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Weekly Press Conference - Head Coach James Franklin (Georgia State)

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Sept. 12, 2017

Opening Statement
Just want to start by thanking the crowd – unbelievable - almost 110,000 people. Haven't had that type of attendance in a number of years. And what an impressive statement it's going to make this week when, for an out-of-conference game, that we can get hopefully 107,000 fans in the stadium enjoying our time together. So again, want to thank the fans for coming out and supporting everyone.

To quickly review the game, offensively, the player of the game was Saquon Barkley. On defense, it was a combination of Grant Haley and Marcus Allen, two both very, very productive guys. And then on special teams, we went with three guys that had a huge impact on our coverage units: Irvin Charles, Nick Scott and Garrett Taylor. So it's great to see those guys really making an impact on the game on special teams.

After the game, I said ‘we played a complete game,’ and what I mean by that is, when you watch a tape, there's some areas obviously we could have played better in. But I do feel like that all three phases played good enough to win. It’s probably a better way to describe a “complete game.”

Our special teams continue to be a big positive for us. Our defense is doing some really nice things and really starting to kind of figure out their identity, and then the same thing with our offense. So I'm pleased with where we're headed and the progress we're making there.

Generally, I thought our perimeter blocking on offense was excellent. I thought that was a big difference in the game and then I thought how we contained No. 10 [Quadree Henderson], an All-American returner. I think that was significant.

Overall, offensively, we scored 33 points in the game which is typically good enough to win. Defensively, thought all four units did a good job, especially handling their trades, shifts and motions, which can be challenging. They are a bread and butter run team. Last year they rushed for 6.2 yards per carry on us. This year, they rushed for 3.4 yards per carry, so we improved in that area. Again, limited 10's impact in the game and overall, I thought we did a pretty good job.

We had some difficulties with their shovel pass, which is a difficult play because they have the ability to pitch it to the tailback and run the option, or shovel it to the tight end or the running back, however they were doing it. And we were getting penetration rush up the field, which was creating seams, and looking back at it, we spent a lot of time on the motions, shifts and fly sweeps and probably could have spent a little more time on the shovel pass. That's an area we could get better.

Then special teams, just overall, I thought probably one of the biggest factors in the game was drive start. Our drive start was the 36-yard line. Their drive start was the 18. So I thought overall, good.

Getting on to our next opponent [Georgia State], Shawn Elliott as the head coach, who I've known for a number of years and have a lot of respect for. Our first time playing them. I think the thing that probably jumps out to me is essentially this same team went to Wisconsin last year and was leading in the fourth quarter. So they are going to be used to playing in these Big Ten type of environments on the road. Obviously they are a talented team.

You look at them on offense, I think the thing that jumps out is their wide receivers. We think they are very talented at wide receiver. They are a spread offense, mostly 11 personnel team. They will mix in some other things, as well. They are an RPO team. They like to run the stretch and the pin-and-pull play, which we saw a lot of last week, so we have got a little bit of a head start on that.

But I think obviously their best players are their wide receivers. On defense, they are a 3-4 Okie front team. Again they are good on the perimeter. Their corners we think are their best players, so that's going to be a challenge for us.

Then on special teamsthey led the Sun Belt last year in kickoff return, again, using their athletes in space.

We're excited about the opportunity. We're excited about being back at home.

Q. What was your role in scheduling Georgia State three years ago, and would you like to see your non-conference schedule continue to include one Power Five opponent more or less?
JF: To be honest with you, the administration handles the scheduling. I have conversations and I have input. A few years ago we did a camp at Georgia State. Had a conversation with the head coach. They were interested; we were interested. I came back and gave it to the administration and then they kind of looked into the specifics and the details.

I have strong feelings about scheduling. It's something that me and [Athletic Director] Sandy [Barbour] spend a lot of time talking about and discussing. We're kind of looking at how the playoff system played out last year. You got a bunch of different scenarios to factor in.

