UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With eight of 14 spring practices now complete, Penn State hosted its second media availability session of the spring season Wednesday evening at the Lasch Football Building. Along with head coach James Franklin, linebacker Jason Cabinda and offensive lineman Ryan Bates all took time to meet with members of the media.
Spring Ball Mindset -
As the Nittany Lions continue to grind through each spring practice, Cabinda noted the Nittany Lions are playing pretty fast in comparison to a year ago, with confidence driving the mindset.
"We're more of a veteran team now we have a lot of guys who have a lot of experience," Cabinda said. "We're coming off the sidelines and its non-stop talking and guys consistently saying 'hey, you need to to do this better,' or talking about what happened on the field, what mistakes might have happened. When you see that and guys are really trying their hardest to be right all the time, you can tell how much guys care about being right and playing well, we're getting a lot out of practice right now so we're really pleased with that."
Miranda Making His Mark -
As Franklin noted last week, often spring ball presents a time for the staff to get to know a little bit more about what type of player an individual is through what he shows on the field in the short series of practices. This week, Franklin noted he's pleased with what he's seeing from one of four Nittany Lion early enrollees.
"A guy who I think has done a really nice job for only being on campus for a few months is [Mike] Miranda," Franklin said. "He's taking a bunch of reps right now really with the ones and he's doing a great job, and I've been pleased with him."
Bates has also taken note of the impressive maturity in such a short adjustment period.
"It's definitely difficult being the position that he is in coming from high school, he should still be in high school really, but he's progressing really well so far," Bates said. "If you ask any of the offensive linemen, it's a developmental position and right now he's putting up a good fight and he's doing really well against some of the older guys on the defensive line in one-on-ones and in team periods."
Cabinda Making Changes -
Franklin noted that Cabinda has only benefited from trimming down his weight, with a noticeable increase in speed as the byproduct of dedication to nutrition and time in the weight room. Up in the mid 250's at his highest weight in his sophomore year, Cabinda noted that he's now keeping his weight below 235 for optimal performance.
"I just felt that if I had my weight down and play fast, that I wouldn't really lose my physicality because physicality means more than mindset really," Cabinda said. "It has been going well, I really love the way I'm playing and how I'm moving."
A Complete Mauler -
Bates also had high praise for the progress of offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez, calling Gonzalez the strongest Nittany Lion on both the offensive and defensive line in the weight room.
"Steve came into the class with me, he was actually my roommate freshman year, so we're close," Bates said. "He's a 465-pound bencher, 600-pound squatter and in the run game just a complete mauler. He's a good person to have on the offensive line.
Gonzalez played in 11 games for the Nittany Lions in 2016, making three starts, making his first start in the road win at Rutgers.
Farmer Stepping Up -
Since making the move from safety to linebacker last year, Koa Farmer has continued to step up and make progress learning the position, with Cabinda taking note.
"I think he's really growing into the Sam position," Cabinda said. "He's playing with knee bend, playing with his shoulders rolled over, all those things. It's not necessarily easy going from safety to linebacker, you have to adjust to the physicality of the game at linebacker. His box play has improved the most, his drops, his depth in his drops, he's really understanding the defense at the sam position so he's really coming into his own."
Reach Arielle at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @arielle_sargent