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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks joined the weekly assistant coaches conference call Thursday afternoon during Rutgers week.
As the Nittany Lions prepare to head into the first of their final three games of the season, Banks fielded questions from media members spanning everything from defensive improvements to the scout team.
Catch up on a few updates from the teleconference.
Banks of course pointed out the tremendous benefit that two senior safeties leading the unit provides for the Nittany Lions. Between Marcus Allen and Troy Apke, Banks noted there isn't much someone like Allen hasn't seen on the field, with Apke also bringing valuable game experience.
After their departures though, Banks is confident in who the Nittany Lions return.
"When you lose Marcus [Allen] and that many starts, it can be challenging but I can kind of look at it a little bit different," Banks said. "I feel like we've done a really good job recruiting around here and I feel like we have some guys who will be ready to step in and pick up where these guys have left off."
Speaking of Allen ...
Banks called Allen one of the best he has ever coached at the position in terms of how his sheer athleticism combines with his 6-foot-2 frame
"I've had guys his size who maybe weren't quite as athletic or guys that are a little smaller that may be a little bit faster, but when you start talking about overall combo guy, I don't know if I've had a combo guy with that type of skillset with that type of size," Banks said. "He can do it all. You can drop him in the box and he can play as a linebacker or you can play him on the hash and he can play as a regular safety. You can actually put him in coverage so he can cover."
Regardless of what the stat sheet says, Banks noted that when a team isn't experiencing success it's common to continuously evaluate everything from practice to game situations - leaving no stone unturned until success is attained. As Penn State head coach James Franklin noted more generally this week, the Nittany Lions spent some time self-scouting ahead of Saturday's noon matchup against Rutgers on the heels of a pair of conference road losses.
"Obviously we've made adjustments that we felt needed to be adjusted and some things we thought we were doing well, we'll continue to do," Banks said. "We've obviously played against some really good opponents the last two weeks and some things that we would like to do better, we've addressed, and hopefully we'll be able to do those things moving forward."
"KJ [Hamler] is one who comes to mind," Banks said. "He works extremely hard, he's a fast kid, a quick kid, has great energy during practice. He's really given us a great look in practice week in and week out. Des Holmes does a great job for us up front, very physical."
He wrapped up though, point out that it's an entire unit of young guys who have stepped up to play at a really high level to give the Nittany Lions the best looks during game week.
"It takes a lot to go out there and understand that you may not go out and play on Saturday's and still give your all," Banks said. "That whole freshman class has been awesome. They treat Tuesday and Wednesday like gameday and that's paid a lot of success to how well we've played throughout the year defensively, because of how hard those guys have worked on scout teams."