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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


December 13, 2014


Bob Shoop


COACH SHOOP:  This is a real thrill.  I'm a big baseball fan.  The opportunity for us to play in Yankee Stadium is pretty cool.  I think that's really.  Anybody who knows, knows I played baseball in college.
I dreamed some day I might be playing center field or pitching in Yankee Stadium some day.  But I'll take this one.  This is good.
Bowls are supposed to be fun.¬† They're a reward to the team for a good season.¬† It's an opportunity for our young guys to get some practice and an opportunity for our veterans, especially these seniors‑‑ I've said this millions of times‑‑ for what these seniors have been through, this is special to me to be a part of and special to them.

Q.  James talked a lot about the developmental aspect of the early Bowl practices.  Can you talk about that and maybe how that's helped you with some of the young defensive guys who redshirted?
COACH SHOOP:  I think it's great.  And as you guys know, we didn't have too many guys actually redshirt.  Most ended up playing.
But you guys saw it maybe at the end of practice out there today.¬† We divide the reps‑‑ you don't want these‑‑ we had five or six program development practices that are less focused on Boston College and more focused on just being the best Penn State we can be.
It's not the drudgery of training camp, but it's an opportunity for those young players to get individual, go back and reteach some of the fundamentals and the techniques and then give them some live reps.
And I thought we took advantage of that.  And I think especially it's great for us to see a guy like Torrence Brown, guy like Antoine White up there who redshirted, did a great job on the scout team.  Gets you excited for spring 2015.
Obviously we're not naive enough to not recognize that Mike Hull is not going to be around next year.  Although I've petitioned again and again.  I don't think it's going to work.
To see Troy Reeder step in and play.  We've seen him in camp, knew he was a pretty good player.  See him do those things.
Obviously Troy Apke and Marcus Allen played a lot, so I know what they're cable of doing.  But to watch Amani Oruwariye have a good practice out there, and Daquan Worley, watching those guys, it's exciting watch those young guys compete and practice on a daily basis.  And just refamiliarize yourself with how good those guys really are.

Q.  It's always interesting to hear your defensive players, you might lose a close game in which they only give up 10, 13 points or whatever, but you lose, and they'll take the blame themselves even though some other units on the team may have struggled much more than the defense.  What's the balance for a defensive player to have that maybe burden, pressure to go out and pitch a shutout or only give up a very small number of points, what's that balance like that they can't give up too much because some of the other units might be struggling?
COACH SHOOP:  I talked about this earlier this week.  I don't know who it was to.  There's a difference between playing well and playing winning football.  And I think the numbers bear out that we played well this year on defense.
I mean, as of now after the Big Ten Championship game, I think we're number one in the league in total scoring, run and pass defense.¬† That's pretty good.¬† There's game times that we didn't do enough things that it took to win the game, whether it be closing it out in the two‑minute situation against Illinois, playing well in the red zone against Ohio State in the overtime.¬† Or on third down against Michigan State.
And I'm pretty matter of fact.  With me it's pretty black and white.  When we go in on Sunday and watch the film or have our meeting where we have the quality control and the goals and review the previous day's game kind of a debrief we'll spend time talking about those things.
To me, the categories that define winning football are winning third down, winning the red zone, winning the turnover margin and winning the clock situations.  And you use those as examples to share with the guys, yeah, we're playing well, but to play winning football we need to do better in these situations.  And the players understand that.
And we have a fiercely competitive group on defense and they did everything that we asked them to do throughout the course of the season.  Gave maximum effort all the time.
It's not about ranting, raving, jumping up and down it's about sharing with them this is why this is important and validating those goals and why that's important.

