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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


January 24, 2014


Bob Shoop


THE MODERATOR: Pleased to welcome Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator and safeties coach. Coach Shoop is going to make an opening statement, and then we'll take some questions.
BOB SHOOP: My name's Bob Shoop, and I'm the defensive coordinator and I'll coach the safeties. As many of you know I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, more specifically Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Graduate of Riverview High School class of 1984, so to me it's like coming home. As I walk in here today my first official Penn State event, I see Bob White up there who was an idol of mine when Riverview used to play Freeport. It's pretty exciting and I feel like I'm home.
Really excited to be here. I truly believe we have the best defensive staff. I'll specifically talk about the defensive side of things in America. We have great chemistry in that room. I coach the safeties, Brent Pry coaches the linebackers, Sean Spencer is the D‑line coach. We're so excited to get Terry on board. He'll help me with the secondary, coaching the corners. Terry and I have known each other for a long time, and we spent a lot of time in the last week specifically getting him on board because the other guys certainly know what we do defensively and how we operate.
The identity of the defense. I believe when we talked‑‑ a mentor of mine once said a philosophy is who you think you are, an identity is who others see you as. Make no mistake, when we came here‑‑ at the end of the day there are a lot of good defenses, but at the end of the day there is only one championship defense, and we came here to build a Big Ten Championship and National Championship caliber defense. That is the only thing we know.
Our identity is we're an in‑your‑face style of defense that's going to be fun to watch and even more fun for our players to play, I promise you that. It is based on two premises, relentless pursuit and never‑ending pressure. First thing I say to the guys all the time is everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the face. We throw the first punch and keep on punching. We make sure it's not the last punch and keep on punching. That's who we are.
As far as the scheme, people ask a lot about the scheme. Is it a four‑three, a 4‑2‑5, a three‑four, what are you? Rather than recruit players to fit a scheme. I think we do a good job tailoring the schemes to fit our personnel. We'll recruit the best players we can. Identify their strengths and put them in the best position to be successful, whatever that means and whatever that situation dictates right there. That's what we believe in.
I think the three characteristics when we talk about the core values of our defense, and you'll hear me say this all the time throughout my experience here, passion, toughness, and team. I'm looking for players to play the game with tremendous passion.
I want to surround myself with guys who love to play the game of football. I'm looking for players with high football IQs. I'm looking for guys with interchangeable parts. I'm looking for physically tough, and mentally tough players. We're playing a championship schedule, and on the east side of this division to play Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and the guys that are going to play week‑in and week out, you have to be physically and mentally tough for the demands of a student‑athlete especially at a school like Penn State. We look for team‑first guys. Passion, toughness, team.
We tell our guys all the time. Guys have to understand how their responsibility fits into the team concept, 11 men functioning as one. Anybody who knows me knows I respect the history of college football. I'm a fan before I'm a coach. We're so excited to be here at Penn State because I respect the tradition and history of Penn State football. But at one point in 1998 at West Point there was a famous coach at West Point named Red Blaik. He always talked about playing his best 11 rather than his 11 best. That is something we talk about all the time, putting our best 11 players on the field for what the situation dictates and understanding how your job fits into the team concept.
You'll hear me say all the time to the guys, do your job. Do your job, the system will work.
Our goals, I'm not big into a lot of goals, but these goals have stood the test of time in defensive football. Anybody that knows me knows this is how I feel. Whether it's Riverview Junior High or Riverview High School, whether it's Penn State or the Pittsburgh Steelers, successful defensive football teams stop the run, they don't give up big plays, and they take the ball away. Those are three things we're successful at the last three years at Vanderbilt.
We were fortunate we had really good players there and we finished top 25 in the country the last three years in total defense. We've had top 20 in the country in pass defense three years in a row. We've won many different ways. I think each defense has its own identity.
In 2011 we won one way. Every time somebody threw the ball, we intercepted it. In 2012, we couldn't buy an interception, but we stopped teams on third down and in the red zone. This year we were 3‑3 at the mid‑point of the season, and I took a look at the defensive coordinator, and said what is the identity of this group? We weren't good at anything. The second half of the year we loaded up the box on first and second downs, and said nobody is going to run the ball on us and we brought the magic show on third down.
We were 6‑1, second half of the year, had 23 takeaways the second half of the year, and played maybe the best defense we did in the last six or seven games right there.
The last thing I'll say, Coach talked about I'm that guy who loves being in the film room. I'll come in at 5 a.m. and stay till midnight. I love watching film. I have watched some of the Penn State film, and I have talked to some of the defensive players. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of these guys.
I've met a couple of them. I've talked to them on the phone, direct message. We've been all over the country recruiting. I think there are good players here. Specifically working with the safeties, I'm looking forward to working with Adrian. He has a lot of potential and tremendous player. Jordan Lucas I thought had an outstanding season last year. I talked to Mike Hull trying to recruit him out of high school out of Cannon‑McMillan, and I know there are good players up front. I'm looking forward to working with those guys and would building a Big‑Ten Championship caliber defense, and a National Championship caliber defense.

Q. With the perceived lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball, your up‑tempo, aggressive style do you see any problems not having that depth on that side of the ball?
BOB SHOOP: Hard to say right now. There are no perceived starters right now. We came in as a defensive staff, I promise you and told all the defensive players I've spoken with, it's a clean slate right now. In recruiting it's the same thing. I have no hidden agenda. The best players play regardless of class. Regardless, if you're a walk‑on from Selinsgrove or four‑star from Los Angeles, California, whatever it might be right there.
We had the same sort of issue with the previous place we were. We found guys and found their niche and put them in a particular role and responsibility that enabled them to do that. But I think that is an issue. You saw that last year. Adrian went back and forth between corner and safety and things like that. We try to keep it as simple as we possibly can to allow our guys to play fast.
As I said, one of the things I think we do a really good job with is keeping our terminology easy and utilizing guys as interchangeable parts and stemming out of a 4‑3 to a 3‑4, and doing things like that and keeping the same guys on the field.

Q. How did you and James first get connected? Have you known each other for a while before Vanderbilt or how did that come about?
BOB SHOOP: That is actually a funny story. Little over three years ago when coach got the job at Vanderbilt I didn't know him at all. I made a joke to a friend, I said get me an interview with Franklin and I'll get the job. I know maybe I wasn't his first choice at Vanderbilt. We met at the Dallas convention in 2011, and he sold me on his vision for building a championship caliber program, and I sold him on my vision for building a championship caliber defense.
I think what he's done an outstanding job of is assembling a staff that really complements him. He's the face of the program. He's awesome at that stuff. And you'll see with our staff we're grinders, blue‑collar guys and hard workers. When he hired me, it was funny. He hired me from William & Mary, a 1AA program, and Brent Pry from Georgia Southern and Sean Spencer from Bowling Green, and the article in the national paper said be prepared to be underwhelmed by these hires, and I promise you that still sits in my office today.

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