But again, I think the playoffs are one factor that you've got to look at when it comes to scheduling, but I think the most important thing you can do year-in and year-out is schedule in a way that's going to give your team the best chance to win your conference, and then everything else will take care of it from there.

So you can make arguments in both directions. You know me; I'm going to have my feelings based on my experiences, but then I'm also going to do a lot of different studies from an analytics perspective and some other things.

I'll give you a really good example when it comes to scheduling. You look at teams that run an option-style offense. Well, it's not just the impact that you have to make with your team in terms of time, in terms of preparing for an option-style team, but also what it takes away during camp from preparing for the other styles that you're going to play the rest of the year. There's a pretty interesting stat out there [regarding] teams that play an option style, what their win/loss record is the week after playing one of those teams.

There's all these different things that I think we've just got to look at. But for me the most important thing is what's going to give us the best chance to prepare us to consistently be a part of our conference championship discussion.

Q. He's been a dangerous player for you in the past. Do you feel like you need to get Saeed Blacknall more involved or not?
JF: It really doesn't work like that. We look at Saeed as a starter. We look at him as a big-time player. He's played a lot of football for us over the years. We've got great competition, which is excellent.

But our offense really doesn't work like that. In the old offense, we would personnel and formation to get players into certain spots. With what we do now, which I love, is depending on what the defense does, truly is going to determine what we do.

I mean, you'd love to say we're just going to hand the ball off to Saquon Barkley 35 times a game, but that's not what we do. If we get the look to hand the ball off to Saquon, we will. If we're going to pull it and throw it on the perimeter, we're going to do it, and it's all based on whether they are in man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, whether they are playing a middle-of-the-field open Cover 2 or quarter-style defense or they are closing it up and going man coverage or Cover 0. We have checks. We have places to go with the ball.

So it's not like we go into it saying we're going to get Saeed this many touches or Saquon this many touches. Obviously we want to get the ball in our playmaker's hands, but it's all based on what the defense gives. We're not going to force it.

So you're going to see Saeed one week maybe have one or two catches and you're going to see another week where maybe he has eight or ten catches and that's the same thing with [DaeSean Hamilton] and that's the same thing with DeAndre [Thompkins]; that's the same thing with Mike Gesicki, all of our weapons on offense.

And the thing that's great is our guys get that and they embrace it; so they just realize it. They just realize that's kind of how our offense goes, and the most important thing is what do we have to do to put the team in the best position to win.

So we've been pretty fortunate and our guys understand where there are going to be some games where they get all kinds of opportunities and there are going to be some games where they don't.

Q. How do you evaluate the play of your defensive line so far? And how much flexibility, how much more flexibility do you have this year with the number of players you've been able to rotate?
JF: I think good. We're playing a lot of guys. We're building a lot of depth. I'm hoping we'll be able to do that again this week and hopefully by the midpoint of the season, we've created a defensive line and a position that we've got a lot of guys that we feel like can play and play at a very, very high level for us.

I think we're getting a lot of production out of our defensive tackles. I think they are playing at a high level. It was great to see Shareef [Miller] be able to get some pressure on the quarterback and to finish some sacks and things like that. I still think we can get a little bit more pressure on the quarterback, but again, that goes back to the style of offenses that we're going to play.

I thought Torrence [Brown] played really well on first and second down against the run with some of the plays. Yetor Gross-Matos had one of the plays of the game I showed to the team on Sunday where I think he was eight yards deep in the backfield, rushing the quarterback, stuck his foot in the ground and made a tackle eight yards down the field just with tremendous effort. That's what we've been trying to do every single day is show our team effort plays. It could be effort plays that we've made. It's effort plays that we've seen in NFL games.

Today I'm going to show a clip to the team of Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is coming down the court, goes behind his back, loses the ball; it's a turnover. The guy goes down the court for an easy layup and Kobe Bryant comes and pins the ball to the backboard with that type of effort.

