One of the biggest lessons we’re not taught in school but learn the hard way in the real world is that it’s OK to screw up.
But one thing that’s not OK is to screw up and then offer such a dim-bulb explanation of one’s actions to the point where you even manage to screw up at screwing up.
Saturday, in a 27-26 loss to No. 4 Ohio State, Penn State coach James Franklin screwed up at a critical juncture.
Specifically, on 4th-and-5 and with just 1:23 left in the game at the Buckeyes’ 43-yard line, Franklin called about the least likely play to gain five yards that he could have called, an inside run that got stuffed in the backfield. The result was a turnover on downs and the game was essentially over.
Here's what Penn State went with on 4th and 5 with the game on the line. pic.twitter.com/onhYZGP2RH
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 30, 2018
Making matters worse, Franklin called multiple timeouts, had plenty of time to plan the play and read the defense, and yet that’s the strategy he went with.
Twitter was quick to jump down his throat about it.
— Brian (@sacking9er) September 30, 2018
Franklin, meanwhile, at the post-game press conference, could only point out the obvious.
“We should’ve called something different there,” he said.
Gee, you don’t say.
Franklin went on to actually defend the call on the grounds that the draw has gone for a big play in the past.
“They changed looks, so we called a timeout and had some discussions. We obviously didn’t make the right call in that situation, and that’s on me, nobody else,” Franklin said. “Obviously, it didn’t work. We have called something similar like that in other situations, and it broke for big plays, but that is on us. That is on me.”
As several analysts pointed out, Penn State looked better-prepared for the actual game and their players had a much higher energy level than Urban Meyer’s bunch from Columbus. But when it came to actual play-calling, Meyer outcoached Franklin completely.
Overthought the call. I get the timeout to see the DEF alignment. But the look tempo twice before the snap made no sense, trying to call the perfect play based on the defense instead of running your best pass play. https://t.co/uDpym6rkry
— James Light (@JamesALight) September 30, 2018
I thought James Franklin did a better job getting his team ready to play than Urban Meyer, but Ohio State's coordinators completely schooled Penn State's when it mattered.
— Zach Barnett (@zach_barnett) September 30, 2018
Franklin also offered up some downright head-scratching comments in the press conference, saying his team was “great” but not “elite” and undermining the confidence of his own team, who he let down when they were a couple of first downs away from a potential upset-sealing field goal.
James Franklin postgame presser talks:
– 4th down play call
– Differnce between being a Great team and an Elite team. Says PSU Great, not Elite
– Tackling down the stretch
– Vows to raise hell to get this program from Great to Elite #PennState pic.twitter.com/UO0silW5KY
— Chris Law (@ChrisLaw) September 30, 2018
Franklin vowed to “raise hell” to get his team from great to elite, but what he really needs to raise is his abilities as a coach making in-game adjustments in critical moments.
Penn State played winning football. They should’ve had this one.
But their coach failed them in the most critical of moments, and then rubbed salt in the wound after the game.
That’s not “elite” on any level.
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