Penn State’s Franklin remains vague on team’s injured players
Before and during Saturday’s 37-21 win over San Diego State, Penn State lost both starting safeties, nearly its entire running game and an improving defensive lineman. So how does that bode for this week against Army West Point?
We’ll just have to wait and see.
As he reminds the media every week, coach James Franklin said he “doesn’t talk about injuries.” So we’re left to speculate about safety Jordan Lucas, who did not dress, and guess about the other safety, Marcus Allen, who came out after hurting his arm (the sling was a giveaway). Running backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley departed after suffering apparent leg injuries. What happened to backup defensive end Evan Schwan remains unclear.
All the players remain at or near the top of the depth chart at their positions.
“Even if I wanted to, this early in the week there’s not a whole lot I can tell you,” Franklin said. “We didn’t know about Jordan Lucas last week until basically Saturday morning.
“From everything I know at this point, none of them are season-ending injuries,” Franklin said. “I anticipate getting them all back, whether it’s this week or next week. We’ll see how the week goes, how they heal.”
Junior Malik Golden started for Lucas, and sophomore Troy Apke (Mt. Lebanon) came in for Allen. Franklin said the pair “did some good things” but added, “We must improve our tackling fundamentals. That showed up probably at the safety position as much as anything.”
The absences of Lynch and Barkley, especially, were more pronounced. With both active, Penn State led 27-14 at halftime and controlled the ball for nearly 22 minutes. The offense failed to score a touchdown in the second half.
Before coming out, Barkley, who ran for 315 yards in the previous two games, had eight carries for 62 yards and took a screen pass for a scintillating 22 yards and a touchdown.
Freshmen Mark Allen and Nick Scott replaced Lynch and Barkley. Allen took a swing pass 13 yards into the end zone and Scott connected with Chris Godwin on a 32-yard pass, but they combined for 14 rushing yards on 11 carries.
“Losing two guys (Barkley and Lynch) that were playing at a pretty high level, it was exciting to see Mark Allen come in and touch the ball and score a touchdown on his first touch,” Franklin said. “And then Nick Scott gets some opportunities.”
But in the end, said Franklin, “Obviously, they were behind those other two guys on the depth chart for a reason.”
Franklin said he moved redshirt freshman running back Johnathan Thomas from the scout team for depth.
Notes: Penn State leads the nation with 4 1⁄2 sacks per game and is No. 3 in tackles for loss (10 per game). … The Nittany Lions rank 110th nationally in total offense (345.5 yards per game), just behind Pitt. … Army (1-3) is one of three Division I independents (along with Notre Dame and Brigham Young). One of its losses was to FCS-member Fordham. In last week’s 58-36 win over Eastern Michigan, the Black Knights’ option offense produced 556 rushing yards, the most in program history against a current D-I team.