The last two weeks have been less than ideal for the Penn State football program. Looking for answers after the first loss of the season, the Nittany Lions found very few against Indiana, instead needing to pull out all the stops to avoid an upset by the two-win Hoosiers. As the calendar turns to November, the Nittany Lions have some issues to work through for there to be any hope of keeping a College Football Playoff bid alive. During his weekly press conference, James Franklin shared insight from a player-led discussion spearheaded by Dvon Ellies after the Indiana game that he hopes can do just that.
Penn State football still looking for rebound following Indiana game
Penn State football was hoping to pick itself up off the mat Saturday following an emotional first loss to Ohio State the week prior. However, the Nittany Lions found themselves in a dogfight as a 31-point favorite at home, needing a touchdown and a safety in the final two minutes to escape with a 33-24 victory.
There’s a feeling of urgency in Happy Valley despite Penn State’s 7-1 record and No. 9 AP poll ranking. The offense has struggled to find consistency for the better part of a month, and the defense is coming off its worst performance of the season.
James Franklin shares locker room message from Dvon Ellies
Today, James Franklin was asked how the program balances embracing its wins while still addressing underlying issues that may plague the team. According to the Penn State football coach, it comes down to transparency.
“After wins, you have to be as transparent and as honest as you can be with yourself, as coaches and as players,” he said during his weekly press conference. “But then also be able to have those conversations head coach to assistants, head coach to players, assistants and coordinators to the players.”
Then, Franklin shared insight from a discussion led by DT Dvon Ellies in the locker room following the Indiana game.
“Dvon said something in the locker room,” Franklin noted. “What he said was something that we talk about a lot, ‘The best teams are honest teams.’ And you got to be willing to have those conversations with each other. To me, it’s always at its best when it’s player-led. When the players can hold each other accountable, and have real conversations with each other. Whether that’s at practice, or in the locker room, or on game days, or Saturday nights.”
What did Dvon Ellies say about defensive miscues?
Dvon Ellies struck a similar tone when we spoke with him earlier in the day. The backbone of this Penn State football team, the defense uncharacteristically struggled against Indiana on Saturday. The Nittany Lions gave up touchdowns of 69 and 90 yards as the Hoosiers put up the most points of the season against one of the top defenses in the nation.
When asked what led to the miscues on Saturday, Ellies pointed to communication issues on the defensive side of the ball before quickly noting that those problems have since been addressed.
“We fell short as a defense,” Ellies said. “Cohesion and communication are the most important things when you’re talking about your defense. When you lack that, there are a lot of missteps that lead to bigger issues…I just think we weren’t all in tune in that moment… We’ve worked past it. We’ve grown from it. You won’t be seeing the same thing again.”
“We’ve identified the issue, we’ve addressed it, and now we’re moving forward,” Ellies reiterated. “That’s another thing with our defense. Whatever issues we have, whatever mistakes we’ve made, we make it an emphasis for it not to happen again.”
The tone change may be coming at the perfect time for the Nittany Lions. Penn State football faces a difficult three-game stretch, traveling to 5-3 Maryland on Saturday before home dates with 8-0 Michigan and 6-2 Rutgers in the following weeks.
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