It’s been a tough couple weeks for Penn State and Saquon Barkley.
The Nittany Lions have seen their College Football Playoff hopes disintegrate with back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. From an individual standpoint, Barkley’s Heisman Trophy chances have taken a hit as well. The star running back’s numbers have been way down in Penn State’s pair of losses.
Barkley has been limited to just 107 rushing yards on 35 carries (3.1 yards per carry) in the last two weeks, and he has added just 7 receptions for 56 yards in that span. In fact, since an Iowa game where Barkley had 12 catches for 94 yards, he has only 16 grabs in 5 games.
Some Penn State fans were wondering why one of the most talented players in program history isn’t getting the ball more. But with a banged up offensive line, Penn State is not going to “force” the football to Barkley, James Franklin said.
“We’d love to get the ball into Saquon’s hands, but we’re not going to force it. We’re not going to run him into looks that aren’t good looks,” Franklin told reporters at his weekly press conference. “Obviously if we have some things called to get him the ball out of the backfield, and people are covering him, then we’re not going to force the ball to him. …If people are doing everything they can to stop Saquon from getting the ball in his hands, it creates other opportunities.”
Franklin added: “This isn’t about creating stats for one person. This is about finding ways to win.”
Franklin answered another question about Barkley and his role in the offense later in the press conference. Audrey Snyder of DK on Pittsburgh Sports provided video.
What would Franklin say to the fans who think they're not getting Saquon Barkley the ball enough? pic.twitter.com/2mqYT7Sxie
— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) November 7, 2017
Franklin, Barkley and the rest of the Nittany Lions will try to get back on track Saturday against Rutgers.
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