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November 1, 2016

James Franklin

University Park, Pennsylvania

COACH FRANKLIN: Really appreciate everybody coming out, taking time out of their day to come to a press conference like always each week.

Kind of to review the Purdue game. I think probably the most significant statistic was the turnover battle. We had zero turnovers, which I think has been a big part of our recent success. Created four turnovers, as well, in the game.

I think the turnovers jump-started us in the second half. Brandon Smith's interception, Jordan Smith's fumble recovery on the muffed punt. We had 28 points off of turnovers, which I think is more points than we had all year long off turnovers. We need to be a four-quarter team. Each possession, each rep, we need to do a better job of that.

Made explosive plays on offense. I think we had 14 explosive plays. The defense also met their goal of stopping explosive plays with three or less.

We stopped the run. 46 total yards, 1.7 yards per carry. Too many penalties. That was the story of the first half. Really it continued somewhat throughout the game. That was one of the things that caused us challenges early, we were giving yards away.

Special teams first half compared to second half, consistency in our kick and punt locations is something we have to do a better job of. That's going to be important this week. They're explosive in those two areas.

But overall really, really proud of how the guys played, how they competed going on the road, winning a game against a team that had been playing with a lot of energy here recently the last couple weeks, what they had done against Nebraska the week before. So I was pleased with that.

Coaching staff players of the week, offensively Saquon Barkley, also the Big Ten offensive player of the week with 277 all-purpose yards. Defensively was John Reid. Then special teams was Cam Brown, who continues to do a great job on special teams as a true freshman for us.

Get into Iowa a little bit briefly. Obviously Military Appreciation Week. We're excited about that. I think we have over 10,000 tickets donated to men and women that serve our country, which is awesome. One of the special things that Penn State does. Not only do we want the stadium sold out and rocking to create a home-field advantage for us, but it's also a great way to pay tribute to the military and what they do for us day in and day out, the sacrifices they make.

Freshman defensive tackle Immanuel Iyke, who was a Marine Corps vet, we do shares every week. We do it every week. Something that's been really important to our program. Immanuel in the beginning of the season got up and kind of told his story, his family background as well as his time in the military and the difference and the significance that the military had on his life, some of the experiences that he had, which really hit home to our team. So Immanuel not only will this be special for him but he'll lead our team out with an American flag. We thought that would be important for a Military Appreciation Week.

Playing Iowa this week. The overall series is 13-12, Penn State leads. If you look at Coach Ferentz and his record, he's 8-4 against Penn State, has had a lot of success.

Overall really good on defense. You look at them statistically, they're one of the better teams in the conference on defense. Offensively they don't make mistakes. They're one of the better teams in the country. They're 12th in the country in turnover margin at plus seven. Then big plays in the return game. Punt return and kick return. That's going to be an important part of the game, is the turnover ratio. Improving on third down, then limiting their big plays on special teams is going to be a real focus all week long.

I'll open it up to questions.

Q. What did you expect from Trace McSorley when you decided on him as the starter? Has he met those expectations? Where has he made the most progress since August?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think it's probably most likely consistency and confidence. Obviously we saw traits in him that we thought in the recruiting process would fit well here at Penn State. Then obviously what we saw in practice. He displayed those types of traits, consistency in practice, understanding the offense, how to get us in and out of the right plays. Had some play making ability, protecting the football, those types of things. We kept all those statistics.

Really that's who he's been. He's done a much better job of protecting the ball when it comes to ball security, in terms of carrying the ball in the pocket, which I think has been really important for us.

He's about on schedule. I still think there's a lot of areas he can improve. We'll be saying that when he's a senior, as well. But overall he's on schedule, and we've been very pleased with him. Not only what he's doing on the field but things you don't see behind the scenes, his leadership, his approach, his demeanor, those types of things.

