All of James Franklin's comments following Penn State's sixth consecutive defeat against Ohio State
Penn State coach James Franklin (Althouse/BWI)
Penn State led Ohio State four times on Saturday but came short of an upset, falling 44-31 to an undefeated Buckeyes team. With just nine minutes remaining in the game, the No. 13 Nittany Lions led 21-16, but No. 2 OSU scored four touchdowns — including a game-winning interception return — and created a surprising 20-point lead before PSU added one more late touchdown.
Penn State was essentially capable of playing toe-to-toe with the league title favorite on Saturday, but was eventually undone by turnovers, losing possession four times (three interceptions and one fumble for quarterback Sean Clifford) to none for the Nittany Lions. Penn State suffers its sixth straight loss in this series, moving to 6-2 and hosting Indiana next Saturday.
Following the loss, Penn State head coach James Franklin met with members of the media at Beaver Stadium to review the game. He is now 1-8 versus the Buckeyes.
Here's a recap of everything the Nittany Lions' ninth-year coach said after dropping to 73-36 in his PSU career...
STATEMENT OF INTRODUCTION
First and foremost, you must give Ohio State credit. They have a fantastic team.
I believed we gave it our all. We were able to overcome the turnovers in the first half and remain in the game and compete. But you can't expect to win if you give the ball over that many times against that sort of opponent. That is something we have done well for the most part this year, but not today.
We played hard and accomplished some very, really excellent things, in my opinion. There's a lot to be pleased of, but there's also a lot that has to be fixed tomorrow. There are certainly several adjustments that must be made.
However, for me, the game begins and finishes with turnovers. You can't give that kind of squad a short field so many times and expect to win. It's going to be quite difficult.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SEAN CLIFFORD'S PERFORMANCE? DO YOU EXPECT MORE THAN HIM TURNING IT OVER FOUR TIMES?
I felt he played bravely and made some big plays, but he can't keep turning the ball over.
I'm not sure if the one was entirely his fault. It was a strip sack and a pressure sack. But the other ones, whether we left the ball inside or if he needs to find a throwing path past incredibly athletic long defensive ends, are a different story.
I think he played bravely. He done some really fantastic things, but there are other things that need to be cleaned up as well.
HOW DO YOU ACCOMPLISH GOING FROM A LEAD TO A 20-POINT DEFICIT IN SUCH A SHORT TIME?
The turnovers start and conclude the game. We realized that with this sort of opponent, we'd have to be able to score points on them.
On offense, they're a force to be reckoned with. On defense, they're a force to be reckoned with. We gave it our all, but we made too many important errors.
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE DEFENSE RIGHT NOW?
I think we gave it our best, especially on the short fields. I believe they had one long drive just after we dropped down and regained the lead — one long drive that they put together and went tempo on a couple of occasions.
Our defense played really well for as many short fields as they had tonight. Obviously, Marvin Harrison was the one we struggled with. He's a fantastic player. They went to him again and again (for 185 yards on 10 catches). But, altogether, we performed admirably.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TURNOVER ON THE SIDELINE DURING THE GAME?
It's not the time to criticize them right now. They're already feeling horrible enough. You attempt to be supportive while moving on to the next play. We'll make those changes on Sunday.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OHIO STATE, MICHIGAN, AND PENN STATE?
They have strong football teams. We performed admirably against Ohio State today.
We had a chance to win the game, but we committed too many important errors, which you can't do against a top-ranked opponent.
ON ENERGIZING THE TEAM WITH OFFENSIVE 4TH-DOWN ATTEMPTS
We wanted to be aggressive on fourth down this season. Looking at their game last week, we knew we'd have to be able to score some points against these guys while taking some risks and taking some chances.
Obviously, the three (fourth down) conversions were significant, allowing us to score points and scores. We'll have to take some of those chances. However, the margin of error against these sorts of opponents is quite narrow.
ON OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS ENTRACING THIS GAME AND ANALYZING PERFORMANCE IN THE FIRST HALF
Some of the things we did to shake things up in terms of formations and personnel groupings, I believe, aided us. It provided them some food for thought.
They weren't as sure about our formations and what we were going to run out of them. So I thought it was a good modification that allowed us to move the ball.
Against that squad, we moved the ball quite well. I think we did a good job.
Again, I don't want to keep saying the same thing, but aside from the turnovers, I felt we did a terrific job on all sides of the ball.
IS PARKER WASHINGTON'S PERFORMANCE MORE INDICATIVE OF HIS IMPACT THAN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON?
Yes, I believe so. He's made plays his entire career here, I mean. He's a contested catcher with the ability to make him miss. He's a great route runner and has been quite productive.
He had several opportunity to make plays today, and he took advantage of them (while totaling 179 yards and one score on 11 receptions). Obviously, I have a great deal of respect for Parker and the sort of player he is.
ON THE EXTENSION OF THE USE OF SCREEN GAME ON OFFENSE
When you face that sort of defense with that type of pass rusher, you have to do things to aid your offensive line, your quarterback, and to change the tempo of things.
That will be something we will have to do all year, but that was the reason for it. With that sort of pass rush, you have to keep them (honestly) on their toes and on their heels with different looks and different schemes; keep them on their toes and on their heels with those things to be concerned about as well.
GO FOR IT ON 4TH-AND-2 (FAILED) FROM OSU'S 19-YARD LINE IN THE THIRD QUARTER RATHER THAN KICK A FIELD GOAL
Yeah, I believe I previously mentioned it. Coming into this game, it appeared like we would need to score touchdowns to win. And, although the spotlight is definitely on the one we missed, I believe the three we made were well received.
AFTER THE LOSS, EMOTIONAL REGROUPING
Our leadership has been outstanding. PJ (Mustipher) was fantastic in the locker room at the time. Losses are difficult. They're difficult around here, especially at a university with such high expectations and standards.
But it's our responsibility as coaches, and it's their job as players, to recoup as fast as possible, make the necessary improvements, and move on to our next opponent so we have the best opportunity of going 1-0 the following week.