home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


August 6, 2015

Bob Shoop

University Park, Pennsylvania

BOB SHOOP: You know, I think everybody is really, really excited about the beginning of the season. These guys have really worked hard from the last from the bowl game to this point when a program went exceptionally well. Spring ball went well. The guys have really worked hard this summer. Seem to be in great shape, seem to be raring to go. We had position meetings this morning and the guys were chomping at the bit. We're excited.

Just looking forward to getting out on the field today for practice number one.

Q. As a defensive coordinator can you talk about your assessment of Christian's abilities, and then also talk about your work together this summer with film?
BOB SHOOP: Yeah, my assessment of Christian, I'll never forget the first spring practice we had in 2014 in Holuba, standing behind the secondary, which I've done for 25 years. It's the place I station myself during practice, and watching the ball come out of his hand, and it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. The guy can make every throw.

Clearly he's right out of central casting. He's got all the dimensions, he's a great looking guy. As good a player as he is, he's an event better person, and I think that's what everybody feels about him. He's a special guy. He's the undisputed leader of the unit, and the relationship he and I have developed is kind of unique.

People know my background, I was a GA at Virginia, and his dad was the third string quarterback then, and I was a quarterbacks GA, so we knew each other and I knew who Christian Hackenberg was long before I was at Penn State.

We never actually we had talked this summer. We had had discussions about trying to get together and pick each other's brain and watch some film, and we ended up not ever doing that, but we do talk a lot. A lot of times it's immediate feedback right after practice, hey, Christian, that was a great job looking off Marcus; what were you thinking on that. Or hey, we're trying to disguise this; how did that look to you. Or good or he'll give feedback like I can tell when Jordan is tipping your hand when you're zone blitzing or something along those lines.

That type of feedback goes back and forth, and he's so mature, it's a lot like talking to a pro. He's very advanced in his knowledge of the game and his expertise in the game.

Q. You've talked about Anthony and Austin and obviously the year they had last year, but how can they take their game to another level, and what do you expect from those two?
BOB SHOOP: I think the thing that you'll find with them that they'll take their game to the next level is with the leadership. There's guys that have the ability to perform well within the framework of the team, and then there's guys that have the ability to perform well within the framework of the team and bring people with them. I've just watched them provide the leadership to the group, as far as vocally and just through their actions, again, in winter program and in spring and in everything they did throughout the course of the summer.

They've taken the next step with their relationship with me; how can I be a more effective leader, Coach? What can I do? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? And certainly they're a real dominant group up front that complement each other.

Anthony is as an explosive of a defensive tackle as there will be in the country. He's explosive, has great twitch, great get off, and Austin is more your prototypical NFL prospect. He's a big one technique who can dominate the line of scrimmage, can control the run game, gets his hands up in the pass game and bats down a lot of passes and moves exceptionally well for how big he is.

The thing I said earlier this summer, I think it was right after the uplifting athletes piece when Tarow Barney threw up 225 pounds 34 times, I think the thing that makes us special up front, I think Sean Spencer does a great job developing depth, and at that particular position, I think there's going to be tremendous gains with Tarow Barney and Parker Cothren. We're really, really excited to watch those guys, and the fact that those guys will give us I think a few more reps during the course of a game will save Anthony and will save Austin and help them become better players in the fourth quarter of games, in two minute situations maybe when we need them to be at their best, a critical 3rd down, a critical drive late in the game.

Q. We hear a lot about Jordan and Anthony and Austin and those guys, but who are some of the other guys you're looking forward to seeing this fall? Who's standing out to you as a guy that's not being talked about as much?
BOB SHOOP: A guy or guys? I'll go one on each maybe level of the defense. Obviously I'll go two up front. I think Carl Nassib and Garrett Sickels, I think the big question mark everybody had was about defensive end. You lose CJ, you lose Deion, you lose Brad Bars but I think those guys are ready to take the next step. I mean, the work ethic they've shown, the chip on their shoulder that Coach always talks about, both those guys. Garrett was a highly recruited guy who was explosive in minimal reps, was very productive, and again, had a great spring for us. And Carl is a guy who's waited his turn and is really a great story for college football, a guy who's a walk on, a premed student, was really not a great high school football player who's grown and developed into a 6'7", 270 pound defensive end who bats down passes, rushes the quarterback. And if you did actually productivity per play, he and Garrett might have been as productive as the other guys who played a lot last year for us.