Q. You talked about the turnover margin, how that's been a key for you guys in this four-game winning streak. I think the offense has only turned it over once in the four games, it was a fumble. With you guys snapping 68, 70 times a game, do you feel like that is sustainable, that low of a turnover rate? You run a bit of a risky offense at times. Why do you think you have been so good at holding onto the ball like that?
COACH FRANKLIN: I guess the way you describe the offense, I wouldn't necessarily agree with that.

But we emphasize it. I think I've told you guys before, I think we work ball security more than any program that I've been a part of. I think probably most of our coaching staff, we work ball security more than anyplace I've ever been. We do it every single day in a drill, that that's the entire focus. A lot of people obviously make it a priority all practice. We do that as well. But actually every single day we do ball security.

I think that's something that's very, very important for us, no different than we do tackling drills every single day because those two things are just so important to your success.

So, yeah, we think it's sustainable. This is really the model of how we want to play. We want to protect the football. We want to play great defense. We want to be explosive. We want to eliminate explosive plays on defense. Then we want to be able to make sure that special teams are emphasized as well, that we're not just giving it lip service that all three phases of offense, defense and special teams have a chance to factor into our success week in and week out.

So, yeah, this is the model. This is how we want to play consistently.

Q. You were talking a little bit about Trace off the field. He said earlier today he's starting to feel more comfortable taking more of a vocal leadership role with the team. What have you noticed in that regard since the start of the season? You said back in camp around coaches he's a yes, sir, no, sir guy? Is that the case or has he started to come out of his shell?
COACH FRANKLIN: That's really still who he is. I think I mentioned to you guys before, I told you I talked to his parents. I thought there would be this moment where he really just kind of broke out of his shell. That's not who he is.

I wouldn't say he's any more vocal now than he was before. Obviously having some success and building confidence helps with all those things. But I wouldn't say that we've seen a transformation. I don't know if we will. Again, according to his parents, this is kind of who he's been, very level emotionally, never gets too high, never gets too low, believes in himself, has a lot of confidence. Has got very, very close and strong relationships with everybody on our team. He's one of those guys that relates to so many different groups and backgrounds. He's well-respected.

I don't think there's been a whole lot of change in really who he's been even from his freshman year. I don't think that will change a whole lot in his career here. I think this is who he is. Trace is one of the guys that is very, very comfortable in his own skin, which I think is a very, very important trait, something I'm very attracted to in people.

You can have all different types of personalities, you can be eccentric, outgoing, introverted, you just need to be comfortable in your own skin and who you are. I think Trace, Brandon Smith are good examples if you stay true to yourself, you have a chance to earn people's respect, have the type of leadership that you want.

Q. You said on Twitter maybe after the game, you wanted to see another wideout this Saturday. How has your social media lobbying been received so far?
COACH FRANKLIN: It's funny, what I said after the game was I wanted the stadium to be rocking and sold out and create an unbelievable environment. Then I put in there who says we can only have one wideout a year. I was really talking about the mentality and what we need in terms of an environment and excitement in the stadium. But it kind of went crazy, went viral, people ran with it.

I think all that's great. Most importantly we need that stadium rocking. I would assume that most people are going to wear some of our colors anyway, white or blue. Most importantly we need that stadium rocking. We need a home-field advantage. This is a very, very good football team. They played in the conference championship last year. They returned almost everybody from that team. They've been successful. They have the most veteran coach in our league, probably the most veteran staff in our league. Like I said, Coach Ferentz has an 8-4 record against Penn State. We need a home-field advantage. We've had that. We need this place to be rocking and as supportive as we possibly can of our team, while also being a great host to our guests.

That's something that Penn State has done for so long. When people come to visit Penn State and Happy Valley, they're treated in a first class manner before the game, during the game, then after the game, how we celebrate, how we conduct ourselves. That's important.

We need that stadium rocking on Saturday to make sure we are have a true home-field advantage.

