April 11, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK. Pa; -
A: Right now, we're heading into practice number eight of spring ball, so we're half way through. Things are progressing at a decent pace. We have a long way to go, but we're looking forward to the Blue-White Game, summer conditioning and then training camp. We feel decent about where we are right now and looking forward to practice this afternoon.
Q: You said you were hoping to cut the quarterback competition from three to two at the end of spring practice. I was wondering if this was true. Why do you want to do that then?
A: I'm not sure if it will come right at the end of spring practice. I just know it's hard to get three guys the reps that you need to get for one or two guys to be the starters. By the end of spring ball, I'm sure we'll have a better idea of which one or two guys will be the starters. Hopefully we can do that at the end. If not, then we head into training camp and continue with three guys getting reps. Hopefully over the next eight practices, a couple guys will separate themselves. Right now, there is no separation.
Q: Can you evaluate what you see in the three quarterbacks right now? Have they progressed as much as you would have liked them to, learning the new offense and all?
A: They've definitely progressed. Each one of them is a different type of player. I'm not going to get into all the details of that, but they've worked very hard. They're all bright guys. They all have different types of tools. Some have the same types of tools in different areas, but they're all different players and they've competed. I really enjoy being around them. They're good kids. They're smart. They care about football. They care about going to class. They're good Penn State kids and I'm enjoying coaching them.
Q: With three new head coaches in this division and Wisconsin with six new assistants, what do you think this means for how this division will shake out this year?
A: I have no idea. I'm only concerned with one program and that's Penn State. We're just trying to get better everyday and that's my main concern. I know that this is a great conference with a lot of great coaches and great players so it will be a huge challenge for us next fall. Right now, I'm just concerned about practice this afternoon.
Q: A number of players have talked about their enthusiasm with the new strength program. Has that played out as well and as smoothly as you would have hoped for?
A: Craig Fitzgerald has meant a lot to this program in the first three months and he'll mean a lot going forward. He and I are on the same page with what we believe in. It's Olympic lifting. It's conditioning. It's speed work and it's doing it smart, but it's also doing it with enthusiasm. Nothing good is ever accomplished without enthusiasm. We feel really good about the strength gains we've made thus far. We've got a long way to go. We're doing a great job in that weight room and a lot of that has to do with Fitz.
Q: People are assuming scheme-wise what you are implementing will be a lot more complicated than anything in the past. Is there any specific part where the guys are picking up on things faster or not picking up on things like you would have hoped they would?
A: First of all, I have no idea what they did in the past. I have a lot of respect for what went on here before, but I don't know anything about what they did offensively. All I can tell you is that usually when you put in a new system, the running game comes along a little faster than the passing game because there's different terminology and different protections. The running game, not that it's simple, but it's a little bit easier to learn early on. I would say we're a little bit ahead when it comes to running the football and a little bit behind when it comes to throwing the football, than catching it and getting open.
Q: What do you think of the team and the talent that you have inherited? What do you think about them now and what you will have to do to improve this team?
A: I'm very happy with this team. I enjoy being around these guys. They play hard. They care about football. They're good kids and I'm enjoying coaching them. We have a lot of areas we need to improve in. We need to improve in our conditioning. We need to improve in our strength gains between now and the beginning of the season. We need to improve on our knowledge of the systems and the knowledge of being aware of what is going on around us on the football field. They work hard at it so I'm sure we'll see improvements throughout the rest of spring practice and through training camp. As far as the football team, I'm really proud to be the head football coach here and it's because of the players and the staff that's here right now.
Q: Did you get a sense of relief from the players once they got on the field considering how everything transpired throughout the past few months?
A: I would say that the players are very resilient. Whether it's a coaching change or whatever it may be, players are players. They love to be out on the field playing football. They love to be in the weight room lifting weights and conditioning in the winter. It has been fun to be around these guys because they work extremely hard. They are really taking to coaching and tempo we want. It is getting better every day.
Q: Bret Bielema really made waves this offseason with his comments about Urban Meyer's recruiting. Meyer took a few recruits who had already committed to Penn State, as well. What were your thoughts on how Meyer handled his recruiting at Ohio State this offseason?
A: I have absolutely no thoughts on that whatsoever. All I care about is Penn State and trying to get us better. I am really just concerned about this afternoon's practice to be honest with you. I have no thoughts on that whatsoever.
Q: With the team itself, has it been a major challenge to implement changes to a team that has been coached by the same man for so long?
A: Of course, everything is new. The terminology is new. The coaching styles are new. The tempo might be different. Things that we stress might be different than what they stressed before. I have no idea. All I know is that it is new. That is what change is all about. These guys have embraced it and they are doing the best job they can to this point.
Q: One more question about the quarterbacks. What sorts of things do you want to see from them in the last two weeks of practice and then in the spring game that would make your mind clearer or give you a better sense of direction going forward?
A: That's a good question. I want to see these guys have their decision making get better. I want to see their accuracy get better. I want to, obviously, see them grasp the offense better than they are right now. Like I said in the beginning, these guys are really working at it. Nothing that is worth anything success wise is easy. You gain everything through hard work and they are working extremely hard at it. I want to see improved decision-making and accuracy. It will be easier for me to make a decision then.