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January 1, 2022

James Franklin

Tampa, Florida, USA

Raymond James Stadium

Penn State Nittany Lions

Press Conference

Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

JAMES FRANKLIN: Like always, appreciate you guys coming down and covering Penn State football. Obviously the biggest factor to me in the game that stood out in the second half was the quarterback running game. We did a really good job in the first half of limiting explosive runs, but in the second half they made an adjustment and made a commitment to run the quarterback.

We had a couple opportunities to get tackles for loss. That would have got them off schedule. Missed them in the opening drive. He broke tackles. From that point on we had a difficult time stopping the run.

Obviously some guys played a significant amount of reps. I thought our guys played extremely hard, but we did not play well enough obviously to win the game.

Defensively three trips to the red zone, weren't able to get points off of that, one missed field goal, obviously an interception.

Got to give Arkansas credit, got to give them credit. Obviously we didn't play well enough to win.

Love these guys. Love these seniors, how they battled all year long. Obviously we'll get back after break, get back for the start of next semester and get to work.

Open it up to questions.

Q. What was the adjustment that they made?

JAMES FRANKLIN: They committed to running the quarterback. They went with zone read on the perimeter, then they went zone read inside where they were reading the linebacker. If he ran over the top with the running back, they pulled it and hit the quarterback inside. They committed to hitting the quarterback in the second half. That was obviously a major factor in the game.

Q. Why did the offense struggle in the second half?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, to be honest with you, we had a couple big plays in the first half. We weren't consistent enough, but we were able to create some big plays. We didn't make those plays in the second half.

We had some opportunities, dropped some balls. They did a good job with their cover zero being extremely aggressive. But we could not get in and out of our checks fast enough to be efficient enough.

Got to give them credit.

Q. Keyvone (Lee) had splash plays early but didn't touch the ball for two quarters.

JAMES FRANKLIN: We needed to run the ball more consistently. There's no doubt about that. We can't go away from it. We did some good things in the first half. We got to keep those things mixed in and we didn't do that. I agree with you.

Q. You indicated you might burn redshirts on Kobe (King) and (Jamari) Buddin but you didn't.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, what we'll do in all these situations, I think you guys know, we'll sit down with the coaching staff and we'll sit down with the players. Sometimes we'll include the parents in that conversation.

Both of those guys would have played and would have had to play if we had some injuries, but they wanted to preserve their redshirts.

Q. Tell us about the effort by Smith Vilbert today.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously three sacks. I knew he had a couple sacks. I didn't know he had three. It's an Outback Bowl record. Obviously that is promising for our future. It's going to be really, really important that he continues to grow and develop. Obviously coming to Penn State he was a new-to-football guy, being mainly a basketball player.

Excited about his development. That will be something to build on, for sure.

Q. What was the situation with bringing Sean out of the game?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, the medical staff brought Sean out of the game. I thought he played gutsy. I thought he battled. Obviously he made some plays, but there's also some plays I know he would like to have back.

I think there's some things that we can do to help him, as well.

Q. Take us through the field goal situation using Pinegar, and the fake at the end of the first half?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Pinegar was the field goal kicker for the last game of the year. I thought we talked about that. But he was the field goal kicker for the last game of the year. We made that change to take some off of Stout's plate. Stout had punted and kicked off really well all year long. We were a little inconsistent with the field goal game. So we made that change at the end of the season so that was consistent.

There at the end of the half, it was a 54-yard field goal. We didn't feel good about kicking it. We had a fake in the game plan. Felt like in that situation we would either get a pass interference call or I was hoping they would catch the interception, which would have been as good as a punt.

Q. How do you evaluate Luketa's play today?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I'm a huge Jesse Luketa fan. I will pound the table for him with every single NFL team, GM, coaches. The guy is a football player. He loves football. He's a great teammate. He's played a lot of different positions.

As we all know, whether it's the NFL or any other industry, the more things that you can do to bring value, the better.

I'm proud of him. He's smart. He's physical. Does a lot of different things. Obviously with our linebacker situation, that was something that was going to have to happen. He embraced it. I thought he played his tail off.

Q. Did it get to a point where you just ran out of gas?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, obviously nobody wants to hear me say that. But was that a factor in the game? Yes. Obviously we had a depth situation and we had a bunch of guys that played a bunch of football today that really hadn't played a bunch of football all year long.

I wasn't going to bring it up, but it is a factor.

Q. Describe the way Parker (Washington) played today.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, Parker, I think you guys see, there's a lot to be excited about in his future. Got tremendous ball skills. He's smart. He can make people miss. He's built more like a tailback than he is a running back which I think helps him in a lot of different situations.

Even some of the punts he fielded, got some positive yards, even the over-the-shoulder punt, that thing got to the ground. Those are 20 yards that are hidden yardage that people don't think about in the game that saved us.

Coming in next year and to see Parker and KeAndre do some good things today, that's going to be important because we're losing a lot of production in Jahan Dotson.

And Teague, I don't know if you know this or not, Teague didn't practice all week long. Literally did not get cleared until Friday post practice. I'm not as a coach real happy about that because I would imagine he's going to tell me he doesn't have to practice all next year.

But he's another guy, he's another guy. Trenton, New Jersey. Lackawanna Junior College. Very appreciative of his opportunity at Penn State. He is a football player. Loves, loves to play the game.

I think you look this year at how Brisker coming back, how that played out for him, the advantage for him and for us. I think it makes sense for Teague.

The other thing obviously is graduation is really important to him and his family, too. That factored into it, too.

Q. After a 5-0 start, how would you characterize the finish?

JAMES FRANKLIN: Well, obviously a pretty obvious question and answer. Not what we had hoped for. Obviously did some really good things early on, made some huge plays, had some big-time wins in tough environments on the road to start the season. We had some injuries that we weren't able to overcome quick enough. But we're responsible for all of that. I get it. I get it.

But overall I'm proud of the guys in that locker room not only as players. A lot of moving parts on the staff as well, which wasn't brought up. But that's part of college football now. I'm very, very appreciative of the guys in that locker room, players, coaches, staff, everybody else.

But, yeah, I get it. It's a fair question. We started out 5-0, did some great things, weren't able to finish the season the way we wanted to. We've got some things to work on and we'll get it fix.

Q. Do you anticipate any other movement with staff. There are reports Joe Lorig is being pursued.

JAMES FRANKLIN: Yeah, I'm not going to address that right now. Obviously he's been pursued. He is being pursued. I think you guys know that. That information has been out in the public.

But we'll see how that plays out. We'll see how that plays out. There's a lot of things that factor into this, as you guys could imagine, some professional and some personal. But we'll see how that goes.

I think you guys know I've been pretty adamant in the past about the type of moves, lateral moves, but there's also some factors when it comes to where guys are from. Both Joe and his wife are from there, so that factors into this thing as well.

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