Q. DaeSean Hamilton, a huge part of your offense since you took over. His production, his playing time is going down a little bit. Can you expand on how his season has gone, what you're expecting from him moving forward?
COACH FRANKLIN: He's doing great. He's been a tremendous leader for us. I think you're going to see that a lot as we continue to develop more depth. A lot of guys. You look at our defensive line. The number of reps, we've gotten more people involved, keep guys fresh and healthy throughout the year. The development of Irvin Charles, Juwan Johnson, guys like that. Tompkins is really coming on for us as well.

We're going to spread the wealth. I think Saturday was a great example of that. DaeSean has been a tremendous leader for us, a tremendous play-maker. But things have changed since our first year where guys were playing so many reps. Last year 75 scholarships to this year where we're able to get a lot of guys involved. That's really the model. We want a lot of guys to be able to make plays, be involved on offense, defense, special teams. That allows us to keep guys fresh and healthy, not only for the fourth quarter but for the entire season.

We love DaeSean Hamilton. He's a big part of what we're doing and will continue to do so.

Q. I want to clarify Curtis Cothran's timeline. Was he suspended? For how long? When did he get back to the team? What are you seeing now from him that you hadn't seen back then?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yes, he was suspended. He was suspended for four games. He was always a part of the team. Had not left the team, but was suspended from competition.

But he is an older, veteran guy who we love and respect. He's grown so much in our program, in the three years we've been here. Really, really proud of him and his development in really all phases of his life.

We were really excited about getting him back. He did a great job for us on scout team early in the season. But he's a guy that we made the move very similar to what we did with Zettel a few years ago.

He's a tall, athletic guy. He's 286 pounds, and doesn't look it. Carries the weight really well because of his length. Extremely strong in the weight room. Is able to translate to the field. That's really good. We're all very excited about him. But he's still a redshirt freshman playing in the Big Ten. Being able to get Curtis back, an older guy, a guy that is able to get in there and able to take some of the reps off of Kevin and Antoine White, some of the other guys we have playing, we have a great situation. We're about a three-deep rotation in there at the defensive line at multiple positions. It's been helpful.

Q. On offense, you've been one of the top teams in the country as far as explosive plays. The steady, grind-it-out, move-the-chains offense, maybe it has been or hasn't been what you want it to be. It's not a thing if you score 62 points, but is that a thing going forward? How can you improve on that?
COACH FRANKLIN: No, I think what you want is you want both. I think we're a good offense right now. Where we have to get better is on third down. If we solve the third down problem, we'll sustain more drives. We'll also do a better job with time of possession, which will help our defense out, as well.

But I don't want to lose the explosive part of our offense, as well. Right now I think we're good on offense. For us to take the next step and become even better on offense is to improve on third down. That will have a huge impact.

We have less third downs than we've had in the past because we're getting so many first downs on first and second downs. The way they do third downs is on percentage. That's where we have to improve. We have to improve on our percentage of third downs that we're able to execute and pick up, would be really helpful for us overall as an entire team.

Q. How different a player is Paris Palmer this year than he was last season? How difficult a transition was it for him to go from a guy who played quite a bit to having to wait his turn?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think he's improved because he's a year older. I think Coach Limegrover is doing a good job. But probably not as much as people think. He has improved. The work he has put in over the last year, Coach Limegrover, I think he handled a difficult situation very well. You go from being a starter last year to not playing as much.

We do this thing called ultimate teammate, and another guy that I would mention like that that's been really good is Derek Dowrey, who played a lot of football for us the last can couple years. His reps have gone down. He has been an unbelievable, positive member of our team, tremendous role model and mentor to our younger players.

I think Paris was like that as well. He kept working hard. He kept a good attitude. In this game, opportunities are going to come. When they come, you have to be ready. He was.

I think we've talked about this before. I think probably the biggest difference is the mobility we have at the quarterback position, able to solve some of our problems, step up in the pocket. The threat of the quarterback running the ball has helped those guys. It's a part of what we do offensively.

