them?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think continuing to be more physical. We talk about finishers, guys that are going to finish blocks, pancake blocks, create movement, create space. I think we're doing a great job right now consistently getting a hat on a hat in the run game, as well as pass protection.

You know, you want to limit those plays where you have guys coming from where there's a missed communication and we were double-teaming or we were responsible for; and communication was a big part of that, and I think we've done a good job of that, as well as protecting the quarterback. And I think Trace has helped with that, as well, avoid some things and also build their confidence.

I think the next thing, it could be really physical. Create a lot of space where you have gaping holes that the running back can run through and that you're finishing blocks and taking people to the ground, because that's our mentality. That sets a tone. That tells your opponent you're in for a long day, those types of things, intimidation-type blocks and things like that.

I'd like to see us more physical. I'd like to see us have a little bit more of a nasty streak, but we're headed in that direction. There's been signs of it. I just want to see it more often. I think that's the next step for us.

Q. Can you describe some of the unique challenges playing on the road as it pertains to things you guys were doing early in the week to get prepared logistically and some of the planning stuff for when you get there, and do you think you can do some of the things a little bit better considering your relative lack of success lately on the road?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think we're fortunate because we've got a staff that handles all those things for us. Our administrative staff, Jemel Griffin and Kevin Threlkel and Michael Hazel, they handle all those and they go scout out all the hotels, the menus, the flights, everything, all those things are really, really detailed out and organized ahead of time to keep the players' routine the same, to keep the staff's routine the same, whether we're on the road or at home. Try to make those things as similar as we possibly can. And then go out and play well.

I think obviously the same thing, we'll do things in practice like what was discussed a little bit earlier. Try to do things that will simulate what we'll see on the road and what we can expect, from music to crowd noise or whatever it may be. And obviously the more experience I gain and the staff gains of the Big Ten and what to expect in all of these different venues, that will help, as well.

We still haven't been to every single place and experienced every single place. A lot of it is talking to other people and doing some research from that perspective.

Q. How do you think Curtis has developed since preseason and are there one or two areas where you've seen him improve the most?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, he's done a nice job. He's an older guy. He's a mature guy. He's put on weight and put on good weight. Gives us a guy who is 6-4, 6-5, 280-plus pounds, great wing span, great athleticism. He's one of our great explosive linear-type athletes on our team. Really, really good in the weight room, as well. One of the stronger pound-for-pound guys on our team, as well, and that's helped us.

We had some challenges inside that we knew we were playing with some inexperienced players and he gave us an older guy, although he still has not played a whole lot of football, he still gave us an older guy to move in there and he's done a nice job for us.

Been pleased with him and he's grown up dramatically since he's been here. I'm really proud of him in all aspects. He's really grown up and matured in a lot of different ways, so I'm proud of him. He's starting to get a bigger and bigger role each week.

Q. I was wondering, you said about Brent Pry, is there a particular moment that stands out to you or maybe that you're at the drawing board with Brent, so to speak, where he just plows through and figures it out. Is there a moment where you're like, man, this guy is not letting down.
COACH FRANKLIN: Well, I think that's just kind of who he's been. Really, since we started working together.

It's interesting, because a lot of times for coaches, you have a memory or a perception of somebody based on how you knew them. So for example, if a guy was a GA for you earlier in his career, you kind of always look at him as the GA. Although they have professionally grown and been somewhere else for ten to 15 years.

I remember Brent his first year coaching and I was a player. But he has grown dramatically. I think being a coach's kid, you know, is significant for him in terms of he's been around football and talking football, experiencing football, his whole life and so can all those experiences there. His dad's been very successful; you do research, Altoona, you do research on his dad's career and he's been very successful at every level. He's been to Illinois and to the Rose Bowl, in Division II, made the No. 1 offense in the country. He's been successful everywhere he's been, so he's learned a lot of lessons from his dad, Jim.

The other stuff, he's just handled really well. You know, there has not been one kind of "A-Ha" moment. It's just kind of been how he's handled situations. When he was the assistant head coach, the linebackers coach, he was a guy I really leaned on a lot; Dwight Galt and Brent with those situations. I try to lean on them a little bit less now with those types of things and do that more with Kerry now, so we can spend more time focused on our defense.

Probably the situation that I remember from this year looking back after the season is having the conversation on the headset on whether to put Joe DuMond in the game, Mike linebacker, or move Manny Bowen, who had never played Mike linebacker before, who should we put in the game.

