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November 8, 2016

James Franklin

University Park, Pennsylvania

COACH FRANKLIN: People were wearing white, they were excited, from the time we got off the bus, to be honest with you, the whole bus ride from the hotel all the way to the drop off point, there was energy along the entire way, really kind of set the tone and we're very, very thankful and appreciative of that.

Iowa, some of the main factors in that game. Iowa is giving up 18 points a game. They were number 16 in the country when it comes to scoring defense. We scored 41. Troy Apke, getting his first career interception, I think that's been a big story for us the last four or so games, we've done a great job of protecting football.

Really decision making in the passing game, we've been pretty good all year long but ball security in terms of carrying the ball, we've done a better job by the quarterback in the pocket as well as runners and then our defense being able to get a turnover or a couple.

We won the turnover battle. That was big. We went into that saying that this team doesn't make mistakes on offense. They play really good defense and they are explosive in special teams.

Offensively we started fast. That's been something, again, I talked to you guys a couple weeks back about us emphasizing that. We're getting some positive response to that. I think it's a combination of things. I think it's the emphasis we are putting on it in practice but also I think it's just a young team maturing and then we made explosive plays. We had 15 explosive plays, nine runs, six passes. That's something that we are one of the better offenses in the country when it comes to that.

Defensively, we stopped the run, a team that prides themselves on running the ball and being really physical. We held them to 1.2 yards per carry and 30 total yards rushing. That's two weeks in a row we've held our opponent under 50 yards rushing. I don't think that's ever happened here before at Penn State. Really proud of the way our defense is playing right now, the maturity of the front seven, and how physical our D-Line is.

Special teams, kickoff return and kickoff, played well. Helped us win the field position battle, which is something we've consistently been winning all year long and we were able to eliminate 14 from having a significant impact in the game, which was a focus point for us.

Players of the Week on offense, we had Saquon Barkley with 211 all-purpose yards. Defensively, we went with the defensive line as a whole: Three sacks, four tackles for a loss, 30 yards rushing. And then on special teams, we went with the kickoff team: The entire kickoff team, seven kicks, 64-yard average on the kick, a net of 42 yards and three touchbacks. Again, we felt like 14 had a chance to be a factor in the game and our kickoff team did such a good job with that, which really helped with field position for our defense and for our offense.

And then really cool for Connor McGovern to be the Big Ten freshman of the week. First offensive lineman to win the weekly honor since 2004 and only the third lineman ever in Big Ten history to win a weekly award, so that's really cool.

Playing Indiana this week. In 2013, Indiana won 45-24. Last couple years, it's been tightly-contested games. Last five games in Bloomington have been close games, four have been decided by six points or left. I think their football coach, Kevin Wilson, is one of the best offensive minds in college football. Has been since he was at Oklahoma.

You look at statistically, they are up there year after year, especially when it comes to passing offense. So that will be a challenge for us. There's no doubt about it.

You look at the last couple games what they have been able to do on the offensive side of the ball with Kevin Johns, their offensive coordinator, although Kevin is running the offense and has a major role in the offense.

And Tom Allen, their defensive coordinator, has really changed their program. That was a big hire. I know Kevin has been talking about that all off-season, getting him to come to Indiana has made a big difference for them and they are playing really well on defense now. Tremendous challenge. Excited to go on the road with this team and take another step.

We ask, last week I requested and asked for the fans to come out and really support this team at home and give us a real strong home-field advantage. The next step for us is to travel well. And how cool would it be to fill that stadium up with white on the road with all of our alums and lettermen and fans that we have in that region. That would be really cool, and I know our team would really appreciate it and we would love that support.

Open up to questions.

Q. Can you discuss Paris Palmer's journey from North Carolina to Penn State? What impresses you most about it and how is he playing now?
COACH FRANKLIN: He's a really, really neat guy. We got a chance to recruit him out of Lackawana here in-state. I've known Coach Duda for a really, really long time. Those relationships are important. We were able to get involved with him. He was highly regarded. Still a raw football player.