I think it's a combination of all those things. I think he's a year older, a year stronger, he's a little bit bigger, and he kept a good attitude kind of through the whole process, competed really hard. When he didn't win the starting job, kept working hard. When his opportunity came, he was ready.

I'm very, very proud of him. But that's what you want. We haven't had that in the past, that type of competition, where guys were battling for spots. It was a true competition. At the end of the competition, you still had somebody you felt like you could win with in the two deep.

This is the first time we're really experiencing that. That's much more normal in major college football. It's been a transition for our players as well, to be honest with you. You look at the number of walk-ons, I think we had 51 walk-ons on our team when we first got here. That number has reduced.

There's just been a lot of changes. Our guys have handled all those changes really well. In the first two years, there were some challenges with that.

Q. You were ranked in the top 25 for the first time last week. Football playoff poll comes out today. I know you're focused on Iowa, but all of this positive momentum that the program is getting, more praise around the country, how much does all of that ultimately help to what your end goal is, to build the program back into a nationally prominent team?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think externally it helps. Internally, I don't think it does. Our focus is on Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa internally. That's all we talk about. We don't talk about those other things. We talk about making sure we have a great environment on Saturday so we have a home-field advantage, making sure our guys are prepared.

I thought on Monday once again our player-driven meetings on their own, coming in, watching film, having questions ready for Tuesday, taking ownership of the team, taking our destiny and our fate. That's where our focus is.

Externally I think it's important because perception is important because perception is that person's reality. As you guys know, the media has an impact on that. So externally it's great, but internally our focus is on Iowa completely, black and gold, Coach Ferentz, their football team, their schemes, and our guys preparing to go out and play well today in practice, control the things that we can control, which is practicing well today, do that again on Wednesday, do that again on Thursday, have a great walk-through on Friday, then be really prepared well to play on Saturday. That is our focus. It's not going to change week in and week out.

So I hope that answers your question.

Q. Ever since halftime at Minnesota, it seems like this has been a different kind of team. A lot of momentum since then. Is there something you can identify that changed? What has been the big difference with this team the last few weeks compared to where you were before?
COACH FRANKLIN: Again, I've been saying it for three years. I feel like we have been taking steps, positive steps, for three years. Did it year one, did it year two, did it year three. It just kind of keeps progressing.

The off-season, the depth, the maturity. So, to be honest with you, I think it's just the experience that our guys are gaining, the confidence they're gaining in having success, the support that we're getting from our fan base, the positive support, the environment we've had at home. All these things play a part in it.

For us to build the program that we want to build, it's got to be everybody. It's President Barron, it's Sandy, it's the board, it's our coaches and players, the fans, the media. It's everybody, it really is. It's the community. It's all those things.

I don't think it's one moment or one thing or one game. It's just been kind of the process, sticking to our plan, believing in one another, building trust and relationships, and identity, which I think is really what we've created in year three is an identity.

Maybe it's different than what it's been in the past. That's been our challenge for three years, building that identity, embracing it, having fun with it.

Q. Is part of that success having a team that is as close as these guys seem to be? Why do you think this team is so close?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think any successful team is really close. You have to have trust in any successful football team. You have to have love for one another. You have to have belief. Those are three things that you have to have: trust, love and belief in any successful team, organization, corporation for it to be successful. We have that right now.

The other ingredient which I think is key, you have to be willing to sacrifice and work hard. Our guys have done that. They work hard in practice, work hard in off-season. We're playing hard right now, which to me is the best compliment that I think you can get as a coach.

When you talk to high school coaches or people that study the game of football, they say, Your guys play really hard. That's something that's really, really important to me. We're doing that right now.

I think it's not really specific to this year. It's specific to good teams. Good teams are close. Good teams care about each other. Good teams care about the organization or the school that they represent. They believe in each other. They believe in each other, they believe in the coaches, the coaches believe in the players. They believe in the systems.

