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November 15, 2022

James Franklin

University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

Press Conference

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, like always, I want to thank you guys online and here in person for coming out and covering Penn State football. Appreciate that.

Obviously I would like to take a moment and share and give my thoughts and prayers to Coach Elliott, to UVA football, all the family and friends, and the entire UVA community.

Obviously found out through Coach Pointdexter who worked there for a long time and is an alum.

But just it's really hard to even fathom. So we send our thoughts and prayers, and if there is anything that we can do as a Penn State community, obviously we would do that. It's hard to even put into words.

Kind of changing subjects here, wanted to wish the best of luck to Coach Char and our field hockey team, which is awesome in the Final Four. I think Char was in here just before we came in. I think they play UNC on Friday, so wish them the best of luck.

And then also Coach Dambach and women's soccer as he they host West Virginia on Friday. I hope everybody will come out and support them, second round of the NCAA tournament. Awesome to see the success that they had in the Big10 tournament; got on a roll. We were watching actually at my radio show one night when they won, and I think actually Coach Dambach was there last Thursday before we were able to wish her the best of luck.

So that's awesome to see.

One other thing that I did want to mention, and every situation is a little bit unique when it comes to injuries, but Chris had showed me there has been some miss-reporting out there, and I just kind of want to clear these things up.

Like I mentioned last week, Joey Porter had a nonfootball specific injury and there has been some miss-reporting out there. I don't understand how that happens, but it did, so I will get into the specifics of this one so it clears it up.

But Joey had appendicitis. That's what happened. Obviously I wouldn't release any medical information without clearing it with the family first, but I don't like the fact that there has been some miss-reporting out there. I don't really understand how that happens. It did, so I wanted to clear it up.

Moving on to Maryland, we talk about the stats that we focus on all the time is the turnover battle, and we tied that one. We had one late in the game. Penalty battle, we won that. The drive start battle, we won that. Sack battle, we won that significantly. The explosive play battle, not only did we win that battle, but we also met our offensive and defensive goals.

Our players of the game on offense was Nick Singleton; on defense was Chop Robinson and Abdul Carter; and then an special teams was Jake Pinegar. On top of that, Nick was also the Big10 freshman of the week, and Jake Pinegar was the special teams player of the week.

Obviously the Jake Pinegar thing I just think is a great example, especially in 2022 with all the different things going on and the transfer portal, and here is a guy who's a starter, lost the starting job, handled it the right way, and now is the starter again and doing extremely well, as recognized by the Big10. He's I think a great example for a lot of our guys.

Some more summary of the game. Positives, I thought the first play of the game, if you go back and watch it, the kickoff, I thought was just a great example of how we played. It was a great kick. The coverage guys were flying down the field. We were aggressive and violent. That was a great play.

I showed the entire team that. Obviously Jake's three field goals, three PATs, three touchbacks inside the 16. On two of our kickoffs we pinned them inside the 16. So those were all positives.

Defense, we have 14 different players right now that recorded at least one sack this season. I think that leads the country. Defense with back-to-back games with six or more sacks; first time that that has happened since 2007.

Defense held Maryland to 27 yards in the first half, and then offensively, fourth game this year without allowing a sack, first time that's happened since 2011.

Obviously O-line plays a major part in that, the running backs play a major part in that. But also, the quarterbacks have played a major part in that too in terms of their ability to extend plays or get rid of the ball.

Then just the last thing, opportunities for growth, we talk about starting fast; we did that. But then finishing strong. Just didn't feel like we truly played the second half -- we say every game it's 0-0 coming out of halftime, and I'm not sure we truly did that up to the same standard and expectations.

27-nothing in the first half and we did win the second half 3-0, but not at the same standard in my opinion.

Moving on to Rutgers, Coach Schiano, obviously there is history with Coach Schiano. Got a ton of respect for him. Watch him on tape. Their team plays really hard. Got 16 years of coaching experience at the college and NFL levels, and obviously now at Rutgers, was at Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Was also at Rutgers from 2001 to '11, and also had been on the staff here at Penn State.

So there is some history there. When you talk about offensive coordinators, they made a change during the season. Nunzio Campanile, who we know is the interim, comes from a coach's family. Got a ton of respect for Coach Campanile and his entire family.

