Some topics addressed by Franklin as the Nittany Lions prepare for Illinois in their first Friday football game in almost 36 years:

On facing Illinois' Lovie Smith in a matchup of the Big Ten's only two African-American head coaches:

"I have so much respect for Coach and what he has done in his career. I look at guys like Lovie coming up in this profession as kind of role models and mentors for me from a distance. I don't know Lovie as well as maybe some other guys. But I'm working like crazy, No. 1, for Penn State. I'm working like crazy for our players. … I'm working like crazy for my family. But I also feel like I carry a little bit of that weight that I'm also working for thousands of young African-American football coaches all over the country, that when someone gets into my position, the success that we have here hopefully opens some opportunities for other guys in the future."

On reserve quarterback Sean Clifford, who is 4-for-4 with two touchdowns, including a school-record 95-yard pass last Saturday:

"Sean's done a really nice job in his role. It's hard to argue. I think he's completed every single pass and 50 percent of them for touchdowns, and one for the longest touchdown in the history of Beaver Stadium. So pretty good start for him. He's gotten a lot of reps over the last year and half in practice.  He's extremely competitive. He's extremely prideful. It's very , very important to him. He's focused. He's locked in."

On the first career touchdown for Johnathan Thomas, a fifth-year senior:

"I don't know if there's a better example of what we call the ultimate teammate, complete team-first guy, always has a smile on his face, always is reaching out a helping hand to try to help a teammate, a young player. (He's) never been a guy coming into my office asking for anything. He just wants an opportunity to earn. I think that's why you saw the sideline and the team respond the way they did when he scored that touchdown."

On handling a player whose performance is lacking:

"As a head coach, I think that's a big part of my job, to either reinforce what the coaches are doing with them or even sometimes the old good cop/bad cop. I think if you see a position coach blasting a guy, they don't need me coming over blasting them as well, that we try to complement each other. And I tell the assistant coaches the same thing. If I'm blasting a guy, you shouldn't be blasting him. We should be complementing each other."

On sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, who is second on the team in sacks:

"The same thing you probably see now are the same things that jump out to you when we first saw him – his length, his growth potential, his athleticism, the type of family that he comes from. He's got a really strong support system at home … his grades, his film, some really good athleticism and then obviously what I call home training. He's been raised well – mom, dad, brother, sister. He's done some really good things."