Right now we got great chemistry. I think I told you guys that in the beginning of the year, that we got really good chemistry in the locker room. We work really hard at that. We're in a good place. This is how it's supposed to be. Now that we have that, we can't ever let it go. We got to work real hard at keeping that.

Q. Can you talk about Evan Schwan, his leadership on the field, his personality off the field.
COACH FRANKLIN: Evan is a unique individual. Again, we talked about people kind of owning who they are, being comfortable with who they are. I think Evan is a really good example of that. I thought the piece he wrote in the game program earlier in the year, I got that framed, got that in my office, really impressive. I think the title was Live Your Lifelike It's Third-and-Long or something like that. He's really good.

He's just a guy that provides great leadership for us. He's kind of been through a lot in the program. He's kind of seen it all. He's been a guy on the scout team. He's been a guy that was here when the challenges hit. He's a guy that's worked into a more prominent role in the team. Now he's a starter and has a significant role for us.

I'm really proud of him. Comes from a football family. His brother played at Purdue. He's just an interesting guy. He really is. He got up and did his share last week actually. I'm just really proud of him. He's a guy, a lot of times these guys are heavily recruited, and they come here and they want instant success. Some guys are able to get that and some guys aren't, and some guys don't handle that well. Some guys are maybe in a situation where they probably could have had an impact earlier in their career because they did not handle the transition it makes to college football sometimes.

Evan is one of those guys I know in my three years that I've been here he kind of kept working, was steady with it. I don't think he was ever content with his role, but also appreciated his role, just kept working. He knew when his opportunity would come, he would make the most of it. He's done that.

He's a big body, powerful guy that is good against the run, and has also become much more productive in the pass game in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback. He had not had a sack until this year. Now he has multiple sacks. Not just that, but has created pretty consistent pressure on the quarterback.

I'm proud of him. I really am. I think that's a model. Not every guy is going to come in and be a Saquon Barkley and as a true freshman make that much of an impact. There's also going to be the model of Evan where you can make an argument maybe one of our more valuable players on our team right now is a senior.

You need both. You need freshmen coming in and making impacts, seniors taking on roles of leadership responsibility. We have a good balance of that right now.

Q. When you look at Iowa, when they've gone up against teams with strong rushing attacks, what has been their patterns against teams like yourself?
COACH FRANKLIN: Iowa is what you would expect when you have a coach and a coaching staff as tenured as theirs. They're not changing. You put the film on this year, last year, according to Coach Limegrover, five years ago, they have tweaked some things in who they've been, but not much. This is who they've been on offense.

They're going to line up and try to run the ball down your throat. Pro style offense. They're going to be aggressive on defense, they're going to be really good up front. They're going to try to do a great job with their front seven. Typically going to play with a two-high safety and do a great job with those things.

They're not changing. I think that will be their model for success for the long-term there. Like I said, they don't turn the ball over on offense. They don't make any mistakes on defense. They've built their program around that. On special teams they've been able to make plays. Desmond King is a big part of that as a punt return guy. They have their model, they're going to stick to it. Probably no reason to change based on the success they've had there.

Q. Iowa's offense, the two runningbacks, averaging about 160 yards a game. What do you have to do to slow them down? Talk about a guy like C.J.?
COACH FRANKLIN: I've known C.J. a long time, Nashville, his family. Very interesting background when it comes to football, country music. Really unique background. A veteran quarterback helps. No doubt about it. He's played a lot of football for them, been successful.

I think it really starts with them, like it always does at Iowa, up front. Coach Ferentz is probably one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the country, always has been. The program has been built around that. They always seem to have good runningbacks. They're going to play ball-control offense, not make any mistakes, keep a low-scoring game on defense, and also be able to find some play-makers on special teams and be well-coached. Their special teams coordinator I've known for a long time as well.

That's kind of their model. But, yeah, it's going to be our D-line against their O-line. I think it's going to be our O-line against their front seven. That's an area that we've been improving on since the beginning of the season. They're a veteran developmental program that does a great job year in and year out.