We were able to get involved with him and I'll never forget myself, and I think three other coaches, maybe four other coaches, sitting at a Texas roadhouse with his mom and Paris, kind of -- it was essentially the home visit. And I don't know if you guys ever had those rolls with the maple butter, was really good. I was hammering them rolls.

But got a chance -- and Paris had on his phone kind of something he had written in letting us know that he was committing to us. And it was just so well written and so thoughtful and so mature; he's got great perspective on a lot of things.

So he's been a really big part of our program ever since he committed to us and ever since he's arrived. Last year thrown in there and battled like crazy, you know. Then doesn't start this year with the starting unit on the offensive line; handles that the right way. We lose Andrew Nelson and then Paris comes in and has played really well.

We're proud of him. He's bigger and stronger than he's ever been. He's more confident. He's doing really good in school. He's just going to be really successful. He did his share with our team Friday night at the hotel a few weeks ago and did a great job with that. He was very involved when we had a lot of discussions, when it comes to politics, had a lot of discussions when it came to honoring the flag and the National Anthem.

He's just a neat guy. He's what college athletics are all about, guys from all different backgrounds coming and learning from each other and learning from Penn State and this community. I'm really proud of him and I'm obviously glad that he's playing well, as well.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Tommy Stevens, your backup quarterback. Could I get your thoughts maybe on his athleticism and his development this year? And given that he's averaging ten yards a carry, I know it's limited work, but is it ever tempting to try and expand his role? I know he's the backup and you need him in case anything happens to Trace, but he seems like a pretty unique talent. Just wonder if that running play you guys designed for him against Iowa, is there anyway he would have a different kind of role moving forward, maybe even long term?
COACH FRANKLIN: Well, two things. I've been telling you guys for awhile how excited we are about Tommy and his future and how he's approached things.

He's grown a lot from the skinny kid that showed up here as a mid-semester grad, tall and lanky with a big 'ole smile on his face. He was about 185 pounds at the time and now he's 220, knocking on 225. Confident, doing really well in school, got a great supportive family. I think he's probably going to have probably 120 people at the game this week by getting tickets from all of his teammates. I think he had 70 a few weeks ago -- yeah, Purdue, he had I think 70 tickets for the Purdue game, so I would think this one would be even bigger.

But the question about the package, you know, to be honest with you, it's not something that I'm comfortable discussing right now, anyway. If that was a big part of our game plan moving forward, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to discuss it here. But he's a guy that we want to continue to get reps as a quarterback. He obviously has the ability to make plays. He is our backup quarterback right now. He pushes Trace every single day at practice. But we've been working on those things for awhile.

Actually last week, I had kind of a panic attack, it's one of these calls that Kris gets that she loves when I call her at 11:30 because somebody had posted a video of that exact play from practice, when we have you guys out to practice. And someone had videotaped that exact play and had posted it online and then somebody had written a blog about it. So as you could imagine, that's something that we were really excited about; that that was out.

But yeah, it's something that we want to continue to get Tommy reps and experience and allow him to grow, but it's going to come within the framework of the offense.

Q. You mentioned guys doing their shares on Friday nights a little bit earlier today and a lot of your players have said that's something that's resonated with him, learning maybe surprising things about teammates. How long has that practice been part of your coaching career, and how big of a role do you think it can be in helping build a team and build chemistry?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think it's really important. It's something that we've always done since I've been a head coach. There's a lot of different things I think we do, and I don't know if we've discussed these things before or not. But I spent a lot of time and we spent a lot of time on things that we think are going to build great chemistry on the team. And it's different.

I think early on, some of those things challenged some of the things that had been done here for a long time. The way the locker room is set up; here in the past there was a section in the locker room where all the freshmen would go together and that was a challenge, because I wanted to change that and that was different. I believe -- everybody says teams are families, but when you've got 125 people, it's hard to get to know everybody on a real intimate, personal level.

What happens is, all the D-Lines sit in this section in the locker room or all the O-Lines sit in this section. You get to know your group really well but sometimes the D-tackles don't get to know the kickers that well.

So we break the entire locker room up. We break it up by position, wide receiver next to a DB next to a kicker next to a quarterback. The whole locker room is broken up like that, old guys, young guys and we change it every single year. People become very territorial of their little space in the locker room and we change it every year because we want to force guys to continue to get to know each other and grow.

