December 6, 2010
Blog: Outback Bowl Teleconference Notebook
University Park, Pa.; -
We are delighted to have this opportunity to play against Florida. As I said a while ago, Urban is one of my favorite people. It is going to be exciting to play against them especially in this setting being the 25th anniversary of a great bowl game and a great city. It is an exciting time for us, it is going to be an exciting event, and hopefully we will put on a good show for everybody.
Do you have any recollection when you were an assistant to Rip Engle at that game (1962 Gator Bowl vs. Florida) or anything about that experience?
I have a lot of memories. It was a ball game where Florida played really well. They stopped us on the goal line one time and dominated the line of scrimmage. The score should have been worse than it was. We felt fortunate that we came out of that thing as close as we did because Florida played very well; they were a good football team.
You mentioned that Urban was one of your favorite people in coaching. Can you expand on your relationship?,br>
We spent some time together with him and his wife and my wife on a couple of trips and we have had a chance to socialize with them. He is honest. He isn't a show off or anything like that. He is very modest. He has a great feel for the game. I have looked at a lot of his tapes because he always seems one step ahead of who he is playing against. I like being around him, enjoy visiting with him, and spending time with him. We have spent some time talking on occasion about coaching philosophy and some of the problems that we have. Earlier in this conference call someone mentioned if it is tough to keep people up and well, you know it isn't easy. I spent some time talking to him about it, trying to learn from him and he has asked me some questions. We have had a good relationship and I have a lot of respect for him.
After the Michigan State game you said that a couple of juniors might be considering entering the NFL draft. Do you still feel that way after having a chance to talk to some of them?
(Andrew) Dailey is going to go; he is graduating and has a job. (Kevion) Latham is going to go. They have both graduated and even though they have another year of football, neither one has aspirations to play beyond college. They both have good job opportunities in a world where jobs don't come by that easily. They are going to leave. We may lose another kid or two. It depends on some parents getting involved thinking their kids are a little better than they are, thinking they are pro players. With that kind of stuff that goes on I try to stay on top of it but you are never quite sure if you have the grasp on it that you would like to have. There might be another under classman go, maybe two but I could not tell you.
Could you talk about your practice schedule leading up to your departure and if you are going to get back any injured players for the game.
(Michael) Mauti is going to be back, he has practiced. The other guys are up in the air. We are going to play without four or five guys who started out the season probably going to be first stringers for us like (Brandon) Beachum and guys like that. We have been playing without them for the season so we can't be down about that. As far as our practice plans, we worked two days- last Friday and Saturday- and we are going to work Friday and Saturday this week. We have a couple people down in the Tampa Bay area looking at some places that we might stay. If we can find a place that we are comfortable with even in Clearwater for a couple of days we will probably head down there. It is tough for us up here. This morning it was 23 degrees. We have a great indoor facility but that is still not the same as being outside and working on your passing game and your kicking game and things like that. We are probably going to practice four or five days up here and then practice for another six, seven or eight days down there.
How did you feel about your team, the way it finished out the season? How much better do you think the team can get before the bowl game?
One of the advantages of a bowl game considering the situation you have with both Florida and Penn State, maybe I am out of line talking about Florida, but you have some kids that have to compete. They have to be in situations where something is on the line. You have to find out what kids want to play and aren't looking over their shoulder to see if they are going to carry the ball x number of times. This is an opportunity to take a bunch of kids away and get them away from home where they don't have girlfriends around. It is an opportunity for us to go and to work and work hard particularly with our younger kids to see if we can make them better. We have gotten better. We are not a great football team but we are getting better all the time. We can play with people, but this will be a real good situation for us. Hopefully we can play well enough to make it exciting for the fans. We are playing against one of the greatest programs in the country.
Are you comfortable with the quarterback situation, with Matt McGloin being the guy?
I think that Matt is the quarterback. Now the other kid has a lot of ability but he is a true freshman in the truest sense of the word- he wasn't even here for spring practice. He came in and unfortunately we had to start him a few games early until the other kid (Rob Bolden) started to show some promise. I think we are all right at quarterback. We are not great. We have had some problems with our offensive line early but we are getting a little bit better. I think that Matt has done a good job for us.
Can you compare the speed of Florida to other competitors in the Big Ten?
Well I have looked at Florida a lot, as I said. I have looked at some of the things that Urban has done because I feel that he is very innovative and very much ahead of things. The one thing they have is their speed. I don't think we can match their speed. We are going to have to be in good position and not miss tackles. We are going to have to do some things that Urban mentioned earlier- kicking game has to be solid and we can't afford to turn it over and give them field position. We have to play good solid football game but always in the back of our head is their speed. When we played last year at LSU it was the same thing but the good Lord took care of us. I was praying like the dickens. Now maybe we won't have the rain and it won't be as sloppy as it can be.
What team that you have faced resembles Florida the most?
Alabama. We played Alabama at Alabama our second game. They are very similar to Florida in the sense of the way they run not only on offense but also on defense. I think that the only difference between Florida and Alabama is that Alabama was very comfortable with their quarterback situation. I was listening to Urban talk a little earlier and the question was asked about his quarterback situation. Like I said I haven't had a chance to look at a lot of tapes this year but I would think that maybe that that was a problem, I know it was for us early. When we played Alabama they were solid but they had that speed. It would be tough to say that Alabama had the personal that Florida has. I couldn't say that. I think Florida is as good a football team and program as there is in the country.
How do you prepare for going against possibly three different quarterbacks?
We are going to see which one is relied on more on a certain play on offense compared to another one. One may be a better runner. We are going to have to spend a lot of time on lining up properly and reading some things. We are going to have to play one heck of a football team. As I mentioned earlier with their speed we have to be in position to make a tackle and we have to make that tackle. If we miss one or two then a guy out there in the open is gone. You are looking at a 40-point game, thinking they are done. So, I don't know exactly what we are going to do with the quarterback shift, I don't know if there is a tendency for one or whether they all do the same thing. I don't know if one is as good a runner as another- I have no way of knowing. We are dealing with people; we are not dealing with inanimate objects. Maybe there is something one does that could help us and we are going to try and find that out but as we talk right now I have absolutely no idea.
What kind of stuff do you do for fun down in Florida? Do you go on a jet ski or go to the beach or anything.
[Laughing] I worry. No, I have a whole bunch of kids, 17 grandkids and they range from 14-years-old and the youngest is two. They will all be there messing around. Ordinarily they give me a place away from everything so I can look at film when I want to and I can get ready for practice and see if there is something I can learn from the tapes that might be helpful. It is a chore, not in the sense of something you don't like to do, I like it, it is just a challenge. I can't get to the beach, no. We are going down there and I got some work to do.
What kind of stuff did you do for fun when you vacationed in Florida when you were younger?
When I was single? I chased the girls. No, no, you know I had some friends who had a boat. We did some fishing. I would hang out with friends of mine that had a place and we sat around and played some cards. We hiked a little bit, jumped in the water once in a while. You know its Florida. There are a lot of things to do in Florida. It is a great place and particularly for young guys. My guys are coming up to me and asking what there is to do. I told them to relax; there are an awful lot of things to do.