UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer joined the weekly assistant coaches conference call during Ohio State week.
Talking everything from the Buckeyes to the Nittany Lion scout team, catch up on a few highlights from the teleconference.
Spencer on Dobbins
Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins' 7.8 yards per carry currently ranks fourth best in the nation as the top number among freshmen. The true freshman has rushed for 775 yards in seven starts and the Nittany Lions have taken notice. With great feel and balance, Spencer tabbed Dobbins a tremendous player with the ability to make all the runs.
"When you continue to play teams, each week there is going to be a guy who presents problems," Spencer said. "Clearly we have to be conscious of him with our preparation throughout the week but we have to prepare for them as a unit because they're a great team. Not really singling out one person, but just focusing on gap control and doing those types of things and rush lanes so that we're where we're supposed to be when we need to be."
No Surprises with
For Spencer, there aren't exactly surprises when it comes to defensive end Shareef Miller who's currently eighth on the squad with 22 tackles and at least a half of a tackle for loss in all but two games on the year. While Spencer had seen flashes from Miller last year in a reserve role, he and the staff knew what Miller could do in practice and even in a game setting, but the question soon became if he could execute with the game on the line. Through seven games, Miller is meeting expectations.
"I'm not just talking about his two sacks at Pitt, I think one of his best plays of the game in my opinion, was the safety at Iowa where he's circling out, he's bending down the line, he circled out and made a tackle, made an unbelievable tackle on an unbelievable back in the end zone which I thought was a huge play in the game," Spencer said. "Those were the plays where we were wonder could he be like [Garrett] Sickels, [Evan] Schwan, [Carl] Nassib, [Anthony] Zettel, [Austin] Johnson, dating back to [Deion] Barnes, those guys who just made those plays, those game changing plays. Could he do that? And he has shown to this point that he can."
Givens' Biggest Jump
For Spencer, defensive tackle Kevin Givens' biggest jump from last year to this year is simply in his ability to make the most of his knowledge of the game. With the versatility to play end, nose guard or three technique, Spencer noted that it's his size that also adds an advantage.
"That gives us a changeup guy where you can go, from having, nothing wrong with our ends at 255-260 (pounds), but you play at 285-pound end that's strong and powerful and dynamic, I think you have a really good weapon there," Spencer said. "At the same point, he can rush in four down and affect the pocket. I think what people don't know about Kevin is that he's so good in the run game because he plays with such great leverage and he's so powerful. If you ever tap him on his back it's like hitting a wall. You're going to hurt your hand, I have to go see Tim Bream every time I tap him on the back because I bruised up my knuckle."
Looking at the Scout
Spencer is pleased with the looks the scout team his given the defensive line this year, especially when it comes to true freshmen offensive linemen C.J. Thorpe and Des Brown, or "Big Sweat" as he's called.
"I coach against all of the o-linemen in the conference and those guys are true Big Ten guard, tackle type players," Spencer said. "They are aggressive, they are athletic. They give us a tremendous, tremendous look week in and week out. I'm really excited about them and guys like Mike Miranda. They definitely help prepare us and better ourselves for the speed of the game. I'm excited about them."
On any given game, Spencer noted that he'll generally rotate in anywhere from eight or nine defensive linemen, but the number is much more strategic than random.
"I think I develop tremendous confidence with any of my guys going into the game at any point in time," Spencer said. "I get a feel for the game. Obviously as you guys know we chart the reps on the sidelines so it's really strategic and calculated in how many reps I want a guy to take. We plan it out on Saturday morning. Myself and coach Franklin and coach Pry, we just talk about how much we want to see a guy this and that. If I could play more guys, honestly in games where we're ahead and I can get guys valuable reps I'll certainly play my younger guys because there's nothing like game experience."