Brandon Bell's monster game against No. 2 Ohio State -- his first snaps since the Sept. 10 Pitt game -- might not have been quite so monstrous if Penn State's original defensive plans held true.
The Nittany Lion linebacker accumulated 19 tackles, a sack and a pass defensed, picking up Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Fellow linebacker Jason Cabinda had been out even longer (no snaps since the season opener against Kent State) and tallied 12 tackles and a sack.
“We meet every day at 7 a.m. and go through our plan. They hadn’t practiced or done anything in a month until Tuesday of game week,” Franklin said on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “We had a long conversation about how we were going to use them.
“We said, ‘Look, if we can get 25-30 plays out of these guys in the game, we’ll be happy. We can’t use them or overextend them. We’ve got to rotate. We’re creating depth now, but we can’t depend on them.’ Next thing you know, Brandon Bell has 19 tackles. I asked (defensive coordinator Brent Pry) how many plays he played.
He played 69 plays.
As Franklin put it, Pry trusted his instincts.
“As coaches, you can have all the plans you want, but you have to trust your instincts. Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda both played well,” Franklin said. “They’re both experienced, one’s a junior and one’s a senior. Coach Pry made the right call. Leave those guys in. They were hot. Let them keep playing.”
“We believed in what we were doing for the last three years here, and we believed before at Vanderbilt and had a lot of success there,” Franklin said. “This is a crazy profession. You lose a game, go downtown and get a coffee and donut in the morning and get dirty looks.
You beat the No. 2 team in the country in Ohio State, and you don’t pay for your coffee and your donut and everybody’s patting you on the back.