STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State coach James Franklin says one of the biggest challenges he faces in his job is meeting high expectations of a huge fan base.
Even larger, perhaps, than meeting No. 13 Ohio State on Saturday night.
Franklin understands that patience is minimal, even though reduced scholarships in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal have led to inconsistency in the team's offense and other areas.
"Everybody talked about these things before the season started, but once the season starts, it's: 'Let's find a way to get it done,'" he said Tuesday.
"There's an expectation, there's a culture of winning here. It's been here for a long time and we embrace that," Franklin said. "It's one of the reasons why we want to be here and why we're so excited about coming to Penn State."
Penn State faces many challenges on the field on Saturday. Ohio State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) has won 18 straight conference games and set a school record by scoring 50 points or more in its last four games. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer has not lost an October game since 2010.
Franklin doesn't mind asking for help from those same fans who have high hopes.
"We would love to have a huge home-field advantage of 107,000 Penn State fans wearing white, screaming and going crazy, making it really difficult for them to communicate," he said. "Our defense is really looking forward to that advantage."
The Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2) are coming off their second off week in a three-week span. Franklin said the workload during that time was minimized.
"That goes back to learning from our experiences and effects of what we're dealing with and that we're as fresh and healthy as we can be," he said. "The second half of the Michigan game (an 18-13 defeat), we ran out of gas in key positions and key spots."
Franklin said the Lions won't "shy away" from the running game. He said that he might have abandoned that aspect of the offense too early against Michigan.
"It's not like you're going to come in and wave a magic wand or flip a switch," he said. "We're going to stick to the plan and keep working really hard."
That plan comes with ample self-analysis, he said.
"I'm that way with every aspect of my life," Franklin said. "When it comes to football . my job . things that I can do better, I wake up in middle of the night. I kind of have a reputation of texting coaches, or texting administrators."
Franklin said he doesn't expect people to respond at 3 a.m. but he likes putting issues up for discussion.
"By striving for perfection you have a chance to reach excellence, and that's what we're trying to do in every aspect," he said.
Franklin says Penn State supporters pose a particular challenge: ample support when things are going well and criticism when they're not.
"As a coach, you try to insulate the staff and players from that as much as you can. With social media, it makes it difficult," he said. "One of these days, 35 years from now at my retirement party, I'm going to show you guys what's sent to me and the rest of the coaches on Twitter. It's amazing. Some of it is really constructive criticism, which I appreciate, and others are what I wouldn't necessarily describe as constructive.
"But that's part of it and we embrace it all," he said.