You probably get sick of me saying this, but it's an up front game, an up front conference. I think that's college football. They do a good job with that. That's how they're built. We have taken great strides in that area. That's going to be our challenge our Saturday, our D-line being able to hold up against their O-line.

Q. You've said how many returning personnel they have. What do you think has gotten away from them in their losses? What have they lost in their game not being in a similar position again this year?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think they're a very, very talented program. I think they're very well-coached. Again, we're focused on what we're facing on Saturday, what we've seen on tape. What we've seen on tape is a program that's been built on the offensive line and controlling the ball on offense and playing great defense, making plays on special teams.

What I see on film is a team that plays really hard, that tackles well, has solid, sound schemes, that causes you some conflict. They know how to win. They've won a lot of football games.

Their coaching staff knows how to win and their players know how to win. I'm just basing everything off of what we see on film. I think one of the things we have, this is probably one of the road games that they have on their schedule that maybe is a little bit different of an environment that they've seen this year, and that's why it's going to be so important that we have a great one on Saturday.

I'm not going to speculate on anything. I'm just going to talk about what I see on film.

Q. To go away from football, you've talked in the past about talking to the team about things away from sports. Will you talk about the election, not endorse anybody, but do you remember your first election? '92 would have been the first time you could vote. Does it change Tuesday's schedule at all?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I mean, we talk about every single day big issues. I am going to come out and endorse someone right now. No, I'm not (laughter).

But, yeah, I think obviously this can never be just about football and wins and losses. Anything that we see that's coming up across the country, social issues, behavioral issues, we're going to cover those. We're going to cover those and talk about them. It's not anything we're going to spend on hour on in a team meeting, but we're going to do in small doses. We'll take five to ten minutes every single day and talk about some of these things, the importance and the appreciation of what we have in this country, the power that they have to vote and make a difference.

But, yeah, we're not going to change our schedule at all. I think the polls and those things open early enough that people can handle that and handle their responsibility when it comes to academics and football. But we're not going to change any routines.

We talk about these things like we talk about a lot of things. I also am aware, I think we all were taught long ago you have to be careful talking about politics, talking about religion, those types of things. There's a fine line to that of how you do it, how you handle yourself, being respectful of others.

It's something you just have to be careful of because you don't want to do anything that's going to be divisive on your team as well. Typically with politics and religion, you can have strong opinions on either side, especially when you have a team like a football program where you have so many people from so many different diverse backgrounds and perspectives. I think that's what makes the game of football so special in our country. So many different backgrounds. Not only that, so many different skill sets. Football is unique because you have kids from inner cities, you have kids from rural communities, urban communities, all different ethnicities, all different body types. That's one of the things that's different about football. You have a guy who can be 6'4", 330 pounds, and a guy that's 5'6", 165 pounds. There's a role for each one of them.

Obviously I'm biased, but I think the game of football is very special. In a lot of ways there's a lot of similarities and challenges that our country also has.

Q. You talked a lot today about the model, the big picture of the program. At one point you said it was a little bit behind where you thought it would be. Now maybe you would say something different about big picture, where this program is headed. Also, what was maybe the lowest point, maybe we didn't recognize enough, when you were trying to build this thing?
COACH FRANKLIN: I guess what I would say is I don't know if I would necessarily describe it the way you just did. I think I mentioned to you guys before, as much homework as you do, as many studies as you do, you never truly know what you're getting yourself into when you take on a new responsibility, a new job. There were just some things that I didn't completely understand until coming here.

So now we're at a point where we're starting to work through these things, starting to make some progress. I think we're still kind of right on schedule. We're taking steps every single day, a lot of steps that I don't think are necessarily seen by fans or the media, but we see it every day in our locker room, we see it every day out on the practice field, when it comes to community service, when grades come out, things like that. There's been steady progress all along, maybe not as fast as some people would have liked, but it's really been pretty steady.

