By Sally Fahey
Once again, Penn State coach James Franklin demonstrated that he has not a clue about what to do in crunch time.
The finger pointing is now in full effect after a brutal late-game coaching sequence by Franklin.
Starting quarterback Trace McSorley suffered a foot injury (reportedly a broken foot) during the game and the Nittany Lions seemed out of it.
As the Kentucky Wildcats rolled to a 27-7 lead near the end of the third quarter, everyone counted the Nittany Lions out.
Somehow, McSorley returned to the field and played well. He engineered two brilliant scoring drives to cut Kentucky’s lead to six in a 27-21 game and Penn State’s defense made stops.
Now McSorley had a chance for a game-winning drive. The senior led the Nittany Lions inside the red zone with a first down at Kentucky’s 17-yard line. After McSorley’s pass on third down fell incomplete, Franklin settled for the field goal facing a six-point deficit with four minutes left in the game.
It turned out to be a huge mistake not to go for the win on 4th down said one fan on Twitter:
Instead of believing you can make 6 yards, you think you can make a FG, get a quick stop on defense, get another long enough drive to get another FG to tie. Doesn’t even make sense.
Good job good effort by James Franklin. Kicking that field goal was incomprehensibly bad. How in the world do guys who make 5 million plus to do this not understand the basic math involved in these decisions.
Franklin’s decision kept the Nittany Lions in a three-point hole and put the pressure on his defense to step up against Kentucky’s star running back Benny Snell Jr.
Sure enough, the Wildcats fed the ball to Snell Jr. and worked to chip away at the clock and to try and get first downs. As the carries and yards added up, the seconds ticked away rapidly. On a drive that started with four minutes and 12 seconds left in the game, Franklin didn’t call his first timeout until there were under two minutes remaining.
James Franklin still doesn’t know how to coach a big game. Third time in a row he takes the ball out of McSorley’s hands. 3rd time they lose.
Franklin’s plan backfired. Snell Jr. picked up the first downs when he needed to and drained the clock faster than Franklin could use his timeouts. By the time McSorley took the field, he only had one second left to make a miracle happen.
That miracle never came as McSorley’s career at Penn State came to an end, while many quickly took to Twitter to criticize Franklin’s coaching and the fitting finish to his season.