James Franklin heard ESPN analyst and former NFL linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s remarks about the Nittany Lions accidentally giving away play-calls.
“I can say that about every offense in the country. There’s tells. That’s what our defense does. That’s what our offense does,” the coach said at his Tuesday press conference. “Are there some things we can do better? Yes, there’s no doubt about it.”
Vilma said Friday on The Russillo Show that he first noticed Penn State’s offensive line tipping a run or pass play in the Northwestern game, a 31-7 win on Oct. 7.
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“You knew whether it was run or pass based on one of the offensive tackles. One of the offensive tackles was very, very lazy in his stance,” the three-time Pro Bowler said. “So when it was a pass, he was very upright and you could tell that he needed to kick back and get back for a pass. When it was a run, he was leaning in, he was locked in to make sure he goes and gets his guy.”
Franklin said those tells and tendencies are things Penn State looked at during the bye week’s self-scouting period. In the past few weeks, whether it’s been direct snaps to Saquon Barkley or lining him up behind Trace McSorley in the pistol, the Nittany Lions have tried to disguise their looks.
It hasn’t helped on the ground (100.7 rushing yards per game the last six weeks), but it’s something Penn State’s players and coaching staff will continue to plug away at.
Franklin believes first and foremost what’s important are the “fundamentals and techniques, and making sure we win the one-on-one battles” up front.
The coach, while acknowledging that giving plays away unintentionally can and will happen, also said it hasn’t affected Penn State too adversely.
“I still think we’re averaging 31 points per game,” Franklin said of his offense, which actually ranks 17th nationally with 37.7 points per game. “If everyone knew what we were doing with most of our plays, I think we’d be scoring a lot less than that.”
Mike Gesicki had no idea he was a semifinalist for the Mackey Award until receiving a text from former teammate and current UMass tight end Adam Breneman on Tuesday morning.
“He’s like,’Welcome to the club, buddy,’” Gesicki said with a smile. “I’m like, ‘What club?’ He’s like, ‘The Mackey club.’ I said don’t ever text me and say that again.”
The senior’s sarcasm was sublime at the Beaver Stadium media room dais, recalling messing with Breneman before actually being sincere in appreciating the honor.
Gesicki was named one of eight candidates for the Mackey Award, bestowed upon the nation’s top tight end. He joined Breneman, Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagali, Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, Wake Forest’s Cam Serigne, Miami’s Chris Herndon, South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst and NC State’s Jaylen Samuels on the list.
Gesicki’s 42 receptions this season is fifth nationally among tight ends. Meanwhile, his five touchdowns and 419 receiving yards rank fourth and seventh, respectively, out of Power 5 tight ends.
“Definitely honored to be in the company of those players,” Gesicki said. “I’m really appreciative of all that stuff. But I’m a big believer in with team success comes individual recognition, so I’m excited for these last few opportunities. We take care of business on Saturdays and everything else will take care of itself.”
“There’s like 50 kids on our team that would, like, die to just be friends with DaeSean (Hamilton). ... I honestly started this whole be-friends-with-DaeSean thing. Once I started being friends with him, then Andre (Robinson) wanted to jump in. And Tommy (Stevens) would be like, ‘Yo, how come Ham doesn’t talk to me?’ Everybody comes to me like I’m his secretary or something. ... It’s very funny to me that everybody takes so much pride in being friends with DaeSean.” — Gesicki, on the close-knit “DaeSean friends club”