The shares are part of that, getting up and telling your story, whatever your story is. Some guys have shared some really, really personal things with the team, some challenges that they have had to overcome. They have told funny stories. The coaches do it; the players do it; the administrators do it; we have everybody that's involved in our program gets up, and we started it in camp and we do it throughout the entire year.

And I do, I think it's important. Ike probably had one of the best shares I've ever been around and this week he got up again wanting to talk to the team again about how much he appreciated the opportunity to lead the team on to the field this week.

I think it's been something that's been very important for us and again, it was just one of those things that was maybe new to the culture here at Penn State, aligns with the Penn State culture, but was new, and all those new things I think early on in the process were just different. I think a lot of times people struggle with change. Change is hard for all of us.

Q. On maybe a football question, what's happening with your team at right tackle this week between Brendan and Chasz and who might factor into that position going into Indiana?
COACH FRANKLIN: Right now obviously we ended the game with Paris and Chasz. Right now that's about all the information I have. As you guys know, I don't get into a whole lot of these specifics anyway.

Right now we've got Paris and we've got Chasz and we're hoping to get some guys back. We'll see how the week plays out. And then we're also working on some other variables -- I think I talked to you guys after the game, the conversation I had on the headset with Matt about who is going into the game. If someone's helmet pops off, you're not going to burn Will Fries' redshirt because someone's helmet popped off. You would put somebody in for one play.

Connor McGovern obviously played a lot of tackle during spring ball. That was a big discussion that we had obviously when the season started and he wasn't doing that anymore.

Bates is a guy we're working out there a little bit out there, as well, to create some more depth. And then Fries; Fries is a guy that can factor in, as well. We kind of have a bunch of different plans but right now obviously we have the situation with how the game ended.

Q. I think you needed at least three punt returners this year. DeAndre is the last one, looked a little uncertain fielding the ball Saturday night. Where do you guys stand with that position, and was there something wrong with John in that role that he wasn't doing that Saturday?
COACH FRANKLIN: We're still just trying to kind of work that out. We feel good about John. We feel good about DeAndre. We feel good about Mr. Garrity. We think all of those guys can go back and do the job. McPhearson has been working on it all year long, as well, Josh McPhearson. There's different variables that we could use.

One of the things with John is he's just playing so many reps on defense, so we are kind of trying to limit that, as well. If somebody can take on that responsibility, not only catch the ball and make great decisions, but also be a threat.

I'd like us to get to the point where we have someone back there that's like Saquon Barkley and when I mean by that is when people see Saquon is going to get the ball, everybody is kind of on the edge of their seat waiting for something exciting to happen, me included.

And you'd like to get that way with your punt returner and your kick returner, as well. Miles has taken some really nice steps, as well as the whole unit, in our kick return. We need to be able to do the same thing with our punt return.

John really gave us a spark early on, but again, we have some concerns about just total reps that he's playing. So you'd like for somebody else to really kind of grab a hold of that job moving forward. But as of right now, I think John's our best option.

Q. You always mentioned about the high expectations that your fan base has for the team and there was a lot of grumbling after the Michigan game and not a lot since you're on this five-game winning streak. How much personal satisfaction do you derive from having a five-game winning streak and maybe quieting the critics?
COACH FRANKLIN: Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana (counting on each finger).

Mike Foreman (ph) told me before that last week that I broke the record of 14. That was 15, I think, Mike.

So I don't spend time thinking about those things. I don't spend time talking to the team about those things. That's the nature of this business. That's the nature of this profession. That's the nature of this game. When you have fans that are really, really passionate, when you win they are on cloud nine. When you lose, it hurts. It hurts. And that's because they care so much. That's part of it.

But we don't spend any time talking about those things, thinking about those things. There's enough things on our plate and my plate throughout the week that I don't have time for those things.

