I was incensed. Stunned and confused why Penn State, trailing Ohio State by one point with just over a minute remaining last September, called a zone-read run (with a bubble screen option) on 4th-and-5 from the Buckeyes' 43-yard line. Behind center was an all-conference quarterback with more than 7,000 career passing yards.
McSorley appeared to make the correct read. His running lane wasn't open, nor was the bubble screen. Still, the play failed. Ohio State covered all three options.
"They changed looks, so we called a timeout and had some discussions,” Franklin said after Miles Sanders failed to pick up the first down and Penn State lost. “We obviously didn’t make the right call in that situation, and that’s on me, nobody else. Obviously, it didn’t work. We have called something similar like that in other situations, and it broke for big plays, but that is on us. That is on me.”
James Franklin isn't Penn State's offensive play-caller; offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne calls it in. Franklin, however, like every other head coach in every sport, has power. And if James Franklin wants to pass the ball — or run any other play besides a Miles Sanders' run on 4th-and-5 — Penn State can pass the ball. He didn't override Rahne last year and cost Penn State a potential win.
On Saturday vs. Indiana, Franklin and Rahne trusted their quarterback, Sean Clifford, to win the game. And he delivered on a designed quarterback run that sealed their win over Indiana, a must-win to stay in Big Ten East and College Football Playoff contention.
One year too late? Maybe, but still better late than never as Penn State moved to 9-1 and set up next week's showdown in Columbus as they seek to get over the playoff hump.