At linebacker, I guess the obvious even is Nyeem. Everybody is excited to see how Nyeem fares as the middle linebacker. A couple weeks ago in Steeler camp they were talking about the Mike and they're bucking the 3 4 scheme being similar positions, and I think Nyeem has embraced that, that the Will and the Mike aren't that different. He understands the defense very well. He's got an incredibly high football IQ. He's vocal, he's energetic, he's got great leadership qualities.

He's really embraced the role and looking forward to taking the role as the middle linebacker.

I think the guys in the secondary that don't get enough publicity really are Trevor Williams. I mean, people forget, everybody talks about Jordan and the other guys, I mean, Trevor Williams was an honorable mention all conference guy last year who was the Big Ten Player of the Week after Rutgers and is arguably one of our more consistent performers, although a quiet guy. And Marcus; Marcus Allen has done a great job. He's the undisputed quarterback of the defense. He probably is a lot to the defense what Christian is to the offense. He's very vocal. He understands the defense inside and out.

He and Jordan I'm really excited. Using my baseball analogy, you guys know I like baseball. If you were going up the middle, AJ and Zettel, Nyeem, Marcus and Jordan, that's pretty good, and I think those guys are really looking forward to getting out there today.

Q. No one on this defense has had a defensive coordinator for two years in a row. This is the first time. Just curious, first off, how much the players have made you aware of that fact, and secondly, how much of the improvement this off season you can attribute to just that fact, that they'll be in the same system for a second year finally.
BOB SHOOP: Not so much that they've been aware of that fact. Obviously it's not like we talk about it and say, oh, God, we're so happy to have a guy for the second year. But to your point, I think that that's the key thing right there. We can take things to the 200 level of teaching now, and that's what I've kind of done with Marcus and Jordan and the guys in the secondary, with Nyeem. I mean, we finish one another's sentences now, and I observed it during again, winter program. I observed it during spring ball. Walk throughs that took a significant amount of time to get a point across, now we can go on to the next thing. We can take it to the next level, not just this is our assignment and this is what to do, but now this is how to do it and how to play confident and fast, and this is probably what someone is going to do to try to attack us, and I think the players really kind of understand and comprehend that a lot more than they did a year ago, so that's been kind of fun.

Q. You mentioned Marcus Allen being the quarterback of the defense. He played really well last year for a guy who was so young at that time and is still really pretty young. Where do you see his ceiling, and what makes him as good as he is already?
BOB SHOOP: You know, Marcus to me, I think back, my first memory of the Marcus obviously not my first memory but my brightest memory is literally the Thursday before Ohio State when Keis went down, and hey, Marcus, you're going to have to start against Ohio State. Are you okay? He goes, I'm not going to lie to you, Coach; I'm a little nervous. I kind of used a quote from "Remember the Titans" whenever Sunshine had to go in the game, and the coach said, when I was your age I lost my mother and father within 12 days; command your troops and all that stuff. And he embraced that and really thrived.

I give Ryan Keiser a lot of credit. He stood behind Ryan Keiser in walk throughs and meetings, and a lot of that rubbed off on him, and Ryan was a lot like a coach on the field, and Marcus just took it and ran, and gave us a little bit of a different dimension at linebacker.

He watches a lot of Kam Chancellor film, he sees himself a little bit like that, that box type safety who's very good in the run game. He is a good pass defender. He does have good range. He does have good quickness and speed.

