Penn State not entering 'panic mode' despite loss to Ohio State
James Franklin enumerated several improvements Penn State can make in the wake of its 39-38 loss to Ohio State but promised his team would remain composed for the season's final month.
“The issues will be addressed, I promise,” Franklin said Tuesday. “We're not going to hit panic mode because we lost on the road to the sixth-ranked team by one point.”
Franklin pointed specifically to three components Penn State has addressed since Saturday's loss.
• Developing a finisher's mentality.
• Improving in “sudden-change” defense.
• Eliminating the negative-yardage plays in the run game.
Regarding the first point, Ohio State rallied from 15- and 11-point deficits in the fourth quarter behind quarterback J.T. Barrett, who went 13 for 13 passing, and a defense that allowed 14 rushing yards. Franklin said, though Ohio State's offensive tempo was a factor, his team was not as sharp at the finish.
“We've got to learn from these situations,” Franklin said. “It's a painful lesson for all of us.”
Franklin called “sudden change” situations, in which the defense takes the field following a turnover, a season-long issue. Ohio State scored quickly after blocking a Penn State punt in the fourth quarter.
“Your defense needs to go out and swing momentum back to your side with a three-and-out,” he said.
And on the run game, Franklin said the negative-yardage plays set back drives all season. Ohio State generated 49 yards in losses for Penn State's run game, 36 against Saquon Barkley.
“But I am going to stay positive. We're going to work on our challenges and issues every week no matter what the results are. But we've got one of the more explosive offenses in the country.”
Franklin attributed that to a variety of factors: defensive approaches, run-blocking and perhaps some less-frantic moves in the backfield.
“It's about not trying to turn every carry into an 80-yard run,” Franklin said. “You have to lower your shoulder and sometimes get 2 yards.”
No. 24 Michigan State will present problems for Penn State's rushing attack when the Lions visit East Lansing on Saturday. The Spartans (6-2, 4-1) lead the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing just 89.8 yards per game.
Note: Franklin did not update the status of injured left tackle Ryan Bates and defensive end Ryan Buchholz. Franklin said tackle Chasz Wright would be needed more Saturday.