UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry took time Thursday afternoon to join the weekly assistant coaches conference call during Northwestern week.
From Northwestern to identifying where the Nittany Lion defense has improved this year, Pry covered a little bit of everything in his first weekly teleconference of the season. Catch up on a few highlights from the Q&A session.
Developing at Defensive
Pry was asked if there was anything in particular that the Nittany Lions identified as a potential worrisome area in training camp that might no longer be an issue. For Pry, an area where the Nittany Lions needed to develop some experience was at the defensive end position.
"That was probably on our mind the most," Pry said. "We had a lot of good, talented candidates and as we get further into this, they're getting more and more reps each week, whether it's in practice or in the games and we're feeling better and better about that spot."
Pry on Jason Cabinda
When asked how much senior Jason Cabinda reflects Penn State's Linebacker U, Pry was in total agreement, with the Nittany Lion coming off of a career-high 14 tackle performance against Indiana, adding a 1.5 TFLs, one sack and one fumble recovery.
"I think the game he played against Indiana, that's Jason Cabinda," Pry said. "It doesn't matter if it's zone coverage or man coverage, it doesn't matter if it's inside run or out on the perimeter. He was all over the field, sideline to sideline. Very physical presence, a lot of physical tackles, made big plays, easily scoops the fumble and tries to turn to get extra yardage. Just kind of a do it all, very physical, has a prowess out there on the field, great leader, and I think he embodies Linebacker U, I really do."
For Pry, often a game planning talking point has been identifying where an opponent presents an unfavorable speed matchup. According to Pry, it's a discussion point that's starting to go away this year. With a noticeable increase in speed on the defensive side of the ball, Pry praised the Nittany Lion performance enhancement staff for their offseason efforts.
"We're a staff that believes in team speed," Pry said. "We try and recruit to that. We try and develop that. Dwight Galt and his staff do an outstanding job through the winter, spring and summer developing that speed. Most of the guys who come in here drop their speed and are a little more explosive and cover ground a little better as we get into their career. It's certainly important, it's noticeable right now, especially in the back seven. I think we're running really well."
Cothran, Cothren and
For Pry, you grow your defense from the inside out, and no better of a position for the Nittany Lions to be in than with defensive tackles Curtis Cothran and Parker Cothren. Add in Cabinda at middle linebacker and according to Pry, it's a core of three stalwarts who are all solid, sound, tough, physical and mature.
"It's really good when your core looks like those three and then you have some depth behind them," Pry said. "That's kind of where it starts."
Big Statement on
Pry noted that defensive end Ryan Buchholz has the chance to be one of the better defensive linemen to come through Penn State - and he knows it's a big statement too.
"He's got tremendous size and he's also a very good athlete. People don't realize how athletic he is, and he's a great student of the game. If you ever watch him pre-snap, his head's on swivel, he's sizing up the whole formation, if they trade the back he sees it, if they move the tight end he sees it. He's a student of the game, he's just very mature."