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Notebook: Injuries, Turnovers & Uncharted Territory

James Franklin has been using the same words this season more than he would like.

"It's not good enough" is the familiar refrain, and Franklin leaned on it again on Saturday after Penn State's 41-21 loss to Iowa, when asked to address the feelings of Nittany Lions fans on the team's first 0-5 start in school history.

"There's obviously a lot of circumstances that are going on this year, but none of that matters at the end of the day," Franklin said. "We got to find a way to play good football, and we have not done that."

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Franklin Underlines Injury Woes 

Asked about Penn State's quarterback situation, Franklin used the question as an opportunity to highlight his team's growing list of injury concerns.

Ta'Quan Roberson, who some fans have called for as Sean Clifford and Will Levis have struggled, is unavailable, according to Franklin.

Franklin, who typically prefers to keep injury issues out of the public when possible, went on to list several other players who were not available against Iowa.

Among them were Devyn Ford, who was injured during the game and only carried the ball three times, tight end Zack Kuntz, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, linebacker Charlie Katshir, and tight end Pat Freiermuth, who will have season ending surgery.

The Story of the Season

If Franklin were a reporter, the headline on this team's season wouldn't be hard for him to write.

The story of the season so far, he said, is turnovers.

Penn State had four of them — two by Levis and two by Clifford. Twenty-seven of Iowa's 41 points came directly as a result of turnovers.

"It is extremely frustrating just because we know that turnovers swing the game," wideout Jahan Dotson said. "When you're on defense and you get a turnover, you know that's huge, you're putting your offense in a great position. When we turn the ball over, we're putting our defense in a terrible position. It's about field position, and we keep our defense on the field for too long."

For the season, Penn State has turned the ball over 13 times. Its defense, by contrast, has only forced four turnovers in five games.

"You can't turn the ball over, and when you have opportunities to get turnovers you gotta get them," Franklin said. "That is the story of the game. That is the story of the season."

Uncharted Territory 

Penn State's 0-5 start is a first for the program as whole, but it's also a new experience for many Nittany Lions individually, who simply have never had to confront this kind of losing streak before in their football careers.

The tact taken by Penn State's coaching staff, according to Dotson, has been to present the situation as a challenge.

"So I know most of us on this team have never lost this many games in a row," Dotson said. "So coach Franklin preaches this actually, after every game, or even before the game. We're facing adversity, our backs against the wall. And it's, it's just how you respond to adversity.

"You can do two things. You can pack it up and just quit, and you're going to be a quitter for the rest of your life. Or you can put your head down and work, and despite the adversity, come out on top. That's well need to do. We just need to work."

Franklin's focus through one of the most trying times in Penn State's history has been on togetherness.

"Most importantly, we've got to stick together as a family and as a team, and stay positive. We're being challenged right now. We've had to learn how to handle success and now we're having to learn how to handle adversity. And it's even more challenging when they don't have the normal support structure around them."


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