I want to keep emphasizing the importance of playing with tremendous effort because when you do that with all 11 guys on the field, you're able to overcome maybe some deficiencies or maybe some mistakes or weaknesses.

We keep talking about it and I think our guys are really kind of starting to understand it.

Q. Has the offensive line begun to fulfill your expectations yet of it becoming a strength of the offense this year?
JF: I think we're playing solid. I think we can play better. One of the things that is very important to me that I've been talking about since I got here and really has been a challenge my entire coaching career, is offensive linemen are the nicest human beings on the planet.

I've said this before: If my daughters choose to marry football players, I want them to marry offensive linemen. They are just big, nice, happy, jolly guys that put the team first. They are the ultimate teammates. But that's also one of the challenges. They typically have been big kids their whole life, and being able to find offensive linemen that will get on the field and play with a nasty streak and a nasty demeanor, and then be real gentlemen off the field, that's what we want.

And we're getting closer to that, but we're still not where I think we can be and where I want to be. I think that's the next step for us. I think we are playing good on the O-Line, but I think there's still more there for us to give, and I think more than anything, it comes with a mentality; we need a little bit more from a football perspective of a killer instinct.

I think once you have that on your team and once you have that on your offense and specifically with your offensive line, then you can be difficult to deal with.

Q. Saquon Barkley is listed as your No. 1 kick returner. How about your philosophy on using the most talented tailback in the country as a kick returner doing that? Some would say you're risking him for more injury doing that.
JF: Yeah, a couple things. No. 1, Saquon Barkley has been our starting [kick returner] since camp. I didn't want that on the depth chart because I didn't want people scheming to kick it away from him. That's the reality of it.

Our team and Saquon have known that he was the starting kickoff return guy from the beginning. I just didn't want to put it on the depth chart from a public perspective because people are going to start kicking away from it. I think that's what's going to happen now. That's why having Koa Farmer as one or our up-backs is really important because he's got the ability to return the ball.

You know - again, I studied this - you look at what Stanford did with their starting tailback. Had a huge impact as a tailback, as well as a punt return guy and as a kick return guy.

One of the things that I don't really understand is everybody talks about how important special teams are, and it's just as important as offense and defense until you try to use your starters on special teams. I don't really get it. To me, it seems like talking out of both sides of your mouth, and we've never done that.

We're in a situation now where I think we've got a really good two-deep on special teams. We've got a returner right now that I think is leading the conference as a punt returner, and is someone that people are watching on film and are concerned about, and I know we have a kickoff returner that I think we need to get a little bit more production out of.

We've got to do a better job of blocking, but we have a kick returner that I know makes people nervous to kick it to, as well, and that's no slight on those other guys. I think those other guys have that role and that ability, as well.

But I think for the point that you made, Saquon Barkley is one of the more explosive players, if not the most explosive player in the country when the ball is in his hands, and this is a way for us to pretty much guarantee that he's going to get the ball; or they are going to kick it short to an up-back and we are still going to end up with really good field position.

Drive start average is such a major factor in games. This is going to help our offense. Every yard you get closer to the end zone that you start, the better your chances are of scoring. And then the same thing, even if you don't score, you've got a chance to swing the field position. So our defense is in really good position in terms of the long field for them.

I think there's a lot of value in it, and we spend a lot of time discussing it and studying it and researching it in the off-season. You know, feel good about it.

Q. I wanted to go back to the question about scheduling. Your quote was ‘we want to schedule our non-conference teams; the teams that give us the best chance to win the conference.’ I have two questions. One, is do you want stronger teams that will test you physically to prepare for the Big Ten season, or would you rather not have those teams because it would wear you down for a big physical test you're going to get in the Big Ten? And also, how much does all the discussion about strength of schedule when it came to picking playoff teams last year go into the administration's decision about schedule?
JF: I think you can make an argument for both. I think a lot of it deals with matchups. I think a lot of it deals with travel. I think a lot of it deals with, you're talking about a home for home; are you talking about a neutral site game. All these different things kind of factor into it. I think it also depends on who you're playing before them, who you're playing after them, when your bye week is. There's so many things that factor into it, there's no doubt about it.

