More from Penn State coach James Franklin on the rivalry question; he’s also ‘very comfortable’ with Saquon Barkley as a kickoff returner

james franklin-penn state-pitt-rivalry

Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

More on (yawn) the rivalry question

From the beating-a-dead-horse files we have Penn State coach James Franklin downplaying the fact that his team is facing a rival this week, as Pitt visits Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

“Are we supposed to prepare harder this week than we did last week?” Franklin said during his weekly news conference, per Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record. “I don’t get it. It never made sense to me …”

Bodani writes that Franklin went on to say that he understands the significance of the game in the minds of many, but added that he believes that the most important game on the Lions’ schedule is the one they are playing any given week.

“Last week,” he said, per Bodani, “the Akron game was the most important game in the universe for us. This week, the Pitt game is the most important game in the universe. It’s the only thing that exists for us.”

Ain’t that a kick?

For some reason Franklin felt compelled to use star running back Saquon Barkley as his kickoff returner at the beginning of the second half last Saturday, at which point the Lions led Akron 35-0, en route to a 52-0 victory. As Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call writes, Franklin said he is “very comfortable” with that move, and plans to continue using Barkley, a Heisman Trophy candidate, in that role.

Running man

Joe Juliano of points out that quarterback Trace McSorley carried three times for 32 yards on PSU’s first possession against Akron, 12 times for 48 yards in all, and on Tuesday he said he was “just taking what the defense gave us early.” McSorley added that he learned something (though not everything) while throwing for 332 yards in the Lions’ 42-39 loss to Pitt last season. “They don’t necessarily change up too much,” he said, per Juliano. “Obviously we’ve got to be able to expect a pressure or something different that’s going to try and throw us off. You’ve got to expect that every week, so be ready to adjust to the different looks you get in the game.”

Ryan’s hope

Bob Flounders of notes that Franklin had praise for backup defensive end Ryan Buchholz, who recorded 4 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack against the Zips. The head coach called Buchholz mature, intelligent and a “massive human being in every area.”

Oh captains, my captains

According to a university release, senior forward James Robinson has been named captain of Penn State’s hockey team, while senior defenseman Erik Autio and junior forward Chase Berger were named alternates. The defending Big Ten champions begin their season Oct. 6 at Clarkson.

Field hockey team jumps to No. 3

Also according to a university release, the Lions’ 4-0 field hockey team jumped from No. 7 to No. 3 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, behind only Duke and Connecticut. Jenny Rizzo, PSU’s junior goalie, was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, according to yet another release.

Never stop learning

Franklin got an impromptu education about the origins of the word “dovetail” from editor Mark Brennan on Tuesday, as reflected in the video Brennan posted on his Twitter account.

Also in the Land of 10

Miss previous editions of the Wakeup Call? They can be found here.

The post More from Penn State coach James Franklin on the rivalry question; he’s also ‘very comfortable’ with Saquon Barkley as a kickoff returner appeared first on Land of 10.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.