STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State coach James Franklin addressed reports about being linked to other head coaching jobs, saying Saturday that he loves the university and “I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
A report in the Orlando Sentinel this past week quoted sources saying that Franklin was a main target in Florida State’s search for a new head coach. Franklin also has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Southern California in the event head coach Clay Helton is fired.
“There is nobody that would want this not to be talked about more than me,” Franklin said after the Nittany Lions defeated Rutgers, 27-6, at Beaver Stadium. “I’m hoping this is going to be over very quickly. I love Penn State. I love our players. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
“It’s a little bit of the nature of college football, but I love Penn State. I love what we’re doing here. Hopefully all this conversation will be over very shortly.”
Franklin did not comment specifically on the Florida State report, which noted there is “mutual interest” between Franklin and the university’s administration. The Seminoles are seeking a replacement for Willie Taggert, who was fired Nov. 3.
Up, up and away
Backup quarterback Will Levis has a running style that shows a disregard for his own body when he takes on opposing linebackers as he did Saturday. But one play late in the first quarter surprised even him.
The 6-foot-3, 229-pound redshirt freshman hurdled Rutgers safety Christian Izien on a 14-yard run during Penn State’s first touchdown drive in the opening quarter, part of his 17-carry, 108-yard performance.
“I saw on film that he was going low on a lot of his tackles,” Levis said of Izien. “If I was going to run to the secondary, with the size I am, maybe he could go low on me, diving at my legs.
“It’s an effective tackle if you make contact, but I wasn’t going to let him make contact. It was kind of a heat-of-the-moment thing. I’d never done that before. I knew I had the athleticism to do it, so I just kind of went with it.”
Levis admitted he could “be smarter with my running style.”
“I need to learn, I guess, in the open field when it’s appropriate to slide and stuff like that, something I could get better on,” he said. “I could always get faster, too. I’m not too, too fast. There were a couple of runs where I could probably taken to the house if I was maybe a tenth of a second faster.”
The Nittany Lions got some good news from the locker room when sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth announced he will return for his junior season in 2020.
Freiermuth had confirmed that he would have been eligible for the 2020 NFL draft because of a postgraduate year he completed back home in Massachussetts.
Freiermuth is second on the team with in receptions (41), receiving yards (468), and touchdowns (seven). He caught just one pass for 4 yards against Rutgers.
Two for 100
Levis and Journey Brown (16 carries, 103 yards) became the first pair of 100-yard rushers in a game for Penn State since Saquon Barkley (195 yards) and Akeel Lynch (120) achieved the feat against Rutgers in 2015. The last time a Lions quarterback and a running back rushed for 100 yards took place in 2005 – running back Tony Hunt (151) and quarterback Michael Robinson) (125) against Wisconsin.