I think all those things have got to be factored in. I think your point about the playoffs, it's hard to say based off only having one year of data to study. And you know, I think what last year showed us is all the things that we were told that were major factors in determining who is going to get chosen. It doesn't really add up and that's not -- I'm not even just speaking for us; really all the teams. You look at all the teams that are part of the conversation.

I don't know if there is a model that you could say this is the model, because things that they have said that they were factoring in in the past are not factoring in. I've even heard some other discussions this week of reasons and things that people have said, and I've never heard.

So the narrative is changing. So until we have a couple year's worth of data to study, it's going to be hard to say. But the problem is we're dealing with people, not computers anymore. So the people in the room change year-to-year, so I don't know how consistent the data is going to be because it's not going to be the same people making these decisions.

You know, I still would make the argument: The best thing we can do is win our conference. I think if you win your conference, that's the best case that you can make. And then after that, humans are going to make decisions.

Q. Last week you said that you thought that pressuring the quarterback and getting sacks was a potential room for improvement. You had five sacks on Saturday. Do you feel like you made that leap, or was it something that was sort of opponent-specific? How do you feel like that worked out on Saturday?
JF: Yeah, I think we made progress. Again it goes back to your point about the opponent. I think when you play a pro-style team and they are going to drop back and do a traditional passing game, obvious passing downs, it helps you, there's no doubt about it.

But I still think we can be more destructive up front with our D-tackles, with our defensive ends. Five sacks I think is good. I think we can be better. I think we can be better, I really do. I think we are making progress there.

But as we all know, defensive end was one of the positions that we kind of needed to get a better feel for and get more comfortable with, who those guys were going to be and what their roles were going to be and we're starting to figure that out practice by practice, game-by-game and day-by-day. So it's starting to show there.

Q. It seems like there was a time not so long ago, where a 340- or 360-pound offensive lineman at Penn State or anywhere else was a pretty rare commodity, unless you had a really special offensive lineman, and you have a few guys that size now. Are they just those special types of talents, or is there something you do different with training, work outs, something that enables a player that size to get on the field and do what he needs to do athletically?
JF: No, I just think it's becoming more common. You've just got bigger people.

I mean, I wouldn't necessarily say that we want Chasz Wright to be 350 pounds, but the thing for us is him and [Steven] Gonzales, who is basically 350, as well, they both passed the running test. They had the same running test that we do in camp, the conditioning test; the same ones, the 280-pound guys do. They passed it.

We study body fat. We get with the nutritionists. We say sometimes we want this guy to lose weight but his body fat tells you he really can't or doesn't need to. I'm not saying that's necessarily the case with them but you just see bigger athletes that are able to move in a similar way as others but they are able to do it three inches taller and 40 pounds heavier.

I think Michigan has an offensive guard starting for them that we recruited that I think is 370 pounds. I remember Baylor had a tight end a few years ago that was like 405 pounds. I'm not saying that is necessarily the direction we want to go but I've also been in this game long enough that there's running backs like Mark Allen who is 5-7 -- I don't want to say it wrong because he'll get mad at me, yell at me today if I shortcut him -- 5-7, 180 pounds, that's able to play at this level. And there's offensive linemen that are 6-7, 360 pounds that are able to play.

So for us, it's are you able to get the job done. There's also 285-pound centers and D-tackles that are doing it. I think it's important to kind of have kind of a guideline of what you're looking for by position, but then also not being to the point where you say, ‘you know, you have to be this to play this position; you have to be this tall or this long or this weight to play.’

I think it's good as a guideline but it's not the end-all, be-all for us.