Q.  Describe the transition of Anthony Zettel when he got here, got here as a defensive end, moved to defensive tackle, played the position well enough to make All Big Ten.  What do you say about just how quickly he learned the position and what it says about his talent and his athleticism?
COACH SHOOP:  Freakish athlete.  You've heard me say that before:  A guy who can throw the ball 75 yards in the air and drive a golf ball 300 yards.
When we first met him he reminded us of someone that played for us at Vanderbilt, who was a three technique defensive tackle.
And to put our best athletes on the field obviously we lost, was it Daquan from last year, and we lost somebody else graduated D tackle.  We felt he would give us our best four guys.
To put he, A.J., C.J. and Deion out there together was a pretty good move.  He got his body weight up to the high 270s, low 280s, and he really worked at maintaining that all year.
And our defense is one of, we're a get out front.  We want to be aggressive and create a new line of scrimmage.  We'll take our little undersized guy with some twitch.  And really, the way the run games are designed in most of these teams nowadays, you're not taking on a whole lot of double teams and not getting crushed in there, things like that.
Really the only team that was that type of offense might have been Michigan State and now we'll see Boston College that's that type of grind or offense.
He's so strong for a 280‑pound guy, plays with such good pad level and has such great get‑off and is so disruptive up front.¬† He's turned himself from being a rotation defensive end to one of the top defensive tackles in the country.¬† You saw his coming out party this year to have 15 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and three interceptions, you guys heard me joke about that.
He led the team in tackles for loss and interceptions.  That doesn't happen a whole lot.  That's kind of a strange hat trick right there.  I hope this is a game that what I want to have happen in this game is he have the type of game he's capable of having so people will put him on the, so he gets exposure and sets the table for what should be an outstanding 2015 season for him.

Q.  You're going back to New York not on the upper west side, but nevertheless can you talk about your memories of those years and your thoughts, that was your first gig as a head coach.  Is that something you still want to do in the future?
COACH SHOOP:¬† I think anybody who coaches‑‑ let me start saying it this way:¬† Columbia is a great school and a great place.¬† I'm an Ivy League‑‑ I graduated from Yale.¬† I understand the Ivy League.¬† I believe in that and the idea of a student and athlete.¬† It's a place where you can get a top flight education and play Division I football.¬† We struggled there.¬† It wasn't great.
It's traditionally historically not been a great football tradition or history.  Going back to New York is exciting.  I haven't really thought much of it.  Do I want to be a head coach again?  You know, I don't know.  There's no blueprint in this profession.
I love the job that I have now.  I work hard at it on a daily basis.  And like any coach who is professionally motivated, if it were the right opportunity and someone showed interest in me, I would listen.

Q.¬† Going off of it, you said a little bit before about Mike Hull, you're not naive enough to know that you have to replace him.¬† At what point‑‑ are you guys doing it now?¬† How do you try and figure out that middle spot?¬† Do you move one of the guys you have now?¬† Do you rely on one of the young guys?
COACH SHOOP:¬† That will be fluid.¬† I have preliminary ideas.¬† Obviously we'll have to replace C.J. up front, Mike Hull at the middle linebacker to the back‑end, wants to replace Adrian Amos.
There's some thoughts we've had, as far as moving people around to get the best 11 on the field.  I'm really looking forward to obviously the focus on now it's transition from program development to BC over the next few weeks.
But when you look into the spring, you're going to think it's going to be great competition at the middle linebacker spot with Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten, who played well against Michigan State actually, and maybe a guy like Ben Kline, our staff really doesn't know enough about but everybody continues to say to me, wait, you're going to really like him and like his style.
So I'm looking forward to watching that competition happen in the spring.  Like I said, up front, I think we've played enough guys that we feel very comfortable that guys like Nassib and Sickels, and we lose Bars at the defensive end, Torrence Brown.  We feel comfortable some of those guys will step up.  We're excited that Deion is back, obviously, and that whole crew on the outside.
Adrian and Jesse Delle Valle played a lot for us in the secondary.  We talked about juggling some guys, maybe moving someone from the corner to the inside at safety and somehow finding a way to get Trevor, Grant, Jordan and Marcus on the field at the same time, different things like that, because this might be our four best players.
And those are things that will happen over the course of January through next April and the summer as we move forward to playing Temple in 2015.

Q.  Cole Farmer is a guy that you've moved to linebacker this offseason and season and he redshirted.  What kind of progression have you seen from him?  Do you think he's a guy that can contribute starting next year?
COACH SHOOP:¬† I think it will be interesting.¬† When you look at the‑‑ he came in as a safety and we had recruited him at obviously at Vanderbilt as well.¬† He ended up coming here.¬† Have a great relationship with him Ricky Rahne, our quarterback coach, and Cole is someone we felt suited the field linebacker position.
A strong safety/field linebacker position, a position we call the star, and throughout camp and throughout training camp we kind of just determined that he just needed a year to kind of get his feet wet, soak a little bit, kind of figure things out.  I don't see him that often on the field because he was down on the scout team but he got the scout team player of the week couple times.  Coach Franklin would report back say he's doing well, make some plays.
He had a pick six yesterday in practice.  It was really good.  From a physical perspective, he really has that skill set that lends itself to being a really good field linebacker.  And I'm really excited to watch him this spring.
Think about it, like I said, the competition between Reeder and Wooten and maybe Kline, you think about the Will with Wartman and Cabinda, and think about Bell and Farmer at the Sam, that's pretty good.  I'm pretty excited looking forward to watching those guys play spring 2015.