Guys that we've been impressed with, you know, their running back, No. 23, I think is really playing good football right now; Kyle Monangai is playing really well. I remember going to scout him. We were going to scout another running back and this guy just kept showing up, and I remember coming back and saying, that's a really good running back there.

And he is playing really well right now. I think kind of their offense right now kind of goes through him. The wide receiver, No. 1, Aron Cruickshank, obviously was a difference maker at Wisconsin. Has been a difference maker at Rutgers on offense and special teams.

And then their tight end, No. 21 Johnny Langan, does a lot of things for them. Those last two guys are both transfer guys for them. Johnny does a lot of things for them, whether it's tight end or quarterback, so on and so forth.

And then their defensive coordinator, Joe Harasymiak -- I hope I said that right. If I didn't, I apologize. I actually worked on it before I came over here. I think I still screwed it up.

Got a unique background, a background that I respect. Defensive coordinator at Rutgers; was the co-defensive coordinator at Minnesota; before that, was the head coach and defensive coordinator at Maine.

I've heard a lot of great things about him. Obviously we've watched him on tape, and like they always do on defense -- and I know Coach Schiano has got a factor in this as well, but they play really hard, they play really well on defense, and have been for a number of years.

Guys that jump out to us, guy that we recruited really hard, that I think is playing really well for them jumps out on tape. No. 71, Aaron Lewis. Also another transfer for them. Their Sam linebacker/safety, depending on how they play him, No. 0, number zero, Izien; Avery Young, their strong safety No. 2, who is a local kid. Their will linebacker, No. 17, Deion Jennings. Then another transfer they got from Temple, their defensive tackle, No. 88, Maijeh is playing really well for them.

Then on special teams, they don't have a special teams coordinator named. I think they break the units up by assistants, and then I think Schiano is running the whole thing. Their punter is I think one of the more impressive players that we've played this year regardless of position. Finished I think second in the Ray Guy Award last year.

This guy is one of them Aussie punters that can do it rolling to his right, rolling to his left, traditional from the pocket. He'll run with it if you're not containing him. He'll hold on to the ball so the coverage units can cover down. He'll pin you deep.

They're not a always the big, beautiful spiralling high hang time punts. A lot of times they're line drive low ones that hit the ground and run. He is a difference make and a problem from Melbourne, Australia.

Then obviously we talked about Cruickshank, the punt returner and kick returner, and Max Melton is a player for them and one the areas on special teams that they're a problem is block being kicks. They have been blocking kicks for a long time there with Greg at Rutgers, and Max Melton is a big factor in that.

Open to questions.

Q. Good afternoon, James. How are you?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Good, Rich. How are you?

Q. Great, thanks. Ji'Ayir Brown, what kind of impact, or excuse me, what kind of year has he had, do you think? Where has he made the biggest improvement? What kind of impact has he had at Penn State in his career?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I've said this before. I don't think he's getting enough attention. I don't think enough people are talking about him when it comes to college football awards, when it comes to the NFL. His name should be all over the place. He's playing his tail off. He makes his teammates better. He's able to impact the game both in the run game and in the passing game, so very well-rounded football player.

He's been a phenomenal leader for us. Kid out of Trenton, New Jersey. Went to Lackawanna Junior College. Got up and did his share Friday night at the hotel with the team and just did a phenomenal job. He has always got a smile on his face. He is truly appreciative of this opportunity at Penn State.

He's got a really good way of being a great teammate to the guys in the locker room. He also really understands how to interact can coaches and have a positive, healthy relationship with the coaches. He's been phenomenal.

I think him and PJ have been two of the better leaders that we've had in our program.

Q. You mentioned Joey Porter, just with regard to his timeline, could he return for you this season?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yes. But that's also why I don't like to get into what the specific injuries are, because then people pull up their medical books and research and how long will that guy be out. That's typically why I don't get into these types of things.

Yeah, we're expecting him back.

Q. From our vantage point, Jake looks a little like a different kicker the past couple weeks. Can you give any insight into that, his development this year, and has there been one thing that's impressed you the most about his journey at Penn State?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it's like a lot of things, and it's probably magnified maybe at those positions where a couple good kicks really can lead to tremendous confidence, and then build on that and build on that.

