Northwestern Week Q&A with Asst. Coach Charles London

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions host 22nd-ranked Northwestern in their Big Ten home opener on Homecoming Saturday (noon on ESPN).

GoPSUsports.com sat down with running backs coach Charles London to talk about the Wildcats.  Take a look.


GoPSUsports.com: Coming off a strong effort at Illinois, what have you seen from the collective group of running backs that has led to the success on the ground?
London
: "I think they are working well as a team and as a position.  They support each other.  They go out there and compete during the week at practice.  Practice is going to determine a lot about the guys who are going to go out there and play the most on Saturday.  So, I think they have done a great job competing.  They all bring different skill sets to the position, so it has been an added bonus for us."

GoPSUsports.com: How have they handled the fact that each guy has a set role, and that one guy might not get 30 carries on a Saturday?
London
: "They have been really good.  They all want to play, and they all have a role in the offense.  When it is time to step up and perform, each man has pretty much met the challenge.  I am excited about that.  The big thing is that they support each other, so I couldn't ask for anything more than that."

GoPSUsports.com: When you look at the film from the past couple weeks of the way the offensive line has played, what have you seen from a running back's perspective?
London
: "The offensive line has played great during the past couple weeks.  All of the credit definitely goes to them.  There have been some huge holes out there that the guys have been able to run through.  Everyone is starting to jell and understand the running game.  The offensive line is the main reason why we have had success in the running game during the past two or three games."

GoPSUsports.com: Zach Zwinak has played well in two straight games, what does he bring to the field?
London
: "He is a downhill, hard-nosed runner.  He might not be the most elusive guy, but he is a pounder.  He understands that is his running style.  He pounds on people and wears guys down.  Then, the next guy comes in and it may be Bill Belton, who is a shifty guy.  Then we go back to pounding it.  Zach has done a great job recognizing what type of runner he is.  He has also done a great job in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield."

GoPSUsports.com: How do you think Bill Belton has performed after the ankle injury?
London
: "I think he has done well.  It was a high ankle sprain.  That's tough for a running back because a lot of the stuff we are doing involves cutting.  He's got to get confidence in it.  I thought he did well for his first week back.  He had 16 carries.  For not having played football for a month, I thought that was pretty good.  We are still working on his conditioning to get him back into football shape.  But I see him progressing each week.  Hopefully, we see a lot out of him this week, as well."

GoPSUsports.com: Northwestern's defense ranks 13th in the nation in rushing defense.  What do you see from that group on film?
London
: "They are a big, physical group.  They play hard.  They have a good front seven.  They are going to present a big challenge for us.  We are going to go out and try to run the football.  They are a good solid front, and they are playing with a lot of confidence right now."

GoPSUsports.com: With an offense like Northwestern's that likes to play at a fast tempo, how important is the running game on Saturday?
London
: "It will be important.  Last week, they had more than 700 yards.  I'm sure they will try to run 80-90 plays.  So we have to do what we can to help out the defense, from that perspective, by running the football."

GoPSUsports.com: Now that we are reaching the mid-way point of the season, what do you like about the gains you have seen from the offensive from week one to now?
London
: "It's just confidence.  After every game, we turn on the film and show these guys how good they can be.  We have been successful the last three weeks, but you can turn on the film and see that we missed this play or this play that could have helped us have more yards or more points.  We just try to build on it each week.  They guys are into the system, and they understand their roles.  Confidence is a big thing, and we are playing with a lot of it right now."

GoPSUsports.com: With the bye week next week, is there a little more importance on playing well or is it business as usual?
London
: "Well, it is business as usual, but you never want to go into a bye week with a loss because there is nothing you can do about it for two weeks.  I've always thought it has been important to go out and get the one before the bye week.  For us, that would put us at 4-2 and in a pretty good position."


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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