September 30, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) James Franklin knows a bye week can make a depth chart better even if it can't make better depth.

The Penn State coach said Tuesday he welcomes the downtime in order to allow players with nagging injuries to heal and for overworked regulars to get their legs back.

''Those things are really valuable and probably more valuable for us in our situation than most,'' Franklin said. ''I think that's where it comes in handy.''

Franklin's situation is overall depth. He has 75 scholarship players, 10 more than what former coach Bill O'Brien was able to keep after NCAA sanctions from the fallout of the 2011 Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

The NCAA reinstated Penn State's full allotment of 85 beginning next season. Until Franklin's recruiting classes can plug the holes, two bye weeks in October sandwiched around an Oct. 11 trip to Michigan and an Oct. 25 home game against Ohio State are a welcome sight.

''Everything is different and everything is magnified here because of the well-documented depth issues that we have and the lack of scholarships and things like that,'' Franklin said.

Penn State jumped out to a 4-0 start but various early-season problems such as pass protection and the lack of a running game that the Nittany Lions were able to overcome surfaced during a 29-6 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.

''It's not like a whole lot of things that popped up on Saturday were different than the story that we've been writing all year long,'' Franklin said. ''It just came to a head and we played an opponent that just didn't make a whole lot of mistakes.

''Winning minimizes the issues and losing maximizes the issues but the issues are still there. We just have to have more of a sense of urgency to get them fixed.''

Franklin acknowledges a quick fix is unlikely.

''Some of them you're not going to get fixed overnight,'' he said. ''A pretty good example of what we're working through is that we have one scholarship offensive tackle (junior Donovan Smith) in the senior, junior and sophomore class.

''You look at our scholarship board, we only have one offensive tackle on scholarship in three classes. So you have a senior and a freshman and that's it. Some of these problems you're not going to solve in a week.''

Penn State's week will give the players off Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

''We'll get more time on Sunday because you're not spending any time cleaning up your previous game, so that will give us more of an opportunity to get more things done,'' Franklin said.

''A lot of times in normal weeks and preparation you're rushing to get the stuff corrected from the week before, you're rushing to get the new game plan installed, you're rushing to work on fundamentals and techniques that you need, and what happens is you probably don't do a good enough job in any of those areas.

''The bye week allows you to do that, especially when you're a new staff and trying to install new things,'' Franklin said.

''Once you've been here for a couple of years and you have years of muscle memory built up in terms of techniques and fundamentals and plays and those things, then it's probably not as magnified as it is right now.

''We're excited about this bye week, the timing of when it comes, and hopefully it will put us in position to play the way we're capable of playing against our next opponent.''

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