UNIVERSITY PARK — FIDO isn’t the name of Anthony Midget’s dog.
Rather, it’s an acronym for his personal philosophy, a mantra the Penn State safeties coach repeats daily to the squad’s final line of defense — Forget it, drive on.
It is an imperative outlook, one necessary for each safety to keep in the back of his mind, Midget said.
“When something bad happens we move on to the next play. We don’t dwell on it,” Midget said. “We just continue to come in and learn from the film what we have to do better and just continue to play and work on improving each week.”
Penn State’s safeties, which have had good and bad outings this season, have already put the last forgettable performance — a 44-24 loss to Indiana in which Penn State gave up 13 passing plays of 10 or more yards, with seven of those going for 15 or more.
Not all were deep throws, however, as Indiana relied on a short passing game and mixed in a handful of screens, but Midget realizes the safeties can support better. He’s been there, after all.
At 35, Midget is the youngest full-time assistant on head coach Bill O’Brien’s staff. He’s three years younger than Charles London and only 10 years removed from his playing days. Midget, who was an All-American at Virginia Tech, last played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he helped Virginia Tech reach the BCS Championship game in 1999.
“He has a terrific resume and I’d be crazy to not listen to what he’s telling me just because he’s done everything that I want to do,” safety Malcolm Willis said. “He’s played collegiately and he’s been an All-American. He’s been to the NFL Combine. He’s played in the NFL.”
And Midget can still perform to a degree.
Although he laughed when asked what his 40-yard dash time is — Midget politely differed, insisting he hasn’t been timed since his playing days — the former Hokie cornerback still keeps an active workout regimen.
Along with the other coaches, Midget works out daily inside the Lasch Building.
“We work out, stay in shape and it keeps on going,” Midget said. “When we get on the practice field we’re ready to roll. We’re active, we’re energetic and that’s just how we coach. That’s a release when you can get away and clear your mind and just get that time to yourself. That’s relaxation for me.”
While he’s not participating in full-contact drills — and not diving headfirst into dogpiles like offensive line coach Mac McWhorter looking to break up practice scuffles between players — Midget’s youth allows him to demonstrate proper techniques with a hands-on approach.
He can also relate to his players better than what an older coach could.
“He understands some of the lingo that we use and the terms that we use when we’re talking to each other. He understands most of those things,” Willis said. “So he’s able to really communicate with us on on a different level than, say, an older coach. He’s still young. He can still get out there and run around and show us different techniques and different ways to play things.”
On Saturdays, Midget acts as the team’s eye in the sky. He coaches from the press box, where he observes the opposing team’s passing game and relays his observations to defensive coordinator John Butler, who’s on the sideline.
Midget, who spent gamedays coaching from press boxes at his previous stops — at Virginia Tech, where he was a graduate assistant in 2007, and at Georgia State from 2008 to 2012 — also helps relay halftime adjustments on Saturdays.
“After the first drive when we come off the field, we’re in constant communication about what we’re seeing and what we’re doing,” Midget said. “Whether there’s anything we need to tweak, that’s a constant communication after we come off the field after each (defensive) series just figuring out if there’s something that needs to be done. Because if it’s something that’s happening early in the game, you can’t just wait until halftime to make the adjustment. You need to make it then.”
The most important adjustment comes after each misstep, and Midget will continue to reiterate it — FIDO.
“His coaching style is similar to Coach Butler’s,” Willis said. “He lets you know when you’re doing something wrong and when you’re doing something right. Coach Midget is definitely an asset for our team.”
Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @bytravisjohnson.