STATE COLLEGE – Penn State head coach James Franklin and safety Ji’Ayir Brown spoke to the media following their practice on Wednesday. Here are some quotes that stood out and corresponding updates ahead of Penn State’s matchup against Auburn this Saturday.
James Franklin on what going against Auburn’s physicality will tell him about his team:
“Purdue, opening up with a Big Ten game, I think prepares us for this game in a different way if we hadn’t played them”. We’ll know a lot more about our team come Saturday night then we do at this stage”.
It was a great question to ask. Auburn will likely be Penn State’s biggest challenge so far this season. One area where this will show itself is the matchup between Penn State’s front seven and Auburn’s running game. We know Purdue doesn’t put much stock into establishing the run game, and Ohio is, well, Ohio. Auburn RB Tank Bigsby, 2020 SEC Freshman of the year, will make Penn State’s defense work more than they’ve had all season. As Franklin said, we’ll know much more about this defense come Saturday.
James Franklin on TE Theo Johnson’s availability this Saturday:
“Yeah, we’re hopeful. No decision’s have been made yet but we’re hopeful. He’s been doing a little bit more each day and a little bit more each week.
Theo Johnson was seen participating in practice today after missing the season’s first two games. Redshirt junior Brenton Strange has picked up the slack, but the 6’6 240lb TE returning would be essential for a team who likes to run multi-TE packages.
To add, Franklin also said there is no update on Smith Vilbert or Coziah Izzard. Kaytron Allen did not attend practice today but will be available Saturday.
James Franklin on the RB rotation:
“We have not sat down and talked as a staff about rotations at this stage.”
Nick Singleton fan club, beware. Franklin has yet to commit to the fan-favorite freshman being the feature back.
That’s all from Franklin. Ji’Ayir Brown was also made available to the media post-practice.
Ji’Ayir Brown on his impression of the pass rush so far this season:
“I think this group is playing extremely well. A lot of teams are getting the ball out quick, but this group is extremely good. Once we get the QB to hold the ball a little longer the sack numbers will go up”.
James Franklin was asked a similar question regarding the lack of sack numbers from the defense. The group hasn’t struggled to get to the QB so far; it just hasn’t translated to sacks. Teams gameplan around the physicality of Penn State’s defense and getting the ball out quicker is an obvious counter, similar to what Brown touched on. I doubt it will be a problem, but we’ll see.
Ji’Ayir Brown on how close the secondary is to turning PBU’s to interceptions:
“One step, one hand swipe closer. It’s been tough with the quick game of the QBS, but I’m sure things will start working out our way”.
The Nittany Lion defense is near the nation’s top in pass breakups and recently broke a school record for pass breakups in a game against Purdue. If they do translate to interceptions, watch out.
Andre Monroe covers Penn State Football for Insider Institute. Follow him on Twitter @amonroe_ and Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org.