Q. After the Ohio State game, you talked about football has the ability to bring the community together and everybody in the community sort of needs -- it's kind of a group effort. Have you seen ways in which that has manifested itself in the last couple weeks, other than the noise and atmosphere in the stadium? Have you seen evidence that football was starting to really bring everybody together?
COACH FRANKLIN: For right now my focus is on Saturdays. You know, I know driving from the hotel to the stadium, there was a difference. All along the bus route, there was electricity, people banging on the side of the bus. Monica gets nervous every time she sees that; the police officer that works with us, she gets nervous every time she sees that. The guy that's leading on the scooter, doesn't, because the cop who is leading, he's actually high-fiving the fans along the way.

But the stadium was rocking. Although it was not an official Whiteout, it was fairly white. It was a great crowd. They had a huge influence in the game and then obviously people are excited. This town, this community, the professors, the faculty, the administrators, the president, the board, the players, the student athletes. This is important to all of us.

You know, the success that we are having, it leaves a lot of people leaving that stadium with a good feeling. So does it have an effect? Yeah, it has an effect. My focus right now is on this team and being successful this week and be focused on executing our offense, defense and special teams is my focus.

I do believe those things that I said. I do believe that football and THON, those two things have a way to bring this people together like nothing else, and a lot of communities. But when you see THON and there's all them students in there dancing for 46 straight hours or whatever it is and going out all over the state and all over the region raising money for pediatric cancer, you're part of something bigger than just yourself and it brings people together. You go into that stadium and there's 107,000 people going crazy and another 100,000 tailgating; it brings people together.

I think Cael and his wrestling program has done that. I think Russ Rose and the volleyball program has done that. Obviously when you're dealing with 107,000 -- Shar and what she's been able to do. I could go on and on; we have so many great coaches here.

But when you're able to get 107,000 people all in one venue pulling for something together, it does have an impact. It makes a difference.

Q. Wanted to ask about the personal foul penalties, specifically the ones for Cabinda. How do you address those with the players once you get a chance to go back and look at them? Everything happened so fast out there and they both seemed pretty close when you look at the replays, but how do you coach the players to be both aggressive and to think about pulling back when it's one of those borderline type of calls when they are near the sideline?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I don't like them but I think very similar to what you said, you kind of put them into categories.

There's the penalties that are completely avoidable that are focus penalties: Jumping off-sides, substitution penalties, things like that, from a focus and from an organizational standpoint that drive you crazy. They are the ones that you take so much pride in and that you spend so much time working on. They are the ones that you have to eliminate them as much as you possibly can.

There's another category of penalties that are aggressive penalties. I look at those two penalties on Jason as aggressive penalties. The one he's going to sack the quarterback, the quarterback gets the ball out at the last minute. It's close. It's one of those penalties that I think could have been called.

It's one of those penalties that I think maybe not have been called, depending on who is officiating the game: He didn't lead with the lead, he didn't take the guy to the ground. He shoved him. Obviously we have to do a better job and pull off there so we don't get the penalty in the first place.

But to me there's a difference between a guy where you feel like it's really obvious to everybody that he crossed the line. Same thing with his tackle on the sideline. That's a hard deal. You have a quarterback running, he's still inbounds but you can tell his intent is to go out of bounds and he shoves him.

The hard part is, that quarterback sticks his foot in the ground and cuts back and Jason doesn't make the tackle, then we're ripping him for that. It's a fine line. I get it. We need to protect the game. We need to protect the players.

I kind of had a colorful discussion with the official, and the official turned to me and said: "I'll do the same thing to protect your quarterback." It was a great response. Shut me right up. I walked away. Walked right back down the sideline the other direction.

I guess what I'm saying, there's categories of penalties. There's penalties where you're not focused and you really did something that could have been avoided. There's aggressive penalties where you're right on the edge of playing clean, good football, but it gets interpreted in a different way. And then there's the ones that are clearly obvious to everybody that it was definitely a late hit or a guy was leading with the helmet or whatever it may be.

You know, I'm not one of these selfish coaches that it's just about the wins and losses. It's also about doing it the right way and it's also about protecting the game and making sure that we're making those decisions and all those things that are put in place are to protect the game and to protect the student athletes, which is what it needs to be about.