He's done it as a kickoff guy. He's done it as a field goal guy. I think right now he's playing really confident football. You know, obviously the thing that we had some issues early on where we had some leakage inside in our protection and made some adjustments there both in scheme and personnel, and that solidified the protection, so he hasn't had to worry about that anymore.

No one talks about Chris Stoll, but that guy does his job at a high level, and has been doing it at Penn State now for nine years. You know, no one ever talks about him. And then you talk about Barney Amore holding, so that whole operation has been really good.

But I'm proud of Jake. I think he's a great example within our program, and I agree with you, he's kicking at a really high level right now, and obviously we want that to continue and he wants that to continue.

Q. Joey Porter is one of those corners about whom people say, well, you can leave him alone and just let him lockdown somebody and then that frees you up defensively to do other things. So in his absence last week and maybe to whatever extent he's going to be absent, do you have to do things differently? Do you have to -- well, that's all. Do you have to do things differently because of his absence?

JAMES FRANKLIN: No, and I think last week was a really good example of that. We played a team that has traditionally thrown the ball really well. Explosive throws, high percentage throws. They've been really difficult to deal with.

Obviously Joey gets a ton of credit, and he deserves that. You look at how Kalen King has been playing, look at how Johnny Dixon has been playing. Johnny may be one of the most improved guys in our entire program.

You look at Daquan Hardy and you look at Marquis Wilson, we feel like we got five corners that have played a lot of football for us and played really well.

Then we got a young kid in Cam Miller who is starting to come on for us and get more and more playing time. Driver is a guy that played on defense on Saturday. We're also playing him on offense. He has position flexibility and we're excited about him.

So, yeah, I think to your point, we didn't change scheme or how we play on Saturday. We were able to do it with those guys and do it at a high level. Obviously excited and hoping to get Joey back as soon as possible, but we were able to execute our defense at a very high level on Saturday against a really good team with those corners that were available.

Q. Couple weeks ago Cliff said that Kaytron Allen was one of the most improved players he's season in a short amount of time. Seems clear that Nick is kind of trending on that level the way he's running between the tackles. I know you guys figured they would make a big impact early on, but did you get a sense of how much they could improve in such a short time and how much -- how high has their ceiling gotten from the beginning of the season to now in your mind?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously recruiting those guys we felt like they could come in and help, and then they graduated early and were able to be there for the spring, so that helped, and we were able to get a glimpse at it.

Kaytron has really changed his body. I think that's had a huge impact on his quickness and acceleration. Obviously strength staff has done a great job with those guys in the weight room as well. Obviously they've been able to get a ton of opportunities and a ton of reps, which number one they have earned, and number two, some of the circumstances have factors into that.

Then I think our O-line and tight ends are playing well. So it's a combination of all those things.

Yeah, I think they've improved. I think the fact that they were here in the spring really helped. They both had really good summers I think. But it's a combination of kind of all those factors together.

To be honest, I think really both of them have just scratched the surface. I think they'll continue to get better when it comes to pass protection; I think they will continue to get better in the passing game, which is an area I think would help us as an offense to get them more involved in the passing game and for them to grow in that area as route runners.

And consistently making I plays on the ball. So I think we really just kind of scratched the surface with those two guys, which obviously is exciting.

Q. There are only seven teams that have converted more fourth down attempts than you this year. Obviously why you attempt a fourth down has a lot to do with all sorts of different kinds of things. Seems look football in general has transitioned more and more towards fourth down being a viable offensive down. I don't know if that's correct, but if it is, do you feel like fourth down is less taboo of an offensive down than it used to be, and how has that changed over the years, if it has?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, so I think within the coaching community it definitely has because everybody is using some form of analytics now. We use a company, and we know everybody else in the conference and the teams we play who uses the same company, so they're getting the same recommendations that we are. So that's always interesting.

Yeah, I think within the coaching community there is no doubt that there has been a shift. I would say a pretty significant shift. Now, in terms of media and fans and everybody else, I don't know about that. I think it's taboo when it doesn't work and awesome when it does. I always find it interesting too when I'm watching games, and I always find it interesting -- not all the time, but a lot of times a team will be about to go for it on fourth down, and whoever is announcing the game will wait until after the play and then have a strong opinion on it.