Yeah, I wouldn't say one specific moment or time. Obviously we just got to keep heading in the right direction. Saturday is another opportunity to do that against a very good football team, a Big Ten opponent. Big Ten games are hard to win. We got to go out there and make sure we do everything we possibly can to keep progressing in the right direction.

Q. The two offensive coaches that you brought in, curious whether you feel there was an acclimation period for them, how they're clicking now. Seems both those areas are hitting a stride.
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think there's always an acclimization period. There always is. Just like for myself, for anybody new to the program. There's a time that you transition. The more you learn, the more you get comfortable not only with Penn State but the Big Ten in general, our opponents, all those things.

Like I've mentioned before, I think Joe and Matt are both doing a really good job. I also think they showed up at a good time, as well. Matt didn't show up when there were nine offensive linemen. There's 17 offensive linemen to work with that he's doing a really good job with. Joe as well.

I think the staff kind of really works well together. Joe knows which members on the staff that he can rely on in different areas that complement himself. The staff knows how to interact with Joe, and areas where they can complement and support him, as well as myself.

Yeah, they've been really good additions, as well as Tim Banks. I think Tim is playing a similar role to what Brent Pry has served in the past years. Having another guy who has coordinator experience on your staff is valuable. Having guys with head coaching experience on your staff is valuable. You just look at things differently. You guys look at things differently in your job now compared to when you first started. That's where experience counts. All different types of experiences help mold you and grow you professionally and personally. Those guys are doing a really good job for us.

Q. Trace is at about 55% right now. What is a good completion percentage in this offense given all the variables that go into a stat like that?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think we want to get back up into the mid 60s or higher. I think that's something that's important for us. We talked about third downs, something that's going to be important for us in those statistics. That's where a lot of your passing numbers are going to come from because you're going to predominantly throw in third down situations.

Improving our completion percentage would help us. Improving our third down percentage would help our team. There's a lot of factors that go into that. I think there's some throws that Trace wishes he had over. I think obviously our protection, being able to protect long enough to allow people to get open and make plays is part of it. Then drops, we have to reduce some of those as well.

The other thing you have to remember is how many shots we're taking down the field, how many defenses we're playing that are playing in your face, press man on the outside. I mean, last week, if you watched that game, almost every rep, every defender was eight yards or under.

Obviously the farther you throw the ball down the field, the lower percentage it typically is. Again, I think Saquon Barkley does a couple of things. He forces us to see a lot of defenses that have a lot of men in the box, but he also creates possibilities and opportunities for plays down the field because our guys are in one-on-one situations.

I think it's a combination of all those factors, offensive line protection, consistently catching the ball, being as accurate as we can be, then the different styles of defense we're going to see. Saquon Barkley has an impact on that, as well.

Q. The challenges you faced when you got here, the first two years you were here. From your position as head coach, is one of those challenges, I want to choose the right word, maybe overcoming uncertainty or skepticism that might develop amongst veteran guys, guys you didn't recruit, when results were mixed early on? Is that fair to ask, the right way to ask it?
COACH FRANKLIN: That's fine.

There's a hundred different factors. I think whenever you take over a new program and you have a different philosophy, there's a transition to that. Whenever you have some of the challenges that we've had, there's some challenges with that. Whenever you have a community and a fan base that has really high expectations because of the traditions and history that we have. When you combine all those things together, it can create some challenges.

But I think those things are also what makes this place so special. So, yeah, I think when you have different personalities, different philosophies come in, there's going to be a transition time. Again, I felt internally we were making really, really good strides, but just not as fast as some people would have liked us to make.

But I never felt like that. I always felt like we were making really good strides. But, yeah, it's so many different factors. It's obviously the ones that are on paper that everybody can look at that were discussed to nauseam for a long period of time. There's also a lot of factors that go behind the scenes that people aren't even aware of. Then just the typical transitions you have when you take over a new program. It's all those factors.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

COACH FRANKLIN: Thanks, guys.

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