Q.¬† Bob, you mentioned the linebackers.¬† Can you talk about Bell and Wartman, did they exceed your expectations this year?¬† And second question, if I may, you've talked about Adrian Amos and how valuable he is to your defense?¬† Can you specifically‑‑ why is that?
COACH SHOOP:¬† The linebacker question‑‑ someone asked Coach Franklin this, probably asked it too, he said it was incomplete.
To me, like I said, they came out of spring kind of incomplete to me for different reasons.  And I think both of those guys, I don't think it's any coincidence that the two games Brandon wasn't able to play and the one game that Nyeem wasn't able to play, we didn't win those games.
I think those guys are valuable players.  And Brent Pry does an amazing job.  Obviously, in case you haven't known this, Sean Spencer, our "D" line coach, and Brent Pry were both nominated by Football Scoop this past week as Position Coaches of the Year at their particular position.  And that's not a coincidence either.
They did a great job and always have done a great job.  We've got a great defensive staff and Terry did a great job, too, so I don't want to slight him.
But I think Brandon and Nyeem are awesome.  I think they played very, very well this year.  Brandon got better every single week.  He understood what was being asked of him at the field linebacker position.  He embraced it.  He was a good blitzer, supported the run well, took good pass drops and played well in everything he did.  He's got a positive attitude.  Practiced hard all the time.  It was really special.
Nyeem I feel the same way about.  Nyeem, I've said this the last time we all talked:  If Mike Hull is an A plus on football IQ, Nyeem is right there with him.  Nyeem gets it.  He understands how his job fits into the team concept.  He played exceptionally well.
He made big play after big play after big play.  He's a true, really good box linebacker.  He understands where everybody is supposed to be all the time.  He made the big interception against Indiana to seal that game.  And I have nothing but positive things to say about those guys.
And I think I was a little surprised that they were left off the honorable mention, the Big Ten Second Honorable Mention Team.
Don't think I haven't mentioned that to those guys to put a little chip on their shoulder as they head into the 2015 season.
As far as Adrian‑‑ Mike Hull and Adrian Amos are both invited to play in the Senior Bowl.¬† I think that's really cool.¬† I think they both deserve it.
I think the thing Adrian brings to the table for us and the thing that will bring to the table at the next level is versatility.  He can do so many different things.  He can probably have played corner this year if we wanted him to.
He did an excellent job at strong safety, was really a solid star in our six DB package, what we call our dollar package.  He ended playing the weak side outside linebacker.  He blitzed well.
But he did a lot of things off the field.  Other guys get credit for the leadership and things like that.  He really embraced what we were asking him to do.  He's in my room because I coach him as the safeties.
And he's got an incredibly high football IQ.  He doesn't lead necessarily by being a vocal leader, but he leads through his actions.  He practiced hard.  He along with Zettel were our leading intercepter this year with three interceptions.
Like I said, the thing that makes him unique to me is he's got such a big body, and is so fast and so strong.  I think at the next level they'll probably start him out as a corner and ultimately make him a corner/nickel and as he advances in his career could move inside to play safety.
And I think that's the thing I would say the versatility piece is the one that makes him such a unique special athlete.

