• Joey Jarzynka

Penn State's James Franklin Press Conference vs. Purdue

COURTESY OF PENN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT


Opening Statement: Appreciate everybody coming out to cover Penn State Football. We’ve got a beautiful day out there.


Quickly, we'll review the Maryland game. Obviously really proud of the guys of how we went on the road and played in a tough environment.


Sean's [Clifford] first start on the road in the Big Ten, so we’re very pleased. The film really showed the same thing that we thought after the game. I thought probably the most impressive thing is the level that we played for four quarters with the twos, with the threes, and, at some spots, the fours. It was impressive. They played up to the standard for four quarters, so very pleased with that.


The coaching staff players of the week on offense were Michal Menet and Sean Clifford. On defense were Tariq Castro-Fields and Ellis Brooks and then on special teams was John Reid. So very, very pleased with those guys.


Getting into Purdue, obviously got a lot of respect for Coach [Jeff] Brohm and what he's been able to do throughout his career and then specifically at Purdue. Obviously last year, what they were able to do, upsetting No. 2 Ohio State and No 19 Iowa, it was very, very impressive.


They’re returning 14 starters. They’re co-offensive coordinators, but Brian Brohm and JaMarcus Shephard have done a nice job.


Coach Brohm calls the plays on offense and it's his system and they have always done a great job throwing the ball. From the quarterback, receivers to the tight ends, they do a great job getting the running backs involved, as well.


They are an 11-personnel team predominately, but they will get in 21-personnel. They will get in no running back sets, 0-1, so only tight ends and receivers on the field, and they will go 12-personnel, too. They are ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing and sixth in all of college football.


We've been impressed with Brycen Hopkins, who we know all the way back from our days in Nashville, who is having a really nice career there. David Bell, who we recruited and is playing at a really high level for them, and Amad Anderson is playing really well for them, as well. Those guys jump out to us.


On the defensive side of the ball, Nick Holt, and then Anthony Poindexter, who I've known for a long time and is a good friend; they are doing a nice job.


I think defensively, still trying to find their identity a little bit, but got a lot of respect for what Coach Holt has done in his career. He's been a defensive coordinator for a long time, USC, Washington, Western Kentucky and now, obviously, Purdue. They are 29th in the country in sacks and then No. 5 [George Karlaftis] really jumps out at you as a freshman, that we recruited and were aware of. No. 44 linebacker, Ben Holt, and then No 27, Navon Mosley, their safety.


Then on special teams, Kevin Wolthausen runs their special teams. He's been doing it for a number of years at Purdue and Connecticut. They’ve got some injuries with their quarterback. Their slot receiver, who is also their return specialist, which has a significant impact on what they do on special teams.


So it will be interesting in how they handle that. You know, are they still going to be a return team on special teams, or are they going to go after you in blocks? Obviously not having him factors in, at least based on everything we are hearing, they won't have him.


Q. Can you describe the talent, depth and competition you have at linebacker? How have they played so far?


JF: I've been pleased. It's a little bit like, what you guys like to talk about so much, is the running back rotation. You guys don't talk about the nine-deep at linebacker that we rotate. Micah [Parsons] is doing some really good things obviously, but it's impressive when Micah gets ejected for a targeting call and Jesse [Luketa] goes in, as we all know, we have tremendous confidence in Jesse and he goes in and we don't even skip a beat. Then obviously, Jan Johnson and Ellis Brooks now are splitting reps almost one-to-one. And both of those guys, Jan starts the game off with a huge interception to kind of set the tone, and then Ellis Brooks comes in and makes a bunch of plays and has a lot of production, sacks and tackles for loss and things like that. Jesse can also play the Mike linebacker position for us, as well. Cam Brown, Brandon Smith and Charlie Katshir are all guys at the field backer position we feel good about, too. That helps us on special teams. It helps us on defense. We went from a situation where we didn't have great depth at the linebacker position. Now we're able to keep those guys fresh, rotate them in, and still be able to play at a really high level. You know, the young guys, although Ellis has played, this is where he's getting the most experience and getting the most reps. You're going to see him, I think, get better and better each week, and then guys like Brandon Smith and Katshir and Luketa, same thing with those guys. Just the amount of reps that they are getting, they are going to gain confidence and play faster and all very instinctive guys, but the game is going to slow down to them. We're excited about that unit.


