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January 24, 2014

John Donovan

THE MODERATOR:  This is Coach John Donovan, offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.
JOHN DONOVAN:  I'll say a couple things and you guys can take it from there if you want.  Like we've all been saying, excited to be here.  Being from New Jersey, like James said, I understand the tradition and history of this place.  Excited to get back up in this region of the country and ready to go.  Excited to work with the players, excited to recruit for this school and bring a championship to Penn State.
We have an unbelievable staff on the offensive side of the ball.  We've worked together now for three years.  Charles Huff is the new addition, but we've worked with him in the past.  Unbelievable chemistry, unbelievable ideas that get thrown around, so that's going to be really fun, and I'm looking forward to working with those guys again.  We'll have a heck of a time.
As far as the last three years, we're very proud as a staff.  The last two years we've averaged 30 points per game.  The two years previous to us getting there, they averaged 16 points per game.  We have the school's all‑time leading rusher.  The school's all‑time leading receiver, as well as the SEC's all‑time leading receiver and receptions leader.  So we're very proud of that.
Offensively, we're personnel‑oriented, pro‑style offense.  So we basically, we're pro terminology.  The guys learn the system that's used at the next level.  It has answers.  We don't run dead plays.  There are reasons to run in certain spots.  If there is somebody coming free on a pass protection, we're either throwing the ball, breaking a route or the back's got to pick them up, the line's got to pick them up.  We won't run dead plays.
We like smart guys that can think fast and process information, and I think they've got a good base the last couple years of learning a pro system, and look forward to seeing what they know and seeing how they translate to what we're going to run.
We're multiple, and we'll cater to our personnel.  See what we have.  Get our best players on the field, and take advantage of what we have and what the defense gives us.
The first thing we'll do when we meet with the guys, we'll teach them the base formations, the huddle, the snap count, the motions, the shifts, all that stuff, but then the next thing we'll do is get into defenses and have them understand defenses and why we do what we do to attack them.  It's like taking a test every week, taking a test.  If you know your opponent, you have a great chance of being successful, and from there we'll evaluate our personnel and decide which direction we want to go.  Like HOPE hand, our O‑line coach always says, we want to be balanced.
Balanced means the ability to do both.  Not just be 50‑50.  You want to run the ball when you want to run it, and run when you have to run it.  You have to run it at the end of the game when you're up.  You have to run it when you're down and tight.  You have to punch it in the goal line.  You're going to run it when you want to run it, and run it when you have to run it.
Same thing goes with the pass.  Pass when you want to pass it, and pass when you have to passion it.  Two‑minute situation, third down, whatever it might be, that's what we mean by being balanced.
As a unit, we're going to be tough, we're going to be smart, and we're going to be prepared.  We're going to be mentally and physically tough.  That is the style we're going to play.  We're going to be smart.  We're going to play smart, we're going to understand situational football and do things that don't hurt the team.  We're going to be as prepared as anybody in the country as far as what we're getting into each and every week.  Like I said, that's about all I've got.  If anybody has any questions.  There you go.

Q.  I wondered if you had seen any film of Christian Hackenberg yet, have you talked to him, and what have you told him to expect before spring ball?
JOHN DONOVAN:  We've seen some film.  He's got a lot of talent.  We're really excited to work with him.  I know it's hard for him because he had such a tight relationship with Coach O'Brien.  I was fortunate enough to work with Coach O'Brien in two spots, Georgia Tech and Maryland.  So I've had communication with him and he loves that kid.  I think he feels better about guys that he knows that are here now that will take care of that kid and teach him the right way and keep him progressing the way he will and should.
We're just excited to get to work.  He's going to form his own opinion.  We're confident in our abilities as a staff in what we're going to teach and what we're going to run.  I think he's going to be excited about what we're going to do and the team that he has and the potential that he'll have.

Q.  How many points a game are we going to score next year?
JOHN DONOVAN:  As many as it takes to win.

Q.  In terms of your role with the tight ends, have you talked to Adam Breneman, Jesse James, Kyle Carter and those guys?  What are your expectations?
JOHN DONOVAN:  I haven't met them.  I've reached out over the phone to a couple guys.  I heard they're a talented group.  Tight ends are an awesome position to have on the field because they're extremely versatile.  Defensive guys like Bob, they want to know what you're in.  What is the personnel?  How many wideouts have you got in the game, how many running backs?
When you have tight ends in the game that are versatile, you don't know what you're going to be in.  You're going to be in a tight formation, spread out formation, you can shift to it, you can motion to it.  You can do a lot of different things.  We like to get creative on our side of the ball, and that is our advantage.
We have elements of no‑huddle, but we're a huddle team.  But we like to dictate to the defense as far as disguising and getting into different looks and making them guess and keeping them on their heels.  Tight ends gives you the ability to do that.  So I'm looking forward to having a great group there and see what we've got.

Q.  It seems like as a coaching staff you're pretty tight‑knit.  You're all coming in here new.  How much easier does that make the transition?
JOHN DONOVAN:  It's great.  When we formed this staff at Vanderbilt three years ago we hadn't worked together before.  We got together really quick and found out really quick that we liked each other and there were a lot of great ideas from a lot of guys from different stops.  The fact that we're coming in here now together into a new situation makes it a lot easier.  Like James said, you don't have to coach the coaches.  Everyone knows what we do and how we do it.  We've just got to figure out what we want to do exactly and teach it to the players.  That is a huge advantage.

Q.  With Charles Huff coming to you guys as the one offensive staff member that didn't come from Vanderbilt, what does he bring to the table?  Why is he a guy that you wanted to have come over here with you?
JOHN DONOVAN:  We worked with Charles at Maryland and at Vanderbilt, so we've known him for two years.  Just being around him and seeing the potential he had as a younger coach and whatnot, and knowing what we're getting in him and seeing how he progressed since we last saw him, that was the combination that won us over.  It was not given to him.  He got the job.  The fact that we knew him on a personal level and working level helped.
But then seeing him go away for a few years and coming back and how much he's grown, that put him over the top.

Q.  Coach Shoop or Coach Franklin were talking about competitive on the staff and he wanted to be the defensive line coach and offensive line coach and everything.  Do you embrace that too?  Is that going to carry over to practice?
JOHN DONOVAN:  Me and Bob got into a couple of fist fights, you know.  I took him out (laughing).  No, James can stir the pot as you can probably imagine.  So we might get a play that we think is successful, and he might just to stir it up say it's not and then that gets our blood boiling, and it heats up everything.
Pry back there, I saw him walk in.  Brent Pry is a big instigator.  He likes to stir the pot from the sideline.  We do the competitive drills a lot in practice.  So we definitely can rile each other up and get under each other's skin.  Once we're off the field though we get along great.  So, there is some energy out there.

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