What James Franklin is saying heading into Saturday’s game at No. 5 Michigan
Franklin spoke about improvements on his defense and with freshman kicker Jake Pinegar, and lavished even more praise on quarterback Trace McSorley.
On Trace McSorley, who came back from an injury to lead Penn State over Iowa
"I don't think one game is going to define Trace McSorley. It's the whole package. It's the running, it's the passing, it's the leadership, it's the toughness, it's the academics, it's the community service, it's all of it. Whenever I listen to press conferences that coaches were saying, or read transcripts or whatever it may be, everybody talks about him. Last year obviously Saquon Barkley got a lot of attention but a lot of coaches you talk to say, 'Yeah, Saquon Barkley was a very, very special player, but it started and ended with the quarterback. He made it all go.'"
On improvement on the defensive line and at linebacker
"Coming into the season, D-line and linebacker were probably two of our biggest question marks. I think as the season goes on, our defense is playing better. Why are they playing better, because our D-line is starting to get better and playing with more confidence from a depth perspective. The same thing with our linebackers – we've got some young players that are starting to gain confidence, and we're kind of starting to have an idea of who our guys are at that position."
On freshman linebacker Micah Parsons and his talk with Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson
"Micah wants to play linebacker, he wants to play running back, and he wants to wrestle for Cael, and he's not kidding. He talked to Cael about it. He wants to do it all and he wants to do it all yesterday. That's just kind of getting Micah to understand – let's focus on one thing at a time and get really good at that one thing before we put the next thing on his plate."
On freshman Jake Pinegar, whose run of six straight field goals included three against Iowa
"We were seeing great things from Pinegar at practice every single day. But we all know going into Beaver Stadium, it's different. That's a different environment. I can't imagine there were too many games in (his hometown) Ankeny, Iowa, that were similar to Beaver Stadium. Obviously it's different for him. But he's been great in practice. He's worked really hard, both on and off the field. Obviously having some success on Saturdays allows him to continue growing and building on it."
On losing assistant coaches and helping new coaches make the transition to his staff
"We can't have guys leave for lateral moves in terms of job description and professionally. That's what can't happen because the reality is, every time you lose someone and you have to replace them with someone new, there's a transition process. There's growing pains. So that's always a part, year-in and year-out, no different than losing players that graduate and losing players to the NFL, replacing those guys There's growing pains that come with that."