He's got to continue to work on his ball skills. When Coach Haslett first came on the job, that was somebody that caught his attention and said if this guy can improve his ball skills a little bit, the sky's the limit for him. He can take his game to the next level.

And I do feel that way about Marcus, and the thing I really like about him is it's really, really important to him. He's on the jugs machine every day. He's worked on it, and he's aware of his strengths, he's aware of his weaknesses, and he's looking forward to improving that piece of his game.

Q. Different guys have different philosophies about being aggressive when they have very good secondaries, and especially good cornerbacks you feel like you've been put on an island. We haven't seen you enough in that situation, so what's yours in general?
BOB SHOOP: Yeah, that's a great question. It's funny, and my answer is to be determined. It might be the answer. To be honest, I think every unit takes on its own identity, and we made that clear to the guys this morning, that this isn't the 2014 Penn State defense. It's not the 2016, it's the 2015 defense, and this identity is ever evolving.

So I mean, the things that are non negotiable, though, is we're always going to be in your face, and the defense itself is built on relentless pursuit and never ending pressure, and we're going to try to challenge you every route. And we feel like we've the thing I think we do have is guys on the perimeter in Trevor Williams and Grant Haley who are fast and can cover well. I think moving Jordan Lucas into safety put a guy who can match up with slot receivers, and like Adrian, we're going to move him around. You'll see him at strong safety, you'll see him at the star or the nickel, you'll see him at the dime.

We've done some things with Marcus, putting him in some dime positions.

We have great depth at the corner position. I'm really excited. You guys are going to be really excited this camp watching Christian Campbell and Amani Oruwariye, and the two freshmen are really going to push those guys. They're nipping at their heels. I think everybody is excited to watch John Reid and Garrett Taylor get out there today, too.

When you've got some guys like that, maybe you're in a situation that you can play five, six DBs at a time and do some different things and put as much athletic ability and speed on the field as you possibly can to match these four and five wide receiver sets.

Q. Perfect segue into my question. I was going to ask about John Reid. When did you guys realize in the recruiting process that he was somebody, because I assume it was probably early on that you guys really wanted and that he had the skill set that would match you?
BOB SHOOP: Well, you put on the film, and recruiting is there's so many parts to the recruiting process. You put on the film and he stood out, first of all, so he was on a state championship two time state championship winning team, so when we started recruiting him, his team had just won the state championship, had beaten Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the finals. You go to talk to his coach; his high school coach says, not only is this guy one of our best players, he's one of the best people in the school. So here's a guy who's not just a talented guy but the right guy for Penn State. We're talking about a guy who's true student athlete, and then you spend just a handful of minutes with him, and this kid has got maturity beyond his years. I did my research, and every camp he went to he was the DB of the camp.

He and I developed kind of a unique relationship that we just started talking football, and every time he'd come up, we just really embraced he embraced the process, and he and I developed kind of a unique relationship and became very, very close.

You know, he's determined and he wants to be successful, and he's got all the qualities that any coach at any institution would be looking for in a top high school prospect.

Q. Trevor Williams came in as a wide receiver and now for the third straight year he'll be playing opposite a new cornerback. How coachable and flexible and adaptable has he been to coaching?
BOB SHOOP: Oh, the best. I mean, Trevor I look at Trevor's career here, it's kind of weird, in '12 I guess he was a receiver. In '13 he made a very unselfish move over to the defensive side of the ball because I think as a true freshman he'd actually played some and he caught 10 or 11 passes, and not that he didn't embrace it but it was new to him, and at the highest level he had a couple big interceptions, including one in the Wisconsin game, his final game in 2013. He took his game to the next level last year, as I said, being the Big Ten player of the week against Rutgers. The one interception he had on the post was as good a play as anybody made all year.

He studies the game hard. He's watched some of the top corners in the NFL, asks good questions, very thoughtful in his approach. He's bigger, stronger and faster than he was a year ago, and I think if he has the type of season he's capable of having, he'll get himself into the discussion as being a draftable prospect and a guy who could maybe play beyond college.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297