Penn State‘s James Franklin on Wednesday fired back against accusations from Iowa fans and coaches that his players faked injuries in Saturday’s 23-20 loss to the Hawkeyes, saying that strategy “has not shown up” in his 12 years as a head coach.
When a reporter asked Franklin specifically how he felt about Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz alleging earlier this week that some Penn State players weren’t really hurt, Franklin reached into his pocket for a paper he had written some thoughts on about it.
“How does this strategy make sense against a huddle team?” Franklin said. “People use this strategy to slow people down. Spread offenses, tempo offenses. They huddle. So that strategy did not make sense in this situation. In our six years of playing them, six years straight — 4-2 with our record — has that ever shown up? Has anyone seen that? In my eight years as a head coach, has anyone seen that? Has that shown up at Penn State? My 12 years as a head coach, has that shown up? It has not shown up.”
Franklin, who spoke to the local media for about 12 minutes following practice, said senior defensive tackle and team captain PJ Mustipher sustained a season-ending injury against Iowa. Mustipher had 21 total tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack this season.
“Put yourself in the shoes of a parent,” Franklin said. “Your son is down on the field for an injury and the stadium is booing him. … Your son is down on the field with an injury — and I just told you PJ Mustipher is done for the year – and we’re booing. Is that good for college football?”
Franklin declined to give a specific injury update on quarterback Sean Clifford, who left the game in the second quarter against Iowa, but it’s not a season-ending injury, or the school would have announced that. Franklin said Ta’Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux have been splitting reps this week, but “nothing has been decided or determined.”
“It’s part of the game,” Franklin said. “Sean’s had issues in the past. He’s doing everything he possibly can to get back as soon as he possibly can. What he’s dealing with is not uncommon at the quarterback position.”
Franklin’s comments denying anyone was faking injuries came one day after Ferentz acknowledged some Penn State players suffered injuries, but also questioned the legitimacy of others.
“Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt,” Ferentz said, “But I think probably [the booing] is a reaction to, there were a couple of guys that were down for the count and then were back a play or two later. Our fans aren’t stupid. They’re watching, they know what’s going on.
“I’ve been here 23 years and I think that’s only the second time we’ve seen that kind of stuff going on.”
Franklin said the Nittany Lions’ defense was playing “lights out,” asserting there was no reason for them to slow their momentum by pretending to be injured.
“Our defense was playing great,” he said. “We turned the ball over to start the game inside the five-yard line, held them to a field goal. Go back and check it. I’ve got tremendous respect for the University of Iowa, I’ve got tremendous respect for their fans, it was a hell of a game, in a tough environment. I’m not making excuses, I’m just stating how I see the facts.”