Q. Approaching the fifth game of the season, have you had any changes to your green, yellow and red lights for your true freshmen? How has that group handled things as a whole so far?


JF: We've had a little bit of changes. Lance Dixon is a guy that we've kind of moved into the yellow category and are going to try to hold his games for later in the year, or if there's an injury, we still feel like we could play him. But he’s just not getting enough reps right now for it to make sense in burning his year. And that would be the same situation at tackle with Caedan Wallace, a guy that we were just playing on PAT field goal, and it didn't make sense at that point to burn his year for that. Those guys could slide back to green right now but we are going to hold them. We also could see ourselves this week and maybe the next couple weeks playing some guys that haven't played, on special teams to gain them some experience. So like [John] Dunmore and TJ [Jones] and ]Tyler] Rudolph, we could see those guys playing for us on special teams and maybe getting some opportunities on offense and defense, as well, especially the home games.


Q. How do things like the “Lawn Boyz” and nicknames bring this room together around the coaches?


JF: A couple things. I think we've had the names. That's been something that's gone on for a long time. You know, position coaches. Obviously, Sean [Spencer] is the one that probably everybody is the most aware of, but each position has it. It's something that players and coaches come up with together. Obviously, the “Lawn Boyz”, the running backs, those guys eating up grass and eating up yardage, something they came up with to have fun with it. Talk about their role and responsibility within the team parameters and then having some personality and having some fun with it. You know, we've had the “Wild Dogs” from day one and Sean's dog bone, but they all seem to love it and they are having fun with it. You know, for me, like anything, there's a fine line with it.


But you know, ultimately for me, I want to make sure that we're playing a brand of football that people can really respect and a brand of football that our fans and our lettermen and our community can feel good about, about how our guys conduct themselves on the sideline, how they conduct themselves during the game, how they play, from a discipline standpoint, how they are in the classroom, how they are in the community. Those are the things that really, really matter. And then I think you've got to allow them to have a little personality and some other things, as well and kind of embrace that. It's no different than, you know, as a dad of my two daughters. I can't fight every battle and I want my daughters to have some personality and their own strengths and figure out their weaknesses, as well, and it's the same thing with our team. But ultimately, I'm concerned with how our guys are in the classroom and how they are in the community and then the style of play and how we conduct ourselves on the field representing our fan base and representing this community. So a little personality that may be different here, I'm good with.


Q. Your wide receivers, beyond K.J. [Hamler] and [Jahan] Dotson, the rest of those guys, how do you think they’re developing? How is the rotation going? Are guys stepping up and producing there as you wish so far?


JF: Yeah, I've been really pleased with the group. Justin Shorter continues to gain confidence and is making plays. Obviously, the play, the glance post on the RPO play that he was able to catch. Took a big hit. I think the guy got thrown out for a targeting penalty and he still made the play. Daniel George, we are very pleased with his investment. Cam Sullivan-Brown, as well. Feel like we have really good depth there, and then you talk about KJ Hamler, Mac Hippenhammer, Weston Carr, all those guys are doing great things. Dan Chisena is a guy we talked about before the season, expecting him to do some really good things, and Jahan just continues to grow. Had a really good meeting with him the other night. As the season goes on, you know, we're going to have to continue to make strides and we're going to have to continue to get better. But yeah, so far, so good with them and the tight ends in the passing game.


Q. How much do you guys script plays going into the game? To what extent do you do that? I'm asking because it seemed like you had so many right answers and Ricky had an unbelievable game as a play-caller last week. How much of that was stuff that you were confident would be available going in? How much of that is reading the lay of the land as the game goes along?