Q. You mentioned about statistics, data, that aspect of the game; how much of is that on ongoing process for you, just a weekly basis. Who gives that you information? I imagine you're not sitting there digging through websites.
JF: We have a couple different companies we use, and Mike Hazel on our staff is the guy that kind of puts all that together. We have a sport scientist that studies a lot of metrics and data from practice. We study sleep. We have some technology that our players wear that studies their sleep.

We have the catapult system that measures how much they are running in practice. We have a number of different things that we're using that are helpful, and then obviously data like you're talking about on whether it's first down efficiency, second down efficiency, third down conversions, fourth down conversions, drive start; all of the stuff that's out there.

I think there's the common ones that people have been studying since the beginning of time and now there's some data out there that people have looked at more closely that probably has a more significant impact than people realize.

I remember coming up in the profession, there wasn't a lot of talk about explosive plays, and in the last 10, 15 years, I think there's a lot of studies out there to say explosive plays probably have a more significant impact on winning than turnovers. There's just things like that that we kind of want to study.

It helps me kind of reinforce what we're doing in practice. Okay, we're doing a ball security or a turnover circuit in practice, and I don't want the guys to get to the point since we do it every single day that they go throw the motions. Well, we have to coach them hard to make sure that happens.

But when you can also show, you know, I think in the last 15 years at Penn State, if we win the turnover ratio, I think we win like 91 percent of our games at home. So being able to put those stats up on the screen to say, guys, it's not just me saying it's important and do it because I say so; here is the data that backs it up that says this turnover stuff is really important or the explosive plays are really important.

What you don't want to do is overload them with data. So we use basically the same five or six statistics every single week that we think are important; that are going to have an impact. And we show going into the game how we compare against the team we're playing.

Last week one of the things against Pitt was after the first two games was they did a really good job when it came to penalties, and we wanted to make sure post game that they didn't win the penalty battle. So we talked about that before the game, and after the game I go back and I say, ‘did we win the penalty battle? did we win the turnover battle? did we win the explosive play battle?’ so on and so forth.

So it's a way to reinforce the things we are telling them that are important; showing them here is the data that actually backs it up. Especially when it's strong when you're 88 percent or higher. Those are pretty strong numbers.

Q. Not to talk about last week but looking forward, how is it having the '82 title team in town? Were there any experiences that your team got to share with them and looking forward what was that like for them to have history around them and have the opportunity to be around them?
JF: To be honest with you, I don't think anybody was around them. I know that sounds crazy and it sounds like it's a shame.

I remember when we went to Ireland, everyone was like, ‘wasn't it a wonderful cultural experience?’ The hotel was nice. The practice field was nice. But our schedule doesn't really allow you to do that when it's an actual game week.

And then the same thing. They came into town. They are busy doing their events. They didn't get here until probably late Thursday or whatever it was, and then we're busy doing our stuff.

I'd love for there to be a little bit more interaction. Typically during the spring we will have those guys come into practice but a lot of those guys had not got into town. We always invite the lettermen to come to practice on Friday, but not a whole lot of interaction to be honest with you. You'd love a little bit more of that.

It's funny that you say that. I was thinking this morning, you know, everybody talked about the 2016 -- we didn't do that while we were on the field because that's not what I want our guys thinking about. We've moved on. We're in a new season.

And to be honest with you, I was thinking this morning, I haven't even seen it yet. I didn't even come in the stadium and look up and see it. I forgot. I just did an interview in there about a half hour ago and I forgot to look again.

So when we leave, I'm going to go look and maybe take a picture of it, because it is really cool and I'm very appreciative and very proud of what we accomplished. But we're on our routine and I know there's been positives and negatives about that routine, but we are on our routine to the point that it drives my wife crazy; that it drives the assistants crazy; that it drives the players crazy; and it drives the media crazy. But we are all about our routine and keeping it as consistent as we possibly can.