You know, I got no problem with strong opinions. I would like them to do it before the play, which is enough time to do it typically on their thoughts. But really the data is pretty significant. You know, I think a perfect example of that is -- again, it goes back to execution, but I think a perfect example of that is the one on Saturday where we punted it, shanked the punt. I think it ended up being a 16-yard punt, and there is one where really the data at that time was saying that punt was the right choice.

But then after you punt it you only really net 16 yards, so you're like, really wasn't necessarily worth it. Probably should have went for it there. But you can't think like that based on the result, although we all like to.

But, yeah, I think when you look at the analytics it's pretty strong. You know, I'm not one of these guys that I live and die by it, I do exactly what the book says. We go through the recommendations and I have a core group of guys that I meet with. We meet every Monday. What's interesting, Ben, is we go over what we want to do. Okay, here is what the book is suggesting we do this week. Because it does adjust based on your opponent subtly.

So we'll go over it when we want to go for two and not. It's interesting. So I get the book's recommendations and then I get the four staff member's recommendations, and then I make the final call and then we go into the game with that information.

But it's also kind of interesting because there are some people that are going to do it no matter what, and for us, it's just another kind of piece of information that guides you. I still feel like during the game, based on how the game is playing out, the weather, are you scoring more than maybe you anticipated or scoring less than you anticipated, all these things kind of factor into it.

And then what we try to do is discuss as an entire organization, not just the staff, but the players, hey, this is what we want to do. Is everybody on the same page? If the offense goes for it on fourth down, just like the fans, if it doesn't work, the defense has to go out now and have the offense's back.

We've been able to do that and play pretty good complementary football. It was interesting, I brought that up. Our defense has played really good sudden-change defense this year. It was interesting when Manny was presenting to the team, which we do that, offense, defense, and special teams, Manny got up, I think it was on a Tuesday, and he brought up, yeah, yeah, not only is the defense playing great, but the offense has played really good backed-up football.

A lot of times when offense has been backed up inside our own ten yard line, we've been able to get at least two first downs and flip field position.

All those things kind of factor into it, but do I think to your point, within the coaching industry there is a lot more I think that have gotten comfortable going for it on fourth down than maybe the few coaches out there that have still been resistant to it.

Q. Some of your players have talked about Clifford being undervalued. Do you think over time that the fan base may come to appreciate or look more favorably on his career than maybe it has up to this point?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think you have to be careful with that, right? I think we all have to do -- because I think more times than not, and I don't have any -- back to analytics, I don't have any analytics on this to study, but if I had to guess, it's the vocal minority.

I get a lot of emails from a lot of people that are super positive and super appreciative of Sean and what he's done throughout his career here. Typically the positive ones aren't as vocal as the people criticizing. At least that's what I hope. That's what I want to believe.

Yeah, you would love for that -- I would love for that kid -- not to get ahead of ourselves, but in our last game, Senior Day, I hope he gets the type of appreciation and recognition that he deserves.

So we'll see. Again, I don't spend a whole lot of time on it. I think over time Sean hasn't any more either. But, yeah, I hope so. But it's outside of our control, so try not to spend too much time or energy on it.

Focus on the things that we can control, which is playing really well on Saturday so hopefully people cheer.

Q. Your T formation, the short yardage package, has worked really well all year. Worked really, really well last week. What have the keys to success been for that in your view?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, I think the first thing is it's balanced. So defensively they have to defend runs to the right, runs to the left, runs in the middle. So kind of wherever you show kind of weaknesses we have the ability to attack.

And then you have to defend throws to the right, throws to the left, play-actions, keepers. And then we've also shown on film that we have the ability, because of our tight ends, to explode out of that and get an empty formation.

So it's like anything, right? There is enough complementary pieces and diversity that that makes it difficult, and we're playing pretty good on the O-line and playing pretty good at tight end, and we got some backs that can make you miss and break tackles.

When you do that in those situations, it's like cover zero defensively, you're going to commit that much to stopping the run that if you can break a tackle and get through, there is nothing left.

So it's been a good package to us. We're going to continue to use it and take a lot of pride in it.

Q. After the game at Indiana, Brennan said that one of your messages to the players has been be where your feet are. That mindset of being in the moment, not getting too high or low, one, how much do you think that approach has helped this team this season? Secondly, are there ways that that approach has served you well during coaching career?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, it's back to the 1-0, right? Everybody else wants -- and that's family and friends calling about tickets to certain games and how this game -- we win this game and that makes the next game even bigger and all these different things.