That's probably the story that jumps out to me in my mind, kind of thinking about, you know, things that we had to overcome at the linebacker position, with all the injuries and things like that this year.

And both guys are ready to go in the game. Joe is ready to go in the game and Manny was ready to go in the game. We decided to go with Manny and Manny played really well.

Manny is probably the guy that I think about in the program right now from the beginning of the season to now has probably grown the most. I think he has a very, very bright future. I'm excited to watch him play the rest of the season and this weekend. I don't think there's one specific moment. It's everything.

Q. I was just wondering, when an opponent such as Purdue has had a coaching change, does it make it harder to scout at all or not making drastic changes or what do you notice from that?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think it changes. I do think it changes. If you're going to get that opportunity, I remember when I became a head coach for the first time, I said, I've been thinking about this for a long time and I have a plan, and I'm going to run with the plan. And I'm going to do it with my guys and I'm going to do it the way I think is the right way to do it.

He's doing the same thing, he's made a lot of changes in their program and how they practice and how they prepare from an energy perspective, from a time perspective, from a focus perspective, from all those types of things.

I read a good friend of mine, Dabo Swinney at Clemson, called him this week and talked about watching him on film and how hard he played and he was in a similar situation in his career.

So obviously they make the change, and then they go take Nebraska on the road and play really well against Nebraska. One of the things that I pride myself on is and your team play hard. I thought they played really hard last week. So it will be a challenge.

And yeah, there is some changes and there's a difference, and whenever you make a change, you look at LSU made a change and it's affected them in a positive way. You look at their offense, how their offense has changed at LSU.

You look at what's going on obviously at Purdue. There's some similarities. But yeah, it changes things. You maybe can't look back now at the last four or five games. You've got to look back maybe at the last game a little bit more than the previous games because some of the things that they have done there.

Q. Speaking of Brandon, he received a lot of outside accolades for his improvement in his play. What has he done different to differentiate himself and have that improvement this season?
COACH FRANKLIN: He has done a nice job. I mean, I'm more worried about our internal grades and external grades, how we grade and how Coach Limegrover -- I think it's hard, and I don't want him to take this the wrong way and I'm glad he's playing really well, and I'm glad he's getting some positive attention and things like that.

But I don't know how other people can grade specific players when they don't truly know what the call was and what their assignments were. But I'm pleased with him. He's played well. He's been tough. He's been smart. He's been resilient.

Like you say, he's created flexibility for us over the last couple years. Coach Limegrover was really pleased with him and I know myself and the rest of the coaches are very pleased with him. He was just at the Quarterback Club, did a really good job. I'm proud of him. He's grown in a lot of different ways in his life and as a football player and right now is playing with a lot of confidence.

Q. How nice is it to see Saeed come up with a big play this past weekend after the injury and everything he's been through, to come through and maybe how does that create some consistency?
COACH FRANKLIN: It was great, because you know, a guy that's really come on this year, if you look back, the guy that Coach Gattis was talking about all summer that he thought was going to have a huge breakout year was Saeed.

And he had a little bit of a setback with an injury and was out a couple weeks, and then the guy that's really come on is Thompkins, and Thompkins has played really well.

So we're in a situation now where we're starting to get to the point at multiple positions, we've got really good competition and we've got multiple people that could go in and play and play well. I think that's a great example of that. I think Saeed has a tremendous future, is really a good guy.

Late in the game, when we got in the victory formation, he's got tears rolling down his cheeks. He's a great guy. Got a great mom and a great aunt that have raised him. He's a tremendous young man and we'll see him get healthy and come back and make a huge play in the game for us.

I think Coach Gattis has done a great job with that position. Like I said, the competition is really good. We have a number of guys that can get on the field and make plays. I know last week, Coach was very complimentary of our wide receiver unit, and we need those guys. We need those guys.

With people really focused on trying to stop Saquon Barkley and load the box up, there's going to be opportunities for wide receivers here to make plays on the perimeter and one-on-one situations, and we've shown that we have got a number of guys that can do that.

Q. What are your thoughts on being back in the Top-25, Penn State?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it's great. I think the poll that really matters is the one at the end of the season. But it's nice. It's nice to be part of that conversation again. You know, it's good. It's good. We're appreciative of it, how people view our program and the direction the program is headed. It's not going to get us a point on Saturday against Purdue but it's nice to be a part of those conversations again.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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