Q. Damion Barber, he's been here for a month. What has he learned the most or in what area has he grown?
JF: I really don't know yet. To be honest with you, you can probably ask me that question in about a month, I'll have a better answer for you. I don't want to feel like I'm not answering your question, and I typically don't get into specifics about guys. But he showed up and was sick, so to be honest with you, today is going to be the first day he actually practices with us.

So he looks beautiful. I mean, standing next to our guys in the huddle, he looks great. We've done some lifting and we've done some running and trying to get him in shape, but he showed up sick. I don't want to get into the specifics because I can't, but today is going to be the first day I really look at him.

So I don't want to not answer your question, but if you ask me that about a month from now, I'll have a better answer. It's just too early at this time. He looks the part. He has a beautiful smile. Has a great body. He has not shown up on any lists. He's handled his business, but I don't have a whole lot more to tell you.

Q. I wanted to ask specifically about Steven Gonzales. What has his transformation from last year to this year been and what level of confidence do you think he's playing with?
JF: A lot. I think the biggest difference from last year to this year is the consistency that he's playing with.

He is a guy that showed flashes in the past that got us excited, but then the next play, he wouldn't be playing up to our standards or even his own standards. And now he is doing that at a much higher level. He's still not being the road grader that I think he can be play-in and play-out. But instead of having the highs and lows, he's more [consistent] now. He's more consistent and doesn't have the dips and valleys in how he plays.

But I still think, again, there's more there. Instead of just getting the job done, I think he can have a number of intimidation blocks a game. I think he can create more space by widening the hole and not being happy with maybe a stalemate or driving a guy back a yard. Like to see him drive a guy back five yards, pancake a guy, things like that. He has the ability to do that. We've just got to get it out of him.

Again, he is a wonderful kid. His mom and his sister, basically, raised him. He is a wonderful, wonderful nice human being, and I want him to be a little bit more angry on the football field.

Q. You mentioned before about the analytics and the stuff you measure and you mentioned sleep. I haven't heard many people say they measure sleep. Do you measure like if a guy is not getting enough sleep -- do you advise him to get more sleeps? How does that go?
JF: It's a device called a WHOOP that they wear on their wrist and they wear it constantly. And what's nice is if they are not sleeping and they are up too late, I can tap in and my face pops up and I can yell at them to go to sleep -- no, I'm kidding (laughter).

But basically, they sign off on it that we can track it, and then we're able to see, are they getting enough sleep; what type of sleep are they getting. Are they getting into REM sleep, deep sleep where they are getting the most value? It's not something that we require them to do. It's guys that choose to do it, and we're just, you know -- I would say it's probably the area that is under-utilized the most, or you could make the argument the area that's abused the most with college athletes.

It's very obvious to me, I can get up in the morning and see that a guy has been Tweeting till four o'clock in the morning. Now instead of me just looking at their Twitter or whatever it is, you can actually see: He went to bed at 11 o'clock or he went to bed at 1 o'clock, or he went to bed at 11 o'clock but tossed and turned all night and long; why does he toss and turn; does he have sleep apnea, what is it. Now we can study that to help him.

I think we all realize, the better sleep you get, the more your body is going to recover and the more productive you're going to be the next day. Whether it's sleep, whether it's nutrition, whether it's hydration, whether it's stretching and flexibility, whether it's strength and conditioning, whether it's massages and rehab and cold tubs and hot tubs and all these different things that we're trying to do to help these guys, whether it's sports psychology, getting guys to focus on the right things.

We spend a lot of time talking about visualization on Friday nights before games. Laying in bed and visualizing yourself making plays, and being able to see it so clearly in your mind; all these different things to try to maximize these guys' opportunity and experiences.

Q. One of the things, Georgia State, they have allowed two plays of 50-plus in their last 13 games and you guys kind of thrive on being explosive. What do you see from them that could limit your explosiveness?
JF: Yeah, it's a pretty interesting stat. To be honest with you, I just uncovered that this morning. Just kind of watching film, and watching film and go back, saw the stats come in; and study those things and take what you're seeing on film and kind of match it up with the statistics. That's a pretty impressive stat, one of the best in the country.

