ShareThis Page
Penn State

After Penn State's rough patch, Franklin feels that team is improving

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, 6:03 p.m.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley passes for a touchdown in the first quarter against Wisconsin on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in State College.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley passes for a touchdown in the first quarter against Wisconsin on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in State College.
Penn State running back Miles Sanders hurdles Wisconsin’s Faion Hicks on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in State College.
Penn State running back Miles Sanders hurdles Wisconsin’s Faion Hicks on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in State College.

The improvement Penn State has shown this season hasn’t been steady. A rough five-game stretch saw the Nittany Lions lose to Ohio State and Michigan State because they couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead, then they got blown out by Michigan.

But coach James Franklin feels his team is trending in the right direction again after a 22-10 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday when the Lions played one of their better all-around games of the season.

“I think, obviously, we were doing a pretty good job at (improving) early in the season, and then we hit some adversity like a lot of programs do all over the country,” Franklin said. “I think we’re headed back in that direction again, so I’m pleased with that.

“There was some time there during the season that I didn’t think we were doing that. That’s something that I’ve taken great pride in throughout my career as a program that individually and collectively gets better. So I think we’re back on that track now. I think last week was an example of that, and we need to do that again this week.”

The Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) travel to Rutgers on Saturday for their final road game of the season. Wins there and at home Nov. 24 against Maryland mean a good bowl game, perhaps the Outback or the Citrus or, if a wildly improbable series of events happen through college football, a third straight New Year’s Six bowl.

For now, though, Franklin is concentrating on the 1-9 Scarlet Knights. When asked what he thought it would take to have a successful season, he said that evaluation will have to come later.

“It’s hard for me to say that right now because the season’s not over,” he said. “We’re focused on Rutgers. So at the end of the season, when it’s all over, we played all our games, I think there’s a lot of things we can be proud of … a lot of things that we can build on. But we’ll have time to discuss those things after the season.”

Franklin feels the areas of improvement start with the running game, particularly the fact that Penn State has reduced its number of tackles for losses, and the defense, which has fortified its depth at tackle and linebacker.

“Last year, 11.36 percent of our plays were tackles for loss, which was 111th in the country,” he said. “This year, we’re 23rd in the country. So we’ve made a dramatic improvement there.”

On defense, Franklin feels the tackles and the linebackers have gained in confidence and experience, and he singled out redshirt junior tackle Kevin Givens.

“The guy that’s not getting a whole lot of love is Kevin Givens, but Kevin for us is killing it,” he said. “He’s doing his job consistently. Sometimes when you do that, other guys shine. But as a coaching staff and as a team, we know the value that Kevin’s bringing. His impact allows other guys to have success.”

Nittany notes

Franklin said redshirt junior receiver Juwan Johnson, who has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, “is fighting through some things” and “we’ve got to get him 100 percent healthy so he can go out and be the type of player we know he can be.” Johnson, who caught 54 passes last season, has just 21 this year. … Quarterback Trace McSorley was named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Pop Warner Award. Both are given for achievements on and off the field.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me