JF: Yeah, I think it's a little bit both, and I think a lot of it has to do with that week. You come up with your plan. You watch the film. You've got a pretty good idea of how people are going to play you. And then also, we have a guy like KJ Hamler; what are they most likely going to do to try to limit his impact in the game? Then, you get into the game and people are doing what you thought they were doing, or they are a little bit different and you have to adjust and adjust quickly. So each week, you know, I listen to other coaches press conferences in our conference, as well as nationally, and that's what you do each week. You go in each week with a plan you feel good about. Obviously, personnel factors into that. Matchups factor into that, as well, but yeah, I thought our offense did a phenomenal job. I thought Ricky had a really good feel and a really good plan and a flow of calling the game. I thought Sean obviously went out and executed it. Our offensive line now has had multiple weeks where they haven't given up a sack and that defense was one of the better sack teams in the country and had two guys on each edge that were up there among the sack leaders in our conference.


Our offensive line is doing some good things. I thought Sean did a really good job of adjusting our protections based on what we had studied all week on film. So yeah, I was very pleased with what our offense did in the game, and we've got to continue taking strides and we've got to continue building there.


Q. Will Levis had 25 snaps against Maryland and a bunch against Idaho. How important has that been for him to get significant game action early? How have you seen him develop with that since the start of the season?


JF: We've been very pleased. Levis is a guy we've been very excited about since we recruited him and, you know, same thing in school. If he doesn't have a 4.0, he's got close to a 4.0. I think he may have like a 3.98. He prepares like crazy. He's very talented. He had a great competition with Sean and has handled it all really well. Whenever that happens and you've got a guy you know that can play and you get into some situations where you can get him on the field and get him some opportunities, I think it's extremely valuable for him and it's valuable for our program. I think the other thing that's important, although this is a game they got into because of the score, if you look at the film, they pretty much had their No. 1 defense in and their No. 1 offense in the entire game. So those guys were able to get in. I thought the first couple drives we weren't as clean as we'd like to be, but after that, we scored twice and Will was a big part of that. He's got as talented of an arm as I've been around and he's a big-bodied kid that can run. I think you guys saw that in the game. We’ll continue to develop him for his future and continuing to develop him for our future is critical. We couldn't be more happy with him and, really, his whole family. He comes from a football family, unbelievably supportive, and we think he's got a very bright future.


Q. California has passed the Pay-to-Play Act, which has drawn a lot of support from current and former college athletes around the country. Do you believe this act is good or bad for college sports? Would you like to see Pennsylvania and other states follow with similar legislation?


JF: Obviously there's a lot going on about this right now, and obviously our administration here at Penn State, as well as the Big Ten Conference, is all following this closely and we're going to have to continue to follow it closely. We're going to have to learn and we're going to have to evolve. So I think everybody is very aware of it and we'll continue to track and obviously come up with some plans that are specific to Penn State, as well as plans for the Big Ten Conference. You know, there's a window of time we've got to get it done in, but there's no doubt that a lot of people are working on it right now.


Q. What's it been like adding the dynamic of HBO to a game week for yourself and the players given what a creature of habit instructor you are?


JF: We've really had this opportunity, or similar opportunities, for probably four years now. I really wasn't on board with doing it for a lot of different reasons. You know, we have our own WPSU around so much and they do such a fantastic job for us. The more we kind of went through it, I said, you know, the reality is, it's not going to be a whole lot different than what we already have, and it's not like these guys are walking around with like HBO plastered all around them. We have cameras around our building all the time and, like I said before, WPSU does a fantastic job for us. After talking to the leadership council about it and after talking to the coaching staff, we just felt like it was the right thing to do.


We've got just such a wonderful university here and program and history and traditions and the community and the type of support that we get; that I want to make sure that everybody in the United States knows how special this place is. To be able to have somebody like HBO that has tremendous expertise in doing this; to be able to peak behind the curtain and allow people maybe a more comprehensive review of how we do things, I think is important. I think probably the most important piece of it is people getting to know our players on a more significant level; getting to know our coaches and staff on a more significant level because we've got great people. I think sometimes with football, with the uniforms and the helmets, there's a disconnect sometimes with the people that are in those helmets. So what better opportunity to allow our story to be told on a national, really global, level? So we've embraced it. As you know, I'm trying to keep things as normal as possible, but the WPSU stuff I think has helped us all be more comfortable with it.