I think that's going to be one of the big challenges in the game. They do a great job of limiting big plays, and we do a pretty good job of creating big plays. So that's going to be one of the big storylines in the game. You have a number of ways of creating explosive plays; that's throwing it over their head or that's breaking tackles.

To me that states that they are one of the better tackling teams in the country because typically that's where a lot of explosive plays come is you break a tackle and now you're able to take off for another 40, 50 yards, whatever it may be. I'm going to study that a little bit more. I think that's going to be one of the better storylines in the game.

Q. You kind of got into this last week with your Super Bowl comment; do you think it's realistic to expect a team to be at its peak emotionally 12, 13, 14 times a year, or is that an ongoing challenge? Is it realistic to expect peak efficiency emotionally every single game?
JF: That's what we're striving to. That's what we're striving to be as consistent as we possibly can be and we feel like this approach gives us the best chance.

Yeah, I don't think you're ever going to play the perfect game at the quarterback position, but that doesn't mean you don't approach it in a way to give yourself the best chance.

So yeah, I expect and I plan for us to be playing at a peak level each week from a focus and from a preparation standpoint. But to me if you set really high standards and then you just miss those standards, you still have a chance to play pretty well and execute pretty well and prepare pretty well.

We're going to set really high standards academically. We are going to set really high standards socially. We are going to set really high standards with how we want to play the football game on Saturdays and how we want to prepare. But I think this gives us the best chance.

Q. You mentioned the explosive play benchmark. What are the numbers you are using as far as rushes?
JF: Rushes of 12 yards of more and passes of 15 yards or more. What we tried to do in the past, our defense looked at it differently than our offense. So what we have tried to do is combine that now, and also make sure that we're doing it the same way that most of the national metrics people do it, as well. So now not only can we study it internally but also be able to compare nationally.

Q. Now it's the same?
JF: Now it is. It wasn't in the past. Now it is, yeah.

Q. I know last year when men’s hockey was ranked No. 1, they struggled a little bit and [men’s hockey coach] Guy Gadowski came to you and said, How do you handle all the attention and pressure. And you guys aren't No. 1 but you're Top 5, but what is your philosophy for dealing with everything that comes with that and still performing at a high level?
JF: I know you guys probably don't want to hear this but this goes back to that approach. It doesn't change when times are tough and it doesn't change when times are going well. It's consistent because we believe in it.

I will tell you this: I do the same thing in the off-season. I went and had a meeting with [wrestling coach] Cael [Sanderson] and his entire staff, which was interesting. Obviously two completely different sports but to sit there and talk to Cael and his staff about how he's built it, what are the things that he emphasizes and why; what do they look for in recruiting, how do they practice. I got a tour of their facilities. I sat in their office. It was really good.

Then I think a week later, I had the five guys that all won national championships, the players come and meet with me in my office, and it was kind of interesting to get their perspective compared to the coaches and be able to kind of tie those two things together.

I'm constantly trying to do that. [Women’s soccer coach] Erica Walsh has been a great resource. [Women’s volleyball coach] Russ Rose has been a great resource; Coach Coop (Rob Cooper, baseball), [men’s basketball head coach Pat] Chambers, I could go on and on. I think that's one of the benefits of being at a place like Penn State with so many really successful other sports and other coaches.

I think a lot of coaches spend a lot of time bringing in speakers in from all over the country and studying people from all over the country, when I don't know if we necessarily take advantage of all the resources that we have on this campus and in our own community, and that's professors that are teaching leadership and that's professors that are studying sports science, professors that are studying sports psychology. You know, we have a lot of really good resources on campus. We want to continue to develop those, as well.

But it's our approach and then it's leaning on people that I have relationships outside of Penn State and then also leaning on relationships that we have within this community, as well.


 

 

@PennStateFball

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