STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) — If you watched Penn State’s 28-20 win over Auburn Saturday from start to finish, you probably noticed an often fired-up James Franklin on the Nittany Lions’ sideline.
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After a long week leading up to the game and some challenges with officiating throughout the game itself, his pleasure with his team was more than obvious. He was asked about the passionate display Saturday and throughout the year at his weekly press conference Tuesday and reiterated a statement he’s made all season; he doesn’t want last year’s performance or observations to be lumped with this season or his entire body of work.
“I just think we have to be careful comparing recent history [to] my career,” he said.
Franklin said his emotional approach can be traced all the way back to the beginning of his first head coaching job at Vanderbilt.
“I think everybody knows last year was a very different year from a lot of different perspectives,” he explained. “I think I’m probably similar [this season] to how I’ve been throughout my career.”
And while Franklin did defend his demeanor, he also admitted this past week presented some unique challenges.
“I was fiery for a number of reasons last week,” he said. “I felt like we were fighting more than Auburn.”
He was visibly furious early in the second quarter against the Tigers after Penn State was wrongly penalized for intentional grounding. The ruling caused confusion, leading to the Nittany Lions punting away a possession one play early. The SEC, whose officials called the game Saturday night, later admitted to making an incorrect ruling on the play. Penn State also failed to convert on a big fourth down late in the third quarter on a play that was whistled dead. PJ Mustipher ended up crossing the first down marker, but referees ruled that forward progress had been stopped prior to converting.
Despite the challenges on the field, Franklin was thrilled to see his team pull out its second marquee win of the season.
“I was happy to see our guys battle through it mentally, physically, and emotionally,” he said. “The staff, our players didn’t allow anything to become a distraction.”
The Nittany Lions can now put the chaos of the White Out game behind them and get ready to host Villanova this Saturday.