STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Behind a dominant performance by running back Saquon Barkley and the offensive line, Penn State controlled the game Saturday against Maryland before pulling away late in a 38-14 win.
Barkley had a career-high with 202 rushing yards, and the Nittany Lions finished with 524 total yards. That’s the most in James Franklin’s 32 games as head coach.
The defense, minus a few big plays, also had a standout performance. Penn State had four sacks, an interception and stopped Maryland on fourth down when the score was 24-14 in the third quarter.
Here’s some snippets of what Franklin had to say:
- Franklin said the defense has overcome all of the personnel changes, but the tackling needs to be better. He said the team is tackling too high, and it will be a priority during the bye week.
- Franklin said “they need to stop the small things.” He mentioned penalties and dropped passes, and that there was something small on every drive that the offense needs to clean up.
- Freshman punter Blake Gilliken had an injury during practice this week. He tried to play through it, but wasn’t hitting the ball like normal, so Franklin made a change. He praised the backup punter, Daniel Pasquariello, for his work in less than ideal conditions.
- Right tackle Andrew Nelson is likely out for the season. He said he probably doesn’t need to wait until Tuesday to tell the media.
- Franklin said there are injured players who could be ready in two weeks, and the bye week will be a huge help.
- He said that Trace McSorley’s ability to run helped open things up for Barkley, and that ability to scramble after a defense stops the run and defends the pass is a big weapon.
- Franklin said the “chaos drills” from practice this week weren’t the difference maker in starting fast. He said the players executed and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead called a great game.
- He said the plan all along if something happened to Nelson would be Brendan Mahon moving to right tackle and Paris Palmer in at left tackle. The other option is Chasz Wright, but he practiced almost exclusively at guard this week. Said they will consider the options during the bye week, mentioning true freshman Will Fries as a possibility to be in the mix. Fries has not played yet this season.
- Franklin got very passionate about the subject of rivalries. Said he thinks people think he is “anti-rivalry” but he’s really not. Said if it is truly a rivalry, there isn’t a discussion about whether it is or not. Mentioned the time lapse in games against Pitt and Maryland before the two series have been restarted.
- Said Penn State has “a very healthy locker room” and used Barkley as a prime example. Barkley’s had some games where he didn’t produce as expected or maybe didn’t get the ball as much as normal, but he’s handled it well.
- Said the improved running game is simple. It’s the maturation up front. Doesn’t matter what the offense is, but it all starts up front. That is the difference, “we are getting better on the o-line.”