Q. Paris Palmer told his fascinating personal story earlier today. Just curious why we weren't able to talk to Paris before today, and what goes into the process when you're the coach and you're trying to determine when kids can talk to the media as a whole?
COACH FRANKLIN: Okay. Yeah, I think we've talked about this probably 40 times, but I'll go through it again.

My job is not just to allow people to get to know our program and also allow you guys to do your jobs which is tell great stories about Penn State football; but it's also to prepare and educate our players about the process.

So Saquon Barkley, you guys were all blown away by him the first time you guys were able to interact with him after he had been in the program the first year and did a great job. Well, Saquon Barkley did a great job, No. 1, because he's a great kid. But also because we helped prepare him and educate him just about how to handle the media. Because I've also seen the opposite where you have a guy that answers the question not the way he would like to answer the question, and it's a bad sound byte and that's how he's remembered.

And they are still going to make mistakes. I make mistakes. Paris is just like that. All first-year players, they go through an educational process no different than anything else. Kris does a great job bringing different speakers in, different people, about questions and how to handle questions. We do all different types of things. We bring people to come and educate our players about healthy relationships and drugs and alcohol and media and study habits, each one of these areas.

So Paris was a first-year player, although he was a junior college player, he's still a first-year player. And obviously you guys weren't banging down the door for him this year because he had not been playing.

I know there's been some requests, Audrey is looking around left to right with her eyes, but it didn't make a whole lot of sense to have a backup offensive lineman at that point come and speak with you when we had so many other guys that had great stories to tell, as well.

It really comes down to, I want to put these guys in a position to be successful. I want to put them in a position to be successful on Saturday, but I also want to put them in position that they can come up here and present themselves really well, because the other way we look at this, this is a job interview. Every time they get up in front of the camera and get up in front of the media and present themselves really well, someone sees that and you never know what doors that may open for them.

As you guys know, we've got really, really good kids here who are sharp and articulate, but I will tell you this -- Saquon Barkley was really happy that his first year, that that wasn't on his plate. He could focus on school and football, learn from the older guys, as well as Kris and her department, about ways to work with the media, and then has done a great job.

It's a model that we believe in and I believe in, and we'll continue to do that. Although I get it, from your perspective. You guys want to be able to get your hands on all of them. I get that. But we have enough guys when you take the first-year players out of the program, there's still enough guys for you to talk with and interact and get great stories.

Obviously Moyer doesn't agree with that, either, because he's shaking his head no on the side, too.

Q. Going off a curious think thing, you've talked about it before, what does the media training entail? Do you bring in cameras?
COACH FRANKLIN: We'll do cameras. We'll do different questions. We'll do the technique where you guys ask the same question 12 different ways but it's the same question. It's amazing, just putting a mic in front of someone's face or putting the camera in front of someone's face, you get nervous, and all we want them to do is stay true to who they are and be natural and be authentic to who they are and not allow the camera or the microphone or those things to affect them.

But also maybe some tough questions. Maybe there's something going on and you try to ask them tough -- I've been through it myself when I first got into coaching. I would go to the National Coaches Convention and you go to a media training seminar. I remember going to an etiquette deal where you learn and we do that with the players, as well. You go in and have a nice meal, and what fork is what and what knife is what, what spoon is what, all those types of things. It's training and it's education, no different than any other aspect of their life.

Q. You mentioned Ike earlier. Can you talk about him being a non-traditional walk-on student, his life experience in the military, what he brings?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think the share is a perfect example of that, because a lot of guys knew Ike and liked Ike and respected Ike with, but they didn't really kind of understand the details. I don't think our team really understood how old he was to be honest with you. He's kind of got a young, kind of playful soul.

I don't think our guys knew how old he was. I don't think they really understood what his responsibilities were in the military. Our guys didn't understand what got him to that point in the first place of joining the military. And then coming to Penn State.

He's one of the guys that got up and really shared some real personal things about his background, about his family, about the military, about school, and about Penn State. And I mean, you could hear a pin drop in the room, because not only was it powerful, but I think it just touched everybody in the room because he was sharing some real personal information.

