Penn State trying to end 4-game losing skid
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State coach James Franklin comes up with a daily Power Point presentation, and says he sees his team is close to regaining its winning ways.
The Nittany Lions (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) will try to end a four-game losing streak Saturday when they play at Indiana (3-5, 0-4).
Franklin's defense is highly ranked in many statistical categories. His offense is at or near the bottom in just as many. The first-year Penn State coach is stressing to his team that it can narrow that gap with added effort.
''I pulled up offensive plays and defensive plays and special teams plays to show the guys how close we are,'' Franklin said Tuesday.
''You make one play here, you sustain one block a little bit longer, you get off the block, whatever it may be, that's the difference,'' he said.
Penn State has lost its last three games by point margins of five, seven and one.
''When you're losing games that close, those few plays may be the difference in the game,'' he said.
''We talk about those things, and the importance of the details and doing the little things really well, and how close we are.''
Franklin's daily Power Point presentations highlight players doing well on the field, along with academically and out in the community.
Offensive problems, he said, have been the difference.
''There are too many little things,'' Franklin said. ''It's not one person. It's one person this play, a different person that play.''
The Lions rushed 42 times for 41 yards against Maryland. They've topped 100 yards only twice in eight games.
Franklin strives for eight big plays of 20 yards or more in each game; the Lions have produced 43 overall this season.
''It's difficult for any team to go 3 yards, 4 yards all the way down the field for 80 yards, especially when you're not running the ball consistently,'' he said. ''It's not just one issue, it's a combination of factors.''
Christian Hackenberg leads the conference in yards passing with nearly 255 per game, but he's been sacked 25 times in five conference games, 30 times overall.
Franklin says the frustration Hackenberg has shown with coaches on the sidelines stems from his passion for the game.
''I'm pleased with him and I think he's going to play really well on Saturday,'' Franklin said.
''We are going to do everything we possibly can to protect him and give him time in the pocket,'' he said.
NOTRS: Franklin said he did not know whether offensive tackle Donovan Smith (concussion) and offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach (knee) would be cleared to play by Penn State's medical staff. .... Franklin also said safety Ryan Keiser is ''doing extremely well from everything we're told.'' Keiser fractured a rib nearly two weeks ago and that led to surgery for a torn bowel. He remains hospitalized.