Q. Sean Clifford played not just well, but well against the blitz last week. I think the first time that Maryland didn't blitz him on a pass play was in the second quarter. How important is it for a young quarterback to have success, not only in that game, but to show other defenses that he has the mental processing ability to beat the blitz?


JF: Yeah, I think it's very important. I think, you know, that's one of the critical things when you evaluate quarterbacks at how well they are playing; it's how are they on third down, how are they in the red zone, it's wins and losses. It’s can you make plays under pressure? That's making throws on time, that's adjusting the protection to pick up the blitz and then that's being able to mix some things in as a play-caller, Coach Rahne, whether it's screens or moving the pocket and things that that can help us, too. I think it's really important. Because once you put on film that you can't do that, then you're going to see a full dose of it.


Q. From a football perspective, how do you go about appreciating guys as a coach that aren't on your team?


JF: I think it's a great point. From what we've heard, we're happy because it didn't sound like it's a season-ending injury, which is great. I think it's great for college football and I think it's great for the Big Ten. [Rondale Moore]'s a special, special player. Very talented. Fun to watch. To be honest with you, I think our players and our staff would like for him to be playing in the game. You come to Penn State because you want to play against the best players and you want to play against the best teams. I think it's great for college football. I think it's great for us. I think our players and our staff have an unbelievable amount of respect for Purdue, with the program and the university and their personnel. I don't know whether he's going to travel this week or not, but if he does, I'd love the opportunity to tell him what a fantastic football player he is and I’m a big fan.


Q. How much is Penn State going to get to look over what HBO is doing this week? Are you looking at it before it goes up?


JF: I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on that. We're going to keep our process and focus on the things that we can do. Without getting into the details of our contract and things like that, obviously Penn State wouldn't agree to do something like this if we weren't completely comfortable with all the details and specifics of it. So this was thoroughly vetted on the front end and we had great discussions, and so far, they have been great partners. But yeah, I think you know Penn State. We are fairly conservative, and you know, we're going to be very diligent on the front end of looking at those things.


Q. Are we going to see some Hard Knocks?


JF: Yeah, I think there will be some Hard Knocks aspects to this. I don't know it will be as colorful. But yeah, I do think there's a fine line, because you know, it does allow you to tell the story and be really authentic. But there's a fine line to that.


Q. David Bell, recruited pretty heavily and had a break out last week with Rondale Moore on the sideline, dominated Indianapolis high school football. What do you see from him that makes him a top-tier prospect? Leading into this game, when it's him, Plummer, guys that you have limited sample size of tape, how do you handle the pass attack with a freshman wide receiver on the rise and a freshman quarterback who has only played in a couple games?


JF: That's a little bit of the challenge to be honest with you. Like I was saying on special teams, not having Rondale, that significantly impacts how they are going to call special teams. Same things on offense. Who is going to play that role? Do they feel like they have someone that can play the role or are they going to play differently? I think probably the second half of the Minnesota game is probably the most valuable half for us, once the personnel changes happened. Bell reminds me in a lot of ways of Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton. Big, strong, a great route runner. He seems to catch everything in his vicinity and even during the recruiting process, he's just got a very steady, level-headed temperament and you see that on the field. You know, he's put some size on. He graduated early and has put some size on, but really, what we thought we were recruiting is what you see on tape. But yeah, I think your point is a good one. You know, the changes, you could make arguments whether it's a positive for Penn State or not, but it is concerning when you watch tape, and you say, this is not the team that we are going to see on Saturday, not only from a personnel standpoint but also stylistically.


Q. How impressed have you been with the two freshman running backs? Are you surprised at this point, after four games, they are still in this mix?