That's what it's all about, and some guys are comfortable doing that and some guys aren't. It takes time. And then we typically try to get all the seniors Friday night at the hotel before each home game. That's kind of how we do that and depending on how many seniors we have.

But I think that's one of the things that's great about the game of football is you have all these different perspectives and all these different people have different roles on the team. You've got starter, you've got backups, you've got scout team guys, you've got a guy who is 6-6, 340 pounds and you've got a guy who is 5-5, 165 pounds and they are all playing the same game together it. It's neat. I think Ike's a pretty good example of that.

Q. In the first five games, Saquon Barkley had 25 rushes of negative yards and no gain. In the past four, he's had 13. How does that help the offense not just -- we see all the big runs and the big plays, but how has that helped his game and where is that improvement coming from, because obviously that's not just him.
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think the improvement is coming from what I've been telling you guys for three years, our offensive line. Our offensive line is a lot better. They are older; they are more mature; their techniques and fundamentals, and then we have depth now.

Think about a couple years ago, if we lost two of our starting tackles, you know, we wouldn't have been able to handle that and now you're in a position where you would still love to have those guys going but those two guys have come in and played well for us, so that's positive.

I think the other factor is Trace McSorley: His ability to run the ball out the back end of the play, keep the defense honest, design quarterback runs that we have, as well. I think all of those things have kind of factored in; that everybody just can't key on Saquon all the time.

I think those things are really probably the biggest differences.

Q. I was looking at the numbers and it looks like there's four guys, five guys, with 15 receptions or more but nobody over that big 40 mark, which has not been case in years past. What goes into the distribution of the passing game?
COACH FRANKLIN: Again, I think it's very similar to what we just talked about on the O-Line. We have depth at wide receiver and we've got a number of guys that can get on the field and make plays, so we can rotate guys in, keep them fresh, keep them healthy, not only for the fourth quarter but for late in the season.

You look at our D-Line, last game, I think no one played more than like 32 plays in the game on our D-Line. When you're able to do that, it helps everybody. I think our wide receivers are an example of that.

And on top of that, I think our first couple years, I think you guys remember, we were in a situation where Hamilton couldn't even run the one game. We're trying to run jet sweeps with them. We had nobody else to put in. He's hobbling around the field. Where now we have depth, to keep them healthy on the front end; and then if they do get dinged up or have an issue or need a blow, we can put somebody else. You see the same thing with Saquon. Saquon gets a big run, he taps his helmet and Miles or Andre or Mark goes in.

So we're just in a better position to support that. And then I think the other thing is, right now, you've got Trace who is doing a really, really good job of not coming out and saying, okay, this play is called, and Chris Godwin is here, I'm going to throw the ball to Chris Godwin.

He's doing a great job of taking what the defense gives, going through his progression, in rhythm, on time, when he needs to hitch up in the pocket on his third progression, he hits it, and if it's not there he takes off and runs. He's in rhythm. When you do that, you're difficult to defend on offense, and the defense can't say, okay, we need to stop Chris Godwin. If we stop Chris Godwin, we stop 60 percent of our passing game or whatever it may be.

There's some real advantages to it from a team perspective, and our guys have bought into it. I think that's also why you see our touchdown to interception ratio the way it is, because again, we're not forcing it to one or two receivers.

Q. Looking at Indiana with the quarterback and three wide-outs, all four of those guys ranked among the Big Ten leaders. How do you go about controlling their passing game this weekend?
COACH FRANKLIN: It's funny because I just walked out of the defensive meeting room before coming here, and that was a discussion we were having was how many shots did they take down the field. They take a lot of shots down the field, similar to us and what we're going to do to stop that. That's a big focus for us is to eliminate the chunk plays.

You look at how they have been built over the last couple years and they are kind of different this year compared to the two previous years, and I think a lot of that has to do with the running game, the running backs that they have had, and also the new quarterback and what they have at the wide receiver position.

So I think it's a combination of all those things and right now, back to our discussion just a minute ago, they take a little bit different approach. They have got three guys -- two, three guys that are their guys and they pretty much stay in the game the whole guy time.

