Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Won't Let Team Quit Coach Not Inclined to Pull His Starters

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Franklin Won't Let Team Quit Coach Not Inclined to Pull His Starters

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Coach James Franklin wants Penn State's identity as a team to be one where the Nittany Lions line up and play hard until the final whistle. Franklin, who describes himself as an eternal optimist, isn't a fan of waving a white flag and pulling his starters off the field, which was apparent in the Lions' 38-10 loss Saturday against No. 1 Ohio State.

Trailing by 21 points with 6:21 left, Franklin elected to keep starting quarterback Christian Hackenberg and top running back Saquon Barkley in the game. Hackenberg, noticeably slowed after a first-half sack, took a fifth sack late in the game. Barkley, who missed the two previous games with an ankle injury but reeled off 194 yards in his return, also finished the game.

Even when the Lions trailed by 28 points with 4:11 remaining, Franklin refused to take his starters out.

"As a competitor, it's hard to say I'm going to put the backups in at this point in the game and wave the white flag," Franklin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "That's not kind of who I am or ever really will be, but I also get what people are saying."

It's not the only time this season Franklin was questioned for keeping his starters in a game that was out of hand. In the season-opening, 27-10 loss against Temple, Hackenberg played the entire game, absorbing sacks Nos. 9 and 10 with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

If Franklin didn't pull his starters facing a 28-point deficit with less than four minutes remaining, will he ever pull them?

"There's been games where people have walked out of the stadium. There's been games where people turned off the TV and things have changed," he said. "There's a fine line to that, and I understand the argument and I understand the discussion. I'm just telling you my nature, it's hard to do that. It's hard to wave the white flag."

Punting takes center stage

Penn State has used walk-on punters Daniel Pasquariello and Chris Gulla since Franklin arrived, but neither has panned out. Pasquariello replaced Gulla late in the second quarter Saturday, but didn't fare any better, averaging 35. …

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