JF: No, but I think you guys are. This is probably the No. 1 question that I get this year, is the running backs. Yeah, I think they are doing great. I actually think the way we are using all four of them helps them, kind of slowly but surely, keep developing without too much on their plate and also keeps all those guys fresh. I think you'll continue to see, there will be one guy that has a huge week or another guy that has a huge week. Again, based on scheme and based on matchups and things like that. But you know, we have been very pleased with them. I know the week before, in pass protection, I thought Pitt was very aggressive and I thought we did a better job last week of picking some of those pressures up. The other thing we may have talked about last week, the other thing is just having the aspect of the cut.


Those linebackers and DBs coming and they know there's a chance that that running back will cut them; it changes your mentality. If you've never seen a cut on tape, you're just going to run reckless with abandon and not worry about a guy going low on you. But when you see on tape that a guy will cut you, it changes up your temperament, so I think that helped, too.


Q. Going back the Lawn Boyz. Is that something that you sign off on? Do you consider yourself a player's coach and what does that term mean to you?


JF: Yeah, no, I didn't sign off on Sean's Dog Bone. I've got probably things that are probably more important on my list than things like that. But I think what happens is, I think when you're in a leadership position, I mean, Sandy does it obviously for the athletic department and President Barron does it for the entire university. It's not like we have a hundred rules. Our coaches and our players and our staff kind of understand what we're all about from a cultural perspective. Everybody knows what fits within that culture and what doesn't and there's times where I do get asked, hey, are you okay with this or not? But yeah, it's not like I'm signing off on everything. It's just like we were talking about, the HBO. It's not like I'm going to go back and watch that show and sign off on it. We've got people that that's what they do for a living that are qualified to do those things. I think more importantly, it's the overall culture. Our guys know what's acceptable within our program and what's not. Part of that, as you guys know on Sundays in our meeting, I put up examples of mistakes that are made across the country in professional sports, in college sports. Not that we're perfect, but hopefully we can learn from other people's mistakes. We're going to make mistakes, too. There's going to be things that you see that you're going to be unsure of. There's going to be things that our fans see that they are unsure of. But again, I would hope now after six years, that we have built up some credit with our fans that they know that we're putting a priority on academics and we're putting a priority on community service and developing these young people to be leaders and tremendous husbands and fathers one day. I think for the most part, we've done a pretty good job of that. There's going to be a hiccup from time to time, but I think we've earned that. I hope people feel like that we've earned that.


Q. I wanted to ask you about the challenge of coaching and playing aggressive defense with the way that targeting is being called. It seems like it's more prevalent this year. I think there are a couple instances in the Maryland game. How do you think Micah came out of that? Do you think he'll benefit maybe from having learned some things?


JF: I think it's a pretty good example of really tying together what we just talked about. We spend a lot of time, a lot of time, talking about fundamentals of the game, not only because they are the ways that you are going to be the most successful playing the game, but also, because we are so concerned about our players' health and safety, and also the guys we play against, their health and safety. I mean, part of the reason that targeting is a penalty now is because it puts them and the person they are hitting at risk. So, we spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about that. But back to your point, what happened when Micah Parsons was ejected? He put his head down. He was upset, put his helmet on, ran onto the field into the locker room. Wasn't pumping the fans up that you see sometimes. Wasn't slamming his helmet and screaming. I thought that was a really good example. You've got Micah Parsons, who cares as much as anybody in our program about Penn State's success, and he was disappointed but handled it the right way, owned up to it and ran off the field. I will tell you, something that he did do that I wasn't happy with, he went into the locker room and tweeted. Now, that was addressed with our entire team, but again, what did he tweet? Something really positive about the team and "my boys are out there holding it down." I don't want the tweeting during the game, but I think it's an example of how Micah handled adversity, running off the field and doing it with class and then going to the locker room, and I will say, there's a lot of talk about changing that rule that you won't send a guy in the locker room because now it puts him in a tough situation sitting in the locker room by himself for an hour and a half, and we create a spectacle by sending him off the field. Just take his helmet and leave him on the sideline. So I think you'll see some of those changes, maybe, coming in football, but it kind of ties both your things together. I don't want this to come off the wrong way. I've got 121 18-22-year-old males and we don't always handle things perfectly, but overall, the six years we've been here, I couldn't be more proud of how our guys have handled things.