And you look at different programs in conference and around the country. Some people do that; they don't rotate. I remember watching the film from before we got the job, the rotation patterns were really different than the way we do it.

It just really depends. But for us, they are going to get the ball out quick so it may not come as sacks. We need to do a great job of batting balls down. We have to stop the deep ball. We have to stop the deep ball, them getting chunk plays down the field. So do some things defensively, whether we're playing a two-high shell and things like that to make them earn it with underneath throws. That's a way people have tried to attack us in the past, as well, to challenge our D-Line and challenge our pass rushes, them getting the ball out quickly with quick gain and underneath things. So that's kind of been our focus all week long is the quick control, underneath passing game, and the shots down the field and how can we defend those.

Q. Coach Limegrover said when he got here, he wasn't sure Chasz Wright would be a guy that would be ready to help you guys out so soon. At what point did you see Chasz make that transition to being that guy, was it spring, summer and why has he been so effective for you guys?
COACH FRANKLIN: There started to be some signs in the spring with him. And then over summer, he had a really, really good summer.

Our conditioning test is pretty tough and obviously it's always tougher on the guys that are 345 pounds, and he passed the conditioning test the first time, 6-7, 345 pounds, he's really worked hard, he's really invested. He's a guy that has the length to play tackle and the athleticism to play tackle; but also has the girth that you can move him inside and be a road-grader at guard.

He's kind of the model in terms of flexibility but more than anything, he's confident right now. His hard work has really equated into confidence for him and believing in himself and the system that he's going to be able to get the job done.

I think it's been good that he's been able to sit behind some guys, because I don't know if he would have been ready to do that in week one. But it timed up right where he just kind of kept improving and when he got his opportunity to go in the game, did he well and he's just kind of built on that each week.

I think him and Coach Limegrover have a very good relationship and I think that always helps and I think that's the same with that entire group.

Q. It looked like when Saquon went in at the one end, that he kind of high-stepped a little bit and it looked like you spent a moment with him on the sidelines. What's your feeling with the players having fun and too much individual expression?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, it's a fine line, because this is a game. It's a game and I want them to have fun and I want them to enjoy it with one another. They work extremely hard. There's nothing wrong when you sack the quarterback, you stand up and you show emotion. That's awesome. You worked hard for that and you celebrate with your teammates. You score a touchdown, you make a big catch, those things are great about the game of football.

But it's like anything else. You've just got to be careful that you don't go too far with it. We don't want to do anything that we're not showing good sportsmanship. We don't want to do anything where this is the ultimate team game and it's about that person.

And our guys for the most part do a really good job of that. Saquon obviously got excited and needs to finish that run into the end zone and hand the ball to the official, which is what he typically does.

The other thing that they need to be aware of is technically, that play could have been called where they throw a flag at the two-yard line, you don't score, the ball is moved back 15 yards and that's a dramatic swing of emotion and field position.

You know, just being smart and talking to these guys about the importance of playing with energy and playing with passion, having fun, play the game and celebrating with your teammates and being consistent in those things. But there's times obviously that our guys get excited and so do the coaches on the sideline.

Q. How have Andrew Nelson and Brendan Mahon handled their respective injuries from a perspective and personality standpoint, and how have they helped their teammates on the offensive line grow?
COACH FRANKLIN: Yeah, I can probably talk about Nelly because Nelly situation is different. Mahan just got injured, so it's a different situation.

Nelly has done a great job. I think one of the things he's kind of looking for is kind of what is his role right now on the team. When you take the playing out of it, how can he still have a role on the team and have a positive impact.

He's really done a great job of take the young guys under his wing, and those guys that are kind of leaning on him, the Fries and the Menets and the Brosnans, a bunch of guys, the Gellerstedts, and coaching those guys up.

Coach Limegrover has I think like 22 offensive linemen to work with, so having an assistant like Nelson who has played a lot of football, is a real smart guy, he studies the game, that helps. So that's kind of one of the things that he's really been embracing.

He's been through a lot when it comes to injuries. So as you can imagine, it first happened, it was pretty tough. His mom and his dad were back there and I went back and saw him. But he's handled all those things extremely well and I know will come back stronger, stronger from it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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