UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach James Franklin took to the podium Tuesday afternoon for his weekly press conference to preview Saturday's upcoming Generations of Greatness game against Indiana. Franklin was joined by wide receiver Juwan Johnson and tight end Mike Gesicki for a pair of media sessions.
With takeaways from last week noted, Franklin mentioned that Penn State's ability to execute in critical situations made all the difference, but they didn't turn out for the better by chance.
"The thing I'm most proud of is situational football which we spent a lot of time on," Franklin said. "Two areas, specifically: The two-minute, the game-winning drive there. That's something we do all the time. As you guys know, we take actual situations in games. So we're going to do that situation again (Wednesday) in practice. Tuesday is just speed-on-speed, seven-on-seven, either normal downs, third down or red zone. So today we will do red zone skelly, ones versus ones. Tomorrow, we'll do the two-minute situation from Saturday because it's such a good two-minute situation, two time-outs, 80 yards to go, those type of things. But that makes me real proud that we work a lot on those things and it worked out."
Amidst the Indiana preparations though, Penn State is also thinking a bit about Generations of Greatness, highlighted by custom throwback jerseys, set to make their debut Saturday.
"I think having this generations of greatness game and honoring the tradition that we have here at Penn State with our uniforms going back to all the different teams and kind of taking a piece of everyone's uniforms and putting it together on Saturday, it's going to be cool," Gesicki said. "I know all the players are looking forward to it, so it's definitely something we're excited about."
On The Quote Board -
- Franklin on balancing Barkley related to what the team needs are week to week.
"You know, I think we all know he's a special player. How we handle him during camp, how we handle him during practice during the week, how we use him during the season, I think we all see he is a special, special talent and an impactful player in so many different ways, more so than I have ever been around. Can't imagine there's a better player in all of college football."
- Gesicki on the progress that Johnson has made since arriving at Penn State.
"He deserves all of the success that he's having, because of all the time that he's put into it. There were times in the summer where I would call Juwan, trying to get food or something at night, and he's in Holuba [Hal] running routes or something like that."
- Johnson on what he remembers about the Saquon Barkley before Penn State.
"He's the same exact person. He's still the same Saquon that I knew when we were at The Opening. He hasn't changed a bit to be honest with you. I'm not saying this because I'm in front of a lot of people. He's the same person. Our relationship has grown. He's become a more mature person, and a better friend. So Saquon, he's awesome."
- Franklin on defensive coordinator Brent Pry
"I sit in the defensive meetings when he addresses the defense and just tremendous leadership and passion for what we do and how we do it. He's a guy that really understands the X's and O's and the schemes and how important they are but also the motivation and the development that also is such an important part of your jobs. He does a great job with his staff, you know, with the defensive staff. There's so much respect for one another and different opinions and perspectives and experiences in there."
- Johnson on the feeling when the extra work pays off
"You just have to invest in yourself honestly. I know sometimes I don't really feel like catching or I just have some extra school work. The school work is going to be there, you have to do it, but I just try to live in the moment and be present at the time."
- Gesicki on Penn State's two tight end set for a few snaps at Iowa
"The one play that we ended up running on that fourth-and-1 play was something that we didn't even practice to be honest with you. He just kind of drew it up right there, literally drew it up on a piece of paper and said: You're going to go here and you're going to go here and this is what you're going to do. That's kind of what you can do when you're Coach Moorhead and you're a football genius."
- Franklin on moving Kevin Givens out to defensive end at Iowa.
"I think that's kind of one of the storylines of the scenes that went into our success in that game is having Kevin rotate and feeling so good about guys like [Tyrell] Chavis and [Robert] Windsor and those guys behind him - that we can take one of those D-tackles and move him out and create a little bit more of experience on the edge and a little bit more size on the edge."