Q. Obviously Sean Clifford is coming off a very strong game but on the whole, how would you evaluate his growth as a leader and as a player to this point in the year? What are you and the coaches most focused on with him this week and moving forward?


JF: It's building that confidence and we talk a lot about confidence comes from preparation. I think he's doing a really good job with that. You never know going on the road the first time, but we had talked a lot about what that environment was going to be like. We did a lot to try to recreate that environment in practice every single day. I was a little worried about him in pregame because he was so juiced up and so jacked up and so excited. We come out and they are booing us in their student section and he was so jacked up, I wanted to make sure that he wasn't too far in that direction. But I thought our guys did a really good job of funneling all that energy in that stadium in a really positive direction and enjoyed it. I think our guys enjoyed going on the road and playing in a tough environment like that. That's where you want to be as a program. So we've got to continue to build on that, being a great road team, but this week, we're obviously focused on being a great home team and going 1-0.


Q. How does Purdue go about creating pressure? What do you guys have to do this week to keep Sean upright?


JF: Well, I think a couple things. They do a really good job with their blitz and twist package and I think they also do a really good job of having weekly blitzes and twists to try to challenge your protections in what you do. That's always kind of the chess match as the offensive coordinator and O-line coaches identify what they do on film. What are the tells to determine where the pressure's coming from? Whether it's the shade or the 3-technique or whether it's the skew of the linebackers or whether it's the rotation of the safeties or whatever it may be that week that is the tell, and then you set your protection based on that. Then, obviously, let's figure out as soon as we possibly can, what's the pressures that we haven't seen before? What you hope is your normal rules, handle them, but if not, then you have to make those adjustments on the sideline quickly. That's one of the things I thought Sean did such a good job with. I thought Sean was so confident pre-snap in what the coverage was going to be. He was so confident pre-snap in what the blitz was going to be. That's when people talk about the game slowing down. It's because you've anticipated what they are going to do and you're not trying to figure it all out after the ball's snapped. You can anticipate it and we need to be able to continue to do that. There's going to be weeks based on film study and things like that, we have a good plan, but it doesn't cover it all. We’ve got to allow our rules to handle those things that show up in the game that we haven't prepared for, because there always will be that on offense, defense and special teams. But then we also need to be able to make adjustments on the sideline, too.


Q. Earlier you said that you were not on board with having an HBO-style show here for a number of reasons. What were some of those different reasons?


JF: Yeah, that's why I didn't state them. I just had a number of reasons. You know, a few years ago, obviously we were at a different point as a program. Where our locker room is at right now, our chemistry, our depth, recruiting, our staff, without getting into specifics, it's just I think we are at a good place right now and we can handle it.

I think the point that I made, that was probably the biggest point that I made, is that there's cameras around all the time, anyway. You know, with WPSU, so it's not that different for us. You guys, you watch these shows that are produced with other programs. You watch these shows that are produced with professional organizations and there's good and bad that comes with that. But I also think that's what makes it real and that's what makes it authentic.


Q. Did you ever think you would see the day where you needed an in-game tweeting policy?


JF: Well, we have a Tweeting policy in general. I wouldn't necessarily call it in-game. The hard part is our guys are on their phones all the time, so we allow them to do the music in pregame, but I don't want them on social media in pregame and I don't want them on their phones at all at halftime. To be honest, we've had a phone and a social media policy probably as long as I've been a head coach. It's something you have to address because, as you guys know, it's such a huge part of our society now. So yeah, I don't think it's too shocking at all to be honest with you. I think we've all seen in the pros, we've seen people, what do they call it, live streaming the locker room, which is supposed to be sacred, and we've seen a number of things like that pop up. When those things happen, no different than anything else, we show our team, and obviously those things are not appropriate.


