Nittany Notes: Penn State ready for Pitt
UNIVERSITY PARK — James Franklin described practice this week as “workmanlike,” saying he’d like to see a little more energy but it wasn’t a problem. Film work and the practices were really good, the head coach said, as the team prepares to face off against Pitt on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
“What we did last year isn’t good enough anymore, what we did last week isn’t good enough anymore,” Franklin said. “We want to take it to another level, but we’re very focused, we’re very locked in, very business-like. I thought today was better. I thought there was more juice, there was more energy, there was more emotion.”
The off-field juxtaposition between the Nittany Lions and Panthers is noteworthy. Similar to last year, Pitt has shut off media access to all players and assistant coaches, while Penn State has made seven players available, along with offensive line coach Matt Limegrover.
Perhaps more than any other time during his tenure as head coach, Franklin appears to be supremely confident in what’s happening with himself, his team, and his program — as he should be.
In terms of media availability and accessibility, here’s what Franklin said at his weekly press conference Tuesday:
“You know what you're going to get with us week in and week out. Now, that's how we choose to run our organization. He's (Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi) got the ability to run his organization however he sees fit. Some programs, and I've been a part of them, they have a one-voice policy all the time, where you never hear from anybody but the head coach. I think that's how the Patriots do it. It's a one-voice deal. You never talk to the assistants.
“Everybody kind of has their ability to run their organization, their program the way they see best, but just with us, it's not going to change week to week.”
After practice Wednesday, Franklin spoke to the idea of trying to keep his guys emotionally even all week. This was in response to a question about Narduzzi saying he didn’t want his guys to get too hyped, too early leading up to the game.
Watching Franklin these past few years, you can tell when he’s been asked the same question a number of times, and he can see it coming. So here’s how he began his response:
“Why would this game be any different,” Franklin asked rhetorically.
“We’re going to keep it the same, as we always do,” continued Franklin, who added that he can’t control all the chatter and hoopla happening with the fans and on social media. “I want to try and insulate our players from that as much as they possibly can and keep them focused on what we do, so that’s why our approach is the way it is.
“That stuff, I can’t control it. I don’t spend too much time concerned about it, because I can’t change it.”
After Saturday’s victory, linebacker Jarvis Miller talked about the importance of putting in extra work during the offseason, especially when nobody is watching. No fans. No media.
Here’s what Miller said following Penn State’s 52-0 dismantling of Akron:
“That extra work and that extra motivation, that comes from within. You’re either a self-motivated person or you’re not. That’s the difference between someone who’s not as talented as you playing over you. That extra work puts you above them. When you’ve got both, you’re killer, you can’t really be stopped.”
Miller then mentioned receiver Juwan Johnson as someone who’s elevated his status on the team with that extra work. It also impacts the defense, where Miller plays as linebacker.
Wednesday, defensive lineman Ryan Buchholz spoke about how much that becomes a team mentality, when players see so many teammates put in extra work.
“A lot, especially because the coaches can’t really work with us,” Buchholz said, referring to off-season workouts. “We’re kind of our own, so when we’re out here, it’s on us to do that. We take that to heart and work really hard, and that’s a tribute to Jason (Cabinda) and the older guys. They make us do that, so it’s good."