UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State offensive recruiting coordinator,
assistant special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis spoke
with the media on Thursday. The Nittany
Lions travel to Indiana on Saturday at noon (BTN). Take a look at a Q&A
Q: You started the season with a really young group of receivers. Can you talk about how they have developed this season?
Gattis: "I think they have done a really good job kind of developing themselves and understanding how we want them to play. They have stepped up and made some critical plays at times, but I think as the games continue to grow on, I think we will continue to grow. I don't think we are quite where we need to be. We are heading in the right direction. I'm really proud of the guys developing their confidence and stepping up and making plays. We are a very, very young group. I'm really excited about the future and the direction we are headed in to. I really feel like we are going to get better as opportunities continue to present themselves."
Q: What's the mindset of the group through eight games this season and how the unit is progressing?
Gattis: "I don't think there is any frustration. I think the kids are developing the right way. If you start off hot (like we did), people are going to try and gameplan against you and show different things to keep the plays in front of them. I think we still have one of the best passing offenses in the Big Ten. We've got DaeSean Hamilton who is in the top three in the Big Ten in receiving. He leads all freshmen in the country in catches and receiving yards. I don't think there is any frustration. The guys are continuing to develop. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in other ways. Teams have done some things differently. But I think we have continued to take steps forward each week. Each game is different depending on what teams are doing. But we need to continue to develop as an offense. We are such a young unit that each week is something new, and we have to continue to gain confidence to move forward."
Q: Are you pleased with how the group has continued to maintain its confidence level during the past few weeks?
Gattis: "One thing about these kids is that they want to win as bad as anybody else wants to win. I think a lot of people need to understand that. They want to win as bad as these coaches want to win and as bad as the fans want to win. It has weighed heavily on our kids these past couple weeks. But they continue to show up each day and work hard and continue to improve. We continue to focus on being the best that we can be and continue to work on the areas that need to be worked on. But our kids have handled it with the utmost respect."
Q: What is the next step for the young freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin as they progress into bigger roles?
Gattis: "I think those guys are really progressing. I'm really happy about Saeed and Chris. Those guys are playing really good ball. They are making some plays out there. It's hard sometimes when you have a bunch of guys rotating in. Some of the opportunities they aren't in for, they can't make. But as far as their attempts, their completions and their targets, I've really been pleased with how they are playing as they continue to develop. This is a young group. DaeSean still has room to develop, but he has been playing really good football. Geno (Lewis) is a young player who is playing good football, but he still has a lot more room to grow. I think as a group, we have to continue to find ways to get those guys more active as far as Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin. We need to continue to get those guys more and more reps."
Q: Blocking is such an important part of a receiver's job. Can you talk about the way your unit has blocked this season?
Gattis: "I think blocking is just an unselfish thing. There is really no way to coach it. You have to have it deep down on the inside. I've been pleased so far with our blocking. We've changed some things up as far as blocking on the perimeter. Our receivers have been very, very active as far as blocking on the perimeter in our screen game. We are going to get them more active in our run game. I think it's an unselfish mentality that you've got to develop as an offense. Our guys truly know, we say it all the time, 'no block, no rock,' so in order for us to get the ball we have to be unselfish and block for others. And that's how we create explosive plays, not only in the pass game but the run game."
Q: What type of challenges do you think the Indiana secondary will pose on Saturday?
Gattis: "Whenever you play a team that is, kind of like last week, that is a three-man rush team on a 3-4, some of the challenges would be that they drop eight men into coverage. They have an extra defender, whether that's in deep coverage or underneath. So, I think that is always a challenge when you are going against a 3-4 team is that they are going to drop eight. They have a little bit of history with us. Their defensive coordinator is a good friend of mine that I've known over time that was the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. They are going to be ready. They are a well-coached team. They have good players in their secondary with a lot of starts. They are going to try and challenge us. And we are going to be prepared."
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