Q. Do you think there's such a thing as a confidence boost for an offensive coordinator? You spent a lot of time this off-season talking about idea spread and Ricky evolving. Do you think Friday could be that for him?


JF: Yeah, I don't know, you look at our first game, Ricky's first game calling in the Fiesta Bowl was phenomenal. I think every year Brent Pry gets better. We should expect every year Ricky gets better. Every year I hope to get better. That's all the position coaches. That's the coordinators. That's the players. Does experience count? Yes, no doubt about it. Because obviously whenever you're going through something for the first time, there's challenges that come with that, so it's no different than what you guys do professionally. You've got a tough job and you're much better in year three than you were in year one. You're much better in year ten than you were in year four. So yeah, the experience counts. Now, what that game this past Friday meant, you know, I'm not sure, but it was a really positive step for our entire organization.


Q. You've said that Friday's performance was one of the most complete games you've seen since you've been here. When you have time to look back at that film and you're able to break things down more, is there one over-arching theme or one reason why you can point to this game? Was it just a good week of practice? What really helped kind of lead to that?


JF: Yes, I guess when you make that type of statement, it's not one thing. It's so many things. I thought the guys were ready to play. I think we've created good depth to keep guys fresh. The most important stat you have is scoring offense and scoring defense and we obviously did well in those areas. Our special teams has been pretty clutch all year long and we're going to need them to continue to be. We're seeing a lot of guys play and a lot of guys play at a high level. You know, I thought we handled the noise well. Our guys looked fresh and fast, so I think we handled the bye week well. I think the reason why I felt that way is not because of one or two or three points. I think it's all the factors.


Q. If I can just follow-up, was there a difference in this game compared to the first three? Why did everything come together this game?


JF: Yeah, because I think what I just said, is that I felt like we handled the bye week well. I thought our guys were fresh. I thought they were confident. I thought we had a lot of guys play in the game and play well. I thought our plans on offense, defense and special teams were really good, and what we planned for showed up. There wasn't a whole lot of changes. I thought we handled the noise well and prepared for it. I thought our kids invested the way they should have invested. They didn't take a bye week and just enjoy it. They enjoyed it, but also invested in the program and invested in themselves. Yeah, again, I don't think it's one specific thing. It's all of it. You know, we took a positive step, but we're going to have to continue taking steps because, in this conference, and a lot of conferences across the country and just how competitive college football is, you've got to learn from it and then you've got to move on. You've got to take those experiences you learn and grow and I think confidence is as big a part of it as anything. I think we played like a confident football team on Friday night and we're going to need to continue to do that.


Q. By this time next week, we may know the kickoff time for the White Out game. A lot of fans don't want it to be a noon game. I know that's been talked about a lot in the Big Ten this year. Do you have any preference?


JF: Yeah, the earlier the better. I like them. If I can get it at 11:00 A.M., we can play the game and then I can go hang out with my wife and kids for a few hours. I can tell right now, people are watching this just going crazy. Honestly, I think coaches like the 12:00 game, especially if you're the away team. We didn't get back until four in the morning. I was in bed at 5 am. I was out recruiting all day long. So, the away games are tough. I remember Monday Night Football in the NFL. Everybody loves Monday Night Football except the coaches. I remember getting back at 5:00 and walking right into the office and not even going home. You know, I can't make any announcements at this time. Obviously, all my focus is on Purdue, anyway. We'll be happy and we'll embrace whatever time they say the game is, and I know our fans will, as well, because our fans, I've been noticing it a lot lately, our fans are getting more and more excited about the 12:00 games because we're embracing the breakfast tailgating and then we're embracing the fact that it leaves us much more time to tailgate on the back end. So, it's really a positive. It's really a win. I've been noticing that all over social media. Kris is showing me that. We're starting to kind of flip this thing. Our fans in some ways prefer the 12:00 games. That's why this place will be sold out and rocking right after we finish our breakfast burritos.

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