Postgame Press Conference – Head Coach James Franklin – Northwestern

Opening Statement
First of all, I want to thank you guys for coming and covering Penn State football like always. I want to thank our fans, because obviously it was a less than ideal situation and our fans were phenomenal. From all the reports I was getting, we were going to have a tough weather game, but it was beautiful all day until we stepped on the field. Some programs have a hard time keeping people after the first half no matter the circumstances. So, I’m appreciative of our students and appreciative of our fans in general. When it comes to the game, I’m always so proud about how we play situational football and pound my chest about them. We didn’t do a good job with those today. We did win the field position battle. Barney (Amor) has been a big part of our success there all year long. He’s been phenomenal. He should be getting more people talking about how well he’s playing in my opinion. We did not win the turnover battle coming into this game. I think we were number two in the country in turnover ratio. Well, we saved them all up for tonight. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that. Fortunately, for most of the game, our defense was either able to get a turnover back or they just played great. They played phenomenal. I think we started the game with five straight three-and-outs, which is impressive. We lost the penalty battle, and we lost the explosive play battle. Not really our formula for how we win, but again, like I said earlier, you know there is a ton of value of being able to win games under less-than-ideal situations. So, we’re going to go into this bye week. It is a bye week, not an off-week, a bye week and we must get better this week. We have a tough stretch coming up with Michigan. We must get in that facility. We’ll practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, players will have the weekend off and the coaches will go recruit on the weekend. We’ll get a head start not only on our next opponent, but the next couple opponents. We also need to live in the training room and get as healthy as we possibly can.
Q: What are you able to share with us with respect to Kaytron (Allen) not playing in the first half and regarding the fumbles, do you just chalk that up to bad weather?
A: No, I’m never going to allow the weather to be an excuse. We’ve got to protect the football now. If part of ball security is patentable, you have to take all shots with the top of your pads. Obviously, you can’t take on a helmet with the ball that won’t end well. The weather will never be an excuse for us. We obviously need to continue working there. We don’t go inside when it rains and sometimes they’re looking at me like I’m crazy, like what do we have the indoor (facility) for? I know everybody has different approaches with these things. I don’t get into injuries, and I don’t get into internal decisions. I know sometimes that puts you guys in a tough position and I apologize for that. But again, I would rather keep those decisions internal whether it’s injuries, whether it is behavior modification, whatever it may be, rotations, whatever it is, we’re going to keep those internal.
Q: Given what you wanted to accomplish in the first five minutes, do you think this team is prepared for Michigan?
A: I think we have done what we needed to do up to this point. We’re 5-0. I don’t have the ability like you guys to see the scores, I don’t know what happened at Michigan this week. I don’t know what happened around the country. But winning is hard. It is hard week-in and week-out. I put examples up every Sunday of games that people are looking on the ticker or watching the highlights and they’re shocked. We’ve done what we needed to do up to this point to be 5-0, but we have to get better. We’re playing a really good Michigan team on the road. We haven’t spent a whole lot of time on them yet. Obviously, I haven’t watched them so it’s hard for me to say that. We’re ready, but our objective is obviously to be ready. Come next Saturday, that’s when we have to be ready, not today. There’s a lot of work that goes into that. I have a ton of respect for them and their program, their organization and their coaching staff. But we have done what we needed to do up till this point. By being 5-0, we’ve won a lot of different ways. I think there’s value in that. I’d love for them all to be pretty wins and sexy wins, but that’s not the game we play.
Q: Obviously the weather dictated how you played today, was that a game plan change that you made within the last 24 hours or on the fly today?
A: The information I got early in the week, it played out exactly the way the way it did tonight. And to be honest, I got a report about an hour before the game as well. I was trying to decide with the coin toss how we would play that based on the weather. If it was going to be somewhat dry in the first half and then a total downpour in the second half, that could impact our decision making in the coin toss. But you got to have enough in the game plan each week that you have to shift more towards one or the other that you have the ability to do that. But we didn’t change our game plan based on the weather. We may have changed how we call the game.
Q: James, I’d like to ask you about two offensive players. First of all, did you ever consider playing Drew (Allar) today? And secondly, we did not see Devyn Ford in uniform. Can you explain or tell us what is going on with him?
A: Devyn Ford is no longer on the team. He’s decided that he wanted to focus on academics. And we wish him the best. I think you guys know, I praised Devyn Ford for four years and have a lot of  respect for him. I wish him nothing but the best. The other question about Drew: it’s not something that we talked about on the headset. Obviously, we’d like for him to get in the game but it’s not something that we talked about. It’s not something I brought up. It’s not something Mike (Yurcich) brought up.
Q: Can you comment on PJ’s (Mustipher) play down at the goal line.
A: I think PJ is playing extremely well. You know, he just continues each week to gain more confidence, both physically, mentally and emotionally is playing I think really well right now.
Q: Were you satisfied with your short yardage plays?
A: I thought, to be honest with you, with our offensive line and our defensive line, I felt like we controlled the game. There are some short yardage situations that we’d like to have back there’s no doubt about it. But I thought we controlled the game. Obviously, the turnovers skew your perception of it. There’s no doubt about it, and that’s fair. But I thought for the most part we did a good job there. Early in the game, there was a decision to punt on fourth-and-one, I felt like that was the right decision based on the weather conditions and I thought points were going to be hard to come by. But again, to your point, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence when you go for a third-and-one you don’t pick it up to go for a fourth-and-one. But I thought for the most part we controlled the line of scrimmage. But the turnovers obviously really skewed the perception of everything.
Q: How would you evaluate the way that Sean (Clifford) played  today? Obviously, he had that really good turnover free stretch but that came to an end today. And you said that there was no conversation on the headset about using Drew (Allar) but how do you kind of evaluate what you’ve gotten out of Drew to this point in the season?
A: 10-of-20 with one interception and one touchdown. Obviously, that’s not up to the standards that he normally plays at. Obviously though, the one interception, and there could have been a couple of others. But overall, he did a great job in the run game and did a great job managing situations and did a great job managing the clock. There was a ton of value in but yeah, I don’t I don’t think this was one of Sean’s best games. And just like I am for the running backs, I’m not going to allow the weather to be an excuse.
Q: As you get into the bye week here just what are your first impressions on the areas for growth you want to focus on this week whether it be on the field or in the film room finding areas for growth? What are some things that come to mind.
A: After tonight, the thing that jumps out to you is ball security. And that’s ball security in the running game. Especially on this night like this, what we call capping, where you take the extra hand over the ball. The decision making that we’re not throwing the ball, put the ball at risk. Those things are important. Doing a better job in short yardage situations. We worked really hard to get to short yardage situations. We got to do a better job of executing them. And then the same thing on the defensive side of the ball, not necessarily tonight, but third-and-long. We’ve done a pretty good job of getting the third-and-long situations that we’ve let people off the hook. We got to be better there. Our PAT field goal protection in the middle. We made some subtle adjustments there with personnel and some techniques and I thought that that was better tonight. So we’ll continue to build there. But there’s a lot of areas. We will look at ourselves. We’ll do across the ball self-scout, and then obviously we’ll also get a head start on our opponents. And that’ll be kind of a blend this week and both weeks.