Penn State's Franklin denies trying to ice kicker with 56-0 lead

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Penn State head coach James Franklin.

Before discussing new business and the start of Penn State’s Big Ten season at Iowa, James Franklin felt it necessary Tuesday to look back at old business – his controversial decision to call a timeout with a 56-0 lead before Georgia State attempted a field goal with 11 seconds left.

No, the head coach insisted for the third time since the game ended Saturday night, he was not trying to ice Panthers kicker Brandon Wright just so Penn State could preserve its shutout. Wright drilled the 31-yard attempt through the uprights a split-second after Franklin was granted the timeout, but he missed his second attempt wide right.

Instead, Franklin explained at his weekly teleconference, “We have a standard of how we do things.” In this case, he said the Nittany Lions were playing third- and fourth-team players, and none of them had ever been part of a field-goal block team.

“To be very clear, I was not icing anyone,” he said. “I want to be as clear as I possibly can be.  I’m on the headset, the [defensive coaching staff ] is talking about how those guys won’t even know how to line up. I’m shaking my head. The recommendation is to get the second team in there. I called the timeout. We get that second team on the field and from that point on, we’re going to go block the kick.”

Franklin gave the same explanation after Saturday night’s game, and again Monday on ESPN.

The timeout made Franklin the butt of criticism from some national media. New York talk radio host Mike Francesa called Franklin a “stooge” and a “fool” among other things and said, “What the heck do you need to block it for? Let the ball go through the uprights, you jerk.”

Franklin said giving up points with a 56-point lead never entered his mind.

“People said that when the score is 56-0, we should just stand there and let someone kick it through the uprights,” he said. “If that’s how you think and how you feel, then you won’t ever understand me and you won’t ever understand us.

“Whether it’s the first play of the game, or whether it’s the last play of the game, or whether we’re losing or whether we’re winning, or whether it’s raining or whether it’s sunny, we are going to fight for every inch on the field, every yard on the field, every second on the clock.

“The situation, the element, should not affect our standards of how we do things. It’s their job to try to score, it’s our job to keep them out of the end zone. It’s not a lot more than that. This has become a thing. But that’s really what it is. We have a standard of how we do things. It will be that way today and it will be that way as long as I’m here.”

In other news, Franklin said guard Brendan Mahon and linebacker Cam Brown, both of whom missed last week’s game for undisclosed reasons, are expected to play Saturday night in the Big Ten opener at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. He did not have an update on defensive end Torrence Brown, who left the Georgia State game with an unknown injury.