The other thing I tried to do is, I would like to do it in here but I don't think it would go over as well, but Sundays when we celebrate the wins, you know, I put examples up on the board. There is tons of examples, whether it's in the NFL like this past weekend or in college.

I get it. There are games that people are going to focus on and talk about these being what they would say big games or really important games.

But the consistency is also important, and we've seen programs also have the big wins and then they win -- they lose two or three games that they're not supposed to. What you're really trying to do is do both, which is challenging.

I think making sure that our players appreciate and understand what the cost of winning is in terms of their habits and their behaviors both on and off the field weekly. That's coaches as well.

So I think for the most part we've handled that. I think another example of that too is being able to rebound quickly when you do have a setback. Again, I think it's harder than it's ever been to do because there is so many voices and noise. It's interesting.

I think it was Dave Jones that asked the question after the game about our fan base and our community really caring and that being differentiator. But there is the other end of that. When you have a setback, it hurts, it hurts everybody, and that's why it makes being present so important. Because if not, it's hard to get away from the positivity, which can be negative in terms of everybody patting you on the back and telling you how wonderful you are, and when things don't go well the negatively towards an individual our towards the team can be tough too.

So being able to focus and tune all that stuff out is easier said than done.

Q. Juice Scruggs this year, could you assess his development at center, especially lately, his importance at that position given some of the health issues around him? How far has he come in his career? He had a pretty significant health issue I think early on.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I'm a huge Juice Scruggs fan. I'm a huge Karen Scruggs fan. They are awesome. That's his mom. She's been phenomenal. He's been phenomenal. Right now we're not in an ideal situation. Here is guy that's played a ton of football at Penn State, and we got him in the game at the end of the game because we got nobody else he to put in right now.

Just you talk about a guy that literally practices every day bumps and bruises, plays in every game bumps and bruises. Not only is playing at a high level, but is durable, consistent, is the quarterback of the O-line, is the quarterback of the protections, is the quarterback of the run game, getting us all on the same page.

He makes us go. He has a huge smile on his face all the time. Comes walking in the facility every time I see him and he always hits me, what's up big dog. Every time he sees me, daps me up. I would let him baby-sit my kids. I would him to work at Penn State. I would work for him depending on how things go.

He's an awesome kid, awesome kid. I talked to his mom last week. She called about something. He's been a great Penn Stater. He's going to go on and do great things not only in football, but after football. He just has a great way about him. He really does. I love him. I wish Karen would have five more. I don't think she will.

Q. Curious, you made a couple NFL references and also meeting with families. Has the timetable changed with NIL and agents in terms of assessments, whereas maybe that took place after the season or in December? Has that compounded the challenges? It's been kind of a different type of situation concerning the NFL with players.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I don't think it's -- I have maybe been more verbal about it with you guys, but it's really something that we have done for the last number of years.

I think where it really changed is when the rule got changed from an NCAA perspective that agents could talk to players from the time they're a freshman. That's changed things, because their phones are ringing off the hook constantly. Everybody has got an opinion.

If you're not talking to them, somebody else is. Ultimately we just want our guys to have great information, and their families. So that's changed it as much as anything.

Then obviously the transfer portal. In the old days we wouldn't -- it was a program rule for a long time -- we wouldn't talk to family members about playing time. Those days are over. We're talking about playing time, why they are or why they're not.

Once again, if you're not talking to them somebody else is. But it's been the last couple years since the rule with the agents has changed. Then obviously the transfer portal is the other thing that's factored into it.

Q. We talked to Ji'Ayir this morning. He was pretty candid with us. He told us he feels like he didn't reach any of the personal goals that he had for himself this year. Pretty I guess emotional talking about coming up on the end of his college career at Penn State. From kind of the behind the scenes, what's he been like behind the scenes in terms of his drive and how he's approached his opportunity this season?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, he's been phenomenal in every way that I could describe. I would say really no matter how this season has gone, if he had ten interceptions right now, I think he would still be disappointed. Just kind of how he's wired. He's very driven. Very competitive.

He's got a really good ability to see the big picture. He's got tremendous perspective. His home mom is a huge driving force in his life and she did a phenomenal job. I don't think she's ever missed one of his games all the way back to Little League.

Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. But he's been awesome in the meeting rooms, in the locker room. He's been awesome after big wins. He's been tremendous after challenging situations.

But that's -- like I mentioned earlier when we were talking about him, it won't surprise me if he skyrockets up people's draft boards, because I think he's going to test well. Then I think he's going to interview well. Our guys typically have tested well. That's been pretty well documented at the combine in terms of how we develop and prepare our guys.

But the other thing is our guys interview well. Our guys know football. They understand situational football. Knock on wood, our guys are high production and low maintenance. Not a whole lot of issues off the field.

And I think all the feedback that I have gotten from friends of mine in the NFL, whether GMs or scouts or whatever, our guys have represented themselves extremely well.

So it won't surprise me if after this thing is all said and done that he skyrockets up draft boards.

Q. So obviously reaching the point in the season where the team is banged up. What's your assessment on how the team has handled the next-man-up mentality and all the guys having to scramble and fill these shoes?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think really well. It's been interesting. There has been some guys that are getting in games and playing, which is probably somewhat unusual based on their journey to Penn State and at Penn State, but have really handled it well and done well.

But it's kind of everything. You got true freshman starting at positions that we traditionally haven't had true freshman start at. We got veterans taking more reps than they traditionally would. It's very different on offense and defense. If you look at our rep count on defense, it's way down compared to last year and maybe the year before because we're rotating so many guys.

I think that's why you're seeing our defense play fresh and still being really disruptive and getting better. The sack stat that I threw out in the beginning I think is a perfect example of that. I think we're No. 1 in the country with 14 different players with a sack. That's an example of depth.

But if you look at like we're getting off the field on third down, which is really important. We've been able to control the ball more on offense, which has been important. And we're playing a ton of guys. Defensively I think the last two games about 60 reps per game or less, and then if you look at the snap count, there is really very few guys over 25 reps in the game.

There is a ton of value in that in terms of the season and the fourth quarter and late in the season where we are now. For the most part, we have been that way on offense as well, except for the O-line. So ton of value in that. Our guys have handled the challenges that have come, the bumps and the bruises that have come either playing through some of those things or situations where they can't, and guys stepping up and coming in in and playing well.

I think there is a ton of really good examples in there.

Q. We talked a lot about Tig. How much of an impact has he had on the three guys that have played next to him a lot? How would you evaluate them this year?

JAMES FRANKLIN: I think very well, and that's probably a thing you heard me talk about before, about his ability not only to play well individually, but his impact on the guys around him.

He's probably one of the guys that early on his rep count was high. Why? Because we felt strongly and Coach Poindexter felt strongly that all those guys, when you talk about our safeties, whether it's Jaylen Reed or K.J. Winston or Zach or Keaton Ellis, that it was obvious when you watch the tape that they all played better when he was on the field with them.

So he was the one guy that his rep count was a little bit higher because of that. We are trying to kind of change those things. Keaton is another guy that's experienced, so when Tig wasn't on the field we wanted to make sure Keaton was on the field, because he could have a similar impact. We need Keaton to step into that role moving forward.

But, yeah, we're a better defense when Tig is on the field in the back end kind of running the back seven, and obviously got PJ doing that up front. Now you're starting to see Kobe and Elsdon do that at linebacker, but coming into the season, obviously we didn't know that. We didn't know how that was going to be.

But I think Tig has had a -- Ji'Ayir has a huge impact on our defense as a whole, and specifically the guys around him.

Q. Earlier you said Johnny Dixon may be one of the most improved players in the program. What are some of the things that he's done in practice that maybe we don't see that exemplify that?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I think it's -- probably the thing and I know, I use some of the same things, not because I'm trying to use canned responses with you guys because I believe in them, but it's consistency. You know, I think that's the thing we talk about all the time.

For the most part, every kid in our program is there for a reason. They have the ability to make big time plays. Johnny has been that guy, but has just been so much more consistent with his practice habits, with his demeanor, with his attention to detail, and at the end of the day with his play and production.

I think Terry has done a really good job. I think Dex has done a really good job that those guys are working together on the back end. They meet more as a unit, but Johnny just continues to grow and gain confidence. He's always been fiercely competitive. He's just doing it on a much more consistent level day in and day out, which equates to more consistent Saturdays.

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