Q.  I was going to ask specifically about Brent Pry.  He took over as linebackers coach, at linebacker U, prestigious title.  What did he do that impressed you this year coming into this situation helping these guys develop, and obviously he was offered by Georgia Southern before coming here.  Do you see a future head coach in him at some point if that's what he wants to do?
COACH SHOOP:¬† If that's what he wants to do.¬† He really has all the qualities, probably in some ways better than I do.¬† He's got that personality and more engaging personality.¬† He does a great‑‑ you said how has he impressed me?¬† He impressed me for four years now.
It's not all of a sudden came on to linebacker U.¬† We came in‑‑ I've told the story before, when we all got hired at Vanderbilt, I came from William and Mary.¬† He came from Georgia Southern.¬† Spence came from Bowling Green.¬† It wasn't exactly like we were ready to kick ass and take names in the SEC.¬† The article said be prepared to be underwhelmed by these guys.
We all kind of remind each other of that and chuckle with each other.  I think the thing that makes our defensive staff so good is that we all complement each other.
We all‑‑ we're very consistent in our approach.¬† We don't come in one day and it's here and one day it's here, one day it's over here.¬† We're very consistent with one another.¬† We complement each other very well.
We complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.  I think we're consistent with the players.  We coach mentality.  We coach the players very hard.  We're aggressive.  We're not afraid to disagree with one another.
And Brent, I've said this before, he's my conscience.¬† He's got the title co‑coordinator and he's my right‑hand‑‑ he's the right‑hand guy.¬† When we game plan, his feedback is incredibly important to me.¬† And he's an old school coach.¬† Meaning I think he coaches fundamentals and techniques really about as well as anybody I've ever been around.¬† And I think if you ask Mike, Nyeem and Brandon, and all the linebackers, they would agree with that.
He's a very loyal person.¬† He's from a coaching family.¬† His father is now the offensive coordinator at Bethune‑Cookman, was at Illinois for a while, many different places.¬† Coaching veteran.
I think if that's what Brent wants to do, I think everybody on our staff would support him.¬† And I think everybody on our staff feels he has the potential to be an outstanding head coach.¬† Not just‑‑ anywhere he wanted to do, he's as good as there is.

Q.  Two more about defensive backs.  Your thoughts on the play of Marcus Allen since the Ohio State game.  And also Daquan Worley is a guy you had to redshirt, hurt his knee his senior year.  What do you see from him what do you think about his future?
COACH SHOOP:  Marcus Allen, how about him?  That's really an amazing story to me.  Everybody heard the story Keis got hurt the day before Ohio State.  Keiser was like that guy, he made everybody around him better.  And we knew Marcus might even be a little better athlete and more productive but Keiser was hard to replace because he's such a great communicator.  He was the quarterback of the defense he made everything know what they were doing.
Everybody understood what coverage we were in.¬† He made the checks.¬† He and Mike Hull were clearly the undisputed leaders of the defense.¬† Marcus, I think, I think the Ohio State game playing on just two days is kind of a positive.¬† The whole opportunity to think that whole week he went out and played lights out against Ohio State.¬† Thought he had 12 tackles two or three pass breakups and played exceptionally well.¬† The whole next week, he wasn't‑‑ I don't want to say a different person, but it's like Keiser's mentality morphed into his body somehow.
That's a credit to Ryan Keiser.  He watched him and Marcus came in on that following Monday and sat down, said I really want to be able to do the things that Keiser did.  We've had guest coaches with us the night before games, faculty members on campus and things like that, come away say who is that guy?  I say Marcus Allen.
He makes every call.¬† He makes every check.¬† He knows everything inside and out.¬† And I think the second half of the year I really think he played as well as any safety in college football the second half of the year.¬† I was stunned to see they had a Freshman All‑American team come out the other day that he wasn't on that.
Had the kid from Virginia, I'm sure is a good player and someone else.  If there was a safety that played better than him the second half.  I'm not talking about a freshman safety.  I'm saying a safety that played better in the second half of the year things to work on, excellent tackle, understands his run and fits.  He's got to improve in his pass defense but you guys like when I make predictions I'm going to say he's going to get his first interception in Yankee Stadium set the tone for a great future.
He's as fun to work with as anybody around.  He grabbed me after the last two days, said can we sit and watch film?  He and I sat in the office last night until almost 11:00 watching practice film and Boston College film.  He's a very determined young man.  I couldn't be happier with him.
As far as Daquan, literally, Daquan Worley I think won the Scout Player of the Week six teams this year for the scout team defense against the offense.  First of all, he's got an incredible personality.  I think you guys are really going to love to get to know him over the next few years.  One of the funniest, brightest, hardest working guys.
I remember seeing him this summer staring out the window.  I said:  What's up?  I gotta make it, Coach, I gotta make it.  That's kind of how knowing where he came from and knowing his background, he's going to make it.  And he wasn't ready to go this year.  That's why we redshirted him.  We were fortunate that we had guys that could play.  And again I put him in that same category.
You go into the spring thinking we've got Trevor and Jordan back at corner.  You've got Grant and Christian back and Amani and Daquan.  And Da'Quan Davis as well.  That's a pretty deep group there.  That's like I said, that's why we talk about maybe having the potential to move somebody into safety so we're in a position that we aren't overstocked at one position understocked in another.
We've got Marcus and Troy and Malik Golden at the safety.  And obviously Malik missed much of the end of the year but a guy that contributed early on and has potential as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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